HC Deb 12 February 1963 vol 671 cc1098-9
9. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether arrangements can now be made for persons enjoying diplomatic immunity in Great Britain to obtain Scotch whisky on the same duty basis as other alcoholic liquids.

Mr. Maudling

Diplomatic privileges have never included freedom from excise duties, and a new extension of privilege would be unjustified.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is damaging to the Scotch whisky export effort if in foreign embassies in London foreign whiskies such as Bourbon and Rye are much cheaper than Scotch whisky? As he has been able to make an arrangement for the remission of Purchase Tax on motor cars for diplomats, would it not be possible to do the same for whisky? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that in no less than eight countries, including Canada, Norway and France, home-grown spirits are available free of excise duty to embassies in those countries?

Mr. Maudling

I have sufficient confidence in the quality of the Scottish product to believe that tasting the alternative should confirm people in their preference for Scotch. As my hon. Friend knows, motor cars are a very special case. By and large it is unwise to extend these diplomatic privileges, unless a very strong case is made.

Mr. Stodart

Can my hon. Friend give the House any idea as to what amount of duty he would lose if he granted this concession? Is not this a case of possibly cutting off one's nose, since it would be an extraordinarily good sales point if Scotch whisky were available in embassies at this concession rate?

Mr. Maudling

I doubt whether supplying it to embassies at the suggested concession rate would have a great effect on sales. I cannot give an estimate of the loss involved directly. I do not know how far this process might spread to other articles and other claims.