HC Deb 24 January 1963 vol 670 c270
28. Sir T. Moore

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reply he has sent to the Ayr County Council regarding their formal request for the establishment of a duty-free airport at Prestwick Airport.

Mr. du Cann

Their request has been acknowledged and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise have arranged some preliminary discussion of it with them.

Sir T. Moore

My hon. Friend will, of course, bear in mind that there is a firm conviction in Scotland, particularly in the west of Scotland, that apart from its other advantages the existence of this tax-free zone at Prestwick Airport might well induce southern industrialists to come to the nearby development districts and so create employment which we badly need in Scotland?

Mr. du Cann

That will certainly be borne in mind, but the position is very complicated and will need a great deal of discussion and inquiry.

Mr. Grimond

As this suggestion has been before the Government for many-months, can the Economic Secretary say what consideration has been given to it and when we may receive a final reply?

Mr. du Cann

A good deal of consideration has been given to the matter. The difficulty is that some of the ideas which have been expressed are not entirely clear. It is that aspect of the matter which is under investigation. As to endeavouring to give a specific date when the inquiry might be completed, I am not in a position to do that today, but I will endeavour to give the right hon. Gentleman additional information if possible.

Mr. Ross

May we have an assurance that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will himself take a personal interest in this proposal because it is imaginative? It is technically difficult but it is the kind of venture which would lead to a considerable growth of employment in an area which has been badly hit.

Mr. du Cann

I think that I can certainly give the hon. Member that assurance.

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