HC Deb 21 March 1963 vol 674 cc558-9
28. Sir T. Moore

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has yet come to a conclusion regarding the establishment of a duty-free area at Prestwick Airport.

Mr. du Cann

Officials of the Customs and Excise have met representatives of the Ayr County Council and had discussions which both sides agree to have been very useful: both bodies are considering the matter further in the light of the discussions.

Sir T. Moore

Will my hon. Friend continue to bear in mind what I have said before, that this sort of tax-free area would prove a powerful incentive to industrialists, both north and south of the border, to settle in nearby development districts? Will he therefore overcome the technical prejudices that exist, seeing that Shannon has proved such a very good example of what can be done?

Mr. du Cann

I do not think that any technical prejudices exist. The position is that these discussions have taken place, they are likely to continue, and we shall certainly watch them with care. I can assure my hon. Friend that there will be no delay in considering the results of the discussions.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Economic Secretary aware that the representative delegation that recently visited him shares the view that these conversations were very useful? Can he assure the very large public that is vitally interested in this project that sympathetic consideration will continue, and be urgent?

Mr. du Cum

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I am sure that it must be right that, while the conversations continue, they should be kept confidential. The important point is that there should be no delay in considering what comes out of them, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have noted what I have already said on that point.