HC Deb 28 February 1967 vol 742 cc255-6
31. Mr. Cant

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to deal with the circumvention of exchange control regulations by persons purchasing property outside the sterling area; and whether he will give an estimate of the extent of the leakage from April, 1966 to January, 1967.

Mr. Callaghan

All purchases by United Kingdom residents of property outside the sterling area require specific permission from the Bank of England. Infringements are liable to prosecution. Thirty-four cases were investigated in the period mentioned. The loss to the reserves through illegal purchases is not thought to be of serious dimensions.

Mr. Cant

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that the Stock Exchange Journal only this week found it necessary to include an article on dubious property deals abroad? Does he not think that there can be no smoke without some fire?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. I think that there is some evasion and two prosecutions have been made. The Director of Public Prosecutions will consider any information laid at his disposal. There are Treasury and Bank of England enforcement officers who look into these matters, but I repeat that the loss to the reserves is not serious through that particular channel.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the Chancellor aware that hon. Members attending a N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' conference and wishing to spend £2 a day of their own money must certify that they will not invest it in freehold or leasehold property? Would he assure the House, now that that large sum is to be increased to £5 a day, that they will be able so to do if they wish?

Mr. Callaghan

No, Sir. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman will still not be able to use his allowance for that purpose.