HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1284-5
15. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Ceylon with regard to the Foreign Exchange Entitlement Certificate Scheme announced under a Gazette Notification of 5th May, 1968; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitlock

We have been much concerned at the possible adverse effect on British interests of the Foreign Exchange Entitlement Certificate Scheme introduced by the Government of Ceylon in May, 1968. The Commonwealth Office and other Departments have been seeking to determine the likely effects of the scheme on British individuals and companies. Our High Commission has, for this purpose, been in touch with the Ceylon Government and with the Association of British Interests in Ceylon and the Commonwealth Office has held discussions with the Ceylon Association in London.

In order to clarify the precise working of the new scheme and to seek suitable alleviation, we have asked for, and the Ceylon Government have agreed, to hold talks at a senior official level in Colombo. These talks began last week. I am not yet in a position to make a statement on the outcome.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that most of the payments made under this scheme will in fact be dividends which are nearly two years in arrears? Is he further aware that, as a result of taxation plus the cost of the new service, only 45 rupees for every 100 which ought to be paid will, in fact, be received at this end? Does he not, therefore, feel that it is most urgent that these talks should be brought to a speedy conclusion?

Mr. Whitlock

All these difficulties for individuals and for firms are fully understood by the Commonwealth Office and by our people in Ceylon, and we are trying, as far as possible, to alleviate the consequences of the scheme to those people.