HC Deb 09 July 1973 vol 859 cc997-8
5. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek powers to enable him to control the prices charged in duty-free shops at airports and on ships.

Mr. Emery

No, Sir.

Mr. Cronin

Are not very large profits being made by these organisations—for example, 140 per cent. being considered a normal profit on a bottle of Scotch whisky at duty-free shops? Is it not time that the travelling public were excluded from this scandalous profiteering?

Mr. Emery

The Monopolies Commission's report on the supply of these goods in cross-Channel ferries is awaited. I should want further evidence beyond that produced by the hon. Gentleman about the level of profiteering, and if he has any facts I shall be only too pleased to receive them.

Mrs. Knight

Is my hon. Friend aware that some duty-free shops, notably one at Hamburg airport, tell travellers that they are permitted to bring in more duty-free goods than the entitlement actually allows and that many people, believing what the shops say, enter the country with goods on which they subsequently have to pay duty?

Mr. Emery

I thank my hon. Friend for the question but she will realise that I have no control over what happens in Hamburg. Perhaps the Press will draw this practice to the attention of travellers.

Mr. Mason

Is the Minister aware that the EEC Commission is programming to abolish duty-free goods and the duty-free shops at airports and on ships? What is the Government's attitude towards that?

Mr. Emery

That is an entirely different question.