HC Deb 05 March 1973 vol 852 c10
9. Mr. Donald Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking with the Portuguese authorities towards settling the matter of the fines placed on goods carried in the vessel "Karin" in Lisbon in October 1970.

Sir G. Howe

Following our earlier representations about the imposition of this additional charge, I am now considering with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs the terms of a further approach to the Portuguese Government in this matter.

Mr. Stewart

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that reply. Does he accept that the Department was extremely negligent in not advising shippers of the risk of fines being imposed on this vessel on arrival in Portugal? Does he accept that the Department has been extremely dilatory in seeking a settlement? Will he press strongly for encouragement to be given to exporters and shippers who are doing their best in the export drive?

Sir G. Howe

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern about the export drive. I cannot accept that the Department has been either negligent or dilatory. It is wrong to describe the charge as a fine. It is a regular charge provided by the Portuguese customs tariff. The question is whether it is proper to apply it to the goods with which we are concerned. That is the matter about which we have been making and will continue to make representations.