HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc905-6
30. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will investigate the existing facilities available to tourists visiting the United Kingdom for exchanging their currency into £ stering; and if he is satisfied that the proliferation of bureaux de change offer fair rates of exchange and charge reasonable rates of commission.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

Bureaux de change are required by the Bank of England to effect transactions at rates of exchange in line with those of the clearing banks and to display clearly and permanently during business hours the rates of exchange offered and the commission charged. If these conditions are not met satisfactorily the bureau concerned risks losing its authorisation to operate. I believe that we should look to the forces of competition to discourage bureaux from charging too high a rate of commission. If my hon. Friend knows of any particular example of sharp practice by a bureau he may care to refer it to the Bank of England.

Mr. Rost

But my right hon. Friend must know that there are hundreds of examples of bureaux de change that are not charging commission rates in line with the banks. Will she have another look at the matter and make sure that there is proper competition and that the joint stock banks take a greater interest in providing some of that competition so that the tourist does not have to spend all his time shopping around in London trying to find a fair rate of exchange?

Mrs. Oppenheim

I shall certainly look at the matter, but I have to point out to my hon. Friend that it is entirely the responsibility of the Bank of England, which is in touch with the clearing banks concerned. I am sure that they will have noted my hon. Friend's concern.