HC Deb 25 July 1985 vol 83 cc1294-5
7. Mr. Robert Maclennan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the future of the present Customs and Excise area office at Wick.

Mr. Hayhoe

As I told the hon. Member in my letter of 15 July, the Wick office is to remain fully operational.

Mr. Maclennan

In view of the excellent facilities at Wick airport and the desire of local development agencies, local authorities and business men to develop links with Scandinavia to promote commerce and tourism, will the Minister view with favour any request to increase customs services at the airport to meet those desirable objectives?

Mr. Hayhoe

The question of customs facilities at the airport is rather different from the question that the hon. Gentleman placed on the Order Paper. When I last reviewed the position at the airport, the amount of traffic did not meet the criteria laid down for customs attendance.

Mr. Kennedy

Is the Minister aware that during a recent Transport Question Time the Minister with responsibility for aviation said that he would be willing to look at the position at Wick and Inverness airports? Is he also aware that in a letter to me of this week he confirmed that the 12 per cent. cut in the number of customs officials since 1979 is only now beginning to be reversed? Is not one of the difficulties the fact that the Government, even if the Treasury makes that welcome facility available, will only be beginning to reverse the problems generated by their policies?

Mr. Hayhoe

Discussions have been going on for a long time about customs attendance at both Wick and Inverness airports. If the criteria for attendance are met, the customs will be in attendance.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that proper customs facilities for a wide range of airports in the United Kingdom, including Wick, are necessary for the good conduct of business? Will he make it a Government priority to maximise the use of provincial airports, including those in the Highlands, to which this question refers?

Mr. Hayhoe

Yes. I am all for maximising the use of airports and of resources. Because I am concerned with the maximisation and utilisation of customs resources, I do not want to see them deployed where they will not be fully efficient.

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