HC Deb 06 November 1996 vol 284 cc1235-6
15. Mr. Dykes

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will undertake an interdepartmental investigation with Her Majesty's Treasury on the charges levied for exchanging currencies on consumers using exchange bureaux and banks. [542]

Mr. John M. Taylor

I have no plans to initiate such an investigation.

Mr. Dykes

Will my hon. Friend please look at that again? When I complained about an effective commission rate of nearly 10 per cent. at the monopoly currency exchange service at Heathrow airport when I exchanged French francs back into sterling in September, I was told by the service provider that the currency exchange service was just charging the rates that the high street banks do, and in fact was slightly cheaper. Would it not be right for the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry to look into that matter to stop that outrageous rip-off of customers at foreign currency exchanges, and does that not also show that the single currency in future will be not only for the central banking elites but for ordinary members of the public, avoiding such unnecessary charges and making greater deregulation possible?

Mr. Taylor

I should be surprised if there was a monopoly in bureaux de change at Heathrow. I thought that there was more than one outlet for exchanging foreign currency at Heathrow; but if there is any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour or breach of competition law, it should be referred to the Director General of Fair Trading, who has the responsibility to keep the operation of markets under review, and powers to act where he believes that to be necessary.

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