HL Deb 17 May 1949 vol 162 cc721-2

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government (1) whether they are aware that, pursuant to the Exchange Control Act, 1947, rules have been issued by the Treasury that sterling notes in excess of £5, and foreign notes in excess of the equivalent of £10, may not without special permission be taken out of this country except to Eire and the Channel Islands; and that similar regulations have been imposed by foreign nations (for example the French Republic) on unhappy travellers, who are allowed but very small amounts of British exchange; and (2) whether the time has not come when these harassing restrictions might be withdrawn by mutual consent and the pre-war position restored, when cheques could freely be cashed through the Bankers' Clearing House and money supplied through the offices of arbitragers.]


His Majesty's Government are most anxious to do all that they can, in co-operation with other countries, to ease restrictions on travel, and, as the noble Earl will be aware, they have recently agreed to an increase in the currency allowances for foreign tourism from £35 to £50. The control over the import and export of currency notes and the prohibition on the changing of notes or the encashment of cheques abroad are, however, essential to the protection of our exchange position, and we are not prepared to relax them. Other countries have found similar restrictions necessary, no doubt for the same reasons.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for the courteous reply he has given, may I suggest that this system of control, however satisfactory to the controllers, is apt to be irksome to the controlled, and may I ask whether he sees arty prospect of once again being able to "set the people free"?


I have no doubt that the people will one day be still more free than they are new. In saying that, I base myself on the reflection that this Government are likely to remain in power indefinitely.