§ 2.42 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the lack of ceremony with which members of the House of Lords, unconnected with the diamond industry but desirous of visiting the International Zone of Tangier, are treated by the Bank of England; whether requests for currency allotments are sent back marked with a rubber stamp "application not allowed," bearing somebody's initials but without either explanation or apology; why there should be a marked reluctance on the part of British banks to endorse letters of credit or travellers' cheques as payable in Tangier to bona-fide travellers passing through this Zone, with considerable embarrassment to such travellers; and how long the nationalised Bank of England is to be allowed thus to ride rough-shod over the people.]
My Lords, applications submitted to the Bank of England for exchange control purposes in the form of a letter are normally answered by a letter. In the case of applications made on a form, the ruling is normally given on the form itself. In the case of a refusal, the form would be marked "This application is not allowed." This is in accordance with the Bank's practice which has been in operation for a number of years. Your Lordships will appreciate that the Bank deal with many thousands of applications, sometimes at 229 short notice, and it would, therefore, be out of the question for them to write letters of explanation each time an application is refused. If reasons or explanations are subsequently asked for, they are supplied.
Your Lordships will be aware that Tangier is not on the list of countries for which a basic allotment of exchange for pleasure travel is available. The reason for this is that we do not want to increase Tangier's receipts of sterling, as this would tend to depress the value of sterling in relation to dollars and other currencies in the free market. Accordingly, exchange for travel purposes would be granted only for bona-fide business or for some other special reason. British banks would not, of course, endorse letters of credit or travellers' cheques as payable in Tangier unless they had Exchange Control permission to do so in respect of the underlying application.
§ EARL MANVERS
My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his reply, I should like to ask whether the action of the Bank does not offer some incentive to dishonesty.