HL Deb 04 February 1985 vol 459 cc828-9

2.45 p.m.

The Earl of Kinnoull

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider increasing the allowance for duty free goods from £28 to £50 to compensate for many factors that make the present limit impracticable for honest British travellers.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, the "other goods" allowance for travellers arriving from outside the European Community is fixed by EC legislation and could not be varied by the United Kingdom unilaterally. A package of proposals, including an increase to this allowance, was put before the Internal Market Council on 17th December last, but the package as a whole was not agreed. Nevertheless, it is hoped that a modest increase may be agreed later this year.

The Earl of Kinnoull

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that hopeful reply. Does he agree that the present limit of £28 is an embarrassment both to British travellers and to the Customs officers who have to operate this limit, particularly with the present currency fluctuations that we suffer? Secondly, while Brussels is deciding this issue, would my noble friend consider the introduction of a yellow sign to allow some tolerance as regards the present unrealistic limit?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I am not sure that I can really comment on my noble friend's second supplementary question. However, so far as the first is concerned, we certainly actively support proposals to increase the allowance in question but, as I have said, it can be expected that fresh proposals, which will include an increase in the "other goods" allowance, will be put forward in the very near future.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, at what level can an honest British traveller be relied upon to become a dishonest British traveller?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I suspect that that question would be better directed to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull.

The Earl of Kinnoull

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether we shall be alone as regards our proposal at Brussels or whether we shall have the support of other member states of the EEC?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, we are supported by other member states of the EEC.