§ Mr. Hordern
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the report of the working party on free ports will be published; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
I am today placing in the Library of the House the report of the working party which was set up under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
The working party was unable to identify any tariff benefits which could be offered to traders in free ports, in conformity with European Community legislation, which were not already available under existing customs arrangements. However, it recognised that the marketing and and presentational advantages of free ports could be significant, and also took into account the possibilities of achieving economies of scale and of reducing bureaucracy.
The working party therefore recommended that two or three free ports should be established on an experimental basis. The report emphasised that the choice of locations for this purpose should be determined solely by demonstrated user demand and economic viability.
The Government are considering these recommendations.
The report is being published generally today and copies can be obtained from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.