HL Deb 20 June 2002 vol 636 cc93-4WA
Lord Gladwin of Clee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy on charging for consular and visa services in Zimbabwe following the divergence in the official and parallel rates of exchange in that country. [HL4855]

Baroness Amos

Since July 2000, the British High Commission has been running its sterling post account using the parallel rate of exchange and charging for some of its consular and visa services using the parallel rate. It has held charges for other consular and visa services at the official rate. Initially, the two rates were broadly similar. But since February 2001 the parallel rate has diverged increasingly from the official rate and the Zimbabwe dollar is now trading on the parallel market at around 10 times the official sterling rate of exchange. In financial year 2001–02, this resulted in an under-recovery by the FCO of around £422,000 in consular fees.

In order to regularise the position and avoid any future shortfalls in recovery, the British High Commission will charge for all consular and visa services at the parallel exchange rate with effect from midnight on 23/24 June.