asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the names of the approved organisations authorised to distribute for charitable purposes imported gifts which have been forfeited; and what checks are applied to ensure that the materials thus seized are in all cases used for benevolent objects.
There are no organisations specifically approved for the purpose of distributing forfeited gift importations but such gifts are usually handed over, for free distribution to suitable recipients, to one or other of the charitable organisations which have already been approved for the purpose of handling gifts sent from abroad for free distribution in this country. The full list of approved distributors is very long, but in the absence of a special request from the addressees of the forfeited parcel for disposal through a particular channel, only a few organisations of unimpeachable standing are normally concerned and no special checks for these have been considered necessary. I can, if my hon. Friend wishes to see a copy of the full list, make arrangements for him to do so.
What exactly is the meaning of the phrase "imported gifts which have been forfeited"? On what grounds have they been forfeited, and in what sense is a gift an import?
There have been a great many questions in the House recently about articles sought to be imported free of duty as gifts. Where the Customs law is violated, the goods in question are liable to be forfeited. It is to these that the Question refers.
But would my right hon. Friend explain what Customs law is violated in respect of a gift, which one would have thought could not be imported at all? Surely the notion of importation of goods involves a commercial transaction of some sort?
Of course not; a person who brings goods in from abroad which are his own property is importing them. There is no question of a commercial transaction there.
May I ask this question, about which we have had some correspondence: Supposing an alien living in a foreign country, off his own bat, sent what obviously was an unsolicited gift to a person in this country, in what sense is that an import?