Passport Fees

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30 April 1959.

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Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth 12:00, 30 April 1959

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, exercising his powers of approval under Section 8 (2) of the Fees (Increase) Act, 1923, he will ensure that any revenue accruing from the increase of the passport renewal fee is treated as an excess receipt under Section 2 (3) of the Public Accounts and Charges Act, 1891.

Photo of Mr Jocelyn Simon Mr Jocelyn Simon , Middlesbrough West

No, Sir, because the proceeds of passport fees are already taken as Appropriations in Aid in accordance with a Treasury Minute of 1892.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that I had to put down this rather complicated Question in order to ask him for an assurance that the 2d. Stamp Duty on cheques will not be increased on the ground that that Stamp Duty was fixed in 1918, in view of the fact that passport fees were increased because they were said to be unrealistic since they had been fixed in 1931? In view of the danger that the Stamp Duty on cheques will be increased because it was fixed in 1918, may I have an assurance on that score, in the light of the quite idiotic action of the Foreign Office in increasing passport charges?

Photo of Mr Jocelyn Simon Mr Jocelyn Simon , Middlesbrough West

I answered my hon. Friend's Question, which was related to the treatment in the Estimates of these extra-Exchequer receipts, and I prepared myself with a considerable amount of background knowledge on that aspect. I did not anticipate the supplementary question that my hon. Friend has now asked me, and I am therefore compelled to ask her to put down a Question on the subject.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

Will not the Government consider withdrawing altogether from this very stupid decision to raise the cost of passports, in view of the obvious reaction in the House and outside, and also in view of the need to do everything possible to facilitate travel between countries.

Photo of Mr Jocelyn Simon Mr Jocelyn Simon , Middlesbrough West

No. The merits of the matter were dealt with by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on Friday, admirably and conclusively. The reaction in the country has by no means been universally adverse, and the right hon. Gentleman may have seen the admirable comment in the Economist this week. In effect, it comes to this: there is no reason why those who can afford to travel abroad should be subsidised in this respect by the general body of taxpayers, many of whom cannot afford to go abroad.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

On a point of order. In view of the fact that my hon. and learned Friend has invited me to put down a Question, may I ask him if he is aware that the Question I sought to put down on the matter has been refused by the Table? What position am I in now, having been asked by my hon. and learned Friend to put down this Question?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. Lady had better try again.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

In view of what the Financial Secretary has just said, can he say whether, when the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreigns Affairs said the other day that these funds were being raised because we need revenue, by "we" he meant the Foreign Office or the Exchequer?

Photo of Mr Jocelyn Simon Mr Jocelyn Simon , Middlesbrough West

The Government always speak with one mind but through various spokesmen.