Europe blocks duty-free drinks for the troops
Thursday 26 December 1996
The perks were introduced under Royal Prerogative in the late 1940s, and were then incorporated in the Visiting Forces Act 1952.
But Customs and Excise has recently discovered that two Brussels directives restrict relief from value-added tax and excise duties to Nato forces only, and that the Government has been acting illegally for at least nine years.
Faced with the problem of how to "regularise the legal position of the United Kingdom in relation to EC law", the Treasury asked the European Commission for an exemption - or "derogation" - for the Commonwealth forces, "to enable the United Kingdom to continue affording reliefs to non-Nato Commonwealth forces from taxes and duties".
Philip Oppenheim, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said earlier this month that the UK is considering how best to work towards a compromise.
But it would appear that he has little chance of success - and Commonwealth forces are facing a bill estimated at up to pounds 1m in duty on their alcoholic drink, tobacco, and fuel bills, as well as VAT on all purchases.
Mr Oppenheim told MPs: "The Brussels Commission has recommended that the Council [of economic and finance ministers] reject the UK application for a derogation ...
"The commission asserts that such a derogation would not be restricted to one member state but would apply throughout the community and would entail a change in relevant directives.
"In the commission's opinion, the procedure must be applied with constraint."
But as the final decision requires unanimity, taking only one minister to vote against, it is unlikely the Commonwealth troops will retain their perk.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...