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.
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...