HC Deb 01 July 1913 vol 54 cc1640-1

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has now made inquiry into the complaint of I. Fisher, of Alexandria, that his letters and papers are retained in the Post Office and handed over to the Russian Consul; whether this has been done with the consent of the Egyptian Government; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter


From inquiries which I have caused to be made it appears that though Mr. Fisher's correspondence was for a time detained in the Post Office at the request of the Russian Consul at Alexandria, none of Mr. Fisher's letters were at any time handed over to the Russian Consulate, and the correspondence was delivered to Mr. Fisher when he complained. Under the Capitulations Consuls have the right to assistance from the Egyptian Government in investigating cases of crime committed by their nationals, and have thus in their judicial capacity been accustomed in such cases to require the Post Office to remit to them correspondence addressed to their nationals. In this case the Russian Consul asked the Post Office to detain Mr. Fisher's correspondence on the grounds that either Mr. Fisher was a Russian subject, and therefore under his jurisdiction, or that the name was being used as a pseudonym for Adamovitch. In point of fact Mr. Fisher is an Ottoman subject, and the Russian Consul was therefore in this case not the competent judicial authority. The action of the Russian Consul was therefore based on a misapprehension, and he subsequently withdrew his request. It is possible that the Post Office authorities acted with insufficient care in the matter, but Mr. Fisher, at any rate, has withdrawn all complaints against them. To prevent the recurrence of such an incident and to carry out strictly the Capitulatory Law, it has been arranged that in future Consuls shall not address the Post Office officials direct, but send their request through the Egyptian Foreign Office, which is the competent authority to decide on questions of nationality.


Will the question of opening correspondence be included in that investigation which is going to be made the subject of a Report on the capitulations law?


I do not think that further investigation is required than that which has already been made in this particular case.