HC Deb 24 May 1927 vol 206 cc1808-9

asked the Secretary of State for War how long the document for which search was made at Arcos, Limited, had been missing from his Department?


I regret that it would not be in the public interest to give this information.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this document is really a physical entity or merely a figment of the imagination? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer !"]


Mr. Macquisten.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an answer to my question.


I have called the next question.

57. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to the fact that during the search of the premises of the trade delegation and the Arcos Company a number of letters addressed to the chairman of the trade delegation which had that day arrived by the diplomatic bag, and which had been unopened owing to the absence of the chairman of the trade delegation, were seized and opened; who gave orders for the incoming mail of the chairman of the trade delegation to be tampered with; whether it was expected that the missing official document would be found in these letters; and, if not, what was the object of searching them?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

I have made full inquiry into this matter, and find that the allegation in the question is entirely mistaken. No incoming letters were opened. Certain letters found on a table, which were stated to have come from Chesham House for transmission to Russia, were opened, and, after examination, were returned to one of the Russian officials. It was the duty of the police to search, not merely for the official document, but for evidence as to the disposal of that document.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Why did the right hon. Gentleman tell me yesterday that these letters were opened—the incoming letters?


It is quite true that the hon. and gallant Gentleman led me into a slight mistake yesterday, in saying that it was the incoming mails. The Russian letters that were opened were the outgoing, not the incoming, letters.


Is that not a breach of diplomatic immunity?

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