HC Deb 09 February 1931 vol 248 cc19-20

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for what reason he requested the West Sussex police force to interrogate Commander Hervey, Royal Naval Reserve, of the houseboat "Adelaide," Southwick, Sussex, as to the whereabouts of his son. Lieut.-Commander J. Hervey?


Lieut.-Commander Hervey was repatriated from Brazil in May, 1929, at a cost to public funds of £50 8s. Correspondence with him regarding this debt has continued for a considerable period, and the last letters from Lieut.-Commander Hervey were written from the address mentioned in the Noble Lord's question. As no reply was received to letters sent to him at this address on the 1st of September, the 9th October, and the 12th of November, 1930, the facts of the case were, in accordance with the usual routine when a considerable sum is owing to public funds, communicated to the Home Office, who were given the last address from which letters had been received, and were requested to make inquiries. The visit from the police was the result of this request.


Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman's Department has no charge against this man except a, civil charge—no criminal charge—and is it the habit of the Department to request the police to make inquiries as to the whereabouts of persons against whom it is alleged that the Foreign Office has a claim for money?


As I have stated in my reply, it is the business of my Department, when it is responsible for giving up public money, to seek to recover it. It did so by communicating with the address which this gentleman had given to us himself on three occasions, and, when we failed, we followed, as I have already said in the answer, the usual routine.


Are we to understand that this is a repudiated debt?


Do I understand that the request made to the police through the Home Offies was that the father of this gentleman should be interrogated as to his son's whereabouts? What has it to do with the father?


If the father answered the door, the interrogation would have to be put to him.