§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
We will consider the last Amendment, on page 2779, and a number of consequential Amendments which appear on the Paper, together.
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, to leave out from "words," to the end of line 9, and to insert:following after the word ' upon,' shall be omitted and there shall be inserted the words ' the Secretary General and all Assistant Secretaries General of the United Nations in respect of themselves, their spouses and minor childen, the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to His Majesty, and upon any persons who are representatives of a member Government to the General Assembly or any Council or other organisation of the United Nations and to conferences convened by the United Nations while exercising their functions and during their journey to and from the place of meeting, the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign accredited to His Majesty other than the right to claim exemption from customs duties on goods imported (otherwise than as part of their personal luggage), or from excise duties or from taxes or rates."'This Amendment would involve a complete redrafting of Clause 1 (2, b) of the Bill and it would then read as the Amendment on page 2782 provides:shall confer upon the Secretary General and all Assistant Secretaries General of the United Nations in respect of themselves, their spouses and minor children, of this Subsection, the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power …".and so on. The Preamble of this Bill 811 recites that the Bill is intended to carry out the Convention of which we have heard so much. This Amendment does that, and no more. The Bill in its present form goes far beyond the Convention. Here we are dealing, not with the question of organisations which we have been discussing up to now, but with the question of what privileges and immunities should be given to what persons. To satisfy the right hon. Gentleman that this Amendment goes no further than is required by the Convention, may I draw the attention of the Committee to Section i8 of the Convention, which sets out the privileges which the Convention recommends should be accorded to officials of the United Nations? Then we find in Section 19:In addition to the immunities and privileges specified in Section 18, the Secretary-General and all Assistant Secretaries-General shall be accorded in respect of themselves, their spouses and minor children, the privileges and immunities, exemptions and facilities accorded to diplomatic envoys, in accordance with international law.That is the only reference that I can find in the Convention—and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would draw my attention to it if I have missed any, and I would give way to him for the purpose—to giving full privileges of a diplomatic envoy to the official's wife and minor children. This Amendment specifically provides that those gentlemen, the Secretary-General and Assistant Secretaries-General of U.N.O. and wives and minor children, shall get the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy accredited to His Majesty. I hope I have made it clear that the first part of the Amendment is fully in conformity with the Convention. The second part of my Amendment deals with "representatives of a member Government to the General Assembly …" If one looks at Page 4, Article IV of the Convention, it is there recommended, in Section II, that theRepresentatives of Members to the principal and subsidiary organs of the United Nations and to conferences convened by the United Nations, shall—and note this limitation—while exercising their functions and during their journey to and from the place of meeting, enjoy the following privileges and immunities—Then these are set out, including in subparagraph (g) 812such other privileges, immunities and facilities not inconsistent with the foregoing as diplomatic envoys enjoySo that, as I understand this carefully worded Convention, the only individuals who are to obtain, under the Convention, the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy in respect of themselves and their wives and children, are the Secretary-General and all Assistant Secretaries-General, and that representatives of member Governments are only to get those privileges while actually performing their duties, and while they are travelling to and from their place of meeting. That is what we have sought to provide in this Amendment.
I would like to point out to the Committee that the Convention and the Bill differ to a remarkable degree about this. It is specifically provided under the Bill, that the full privileges of an envoy accredited to His Majesty may be given to an unlimited number of officers of any organisation, to an unlimited number of persons employed on missions on behalf of any organisation, to which the Bill applies, and to an unlimited number of persons, representatives of member Governments on the governing body or any committee of any organisation. If I have stated the position wrongly, I am perfectly willing to give way and be corrected. On Second Reading, the right hon. Gentleman stated that I implied that there would be a great number of them. I certainly pointed out that there was no limit upon the number in the Bill. I adhere to that. When the right hon. Gentleman had generated some heat in the course of that Debate, he asked me how many did I think there would be —500, 50 or 5, and then indicated that the answer was "None." He said that was the answer and these are his words:The answer is in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July. 1946; Vol. 424, c. 2125.]I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to point to any limit in the Bill upon the number of persons who can be given these privileges, to any limit in the Bill as to the number of British subjects upon whom they may be conferred. Again I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman if he desires to correct me. When one looks at what has been done under the Order in Council which we have now been able to get, the Order relating to the European Coal Organisation, one sees that—one representative of each member Government on the Council of the 813 Organisation shall have the privileges under Part II, that is, the privileges of a diplomatic envoy. And we do not know the number, at least I do not. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us the number of these individuals. Also, under Article 4 of that Order it is stated:Officers of the Organisation holding the offices of Chairman or Vice-Chairman, not being British subjects and not exceeding at any one time five in number, and the Secretary-General of the Organisation …are covered by Part II.
I hope on this occasion that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to state the number of individuals upon whom the full privileges of diplomatic envoy have been conferred under the 1944 Act.
The Bill as it stands provides that full immunities can be conferred upon the wives and children of all officials coming within the categories I have mentioned. In that respect the Bill goes far beyond what was recommended by the Convention. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, while recognising the necessity for national pressures not being exercised upon organisations or upon individuals. Why does he assert that it is so vitally necessary for persons working in this Coal Organisation to have the status and the rank of diplomats representing their States in this country?
Let us for a little time examine what those individuals are to get. On this matter I would refer to what was said in this House by the right hon. Gentleman during the Second Reading Debate. The Bill provides that those individuals shall get:a like exemption or relief from taxes and rates.as is accorded to such an envoy. The right hon. Gentleman thought fit to attack the proposition that I advanced. I do not in the least mind being attacked, but, so far as I can see, the authorities in this matter are on my side. First of all I said that British subjects who would get these benefits would be above the law. The right hon. Gentleman asserted that they were subject to the law, with the duty to obey it. Perhaps I may refer him to Oppenheimer's "International Law," Vol. I, written in 1937. On page 617 he will find this statement:For a diplomatic envoy must in no respect be considered to be under the legal authority of the receiving State.814 If the envoy is not under the legal authority, is he not above the law? The right hon. Gentleman may disagree with me about that, but he will find that I am supported by passages in Halsbury's "Laws of England," on the matter.
I assert as a matter of law that it is beyond dispute that individuals who enjoy the full diplomatic privileges of a diplomatic envoy are outside the jurisdiction of our courts. In that sense, without doubt, they are clearly above the law. I maintain that the effect of giving those privileges to individuals, whether British or foreign, must be inevitable. It places them completely outside the criminal, civil and matrimonial jurisdiction of the courts of this country. What is the next point? The Bill proposes to give them the right of exemption from taxes. The right hon. Gentleman told us that they are not free from taxes on investments and shares held in this country. Diplomats are not taxed on their official salaries, and they are not taxed on private incomes from investments abroad. They are free from taxation on investments and shares held in this country.
When he was asked about the War Loan he said, "That is what I am advised by the Treaty Department of the Foreign Office and I have inquired tonight." Does the right hon. Gentleman desire to make any correction with regard to that? I give way to him if he does.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am much obliged. Again, I think he will find the international law books are on my side in the matter. Again, I quote from a well known book which is available in the Library thata foreign envoy must be exempted from all direct personal taxation and, therefore, need not pay either Income Tax or any other taxation.That is Oppenheimer's "International Law." I should be interested to know what authority the right hon. Gentleman had for the statement he made when he contradicted me on the matter. I suggest that his observations on that were really quite inaccurate, and while I do not suggest he did so intentionally, I do suggest they really were grossly misleading. If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman, as a Minister in His Majesty's Govern- 815 ment, to quote his own words on another occasion, really ought to do a little better than that. Practice may be slightly different from the statement of the law, but in so far as I have been able to ascertain the practice—and I hope I am stating it correctly—these envoys of foreign Powers are not liable for tax on their salaries, they are not liable in regard to their foreign income, they are not liable on War Loan although the right hon. Gentleman said he was advised by the Treaty Department that they were, and they are not liable under Schedule A on their houses. In practice the tax is collected on income from British securities other than Government securities which are held by Ambassadors. That is to say, Ambassadors do not pay tax on Government securities in this country. They are not liable to pay tax on other securities in this country but it is deducted at source.
What would be the position of a British subject if he is put into the position of a foreign envoy in this country? As I understand the position, the effect will be that he will be in a far better position than the British diplomat serving this country at an Embassy overseas, because the British diplomat will still not get the same taxation advantages as foreign envoys in this country and a British individual, who gets the benefits of this Bill, will not be strictly liable to pay any tax at all. At any rate, he will pay no Income Tax on his own income which is derived from abroad nor will his wife. If we are going to give exemption from Income Tax, I do suggest to the right hon. Gentleman it would really be far better to specify under the Schedule to this Bill the precise degree of exemption that is given than to have controversies as to its nature. The right hon. Gentleman may be right; I may be right. I think I am and I do not shift my ground at all on that point, but to avoid the controversy that has taken place in this House it would have been far better in this Bill to set out in detail what it was.
May I turn next to where in this Bill there is exemption from rates? I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what exemption from rates is going to be conferred on anyone under this Bill if what he said on the Second Reading is accurate? He said then that Ambassadors paid full rates on their private 816 houses. We are here dealing with individual liabilities. Under this Bill the individual will get the same privileges as a foreign Ambassador. What exemption from rates will that individual get, and what is the meaning of the words in the Schedule, paragraph 2, "The like exemption or relief from taxes and rates? "I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to deal with this point a little more fully. He will see in Halsbury's "Laws of England," Vol. 6, at page 508, that it is stated:A public minister's immunity as regards rates and taxes, although deducible from the general principles as to his freedom from taxation which are sanctioned by international usage, is sufficiently safeguarded in English law by the fact that no action can be brought against him to enforce payment.It is also stated:It is usual for the Treasury to make an allowance to the rating authority of the district in which the immune premises are situate in order to lessen the loss to the rates by reason of the immunity.One finds similar passages in other text books and in Vol. 403 of Halsbury. When the Diplomatic Privileges Bill, 1944, was under discussion, Captain Duncan brought to the attention of the House a case of great difficulty in securing any contribution to the rates from a legation. Does this exemption mean anything or not? If the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the Second Reading is accurate, the exemption from rates means nothing. If, on the other hand, he was in error in that speech, what precisely does the exemption mean? It is far better for Parliament to declare the law than merely to legislate by reference and to say that they shall have the like immunities as the envoy of a foreign sovereign Power.
In dealing with these details, I want to touch on one or two other matters. I will put this question to the right hon. Gentleman, and I would be glad of an answer. He told us that these envoys were subject to food rationing. Is it the British food rationing system or not? Is it not open to them to import food for their own consumption from abroad? Will it not be open to any British subject who becomes appointed to any one of these positions, to import food for himself from abroad without restriction? If that be the case, is it not entirely accurate to say that food cuts will mean nothing to such people? Does not the same position 817 apply with regard to clothing and petrol? What is the position there? It is a small point, but I would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman challenges the accuracy of my statement. Let me put this question to him. Is it not the case that before the war, diplomatic persons in this country were obtaining a drawback in relation to petrol duty? I would like his answer to that specific point. I suggest to him that although they may in the first instance have paid those taxes and duties, in fact, their right to a drawback has been recognised. I submit that under the Bill as it now stands there is no limit to the numbers who may gain these privileges. I suggest that we should confine the Bill to the recommendations in the Convention.
As I have sought to indicate quite shortly, the first Amendment, which we are at present discussing, seeks to implement the position with regard to the Secretary-General and all Assistant Secretaries-General, and with regard to the representatives of member Governments. I am afraid that I am taking a little longer than I intended, but I must deal with one or two points in the other Amendments which have been taken with this one. If the Committee would look at the Amendment to Schedule r, page 3, line 12, they will see that what we are trying to do is to take out "persons employed on missions" from paragraph (b) and put that in paragraph (c). That is for this reason. The Convention, in page 6, makes specific references to the privileges to be given to experts on missions for the United Nations. We recognise that they should have some privileges. The Bill, as it now stands, is in such form as to give experts on missions for the United Nations the full privileges of diplomatic envoys, and that has never been recommended by the Convention. Therefore, in my view, it is right to implement the recommendations of the Convention by making this Amendment to the Bill, by taking out "persons employed on missions" from paragraph (b) and inserting that category of persons on paragraph (C).
In an Amendment to the Second Schedule in page 6, line 9, we have sought to add to Part III of the Schedule, which sets out the immunities of all officials other than the specific high officials referred to, all the immunities of officials of the United Nations set out in 818 Section 18 of the Convention. I think it will be very difficult for the right hon. Gentleman to point out—though no doubt he will try—that any one of these Amendments which we are considering together in any way cuts down or restricts anything which has been recommended by the Convention. We are not dealing with that issue at all. The Bill goes far beyond the Convention, and in our view we ought to be careful in extending individual privileges beyond what is right for the exercise of their duty. I hope that in this connection, when he comes to deal with it, the right hon. Gentleman will explain precisely what is meant by the expression, "The like inviolability" of residence, as accorded to such an envoy.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has covered a very wide field, and I hope both he and the Committee will forgive me, if I also make rather extended observations in trying to reply to him. I will do my best to give him satisfaction. He started, as he started in the original speech he made on the first day of our discussion on this Bill, on Second Reading, on the theme of "jobs for the boys." He asks me now how many 500, 50 or 5—were going to get these full diplomatic privileges under the Bill. The other day he refused to give an answer. I did not. The answer today is the same as I gave then. It is: None. Full diplomatic privileges are not given to anybody appointed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and "the boys" who are to get "the jobs" are those, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said in his first speech, who are appointed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
No, not at all. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs does not get "jobs for the boys" by telling the Secretary-General to appoint people. Under the Charter the Secretary-General is perfectly independent. His freedom in that regard is not only safeguarded in the Charter, but was emphasised again and again throughout the whole proceedings of the Preparatory Commission of the Assembly. The answer is: None.
§ 3.3o p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The right hon. Gentleman says that the answer is in the 819 Bill, but there is no answer in the Bill to that effect. The Bill covers more organisations than the United Nations organisations, and the persons upon whom the privileges are conferred will depend upon who is included in the Order in Council.
There is nothing in the Bill to give full diplomatic immunities to anybody appointed by the Secretary of State.
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe
Is it not the case that the Secretary-General consults the Foreign Secretary before he makes any such appointment, for the very simple reason that if he particularly wanted a certain individual who was a British subject to perform some function for the United Nations, that individual might not be able to be spared from whatever particular job he was doing in Great Britain?
If the Secretary-General asks us to facilitate his obtaining the services of a certain official by releasing him for two or three years on the understanding that he comes back to his job, that is a different thing from the Secretary of State saying to the Secretary-General, "Here is a superfluous Member of Parliament of the Socialist Party, I am anxious to put him somewhere"—which was what was implied in the whole of the first speech of the hon. and learned Member. If the hon. and gallant Member for Windsor (Major Mott-Radclyffe) suggests that there is anything which infringes the liberty and independence of the Secretary-General, will he elaborate the theme?
§ Mr. Nicholson
On a point of Order, Major Milner. Surely, we are concerned with the Debate that is taking place today. Ought not the right hon. Gentleman to reply to the speech made by my hon. and learned Friend today, and not the speech he made on the last occasion?
§ Mr. J. Foster rose——
§ Mr. J. Foster
With great respect, Major Milner, I wanted to raise a matter before the right hon. Gentleman passed to the next point. Does not the 1944 Act allow His Majesty's Government, to specify any organisation to which His 820 Majesty's Government and another Government are parties, and does not the 1944 Act allow them to give full diplomatic privileges to' any high officers of such an organisation? Quite apart from the United Nations Secretary-General, is it not possible for His Majesty's Government to appoint a person to such an organisation, to specify that he is a high officer, and then to give him diplomatic immunities?
No, I think not. I think the hon. Member will find it difficult to find an international organisation in which members are so appointed. They are appointed by an international authority which chooses the Director-General, and he chooses the rest of the staff.
It is done exactly in that way. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. ManninghamBuller) asked why does the Coal Organisation require for its agents and officials independence from pressure by this Government or other Governments? It requires it because they are dealing with one of the most controversial of all current economic questions, namely, the allocation of coal as between one country and another, and it is eminently desirable that people engaged in that work should be fully international in their standing and recognised by everybody to be free from any pressure by any national government. To that end, it is desirable that the means of pressure should be removed. I think that answer is quite conclusive. I come now to what the hon. and learned Member said about diplomatic immunities. He reasserted that diplomats were above the law, and he read out a passage from Oppenheim, who used to be my instructor in these matters, and for whom I have great respect. The passage certainly did not bear the meaning which the hon. and learned Member gave it. He really sought to say that the phrase "outside the law" or "above the law" was the same as the phrase "freedom from legal process in the courts." It is utterly different. Of course, these people are subject to the law, and indeed that has been settled in the British law courts. I need only quote the cases of Dickinson versus del Solar and Rex versus Kent, but I think the point is answered from his own benches.
821 Now I come to taxation. I will, with respect, adopt in turn a phrase which he adopted from me this afternoon. He has done better than on his first attempt, but I do not think he has made a good case against me. A foreign diplomat is not liable to Income Tax on his official income. He is not liable to tax on income which comes from abroad. He, probably, would not be liable to it if he were a private citizen; it would depend on the circumstances. I did definitely make a mistake, for which I apologise to the Committee. The hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) caught me out in it. We did in this House, in the laws which settle Income Tax, grant immunity to the heads of diplomatic missions in respect of their interest from British Government securities. That is true. On other investments in this country, they pay tax.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I understand that the heads of foreign missions to this country do not pay tax upon the British securities which they may own. But is that the case where tax is deducted at source normally? Our securities vary in that. Is he immune whether tax is deducted from source or whether it is paid afterwards? The right hon. Gentleman said "other British securities." But is that right? Does he pay tax on his dividends from British securities, the tax on which is always deducted at source? Is it the practice. or has he the right, to reclaim tax which has been deducted? If he has not the right to reclaim it, he does, in fact, pay tax.
I will read out a sentence from the Regulations. I understand that this is decisive:Heads of foreign diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom are, in virtue of a special provision in the Income Tax Acts, entitled to exemption from tax in respect of interests or dividends on any British Government securities.That, I understand to be the case; but not on other British securities. There is a further point which will arise on another Amendment, though I may deal with it now rather than later. It is only if a man resides here that he gets immunities from tax. If a foreign diplomat comes to England from another court only for a certain time, he does not get it. On rates, I repeat what I said on Second Reading. The diplomat does pay full rates on his 822 private residence. He pays half-rate on his Embassy. With regard to the International Convention, of course he will not have an embassy. Therefore, there will be no question of half rates on that. He will pay the full rates on his residence.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
He will get exemption from rates in the Bill. The Bill refers to exemptions from rates, or are the words meaningless?
If they apply to an international official and he has no embassy, certainly they are meaningless.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)
Is it possible to sue him if he refuses to pay rent?
He can be dealt with by the ordinary processes which are customary in diplomatic dealings in such matters. They are very well known. One can get at a diplomat who does not pay his rent. But under this Convention there are special safeguards, and if they are not properly implemented, a case can be brought to the tribunal, and, in the last resort, to the Permanent Court of International justice. There is no possibility of abuse in that regard.
The next point mentioned concerns food rationing. It is true that the head of a Mission can import food for himself from his own country, but in so doing he is adding to the food supplies of this country. He can draw food from our supplies only under our rationing system, unless by courtesy he is given a little extra for entertainment purposes, as the late Coalition Government used to give diplomats a little extra for their functions.
All this turns on the number of international officials who are to have this privilege. I have some precise information which I can give. So far as the Secretariat is concerned, there will be one Assistant Secretary-General. If he resides in this country, which is in the highest degree improbable—because the seat is not going to be here—but if by some chance the Secretary-General did so reside, there would be one British member who would have this privilege. The Director of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr), might, conceivably, reside in this country, but in fact he resides in the United States, and there is every reason to believe that 823 he will continue to do so, but if he did reside in this country, it would make a total of two. Let us look at the other organisations: U.N.R.R.A., none; United Nations Information Organisation, none; Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees, none; United Nations War Crimes Commission, none; United Nations organisation proper, none; United Nations Preparatory Commission, none; European Central Inland Transport Organisation, none.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Can the Minister say the total number who have been given privileges under Part II of the 1944 Act, whether they are British or not?
Is the hon. and learned Member now asking about full diplomatic immunities accorded to a head of a Mission?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am asking if he can state the number of British or other nationals who, since the 1944 Act, have been given the privileges a diplomat enjoys when accredited to His Majesty?
Yes, U.N.R.R.A. officials, five; representatives of Governments, 17; United Nations Information Organisation, officials, none; representatives, 10; Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees, officials, one; representatives, none; War Crimes Commission, officials, none; representatives, 12; United Nations organisation proper, officials seven, representatives, none; Preparatory Commission of U.N.E.S.C.O., officials four, representatives, none; Transport Organisation, officials, three, representatives, none.
Perhaps I may come to the Amendment, the purpose of which is to prescribe in terms as close as possible to those of the Convention, the immunities, firstly, of the high officers of the Organisation, and, secondly, the immunities of representatives of Members to the Assembly and other conferences. That is to say, the substance of the fourth and fifth Articles of the Convention. It leaves out the experts. We are going to deal with those in another Amendment, so I will not mention them now. I fully understand the laudable purpose which the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends had in putting down this Amendment and trying to make the Bill look as exactly like the Convention as they 824 can. I said on Second Reading that that was an almost impossible thing to do. In point of fact, they have failed very seriously to do it. We cannot accept this Amendment. In the first place, it would only apply strictly to the United Nations organisation itself, and not to the other organisations which may, or may not be, under the United Nations; and we agreed, on the first Amendment mooed today, that we must cover such organisations, whether or not they are part of the United Nations system. If one tries to do these things in a Bill, one will, in some respects, do too much, and, in other respects, too little. In some respects one will not go far enough to carry out the intentions of the Convention, and, in other respects, one would go beyond what is needed.
Let me give two examples Take the case of the privileges and immunities of representatives to the Assembly or to a Convention. Under this Amendment, the representatives would get, as they did under the Act of 1944, the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic envoy—freedom from legal process. Under this Convention, the authors were careful not to do that. They put in Section II (a) something quite different:immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal baggage, and, in respect of words spoken or written and all acts done by them in their capacity as representatives, immunity from legal process of every kind.This is very much narrower.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I agree as to paragraph (a) in Section II, but paragraphs (b) to (f) are quite precise definitions. When it comes to paragraph (g) the right hon. Gentleman will see:such other privileges, immunities and facilities not inconsistent with the foregoing as diplomatic envoys enjoy.Therefore, if one gives to those people what diplomatic envoys enjoy, one is giving them, in fact, all that is recommended by Section II
I will look into that point, but I think that there is an answer to it, unless I am very much mistaken, because this has been examined with the greatest care. If I may deal with the reverse mistake, namely of not giving enough, Sections 12 and 13 of the Convention give immunity to a representative from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and acts done in his 825 official duties, and privileges and immunities continuing beyond the period when he is actually functioning at the Assembly or wherever he may be. This is a point of vital importance, but it is missed by the Amendment. Section 13 provides that—Where the incidence of any form of taxation depends upon residence, periods during which the representatives of members to the principal and subsidiary organs of the United Nations and to conferences convened by the United Nations are present in a State for the discharge of their duties shall not be considered as periods of residence.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
In the Amendment to the First Schedule, page 3, line 21, the right hon. Gentleman will see the words:there shall be inserted the words 'and in determining the usual place of abode regard shall not be had to residence for the purpose of discharging any official duty.'
I submit that it is extremely easy to make mistakes of this kind in trying to draft precisely on the basis of the Convention, and that is the point which I made on Second Reading, and to which hon. Members opposite ought to attach importance. Mistakes might be made on the first occasion when drawing up Orders in Council which would make it desirable to replace them by others. It is most undesirable that there should have to be a Bill to do that, if the matter is of only secondary importance. Under this system of a Bill, with rather broader powers, implemented by Orders in Council, the change can be made whenever desired. That is the case against the Amendment, and I hope the House will reject it.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
Once again, the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to make his points with great clarity and covering a very wide held. I thought it was understood that this Amendment was to be taken with a series of other Amendments on the Paper. Therefore, although it may seem that the Debate is rather wide, it is really shortening discussion, because we are taking the series as a whole. If the right hon. Gentleman or his advisers will look carefully at them, they will see that their purpose is to secure in the Bill that all the things which we agreed in the Convention, under Artices 4 and 5, are taken care of, and that it should not go further than that. That is the purpose. The right hon. 826 Gentleman will find, on examination, that if there is anything which one of these Amendments gives power to take away, it is given back in another, so as to secure the purpose. I support that purpose because I was very much moved by what emerged from the Second Reading Debate. I for one—and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is true of all of us on this side of the Committee—am perfectly prepared and anxious to carry out the Convention. The Convention was made, and we agreed with it. It is a good Convention. Our purpose is to see that it is carried out, not only because we put our name to it—which, after all, is a good reason for carrying out an international agreement—but because it is also wise if the United Nations Organisation and the associate organisations, so to speak, are to become efficient.
Up to now, we have been discussing organisations. Now we are discussing privileges of individuals. If one can compare good and ill, it is the reverse or Nuremberg. There, they started with the individuals and moved on to the organisation. Here, in the good work we are doing of extending privilege, we start with the organisations and move on to the individual. In the absence of the Communist Party, who has taken a particular interest in privilege this afternoon and who has now left us, I think it would be agreeable to the Committee, as a whole, to say that one wants to be more careful about privileges to individuals than about privileges to organisations There is a very natural fear that these privileges can be the subject of considerable abuse.
It is not, I hope, an improper thing for me to say, and will not cause any bad blood, that it is a matter of general agreement that, on occasion, diplomatic privilege has been abused, and rather considerably abused, although probably not by the great nations. There have been occasions on which many people have felt that this traditional privilege, as built up over the ages, has been rather abused. That becomes a particular danger when taxation, both direct and indirect, reaches such high levels that the temptation to abuse it becomes rather great. There are many agreeable things which can be done in connection with Customs Duties which it is a little tempting to officials of all 827 kinds to do, either for themselves or for their friends. The greater the disproportion between the value of the article and the price that has to be paid for it when taxation is added, the greater the temptation becomes. Therefore, I was glad to see that in this Convention—and I congratulate him for it—the right hon. Gentleman has taken great precautions to draw it much more tightly and closely, in certain respects, in order to avoid this abuse. We are all indebted to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends for having done that.
When he came to his counter-attack on my hon. and learned Friend—they had a little spar on the Second Reading—I had quite enough battles of my own without running into other people's—I thought his reply a little disingenuous. He said that the appointments are not made by the Secretary of State or the British Government. Of course not, they are made in the U.N.O. organisations by the Secretary-General. Nevertheless, we would be a little disappointed if no Englishman or Scotsman were ever appointed. I have no doubt that it is the practice to ask the Government to suggest names, and therefore that is not really a complete rebuttal. He said in his most dramatic way, which I will not emulate, that this is not a case where the Secretary of State runs round the Government and says "Here is a superfluous man—let us try to find a job for him." The right hon. Gentleman said that one does not do that in an international organisation. Perhaps that is reserved, unhappily, for other spheres of our more direct responsibility in the British Empire. In point of fact, I think the right hon. Gentleman's experience is the same as mine, that what would happen on U.N.R.R.A. and these other organisations—and I have had a good deal of trouble with it—is that, having tried everybody in turn and the whole thing having got into a most frightful mess, everyone scratches his head and says, "Let us find some chap who can pull this through." Then they try to find somebody, not so much in order to find a job for somebody, but to try to find somebody able to handle these immensely difficult problems. The finding of such people and persuading them to take on the jobs, is quite a difficult task.
828 At the same time it is very important that we should not overstate this matter, and we have not done so in the Debate. We have reached a very agreeable decision on many points. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need exaggerate the danger of what is called "pressure" on an individual representing a Government by the mere fact that he will have to pay rates and taxes. That is not a terrific form of pressure. He would probably reclaim it from somebody else. That would not be an effective method of stopping somebody doing something. There are plenty of other methods which a Government might use. The test that the Committee ought to apply I am trying to make the same kind of suggestion that I have made before—is whether this Bill only gives what is reasonable to carry out Articles to which we are bound by the Convention. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell me this, because this Schedule is rather complicated? If it does only that, I hope that he will be able to accept either now or on the Report stage this series of Amendments or a similar series. But if these powers are wide, then it is dangerous. Hon. Members opposite would have fought this battle if they had been on this side. There is a danger in giving powers substantially wider than those required for one's immediate purposes.
The right hon. Gentleman will admit that we have tried to help him. Only one Amendment has been pressed to a Division. That has been because of the assurances which the right hon. Gentleman has been able to give us. I wonder whether, if we can allow him to reach a certain stage, he would give us an assurance to look at this matter again, and to say that if it is a very small extension, he will let it go. We should like him to tell us whether this series of Amendments or others in a similar form could be adopted to make sure that the Bill covers what the Convention requires. We do not want to go substantially beyond it. If it is very little beyond——
§ It being Four o' Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Retort to the House.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again upon Monday next.