HC Deb 22 November 1948 vol 458 cc849-51
18. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been received from the Soviet authorities by the British representative on the Control Commission of Austria to his protests against the repeated abduction of representatives of the Austrian Government.

Mr. Mayhew

The Soviet replies have been very unsatisfactory. The only assurance regarding the arrest of Police Inspector Marek in June which the Soviet High Commissioner would give, was that he would inform the Allied Council and the Austrian Government of the results of his investigation of the charges. When reminded of this undertaking on 10th September, apart from expressing surprise at our interest, he would only say that he had not forgotten his promise.

On 5th November, Frau Dr. Ottilinger, who is the official in charge of the Austrian Ministry of Planning, was arrested. In the Allied Council on 12th November, the British High Commissioner refused to admit the assertion of the Soviet High Commissioner that this was a matter solely within his competence, and declared that such irregular activities on the part of the Occupying Powers brought the whole Allied Administration in Austria into contempt. If any one element had cause to complain of the activities of an Austrian official, there was a perfectly simple remedy, namely, to place the matter in the hands of the Austrian authorities, and, if the action taken was not regarded as acceptable, to lay the matter before the Allied Council. General Galloway asked that Frau Dr. Ottilinger be handed over to the Austrian authorities, together with the accusations against her and any evidence supporting them.

The only reaction to this statement was a threat to continue to make such arrests, on the grounds that Austrian officials were being employed by the Western Powers for espionage against the Soviet.

Professor Savory

Is it not possible to take effective steps, in conjunction with the American and French representatives, to put a stop to these continual deportations and arrests, which are making the functioning of the Austrian Government quite impossible?

Mr. Mayhew

We have always been supported, in the representations we have made, by the United States and French Governments. I cannot say more, however, than that we shall continue to use all the influence we have with the Soviet authorities to stop these arrests.

Mr. Paget

Does not my hon. Friend think that this continual kidnapping of people in this area is quite intolerable? Cannot they be given proper protection?

Mr. Mayhew

We are doing what we can to establish more civilised conditions.

Sir Ronald Ross

Could not the key members of the Austrian organisation, whose arrests have been in order to sabotage that organisation, be given protection by the other Powers?