HC Deb 30 April 1951 vol 487 cc834-6
52. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish a summary of the evidence upon which it was decided to withdraw Lord Russell of Liverpool from his appointment in Germany.

The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)

As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to the hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. R. Winterbottom) on 17th April, Lord Russell is to be withdrawn from Germany because it was felt that in consequence of the publicity already given to the case he may find himself, however much he may desire to avoid it, becoming a focus of political feeling in Germany, and it was considered wise to take account of this possibility. Lord Russell is not being withdrawn because of the original traffic incident, in regard to which the Lord Chancellor takes the view that it would be unfair to blame him.

There is no evidence to publish with regard to the withdrawal of Lord Russell because the whole matter was dealt with by the Lord Chancellor who subsequently had discussions with my right hon. Friend. I may add that the High Commissioner and Lord Russell have agreed between themselves that the incident should be regarded as closed and I would commend this conclusion to the hon. and learned Member as eminently sensible.

Mr. Marlowe

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there is grave apprehension among other British officials in Germany that their task will be made much harder if they do not have behind them the backing of the British Government? Does he realise that we do not get the respect and co-operation of the German people by showing weakness?

Mr. John Hynd

Is not my hon. Friend aware that incidents of this kind may give rise, rightly or wrongly, through misapprehension, to a feeling that British representatives are not behaving properly in the occupied territories—I have particularly in mind Austria—that this can only be removed by such direct action as has been taken in this case, and that this will receive the approval of the more responsible members of the occupation authorities?

Mr. Younger

I do not want to add to the trouble which has been caused by this incident, but I repudiate any suggestion that this is a case of the Government not standing by officials. I said in my answer that the Lord Chancellor took the view that it would be unfair to blame Lord Russell for the incident; it was not the incident but the publicity and the inevitable results of the publicity which had to be taken into account.