HC Deb 18 June 1951 vol 489 cc1-4
1. Mr. Nigel Fisher

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware of the recent visit of Mrs. Monica Felton to North Korea and of her statement since her return to this country; and whether he has considered prosecuting her on a charge of treason for consorting with the enemy abroad and for spreading enemy propaganda at home.

3. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Attorney-General whether he has now received a report from the Director of Public Prosecutions about Mrs. Monica Felton; and whether he proposes to institute proceedings against her for treason.

The Attorney-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

I have not yet received the Director of Public Prosecutions' report, and inquiries are still being made. In these circumstances, I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Fisher

While appreciating that, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he would agree that, quite apart from Mrs. Felton, this case raises important considerations of principle as to what may be permitted to a British subject in relation to an enemy State? Is is not high time that we had a ruling on what is and what is not permissible?

The Attorney-General

This is obviously a very important case, and I prefer not to discuss it until I have all the facts before me.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Will my right hon. and learned Friend reassure the House that he will not allow his great office or the great provisions of our criminal law to be prostituted for political purposes or turned into an engine for the suppression of liberty?

The Attorney-General

I hope that in this House we never consider a matter of this sort on party lines. I always keep my office absolutely independent of any political consideration at all, and I shall do my level best to do so.

Mr. Taylor

When the Attorney-General receives the report from the Director of Public Prosecutions will he consider putting a copy of the report in the Library for the benefit of hon. Members?

The Attorney-General

No, Sir. That is a report which is made confidentially to me.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

It would be a great mistake to carry on, and I do not propose to call any more hon. Members.

46. Mr. Garner-Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what facilities were afforded by his Department to enable Mrs. Monica Felton, chairman of the Stevenage Development Corporation, to visit North Korea.

49. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the recent visit of Mrs. Monica Felton, the chairman of the Stevenage Development Corporation, to the enemy forces in North Korea; why he franked her passport for this purpose; and whether he will ensure that no such visit is permitted in future.

The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)

No facilities were granted for Mrs. Felton's journey. Her passport was renewed on 2nd February, 1951, in the normal way. It was not valid for travel to China or Korea.

Mr. Garner-Evans

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that as a result of scares of this nature his Department will not for one moment suffer any infringement of the good Liberal principle of laisser passer?

Mr. Younger

We are certainly very interested in free travel for all bona-fide purposes.

Mr. Fisher

Should not a passport endorsement be required for a British subject to travel to visit an enemy State with whom we are actually engaged in war? Surely an inquiry ought to be made before a British subject travels in this way.

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman no doubt appreciates that that would involve an inquiry about every person leaving this country. There was no indication that Mrs. Felton was going to China and Korea. Her passport was not made valid for that.

Mr. S. Silverman

The right hon. Gentleman says that her passport was not made valid for that purpose. Is he intending to imply that it is illegal for any British subject to go anywhere in the world unless the Foreign Secretary endorses his or her passport to that effect?

Mr. Younger

No, Sir, but I think I am right in saying that the passport is a request to foreign Governments to give certain facilities to the holder. If the passport is not valid for a particular country, then the Foreign Secretary cannot be said to have made that request in respect of that individual; but that does not stop the person going.