HC Deb 21 July 1952 vol 504 cc10-1
13. Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any further information as to the whereabouts and welfare of Captain Vivian Holt, formerly Her Majesty's Minister in Seoul, together with the Bishop of Seoul; and whether he is satisfied that the message received, allegedly from the former, is genuine.

Mr. Nutting

Nothing further has been heard of Mr. Holt and Bishop Cooper since 25th January when the North Koreans published a list of 48 foreign civilians detained in North Korea which included their names.

Two messages purporting to have been written by Mr. Holt were forwarded by the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Her Majesty's Embassy at Moscow on 5th October, 1951. These were written in manuscript block capitals. Although it is not possible to be certain, expert examination suggests that the messages were genuine.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

Can my hon. Friend say whether there is any likelihood that Captain Holt and the Bishop of Korea have been moved to Chinese territory, and, if so, whether any unofficial approaches were made to the Dean of Canterbury before his last visit, since he had sources of information open to him which clearly are not open to us?

Mr. Nutting

No questions were put or suggestions made to the Dean of Canterbury before he left this country. It is a matter of some surprise to me that he apparently showed no interest whatever in the fate of British civilians interned in North Korea. As to the present location of these two gentlemen, I have no reason to suppose that they are no longer in North Korea, but, of course, we are taking every possible step to find out not only about their whereabouts but also about their welfare.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Does the hon. Gentleman recall the last message following representations made to Mr. Gromyko in Paris last year, and will he consider making representations to Mr. Gromyko on this matter when he arrives in London?

Mr. Nutting

That matter has been in my mind for the last few weeks.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Gaster, referred to in a former Question, visited British prisoners of war in North Korean camps and, on his return to this country, wrote to the Foreign Secretary and to the Secretary of State for War offering to place all the information he had on the matter at their disposal; and that so far his letter has remained unacknowledged?

Mr. Nutting

That is an entirely different question. The Question on the Order Paper asks about civilian internees or detainees, to be more correct, and the hon. Gentleman asked me about prisoners of war, which is another matter.