HC Deb 24 May 1954 vol 528 cc19-20
32. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the total cost of maintaining the military, naval and air force attachés in Moscow in 1953; the nature of their duties; and what reduction he proposes to effect in the interests of economy.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The duties of the Service attachés at Moscow, as at other posts, are to keep in the closest possible touch with the naval, military and air services of the country in which they are stationed, to advise Her Majesty's Ambassador on all matters affecting the armed services and to represent their respective Service Departments as required.

Since the expenditure on Service attachés does not fall on a Vote for which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is responsible, I must ask the hon. Member to put those parts of his Question which refer to the total expenditure and possible reductions to the appropriate Ministers.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

How close are these military attaches supposed to work in these foreign countries? If they work too closely are they not likely to be asking for too much information and to be liable to be arrested as spies, and is not the same true in this country? Would it not be a good thing to abolish military attachés and send trade attachés, who would improve good will between the countries instead of having people who, if they are doing their duty are liable to be arrested, and who, if they are not, ought to be recalled?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am sure the military attachés know where the line is between doing their duty and acting as spies.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that we get full value from most of our air attachés abroad?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I entirely agree with my hon. and gallant Friend.

Mr. Hector Hughes

It was not clear from the original answer if it is the intention of the Government to increase or diminish this service. Would the hon. Gentleman elaborate that?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

There is no intention at the moment to increase or diminish the service.