HC Deb 13 July 1955 vol 543 cc1919-20
26. Major Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what restrictions the Polish authorities placed on people who wished to visit H.M.S. "Glasgow" on visitors' day recently at Gdynia; approximately, how many people were guests on board that day; how many of them were British born; and if, when similar courtesy visits take place, he will, in future, seek assurance from countries with Communist Governments that no attempt will be made to make it difficult or impossible for British people to be guests in British ships.

Lord John Hope

Previous to the arrival of H.M.S. "Glasgow," Her Majesty's Ambassador at Warsaw received an assurance from the Polish Government that anyone who applied for permission would be given a pass to enter the dockyard. I have no evidence that persons of British birth were unreasonably prevented from going on board; but I understand that some may have applied too late for the necessary pass. One thousand five hundred people, mostly in organised parties, visited the ship on the two days on which she was open to the public. One British-born woman is known to have visited the ship.

With regard to the last part of the Question, I do not think that one can here and now decide what assurances should be asked for in the event of future visits.

Major Beamish

While it is true that the hospitality provided in Poland for the crew of H.M.S. "Glasgow" was generous in every way, is it not most unfortunate that out of seventy or eighty British wives of Poles living in Gdynia, of whom about half visited a football match which a team from H.M.S. "Glasgow" played against a Polish naval team, only one was able to go on board the British ship because of the difficulties put in their way by the Polish authorities? If I send my hon. Friend some more information, will he look into the matter?

Lord John Hope

Yes, I shall be glad to look into any information which my hon. and gallant Friend may send.