HC Deb 30 January 1956 vol 548 cc580-3
9 and 10. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) on what date he received representations from the Government of Iraq about the presence in this country of I. S. Nuri, N. A. R. Hussain, and M. M. Mustafa; the nature of these representations; and what reply he made to them;

(2) on how many occasions in the last twelve months he has received representations from foreign Governments about the presence in the United Kingdom of citizens of the countries they govern; in how many cases the expulsion of such citizens from the United Kingdom was requested; and what action he took in each case.

19. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what requests he has received from the Government of Iraq during the past twelve months for the expulsion from this country of students of Iraqi nationality; and what action he has taken in each case.

38. Mr. Parkin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what diplomatic communications he has received from foreign Governments or their representatives on the subject of foreign nationals permitted to study in this country.

43. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs upon what date he received representations from the Iraqi Government about Iraqi students in the United Kingdom; and what reply he made.

Lord John Hope

My right hon. Friend is not prepared to disclose particulars of communications which are addressed to him in confidence by foreign Governments.

Mr. Swingler

Is not this a most unsatisfactory situation? Did not the Home Secretary assure some hon. Members of this House that inquiries had been made about the possible danger to the lives and liberty of these students from Iraq who were being returned, and gave them an assurance that no such dangers existed? Are we to understand that the communication for the return, the expulsion from this country, of these students in the middle of their studies came from the Iraqi Government, and that his Department acted as the agent of that Government in these cases?

Lord John Hope

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Foreign Office does act as a channel of communication in these matters, but the decisions are for the Home Secretary.

Mr. Warbey

Is it not a shocking thing that the Foreign Office should refuse to give to the House information to which hon. Members are entitled in this matter, and make a secret about it? As the hon. Gentleman has virtually admitted that communications have been received from the Iraqi Government, will he now say why the British Government have departed from their long-established tradition of political liberty and passed on the message to the Home Office for the expulsion of these students?

Lord John Hope

No tradition has been departed from at all.

Mr. P. Williams

Is it not the case that the Home Secretary took his decision on these cases purely in the interests of this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and would not it be as well if some hon. Gentlemen opposite did the same thing?

Mr. Parkin

Will the Foreign Secretary point out to the Iraqi Government that if he, the Foreign Secretary, is to observe discretion in these matters, so might the Iraqi Government, and will they put a check on the boastful public speeches of the Iraqi Minister of Education, who announced what influence he has over the British Government in this matter?

Lord John Hope

That is not a responsibility of ours. That is another question.

Mr. Shinwell

Apart from the merits of this case, is it altogether desirable that Iraqi students, or students of any other nationality, can be expelled from this country simply because the country concerned expresses an opinion to that effect? Is it not a departure from the traditions of this country?

Lord John Hope

I think the best thing that I can do is to refer the right hon. Gentleman to an Answer given previously about Iraqi students by the Home Secretary when he said: …having satisfied myself that the continued presence of these students in this country was not in the public interest, I required them to leave."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January. 1956; Vol. 548. c. 13.]

Mr. Shinwell

In that event, may we be informed—after all, we are entitled to be so informed—of the Government's reason why these people were regarded as undesirable?

Lord John Hope

That is entirely a matter for the Home Secretary.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the hon. Gentleman why he is refusing to tell the House the reason certain students have been expelled from this country?

Lord John Hope

The reason I cannot enter into that is because their expulsion is not the responsibility of the Foreign Office but that of the Home Secretary, as the right hon. Gentleman knows.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Am I to understand that the Foreign Office do not know the reasons upon which the Home Secretary acted?

Lord John Hope

The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that one Department cannot, and should not, answer for the responsibilities of another Department.

Mr. W. Griffiths

May I ask the Minister a question about his own responsibility? Will he tell the House the reason he refused to give any answer so far as the Iraqi Government are concerned? Surely he appreciates that all hon. Members will draw the conclusion from his reply that the Iraqi Government have in fact made representations to the British Government to have these students returned? If the hon. Gentleman has nothing to hide, why does he not tell us?

Lord John Hope

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question was contained in my original Answer. It would be contrary to the established practice.

Captain Pilkington

Can my hon. Friend say to what extent there are precedents for the action which has been taken?

Lord John Hope

Not without notice.

Mr. S. Silverman

And not with notice, because there are not any.

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