HC Deb 20 March 1957 vol 567 c373
25. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Air the result of the inquiry into the conduct of Desmond Bishop, a native of British Guiana and a member of the Royal Air Force, who was threatened with arrest and returned to his ship in a police car because he was walking hand-in-hand with an English girl in Durban.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing)

No action is being taken as the result of our inquiries.

The South African police deny having threatened Aircraftman Bishop with arrest. He was taken back to his ship at his own request.

Mr. Brockway

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that statement is very contrary to all the public statements at the time of this incident?

Mr. T. Brown

All the inherent probabilities.

Mr. Brockway

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when I addressed a Question to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations no reply to that effect was made? Is he aware that the reply was to the effect that because of the conditions in South Africa representations had not been made? Will the hon. Gentleman make further investigations into the matter?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I do not want to exaggerate this incident. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations explained, the airman was neither arrested nor charged. He was questioned, and at his own request was escorted back to his ship. Surely, the answer to the problem which the hon. Member has in mind is to ensure that men receive some guidance about local laws and customs before they go ashore in other territories. This was done and is always done.