HC Deb 19 June 1961 vol 642 cc937-8
21 and 22. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) when he received the invitation of the Danish Government, transmitted to him through the Danish Ambassador in London, to co-operate with the Danish Government in the appointment of a three-man commission to investigate and report on the recent incident when an armed Danish frigate fired on and damaged the unarmed Scottish vessel "Red Crusader"; and what reply he has sent;

(2) if he has yet received from the commander of the British Fisheries Protection Squadron his report on the recent incident at sea when a Danish armed frigate fired on and damaged the unarmed Scottish fishing vessel "Red Crusader"; and if he will make a statement, indicating what steps he is now taking to re-establish and to maintain good relations between the British and Danish Governments so as to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in future.

Mr. Heath

I have received from my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty copies of the relevant reports to the Admiralty about this incident. Her Majesty's Government have replied to the Danish proposal for the appointment of a commission of inquiry, which was received on 10th June and of which I informed the House on 12th June, that they are agreeable in principle to the appointment of such a commission and are urgently considering the details of the Danish proposals. Her Majesty's Government hope that as a result of the work of the Commission any misunderstandings about the matter between the two Governments will be removed. I naturally hope that there will be no repetition of this unfortunate incident.

Mr. Hughes

Would the Lord Privy Seal say where and when this Commission will sit, what evidence will be called before it, when it is likely to arrive at a decision? Does he realise that it is a most unfortunate thing that differences of this kind should arise between the two nations, Denmark and Britain, hitherto friendly? What steps is he taking to preclude differences of this kind in the future?

Mr. Heath

We greatly regret differences of opinion between the two countries. These matters are under discussion between ourselves and the Danish Government at the moment.

Mr. Prior

Will my right hon. Friend instruct the Commission to look at the rather wider issues involved? There has been a case recently where there has been trouble in the North Sea. Could not the Commission have a look at that at the same time to see if we can try to restore the good relations which have existed between the fishing industries of this country and Denmark?

Mr. Heath

The scope of this inquiry is still under discussion, but I think that it must be confined to the events connected with this incident.

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