HC Deb 20 March 1963 vol 674 cc363-4
10. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Lord Privy Seal what inquiries have recently been received by Her Majesty's Embassies concerning the whereabouts of Mr. Harold Philby; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heath

On 24th January, at the request of Mrs. Philby, Her Majesty's Embassy at Beirut made inquiries of the Lebanese authorities to try to trace the whereabouts of Mr. Philby who had been missing since the previous evening. Subsequently Mrs. Philby informed the Embassy that she had received a reassuring letter and a telegram from Mr. Philby in Cairo. In view of this the inquiries of the Lebanese authorities were not pressed.

On 28th February the Foreign Office were requested by his employers, the Observer, to inquire from the authorities of the United Arab Republic whether there was any record of Mr. Philby having entered Egypt and whether his whereabouts were known. Our Embassy was informed that Mr. Philby had not entered the United Arab Republic since his visit in June/July, 1962.

Meanwhile Mrs. Philby has informed the Embassy in Beirut that she has received further communications from her husband from Cairo.

We understand that the United Arab Republic authorities are continuing their inquiries.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Can my right hon. Friend give the House a little more information than that in response to my request for a statement? Does he realise that, in view of disclosures made in this House by the Prime Minister on 7th November, 1955, there will be very grave disquiet in the public mind until the whereabouts of Mr. Philby are discovered?

Mr. Heath

I have given my hon. Friend all the information which is in our possession. It is not possible for me to speculate on the whereabouts of Mr. Philby. On the last point in his Question, it may reassure my hon. Friend to know that since Mr. Philby resigned from the Foreign Service in 1951–12 years ago—he has had no access of any kind to any official information.

Mr. Lipton

Would it not be more in the public interest if the machinery of State were concentrated on tracing the whereabouts in England of missing witnesses?

Mr. Speaker

That is wholly out of order. It does not arise.

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