HC Deb 13 May 1970 vol 801 cc1405-22

10.30 a.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Evan Luard)

I beg to move, That the Chairman do now report to the House that the Committee recommend that the Diplomatic Privileges and International Organisations Bill be read a Second time. It would be rash ever to suggest that a Bill on privileges and immunities is wholly uncontroversial, because I know that this is a subject which arouses strange passions in the breasts of some hon. Members, but I think it is true that this Bill is of an unusually uncontroversial nature. It supplements our present legislation in regard to the privileges and immunities of diplomatic missions and international organisations. Two of the three main Clauses—Clauses 1 and 3— simply tidy up the existing situation. In fact, they merely put on a statutory basis some financial reliefs which are already being given administratively.

The need for Clause 2 has arisen because of the establishment of the Caribbean Development Bank, of which the United Kingdom has become a member. We require statutory authority in the Bill to enable us to confer on the Bank privileges and immunities of broadly the same kind as those which have been accorded to other similar international organisations.

Clause 1 provides for the refund of the customs duty paid on hydrocarbon oils— that is, petrol and fuel oils for heating systems—bought by diplomatic missions and certain persons connected with them and by the Commonwealth Secretariat. If these persons or bodies imported hydrocarbon oils directly for their own use, exemption from customs duty would be accorded under existing law—that is, the Diplomatic Privileges Act, 1964 and the Commonwealth Secretariat Act, 1966. However, in practice it is obviously not convenient for them to claim and demand exemption each time the oil is imported. Therefore, they have been obtaining refunds for the amount of the duty.

At present, the authority for these refunds is through the Appropriation Acts alone. The main purpose of this Clause is to substitute for these individual Appropriation Acts a general statutory authority for making refunds of this kind. When the Consular Relations Bill was before Parliament in 1968, the then Under-Secretary of State told the House that it was the intention to seek specific statutory authority for refunds to diplomats for customs duty paid on hydrocarbon oils.

This Clause fulfils that assurance. It amends the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 and the Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966, so as to bring them into line with the Consular Relations Act 1968 and the International Organisations Act 1968.

Refunds are at present made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. When this Clause becomes law, it is proposed to change the system and to transfer the administration of all these funds to the Department of Customs and Excise. Refunds will then be made out of revenue instead of out of voted money.

I must emphasise that the privilege of duty-free petrol is one which is already given to our diplomatic missions and consular missions abroad. Under Clause 1 it will be possible for us to withdraw the privilege from the mission of any country which fails to give similar privileges to our diplomats abroad.

Clause 2, as I said, is necessary because of the establishment of the Caribbean Development Bank. If the members of the Bank included foreign States it would not be necessary for us to include this Clause in the Bill, because it would have been covered in other legislation. As at present all the members of the Caribbean Development Bank are Common- wealth countries, it is necessary for us to include a special provision in the Bill to give them the appropriate privileges and immunities of an international organisation.

The purpose of the Bank is to provide capital for the economic development of Caribbean countries and to improve the standard of living of their people. The British Government have supported this project from the outset, along with other States and territories within the Commonwealth. We ratified the Caribbean Development Bank agreement on 23rd January. This enabled us to be represented at the inaugural meeting of the Governors of the Bank, when important decisions about the future of the Bank were taken.

The Agreement contains provisions for the reciprocal granting of privileges and immunities, but these are of a relatively restricted character. They are not the full privileges and immunities which are often accorded under other arrangements or for diplomats in general.

I must point out the obvious fact that the Bank will not have its offices permanently established in London. Therefore, to a large extent, this is a theoretical provision to cater for certain contingencies— for example, for meetings which might be held here. The privileges and immunities will apply mainly in the territory where the Bank is situated.

We had hoped to be able to confer the privileges and immunities on the Bank by means of an Order in Council under the International Organisations Act, 1968; but, because there are at present no foreign countries as opposed to Commonwealth countries which are members of the Bank, it is necessary to introduce this Clause into the Bill.

When we ratified the Agreement, so that we did not cause any unnecessary delay we entered a reservation that none of the immunities, exemptions and privileges conferred in the Agreement shall be granted in the United Kingdom until such time as the necessary legislation shall have been enacted. This is the necessary legislation to which we were then referring.

Clause 2 therefore seeks to extend Section 1 of the International Organisations Act to make it applicable to the Bank and to enable an Order in Council to be made to give effect to the Agreement. If the Clause becomes law, we will lay before Parliament a draft Order in Council conferring the necessary privileges and immunities. This will require a Resolution of each House, and will provide an opportunity for hon. Members to debate the details of the privileges and immunities in the Agreement.

I repeat that the privileges here granted are more limited than in the case of other comparable regional organisations, largely through the efforts of the United Kingdom delegation in the negotiations. It is also relevant to note that the Bank is operating in the Caribbean area and is not expected to have either offices or staff in Britain. The practical effect of the Clause in terms of granting new privileges and immunities to people based in London will be very small.

Clause 3 has the effect of amending Section 2 of the International Organisations Act, 1968 to provide statutory authority to grant exemption from vehicle excise duty to the senior staff of I.M.C.O. —the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation—a U.N. specialised agency which has its headquarters in London. In fact, it is the only specialised agency which has its headquarters in London and, therefore, is of particular concern to us as regards the according of privileges and immunities.

This Clause is a logical corollary of the special privileges for these officers which were given by Parliament in Section 2 of the 1968 Act. It was the general intention of that Section to confer diplomatic financial privilege on those staff of I.M.C.O. whose rank is comparable to that of a diplomatic agent, but at present it makes no provision for exemption from vehicle excise duty, although such an exemption is a normally accepted element in the privileges and immunities of people of that rank. This Clause remedies that omission.

I.M.C.O. was led to understand that the privilege would be given, and in fact it has been accorded administratively until now. The amount of duty involved is comparatively small—about £625 a year at present. If the Clause becomes law, the Headquarters Agreement between the United Kingdom and I.M.C.O. will be amended to include a reference to vehicle excise duty, which is not at present included, and a draft Order to give effect to the amendment will be laid before Parliament.

I commend the Bill to the Committee as a useful Measure making necessary adjustments in our legislation.

10.40 a.m.

Mr. Richard Wood

Until recently—in fact, until the Bill was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 22nd April—I and a number of my hon. Friends were naturally rather apprehensive that there had been a breakdown in the production of these regular biannual diplomatic privileges Bills, which this Bill purposes to supplement.

The Under-Secretary explained that, necessary though this Bill may be, it is not a particularly solid or weighty piece of legislation. The hon. Gentleman suggested that it, perhaps, is not acutely controversial. On the whole, we would agree with him. Indeed, if the Bill had been acutely controversial, it might not have been remitted to this Second Reading Committee.

It seems to me to be certainly sensible that the refund of customs duty on hydrocarbon oil should not only be made by the Department of Customs and Excise, as I believe it is at present, but that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Customs and Excise should be made " honest " Departments, as it were. The Bill fulfils the pledge which was given in a Committee on which I served, by one of the hon. Gentleman's predecessors.

Second, it would be illogical to oppose the eligibility of the Caribbean Development Bank for the privileges and immunities which we have earlier agreed to confer on comparable organisations.

I do not think that we can decently haggle over the proposed additional exemption from the vehicle excise duty which is provided for in Clause 3. I have, perhaps to no one's surprise, no unanswerable objections to Clause 4.

Therefore, I am conscious that I am giving more or less enthusiastic consent to each of the Clauses. However, I am left with a general feeling of anxiety about Bills of this type which, I suspect, is shared not only by some members of this Committee, but by many others outside Parliament. I speak of the conviction which I think is held by many people that diplomatic privileges have already gone far enough, if not too far.

In spite of this conviction, it is always very difficult to argue against granting them in a particular case. It seems rather fussy and, to coin a word, parvanimous— the opposite of magnanimous—to suggest that the process should be stopped at any particular point. In fact, it is difficult to suggest any particular point at which the process should be stopped.

One principle on which earlier Committees have generally been agreed, and to which the Under-Secretary gave tacit assent, is that of reciprocity. My hon. Friends and I are very anxious to know whether we are giving under the Bill any privileges to members of the specialised agencies or diplomatic missions or members of the Caribbean Development Bank which are not completely universal.

Section 3(1) of the Diplomatic Privileges Act, 1964, which is one of the parents of this Bill, enshrines the principle of reciprocity and expresses very clearly the willingness of the people of this country to grant privileges in Britain to the extent, but only to the extent, that those privileges are matched in other countries by similar privileges to comparable British representatives abroad. That Section allows for the withdrawal of privileges in this country if those conditions are not fulfilled. Therefore, before my own approval of the Bill, and the extension of privileges that it contains, can be as wholehearted as I should like, I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could answer two questions.

Under Clause 3, have there been occasions when privileges which we have granted have been withdrawn? If the answer is, as I suspect, that there have not been, will the hon. Gentleman assure us that the absence of any occasions when privileges have been withdrawn means that complete reciprocity exists in all cases?

If the Minister is able to give us satisfactory answers, I will willingly ask my hon. Friends to support the Bill.

10.45 a.m.

Dr. Hugh Gray

My reservations are similar to those which have ben expressed by the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood). My experience of inter- national organisations—as an employee of them—goes back to the five years which followed the last war. However, from conversations that I have had with friends who are still employed by such organisations, I have no reason to think that the situation has changed in relation to diplomatic privileges. Therefore, I hope to hear from my hon. Friend some clear definition of the way in which one arrives at a rank comparable to a diplomatic agent.

In the post-war period, far too many employees enjoyed diplomatic immunity when they were not performing any kind of diplomatic job. International organisations generally have two categories of employees: those recruited locally, and others recruited in their countries of origin. These differences of category can always be stretched, and many people are recruited in the countries in which they will be working and treated as though they had been recruited in their countries of origin. It is often held out to such people as an additional attraction that diplomatic immunity will go with the job and that they will enjoy certain privileges. In my view, we should look into who exactly in international organisations is given diplomatic immunity, and why. I should like, for example, to hear why certain officials in the Caribbean Development Bank are to be given diplomatic immunity. Why is their rank considered to be comparable or equivalent to that of a diplomatic agent?

There have been extensions of diplomatic privileges since the war which are quite unjustified, and these multiply in time. Often it is decided to establish a new post in a mission of a United Nations agency in a given country, and it is thought that diplomatic privileges should go with it. Negotiations take place with the Government of the country in which the post is to be established. Once that Government has agreed that the United Nations agency has a strong case, if the mission is then transferred to another Country it says to the Government of the new country that the post carried diplomatic privileges in London and obviously it should continue on the same basis. In this way a multiplication takes place which is not justified. I hope to hear that close scrutiny is given to any official of an international organisation to whom it is proposed to grant diplomatic privileges, and I repeat my hope that my hon. Friend will say how rank comparable to that of a diplomatic agent is established.

10.48 a.m.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Miss Harvie Anderson, may I seek your advice? I am not familiar with the procedure in Second Reading Committees. Are Clauses taken one by one? Some of my points would be more conveniently expressed when we consider individual Clauses.

The Chairman

Our procedure is comparable with that of a Second Reading in the House. The Committee will not go through the Clauses individually. There will be a vote at the end of the debate in the normal way.

Mr. Griffiths

Do I take it that the Clauses will be considered afterwards?

The Chairman

No. The Committee stage will follow later, and Clause points would be more appropriate then. However, it is unlikely that the hon. Gentleman will be out of order in making passing references to them at this stage.

Mr. Griffiths

I am much obliged.

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), I give a general welcome to the Bill since, having benefited from the hospitality and help of our missions abroad, I accept the principle that we must afford to the diplomatic and other missions of other countries and international organisations the same facilities in Britain as our missions are afforded abroad. I welcome the Bill on that ground alone.

I also welcome the fact that we seem to be succeeding in attracting to this country a number of international organisations. We have the wheat organisation, and mention has been made of I.M.C.O. this morning. I am sure that the trend is a good one. As British power recedes from some parts of the world, it is slightly comforting to know that London remains a world capital in the sense that there are a number of international organisations represented here. Nor am I blind to the fact that the presence of these international organisations in Britain provides us with valuable foreign exchange. It is well worth while to attract them here.

As the Minister rightly said, the principal purpose of Clause 1 is, to put it rather crudely, to make the Foreign Office " an honest woman ". During the Second Reading of the Consular Relations Bill, I drew the Minister's attention to Clause 8, and we discovered that the concesssion on hydrocarbons being made to foreign consulates in this country arose from the fact that the House gave general approval to the Foreign Office Vote. But there was no specific approval in that Vote for the concession. The hon. Gentleman's predecessor gave an undertaking at that time that the matter would be put right. I am glad that this Bill puts it right. However, it underlines the necessity for Committees considering even small Bills of this kind to show diligence towards detailed points. It is good that this detailed point, which was recognised by my right hon. Friend and others at that time, is now put right in legislation.

The Minister said that he was seeking here to put the Caribbean Development Bank and various other international organisations on exactly the same kind of footing as the other organisations which benefit under the Diplomatic Privileges Act and the Consular Relations Act. I have studied those measures carefully, and the fact is that under our law we do not treat diplomats or consuls in this country in the same way under the various Acts. There are considerable technical differences in our approach to them.

I have examined the four relevant Acts —the Commonwealth Secretariat Act, the Consular Relations Act, the Diplomatic Privileges Act and the International Organisations Act. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that a study of the Sections and Schedules shows that there are marked differences in our approach to the employees and agents of the various organisations in this country. A time should come one day when we consolidate in a single Bill all the rules and regulations concerning foreign agents and diplomats in this country.

I will give one example. The Schedule to the Diplomatic Privileges Act, which is at the heart of this Bill, says specifically in Article 36 that there shall be relief from taxation on

  1. " (a) articles for the official use of the mission;
  2. (b) articles for the personal use of a diplomatic agent or members of his family forming part of his household…"
That is a clear power in the Diplomatic Privileges Act.

In the Commonwealth Secretariat Act, however, the concession is confined to an exemption from duties on …goods necessary for the official use of the Secretariat and directly imported by it…". That is a much narrower power than that contained in the Diplomatic Privileges Act. I mention that by way of illustration and to suggest that a time should come when we should consolidate the various provisions.

I have a number of other points, but it might be better to make them when we consider the Clauses.

10.56 a.m.

Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker

Clause 1 refers to hydrocarbons and the repayment of duty on them, and that brings one to the position of the drivers and junior staff in diplomatic missions.

As time goes on, I find that public opinion, and certainly my own, is adverse to what, when it started, was a reasonable concession. A very wide group of individuals are granted diplomatic privileges especially those employed as chauffeurs, who need not be privileged at all. I am thinking mainly of those from the Sovietbloccountries and others who are here, to put it bluntly, probably as spies in one form or another. The huge size of the Eastern European embassies has annoyed public opinion. I know that the Foreign Office has tried to cut them down on a number of occasions: I hope that the Minister will be able to say with what success.

We all know that reciprocity is the basis of these arrangements, and we want to protect our people in those countries against undue discrimination and, possibly, harsh treatment if they commit driving offences. However, a great number of the drivers employed in those countries are recruited locally. In this country, we find a great many " imported " drivers using these large quantities of hydrocarbon oils who, if they are involved in road accidents in these increasingly dangerous days, get away Scot free. Can the Minister say the extent to which protests have been successful in cutting down the staffs required to use these large quantities of hydrocarbon oils?

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) I regret that we do not have more international organisations in London. Obviously, we must give them the same privileges as those given in other countries if we wish to attract them here. I hope that this will be another of those Bills which encourages the right sort of international organisations to come here, and that we will give these bodies reasonable treatment. At the same time, this is another case where it should be made clear to the public that a lot of undesirable people are not getting away with it.

10.58 a.m.

Mr. Luard

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) asked a number of general questions about whether diplomatic privileges had gone too far, whether the time had not come to call a halt, and, in particular, whether there was reciprocity in every case. The whole principle on which such legislation is based is reciprocity. It is open to us to withdraw privileges and immunities from representatives of a country which is not providing them on the same scale for us. On certain occasions we have withdrawn privileges on those grounds. We have a list of the countries which have failed to provide particular kinds of privileges and immunities, and certain action has been taken by us against representatives of those countries.

It is the aim of the international community as a whole to try to establish a regular practice on matters of this kind. One of the purposes of the two Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations was to try to establish a considerable degree of uniformity in this respect among all nations. There is much greater uniformity in the granting of privileges and immunity today than there has been at any time. The time when there was a large number of bilateral agreements between individual Governments granting certain scales of privileges to each others' diplomats is to a large extent now at an end. The purpose of the two Conventions and the legislation introduced to implement them has been to create a large degree of uniformity.

My hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Dr. Gray) asked how certain officials of international organisations were assessed for the right to particular privileges or immunities. The main point here is that only an officer who is the equivalent of a diplomatic agent is qualified to enjoy these immunities, and it depends on the individual organisation how many people it appoints to a sufficiently senior rank to qualify in this way.

Schedule 1 of the International Organisations Act talking about privileges and immunities, says that a member of the official staff " who is recognised by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as holding a rank equivalent to that of a diplomatic agent" shall be entitled to the privileges and immunities set out in Section 2(2) of the Act. I have already explained that it is not expected that the Caribbean Development Bank will have staffs based in London: it will not have its headquarters in London. Therefore, it will be very unusual for any of the privileges and immunities we are talking about to be granted by the British Government to officials of that organisation, though this could happen if there were a conference or something of that kind in London.

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman earlier made it clear that the Bank will not have its headquarters here. Therefore, the provision is really quite modest. He is virtually saying that officials will have concessions during the time they happen to meet in London. There are all kinds of international meetings in London lasting for two or three weeks. There is a question here whether there might logically be a request that the privileges extended to members of the Caribbean Development Bank coming here for meetings be extended to those who attend other kinds of international meetings here. There is a logic here that needs to be considered.

Mr. Luard

Examination of the text of the Agreement shows that the privileges and immunities apply only to the official acts of officials of the organisations. Therefore, their coming here for a meeting of another kind would not entitle them to privileges and immunities. Similarly, they will get no personal privileges or immunities. For example, immunity from proceedings will concern only acts done by them in an official capacity.

I wanted in further reply to my hon. Friend to point out how limited on the whole are the number of those belonging to organisations based in London who qualify. There are only 10 " high officers " based in London of the various organisations such as N.A.T.O., I.M.C.O., Western European Union and so on. Such privileges and immunities are given because they are based in London Of those 10, three are of British citizenship and therefore do not qualify. There are 35 senior officers and 271 other officers, making a total of 316, so that is a fairly limited number. In Paris there are 669 members of staff of international organisations who qualify for the privileges and immunities in Rome 246; in Geneva 7,440; in New York, 5,500, and in Brussels 8,000. This comparison of international capitals shows that it cannot be said that we have extended very lavishly to members of the staff of international organisations privileges and immunities of this kind.

Mr. Wood

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) made a point which the Minister has not satisfactorily answered. He has explained that although the Caribbean Development Bank will not have its headquarters here its members or representatives might be here on official business from time to time. In the sense that the Bill aims to protect them, he raised the point of other organisations which do not have their headquarters in London but whose members might be here on official business, and suggested that there might be considerable pressure for an extension of these privileges to those members here on their official business. The hon. Gentleman has explained that they would not be protected if they were here for some other purpose. But if they were here for an official purpose, though their headquarters is in another country, is there not likely to be pressure to extend the concession now being given to the Bank a good deal further to many other organisations?

Mr. Luard

There is nothing new in these privileges and immunities. They are on a very restricted scale. They are a much smaller set of privileges and immunities than are given, for example, to diplomats in embassies in London. Therefore no precedent is being set that would be particularly dangerous in regard to any other international organisation. There is nothing in the Bill that will provide new privileges and immunities for members of other organisations, whether coming here for a meeting or for any other purpose. Clause 2 relates entirely to the Caribbean Development Bank, and that Bank alone.

Mr. Griffiths

I am sorry to pursue this point, but it seems relevant. Let us consider how this would work in practice. An official of the Bank, not normally resident in London but possibly resident in Kingston, may come to Britain for three or four weeks to take part in meetings of his Bank, or any agency of it, with particular reference to this country. The Minister is saying that during the three or four weeks he is here he will not be taxed on his petrol. I should have thought that that would be rather difficult administratively to achieve, but let us suppose that it can be achieved. How can we reasonably say to officials of Western European Union, which also has its headquarters in London, or to officials of N.A.T.O. or any other organisation, that when they come to a meeting in London arising from W.E.U. they shall not be given the same privileges?

Mr. Luard

The position in relation to officials of W.E.U. or N.A.T.O. is not affected in any way by anything laid down in the Bill. This might already be the case. Members of the Caribbean Development Bank would acquire these rights only if they were here on official business for a meeting of the Bank. There is nothing in the Bill that will extend the rights which a member or official of N.A.T.O., W.E.U. or any other organisation might acquire. Those organisations with offices of a kind in London already benefit in a much more material sense from the according of particular privileges and immunities than any official of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Mr. Wood

The point worrying my hon. Friend and me is: on what basis will the Foreign Office refuse to extend the privileges to people who will be in a position very comparable with that of the people in the Bank visiting London for three or four weeks? What is the basis on which this extension of privileges would be refused?

Mr. Luard

I repeat that the basis would not be changed in any way by anything in the Bill. Under the existing legislation, such as the International Organisations Act, which covers organisations such as W.E.U. and N.A.T.O., it might be possible for officials if they were here on official business to claim privilege and immunity. There is nothing in the Bill that will alter the position concerning other organisations.

I should like to try to answer some of the points which the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) raised earlier. He said that there are different scales of privileges and immunities laid down in different legislation, or sometimes in different agreements. It is a fact that the Government have entered into specific agreements with particular Governments in regard to diplomats. If those agreements were entered into before the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, and before the legislation resulting from it in this country. it may be that some of the privileges and immunities afforded are not exactly in line with those laid down in that Convention. It is also the case that there are variations in the privileges and immunities accorded, for example, to consular personnel and staff of particular organisations.

The hon. Gentleman pointed out that that can be seen from the text of some of this legislation. This will remain the case. It has never been suggested that every official who qualifies for privileges and immunities qualifies for exactly the same scale. What is now beginning to come about is a considerable degree of uniformity in the scale of privileges and immunities accorded by different governments to officials of a similar level and scale, or of a similar organisation. In this respect Her Majesty's Government have, by implementing legislation such as that which we have been discussing, joined in the process of regularising the according of privileges and immunities and bringing about a greater degree of uniformity.

The hon. Gentleman suggested that consolidating legislation might be desirable at some stage; legislation which laid down in very general terms the kinds of privileges and immunities that would be accorded to officials of different kinds and of different organisations, and presumably he also meant diplomats and consular staff. This might be possible at some time in the future, but there is inevitably still quite a considerable variation in the privileges and immunities accorded. Recent legislation, such as the International Organisations Act and the Diplomatic Privileges Act, has gone a considerable way towards the kind of aim the hon. Gentleman has in mind of laying down in statutory form what privileges and immunities should be awarded in particular cases.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) spoke of his general concern at the increase in privileges and immunities accorded, and particularly in regard to exemption from tax on hydrocarbon oils and the fact that certain embassies had very large staffs and benefited from this very considerably. The Government are concerned about the size of the staffs of some embassies in London, and we have indicated our desire to see some of them reduced. In so far as they are diplomatic staff, they must clearly benefit from the same scale of immunities and privileges as other comparable staff. The only way in which the problem can be solved is by trying to ensure that all the staffs of embassies, and of international organisations which bene

Anderson, Miss Harvie (Chairman) Gray, Dr.
Albu, Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Eldon
Allaun, Mr. Frank Herbison, Miss
Braine, Mr. Luard, Mr.
Dodds-Parker, Mr. Wood, Mr.
Fitch, Mr.

fit, should be kept down to reasonable numbers.

I hope that I have answered most of the points raised during this brief debate. On the whole, the proposals in the Bill are not of a controversial character in the scale of privileges and immunities which they cover in respect of the Caribbean Development Bank. The Bill covers only privileges and immunities of a restricted kind and should not be of great concern to hon. Members. It will be possible, as you, Miss Harvie Anderson, have pointed out, for the scale of privileges and immunities to be discussed at the Committee stage, but I hope that there will be no disagreement on the general principles laid down in the Bill which, I hope, will receive a Second Reading.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Chairman do now report to the House that the Committee recommend that the Diplomatic Privileges and International Organisations Bill be read a Second time.

The Chairman

Perhaps before our proceedings end, hon. Members will allow the Chair to go outside the rules of order to the extent of remarking that for the first time this Committee has had a woman as its Chairman and a woman as its Clerk.

Committee rose at sixteen minutes past Eleven o'clock.