HC Deb 28 November 1973 vol 865 cc370-1
2. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total number of persons resident in the United Kingdom to whom diplomatic immunity is extended.

Lord Balniel

A total of 2,065 officials in the United Kingdom, with their families, are entitled to full diplomatic immunity. A further 2,832 are entitled to a more restricted immunity.

Mr. Tebbit

Is the Minister aware that this great number of people who are entitled to immunity gives rise to considerable disquiet when immunity is abused in such matters as traffic offences and even more so in relation to criminal offences? Will my right hon. Friend assure me that he will expedite the inquiries he is making into the alleged assault upon my constituent, Mr. Levy, by the third secretary of an embassy in London, in which alleged assault Mr. Levy was seriously injured?

Lord Balniel

The size of the diplomatic missions in London compares broadly with the total numbers of staff in British embassies and diplomatic missions overseas, who have the same immunities. On the specific point that my hon. Friend has raised, I have asked the Home Office to let me have urgently the police report of this incident. As soon as I have been able to look at this I shall be able to consider whether we should take the matter up with the South African Ambassador.

Mr. George Cunningham

Will the Minister make clear to all diplomatic missions in London that if diplomatic immunity is constantly abused the Government will have to resort to declaring people personœ non grata?

Lord Balniel

All the diplomatic missions should be aware that it is their duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state.

Mr. Goodhart

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that if petrol rationing has to be introduced here it will apply to embassy cars and the cars belonging to foreign diplomats?

Lord Balniel

My hon. Friend will appreciate that that is a hypothetical question. We shall consider that matter if and when it arises.