HC Deb 20 July 1983 vol 46 cc369-70
11. Mr. Ernie Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the advice given by his Department to British business men and tourists visiting each of the Arab states concerning local regulations and religious restrictions.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Richard Luce)

The Department of Trade and Industry publishes advice in its booklets "Hints to Businessmen". The consular department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British consulates in Arab countries give advice in response to specific inquiries from tourists and other visitors from Britain.

Mr. Roberts

What representations has the Foreign Secretary made to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states about their refusal last year to allow British subjects to celebrate Christmas? What representations is he making about the rights of British citizens to celebrate Christmas this year?

Mr. Luce

We have no evidence that any Arab Government prevented anyone from celebrating Christmas last year. However, a specific case arose in Saudi Arabia last Christmas, which led to British expatriates being asked to leave Saudi Arabia a few months later. The Government have made strong representations to Saudi Arabia about that case.

Mr. Latham

Is it not incongruous that Arab states attach such great importance, and rightly so, to access to Islamic holy places in Jerusalem while being so reluctant to allow religious freedom to Christmas and Jews in their own countries?

Mr. Luce

The question is related to the advice that we give to British subjects about the conditions, traditions and customs of particular countries. When individuals go to particular countries it is important for them to take account of certain facts and it is those that we make available to the public.

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