HL Deb 01 February 1972 vol 327 cc771-2

7.28 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (Immunities and Privileges) (Amendment) Order, a draft of which was laid before this House on December 16, 1971, be approved. This Order, which has already been approved in another place, will put on a statutory footing the exemption from vehicle Excise duty already enjoyed by senior officers of IMCO under administrative action.

In 1968 Her Majesty's Government signed a Headquarters Agreement with the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMco, the only Specialised Agency of the United Nations with its headquarters in London to regulate the status, privileges and immunities of the Organisation in the United Kingdom. It was intended to accord financial privileges—but not, I should stress, immunities—on a diplomatic scale to the senior staff of IMco; that is, to those officers whose status is comparable to that of a diplomatic agent. However, the International Organisations Act 1968 did not make the necessary provision in regard to vehicle Excise duty, exemption from which is in fact accorded to diplomats. As a matter of good faith, since it was understood during the negotiations with IMco that this exemption would be included, it has since 1968 been accorded administratively on the understanding that the position would be regularised at an early date. The necessary statutory authority was secured when Section 3 of the Diplomatic and Other Privileges Act 1971 became law. As was explained to the House on that occasion, an amendment to the Headquarters Agreement has been negotiated with IMco, laid before Parliament, and will enter into force when this Order comes into force.

I hope that the House will approve this Order, which involves no issue of principle and merely regularises a concession which our previous assurances require us, as a matter of good faith, to accord. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (Immunities and Privileges) (Amendment) Order 1971, laid before the House on January 18 last, be approved.—(The Marquess of Lothian..)

On Question, Motion agreed to.