HC Deb 19 December 1963 vol 686 cc270-2W
Mr. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he proposes to take to relieve high officers of internal ional organisations and the chief representative of the European Coal and Steel Community who are resident in the United Kingdom from the non-beneficial portion of rates on their residences, in order to bring their rating privileges into line with those granted by long practice to diplomats of comparable rank.

Mr. P. Thomas

The question of rating relief for high officers of international organisations and the Chief Representative of the European Coal and Steel Community who are entitled to privileges normally accorded to diplomatic personnel of comparable rank has been under consideration for some time and Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that no good purpose is served by denying to these persons the rating privilege which has been granted to diplomats of comparable rank on a reciprocal basis since 1892. Two European organisations, the Western European Union and the European Coal and Steel Community, and one other organisation, the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation, with a total of four such persons resident in the United Kingdom, are at present affected. In the case of two of these organisations it has now become evident that the United Kingdom is in breach of its international obligations in not according rating relief to the persons concerned.

To put the matter right legislation will be needed to amend the International Organisations (Immunities and Privi- leges) Act 1950 and the European Coal and Steel Community Act 1955. The Government propose to introduce legislation when the opportunity occurs and meanwhile, on an extra-statutory basis, to meet the non-benefical portion of the rates on residences occupied by all such persons from Voted moneys. The Government consider that this action is justified in order to ensure that the cost of rating relief does not fall on the local authorities.