HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc168-70W
Mr. Hale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) why the Oldham student living in Oldham, West, was not supplied with a railway ticket home when he reported to the British Embassy in Luxembourg, that he had been robbed of his money, cheques, passport and ticket;

(2) why, after it had been established by telephone communication by the Foreign Office that the father of the university student living in Oldham, West, was a man of repute, working in a Civil Service establishment, who posted a cheque immediately to the Foreign Office, the student was detained several days in Luxembourg for the cheque to be cleared;

(3) what is the nature of the record kept at Her Majesty's Embassy in Luxembourg of calls; by British subjects in need of assistance; and when it was first known to the Foreign Office that these records disclosed a telephone call from an Oldham, West, university student at 4 p.m. on Saturday, 10th September;

(4) whether he will ascertain from Her Majesty's Embassy in Luxembourg why the information received from a university student living in Oldham, West, at 9.30 p.m. on 12th September, that he had been robbed of his money, travellers' cheques, passport and student's identification ticket and return ticket home was not sent to the Foreign Office until it was received from Oldham nine days later.

Mrs. White

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply of 11th November [Vol. 735, c.371–2] and to my subsequent letter.

Telephone calls outside office hours are taken by the Ambassador's domestic servants, who have instructions to give the telephone number of the duty officer if required. No written record of such calls is kept, and in this case, no plea of urgency was made.

Details of the theft of the student's money, ticket and passport were not given to the Foreign Office in the telegram sent on 12th September because the cause of destitution does not affect the procedure; consuls are instructed to telegraph only essential details. An applicant for repatriation at public expense has to satisfy the Consul that he has no means of getting money himself from any other source.

I have written to my hon. Friend about a remittance from the student's father. There was no question of waiting for the cheque to be cleared. A message that his repatriation had been authorised was passed to the student on Saturday, 17th September, but he chose to remain in Luxembourg until the following Monday.