§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will seek to amend the Diplomatic Privileges Act of 1964 to enable local authorities and other public organisations to recoup loss of rates and payments, where overseas representatives are at present protected by diplomatic privelege.
§ Mr. Douglas Hurd
No. The Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, in respect of the premises of the mission and in respect of diplomatic agents, provides for exemption from municipal dues and taxes, except those payable for specific services rendered. Where such exemption has been granted under the 1964 Act, it is the practice for the Treasury to bear the non-beneficial portion of the rates—the part not reflecting specific services rendered—while the mission concerned bears the beneficial portion.
It is the practice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make representations to heads of mission in cases where the mission itself or a member of its staff owes money to any public or private organisation and where diplomatic immunity precludes legal action against the debtor.