HC Deb 29 January 1991 vol 184 cc455-6W
Mr. Sillars

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total number of foreign diplomats within the United Kingdom accredited to embassies and consulates, respectively, showing within the total the numbers by status against each foreign embassy and consulate; and how many of the total are entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The total number of diplomatic staff accredited to foreign and commonwealth missions in the United Kingdom are:

a. Diplomatic agents 2,382
b. Members of Administrative and Technical Staff 2,306
c. Members of Service Staff 393
d. Consular officers accredited to subordinate consulates 391

All members of the staff of diplomatic missions in London who are not United Kingdom nationals nor permanently resident here enjoy a degree of diplomatic immunity under the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964. Those who are diplomatic agents enjoy personal inviolability including freedom from arrest or detention. They are immune from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state, and except in relation to certain private matters, from its civil and administrative jurisdiction. Members of the administrative and technical staff also enjoy personal inviolability and the same immunities except that their immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction does not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties. Members of the service staff have immunity only in respect of acts performed in the course of their duties. The immunity of consular officers is governed by the Consular Relations Act 1968.

To list the number of staff at each embassy and consulate by status could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The London Diplomatic List, published biannually, lists diplomatic agents, by mission, accredited to foreign embassies; a copy is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Sillars

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give, for each of the past five years to the nearest available date, the number of traffic and criminal offences, respectively, by foreign diplomats who were able to claim immunity, with the offences registered by embassy or consulate, and the action that was taken by Her Majesty's Government in the most serious cases.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Our policy on diplomatic immunities and privileges is set out in the 1985 White Paper. In the most serious cases we require the withdrawal of the diplomat concerned. The figures requested for the past five years are shown in the table. Details of serious offences and unpaid parking fines are made annually to the House —the last one by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to my hon. Friends the Members for Gloucester (Mr. French) and Battersea (Mr. Bowis) on 26 April 1990, at columns303–5.

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
Traffic offences1
(a) Drink/Driving 24 25 28 27 24
(b) Minor offences 71 86 103 75 52
Serious offences
Includes (a) above 41 40 44 40 33
Unpaid fines 22,331 14,437 10,079 7,831 26,282
Diplomats withdrawn at FCO request 17 18 14 14 6
1 Technically all traffic offences are "criminal" offences.
2 Provisional to 31 October 1990—latest figures processed.

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