HC Deb 04 December 1997 vol 302 c302W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he takes to ensure there is no contravention of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964. [18687]

Mr. Tony Lloyd

The Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 gave legal force in the UK to the Vienna Convention concluded in 1962. However, as a result of the 1985 Government Report on the Abuse of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges (Cmnd 9497), the Government's requirements and procedures were tightened. Stricter standards are applied, in particular on: size of diplomatic missions; notification of new staff; use of diplomatic premises; handling of diplomatic bags; breaches of criminal law and illegal parking.

Protocol Department within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for implementing these requirements and monitoring any breaches. To this end, the Department issues a comprehensive memorandum on privileges and immunities to every Diplomatic Mission. A section of the memorandum states the action we will take in the event of any breach of privileges or abuse of diplomatic immunity. This section is given to each newly appointed diplomat with their identity card. All Heads of Mission are reminded regularly of their obligations by the Head of the Diplomatic Service and the Director of Protocol. Protocol Department also controls the duty-free privileges of each mission in relation to alcohol, tobacco and vehicles.

The Diplomatic Protection Group of the Metropolitan Police report all offences allegedly committed by diplomats to Protocol Department who in turn takes the necessary action with the relevant Head of Mission, asking for a waiver of immunity or in its absence the removal of a diplomat if the circumstances merit such action. Only six such requests were made in 1996. Diplomats who park illegally and incur fixed penalty fines are expected to pay them. All figures relating to alleged serious crimes committed by diplomats and unpaid parking fines are submitted to Parliament annually and published in Hansard

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