Oral Answers to Questions — Roumania (British Subject Arrest)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1948.

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Photo of Captain Albert Blackburn Captain Albert Blackburn , Birmingham King's Norton 12:00 am, 16th June 1948

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the disappearance in Roumania of Mr. Alexander Evans, a British subject.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Yea, Sir. Mr. Alexander Evans, a British subject, who represents the British and French groups in the Steaua Romana Oil Company, left Bucharest for consultations in London on 7th June. On 11th June a telegram was received from our Minister in Bucharest that there was circumstantial evidence that Mr. Evans had been arrested at the frontier by the Roumanian police on 8th June and taken to an unknown destination. An official note, and strong representations to the Roumanian Minister of Foreign Affairs for news of Mr. Evans and permission to establish contact with him in the usual way, had merely met with evasive replies.

The news became publicly known on Saturday, 12th June. On 14th June the Roumanian authorities, while still refusing all information to our Minister, telephoned Mr. Evans' daughter, who is in Bucharest, and told here to bring round food and clothing to her father, who was in the Ministry of the Interior. Finally, in an interview last night, the Secretary-General of the Roumanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted the facts to our Minister. He confirmed that Mr. Evans had been arrested at the frontier and was now in Bucharest, and said that until the police inquiry was terminated the Secretary-General could not divulge the charge nor allow the British Consul to visit Mr. Evans. He declared that this was Roumanian procedure. He added that Mr. Evans was in good health and comfortable, and that the interrogation would be over in a few days, when our Consul would be allowed to visit Mr. Evans and make arrangements for his defence. The Secretary-General refused to admit that the Roumanian Government should have told our Legation so as soon as Mr. Evans had been arrested, and should also have notified us of the charge against him.

Photo of Captain Albert Blackburn Captain Albert Blackburn , Birmingham King's Norton

Do we propose to press to have these charges made at the earliest possible moment, so that Mr. Evans may have an opportunity of clearing himself?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

We have given instructions to our Consul to press to see Mr. Evans immediately.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

Is there any precedent for refusal to reduce charges against a foreign subject and for refusing his consul access to that foreign subject? Will the right hon. Gentleman press the Roumanian Government on this matter, because I cannot recall any case where a foreign Power's consul has been refused access to a citizen?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I inquired into that, and so far as I know, there is no case anywhere of a foreign subject being refused the service of his consul immediately he has been in difficulties.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I could give the right hon. Gentleman a worse case than this.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

How can Mr. Evans be comfortable and well taken care of when his daughter is having to take food to him in prison?