Oral Answers to Questions — U.S.S.R. (British Naval Attache)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1964.

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Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East 12:00 am, 14th December 1964

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent manhandling, detention and search of the British Naval Attaché by Soviet police officials at Kharbarovsk in contravention of either the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations or of the special supplementary bilateral arrangements which exist between the British and Soviet Governments.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

A strong protest was made to the Soviet Government about this incident, which was a clear violation of diplomatic immunity, in contravention of Article 29 of the Vienna Convention to which both the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom are parties.

Since the incident the Soviet authorities have not allowed our Assistant Naval Attaché to travel in the Soviet Union outside the Moscow area. As the result of inquiries, we are forced to the conclusion that they do not intend to lift this ban. The Assistant Naval Attaché is thus prevented from carrying out his normal duties, and we must regard the Soviet authorities as having in effect declared him persona non grata. He is therefore being withdrawn from the Soviet Union in the near future. For our part, we have today asked that an Assistant Naval Attaché should be withdrawn from the Soviet Embassy in London.

Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that this is at least the fourth incident of this kind over the last three years? Is it not ridiculous that we should continue to give special facilities and immunities to Soviet diplomats in this country which are right outside the Vienna Convention when our diplomats are exposed to this intolerable kind of behaviour in the Soviet Union? Does the hon. Gentleman think that it is in the best interests of Anglo-Russian relations that this situation should be allowed to continue?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I would require notice of any question about the number of similar incidents there have been in recent years, but these arrangements are not relevant to this case. The Assistant Naval Attaché to whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman refers was a diplomat within the full meaning of the Vienna Convention.