Spain (Detained British Subjects)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th November 1973.

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Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North 12:00 am, 7th November 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking in the matter of Mr. Frank Rutman, who has been held in Gerona Detention Centre, Spain, since 31st August without being charged and without bail.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

Her Majesty's consul helped Mr. Rutman obtain legal representation and Her Majesty's consul continues to keep a close watch on the case, which is being investigated in accordance with normal Spanish procedure.

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

Cannot we persuade the Spanish Government to cut out the intolerable delays in their criminal processes and make decent arrangements for bail?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

There have been a great many cases where delays have been even longer, and we have made representations to the Spanish authorities, through our embassy in Madrid, with a view to speeding up the trials of British subjects in Spain or, in suitable cases, allowing them provisional liberty while their cases are under investigation.

Photo of Mr George Cunningham Mr George Cunningham , Islington South West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the detention without trial in Spain since 29th June of Mr. David John Flippance, a United Kingdom citizen; and what representations the British Government have made to the Spanish authorities.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

The trial is set down for 17th November.

Mr. Flippance's detention is legal under Spanish law and his case is under investigation in accordance with the normal Spanish procedures.

We have in fact made informal representations to the Spanish authorities about arranging bail for him and his lawyer is pursuing these.

Photo of Mr George Cunningham Mr George Cunningham , Islington South West

Does the Minister notice that this is the second Question about a United Kingdom citizen held in Spain without trial and without charge for a very long period? Does he agree that this is not an uncommon situation for visiting British people to find themselves in? Does he admit that it is the policy of the Foreign Office, under this administration at least, not to make representations until two or three months have passed, on the ground that, how-ever low Spanish standards are on this matter, they are abiding by Spanish standards, despite the behaviour of Spain on Gibraltar and the fact that British tourists' money is tremendously important to the Spanish balance of payments? Will the right hon. Gentleman be making a public statement, so that people from this country who might visit Spain will realise that if they find themselves in that situation they cannot look for the support of the Foreign Office and will be subject to processes which would be regarded as quite unacceptable in this country?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I am glad to say that in this case the hon. Gentleman is wrong. In addition to the representations we have made in the case of Mr. Flippance, our embassy in Madrid has made general representations to the Spanish authorities with a view to speeding up the trials of British subjects in Spain, or, in suitable cases, allowing them provisional liberty while their cases are under investigation. The cases that gave rise to these representations have involved considerably longer delays than the case raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he will have the support of the whole House in his efforts to ensure that there are fewer delays of justice for Her Majesty's subjects in Spain, and that any success in this matter will dispose the British public favourably to welcome Spain into the European Community?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.