Diplomatic Immunity

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1984.

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Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East 12:00 am, 25th July 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on his review of diplomatic immunity granted to representatives at the Court of St. James.

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My right hon. and learned Friend made a detailed statement on international terrorism and the Vienna convention to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on 18 July. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

When my hon. Friend reviews diplomatic immunity, will he take into account the fact that it is widely believed that substantial amounts of drugs are coming into the country through diplomatic bags? Anything that he can do to intervene helpfully will considerably aid the fight against this trade in death.

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My hon. Friend will be aware that Her Majesty's Government are worried about any abuse of the diplomatic bag that may be taking place. That is being considered as part of the review that my right hon. and learned Friend has announced.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan , Caithness and Sutherland

Has the Minister or any of his colleagues seen fit to make representations to the Government of Pakistan about this?

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Are not the ranks of many foreign missions swollen by numbers of people who are not diplomats but subversive agents? Will Her Majesty's Government seek to ensure that the level of representation here is about the same as in the corresponding overseas country?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We are naturally concerned if anyone in this country ostensibly as a diplomat is found to be carrying out functions inconsistent with his diplomatic status. However, it is not unreasonable that some missions should have larger numbers of staff in the United Kingdom than we have in their countries. London is a great international centre, and as such is often considered to be one of the most important areas of diplomatic representations in the world.