Mr Salman Rushdie

– in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 9th October 2000.

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Photo of Lord Ahmed Lord Ahmed Labour 2:30 pm, 9th October 2000

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the cost to the taxpayer of the provision of personal protection to Mr Salman Rushdie.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, it has long been the practice not to disclose the actual costs of protecting a particular individual. If those costs were revealed, it would be possible to estimate the scale of protection. That would prejudice the security of the individual concerned.

Photo of Lord Ahmed Lord Ahmed Labour

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his reply. Now that Mr Rushdie is living in Manhattan, how long will we continue to provide his personal protection in New York? Is the Minister aware that Mr Rushdie charges 1 million dollars in advance for his publications, and that he has recently signed a contract with Random House for five books? Will he be paying tax to the British Government or the American Government?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, it would be invidious for any Minister to discuss the tax affairs of any UK national. The level of protection which will be provided to Mr Rushdie during his time in America is entirely a matter for the American authorities. Perhaps I should add that there is a close working liaison and relationship between the United Kingdom and United States on law enforcement. However, Mr Rushdie's treatment and level of protection in America are a matter for the American authorities.

Photo of Lord Palmer Lord Palmer Crossbench

My Lords, can the Minister tell the House what percentage of the costs for Mr Rushdie's personal protection will eventually be recouped by Her Majesty's Government?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, again that is a question which I am unable to answer.

Photo of Lord Avebury Lord Avebury Liberal Democrat

My Lords, can the Minister confirm that a bounty of 2.4 million dollars on the head of Mr Rushdie by the Iranian 15 Khordad Foundation exists and has not been withdrawn as a result of the conversations between Mr Cook and the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Kharrazi? Can the Minister tell the House whether his right honourable friend Mr Cook has any plans to raise that matter with the Iranian authorities when he visits Tehran?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, I am not aware of discussions of that nature.

Photo of Lord Bragg Lord Bragg Labour

My Lords, is the Minister aware that Mr Salman Rushdie is domiciled in London? He is a British subject and the British Government pay nothing towards his protection in New York. Is he further aware that many people in Britain are proud of the effective protection given to Salman Rushdie, as they would be of similar protection given to any British subject?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, I agree with all three points made by the noble Lord.

Photo of Viscount Waverley Viscount Waverley Crossbench

My Lords, can the Minister tell the House the last time that a real threat was made against Mr Rushdie?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, that is an operational matter which has to be left in the knowledge and safe hands of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour

My Lords, can the Minister confirm that when Mr Rushdie was last resident in this country he paid a high proportion of his protection costs out of his own pocket?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

My Lords, again, that is not information which I am at liberty to disclose.