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Passenger Examination (London Airport)

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why M. Paul Loyonnet, who came to the United Kingdom on behalf of the French Government to play at a private concert at the French Institute in Edinburgh and London, was cross-examined as to whether he was going to earn money in England at such length, by the immigration officials at Heathrow on Tuesday, 7th November, 1950, that he missed his train to Scotland; and whether the officials concerned will be instructed, in similar cases, to telephone the French Embassy for confirmation instead of conducting a long drawn-out examination.

M. Loyonnet and the other passengers accompanying him could not be dealt with as quickly as is usual at the London Airport because their aircraft was 40 minutes late and arrived at a time when the staff were heavily engaged in dealing with other arrivals; and M. Loyonnet himself was further delayed because after his examination had begun he had to go to the Customs shed to get certain papers from his baggage and so lost his place in the queue. I am satisfied that the immigration officer did not question M. Loyonnet at undue length, and that no time would have been saved by consulting the French Embassy.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large part of the delay was due to the cross-examination by the immigration official? Was not this a very churlish welcome to somebody who comes over here to give a concert at the request of the French Government?

No, Sir; I do not think that the facts as reported to me bear out what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, but I am always sorry when, owing to a chapter of accidents such as has occurred in this case, delay and inconvenience occur to visitors.