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Dr B J Peck (Claims)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 5 April 1954

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38.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why claims for expensive payments for various services 'have been made on Dr. B. J. Peck by his Department arising out of an attack made on Dr. Peck and his wife while touring in Spain.

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why he has requested Dr. B. J. Peck to reimburse hospital and other expenses incurred in Spain following the murder of his wife in 1953.

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether be will meet some of the expenses incurred by Dr. Peck last year, as the result of the attack on himself and the fatal attack on his wife in Spain.

Dr. Peck owes £11 direct to Her Majesty's Consulate-General at Barcelona. In view of the tragic circumstances of this case, my right hon. Friend is prepared to waive £6 of this sum representing the use of the official car. He has no authority to waive the remaining £5 in respect of consular fees since there is a statutory obligation on consular officers to levy them.

In addition, there are, first, outstanding charges of £300 to £400 in respect of hospital and other expenses due to the Spanish authorities. Secondly, there is the sum of £60 in Spanish currency already advanced by the Consul-General to Dr. Peck and his wife's relatives for the hire of ambulances and cars. I understand that Dr. Peck's relatives, on whose behalf these expenses were incurred, expressed readiness to pay immediately they had been notified of the amount the Consul-General had disbursed.

Does the hon. Gentleman know that the road on which this incident occurred was well known to the Spanish authorities as a bandit-infested area and that no notification whatever was given to motoring organisations, either there or in this country, of that state of affairs? Under those circumstances, will Her Majesty's Government press on the Spanish authorities the desirability of doing something—if the House pleases—on ex gratia lines to reduce the charges, which include £250 for less than one week's hospital treatment in a Spanish hospital?

If the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question be true, I have no doubt that the Spanish Government would wish to give sympathetic consideration to a just settlement of this case.

In view of the tragic circumstances which surrounded this case, cannot the Under-Secretary urge the Spanish Government to take into consideration all the circumstances and to waive the whole amount which is due? In this country we should not insist on payment in a case where murder had been done.

I understand that Dr. Peck's representatives are in touch with the Spanish authorities and, of course, the embassy is being kept informed.

Is it not traditional British policy, which has been accepted by almost every Government which we can recall, to safeguard the interests of British nationals in foreign countries; and, as no military or similar support could be accorded to this gentleman and his family in these very difficult circumstances, is it not the least the British Government can do to meet a substantial part of the bill incurred?

So far, I have received no communication from Dr. Peck or his representatives disputing this amount of £60. Every possible assistance was given by the Consul-General and the embassy to Dr. Peck and his representatives.

Is there any truth in the rumour that the French Government refused to extradite the attackers of Dr. Peck and his wife?