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Incident, Vienna

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement as to the facts of the occurrence in Vienna on the night of 1st June when two British soldiers were involved in shootings which caused death and injury to Viennese civilians and injury to a British military policeman.

Her Majesty's Ambassador, as soon as he heard of this most distressing incident, expressed his deep regret to the Austrian Chancellor and his sympathy with the victims and their families. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State wrote in similar terms to the Austrian Ambassador.

The two soldiers concerned have been charged, and a summary of evidence is to be taken, so that I cannot say more at present.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the grave harm done to the good name of this country by such shocking events as this in a friendly country like Austria, and will he give the House an assurance that generous compensation will be made to the innocent, injured people?

I regret this incident as much as anybody else. The last part of the supplementary question is far more a matter for the Foreign Secretary than for me, but I know that the matter is now being taken up.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is able to say whether it is the Government's intention to make adequate compensation for a serious offence of this kind.

I think I can go as far as this, that it is the Government's intention that we should behave towards the Austrian Government in a way commensurate with the matter.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, apart from very isolated instances, the conduct of our troops has been exceptionally good, and that they have, in fact, been good ambassadors?

I am very proud to agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. I think that throughout the world the conduct of British troops, often in very trying conditions, has been exceptionally good.