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Leipzig Kirchentag (British Representatives)

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

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22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the reasons why a number of representatives of British churches were unable, through the action of British officials in Germany, to attend the recent Kirchentag in Leipzig.

The hon. Member is misinformed. The only applications to British officials in Germany of which I am aware were those of 11 persons who applied quite correctly through the British member of the Interzonal Facilities Bureau. All these applications were transmitted to the Soviet Visa Office in Berlin within two days of their receipt, and daily reminders were also sent. On 1st July the Soviet Visa Office approved two of them and the two successful applicants were so informed. As the Soviet authorities still gave no answer about the other applicants, it was not possible to inform them whether their applications had been successful.

Has the hon. Gentleman studied the comment and report from a responsible Free Church newspaper which I sent to him, and will he say what factual errors, if any, there are in that comment?

I cannot go into detail at the moment, but the comment was based on misinformation, and I have given the House the correct information.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the persons who applied through the British authorities were not able to get there in time, whereas those who applied direct were?

That is not the fault of the British authorities, as I have made clear in my answer.

Will my hon. Friend take note of the fact that it is rather typical of certain sections of the Opposition to try to blame British Government officials when usually it is the Communists who are at fault?