§ 10. Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether diplomatic privilege covers cases of careless driving by members of foreign embassies which result in serious accidents; and whether such privilege is claimed in similar cases by members of our embassies abroad?
§ Sir J. SIMON
Members of foreign diplomatic missions in London are generally insured against third party risks. Any persons who may be injured by them as a result of motor-car accidents are therefore, so far as obtaining compensation by the operation of insurance is concerned, in the same position as persons injured by members of the public. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that it would not be possible to bring proceedings against a foreign Ambassador or a member of his 763 staff in this country. I think it may be assumed that members of His Majesty's diplomatic missions abroad also generally insure against third party risks. Similar privileges as regards legal proceedings would certainly be claimed in the case of members of His Majesty's missions abroad.
§ M. SOMERVILLE
May I ask whether, in the case of serious accidents such as have recently occurred, an injured person is precluded from going to the courts, where he could obtain very much larger damages than are covered by the insurance; and may I also ask whether members of foreign embassies are obliged to observe the speed limit regulations?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I could not answer the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question without notice, if, indeed, it be for the Foreign Office to answer it. As regards the first part, my hon. Friend is, of course, aware that the principles of diplomatic immunity have been established for a very long time—I recall a case in the books which certainly goes back to the time of Cromwell—and, naturally, we must concede that which we claim for ourselves in other countries.
§ Sir ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
In view of the very serious accident referred to, would it not be possible to ask the Corps Diplomatique to accept responsibility in future under cover of a general policy of insurance without in any way surrendering their diplomatic privilege?