§ 24. Mr. Ennals
asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will adopt the suggestions in paragraph 292(b) of the Plowden Committee's Report on Representational Services Overseas that persons who have to be repatriated by consular officers should, except in cases of genuine and unpredictable hardship, pay a fee for administrative expenses.
§ Mr. George Thomson
Yes, Sir. It is proposed that a fee of £3 should be charged for the repatriation from a foreign country to the United Kingdom by a British consular officer of a person resident in the United Kingdom who is in temporary financial difficulties. A similar fee will be charged by British High Commissioners for the repatriation of such persons from Commonwealth countries. 20 If a family is repatriated together, only one fee will be charged. Arrangements will be made as soon as possible to give statutory effect to this proposal.
§ Mr. Ennals
Does this mean that anyone who wants to be repatriated and has £3 can of right claim repatriation?
§ Mr. Thomson
No. Sir. Consular officers are authorised to grant repatriation facilities only as a last resort. They will, of course, continue to deal with cases of genuine distress with common sense and compassion.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the total of unrecovered expenses incurred by consular officers in respect of British subjects who require repatriation amounts to a very large sum of money indeed?
§ Mr. Thomson
Yes, Sir. Last year the total cost of the repatriation services was £60,000. About two-thirds of this was recovered.