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Government wrong to conceal details of Croughton Annex agreement from Parliament, Lords write

Friday 9 October 2020

Today the House of Lords International Agreements Sub-Committee has published a letter calling for the Government to disclose details of the recent agreement with the US about the Croughton Annex, which has so far been concealed from Parliament and the public.

In its letter, the Committee highlights the reluctance of the Foreign Office to disclose details of the agreement, either publicly or in confidence, “setting a very unfortunate precedent”.

The latest agreement about the Croughton Annex makes changes to the immunity arrangements for US personnel and their families, which most prominently came to light during the controversial case of Harry Dunn last year.

The Committee also state in their letter that “it would be particularly concerning if it appeared that there was an attempt to conceal from Parliament the details of an agreement which potentially impacted upon the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as well as extradition arrangements with the United States”.

Lord Goldsmith, Chair of the Committee, commented:

“It is not appropriate for the Government to conceal from Parliament, or the wider public, an agreement that clearly has great public interest for many individuals. The tragic Harry Dunn case highlights the importance of appropriate scrutiny of these types of arrangements.

“We point out in our letter the Government’s own commitments to parliamentary scrutiny and challenge their blanket ban on disclosing the details of such agreements, known as Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs).

“We therefore urge the Government to provide sufficient evidence to show why politically important MoUs should not be scrutinised, and to disclose the details of the recent Croughton Annex agreement immediately so that Parliament can conduct its role of scrutiny effectively.”

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