HC Deb 07 November 1955 vol 545 cc1475-6
36. Mr. Hyde

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement about the increased facilities which have been granted by the Soviet Government to British tourists wishing to visit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Mr. Turton

The Soviet State Travel Agency, Intourist, have recently offered a number of planned tours for British visitors to the Soviet Union next year, which include concessions on the cost of travel within the Soviet Union. British travel agencies are discussing these proposals with Intourist. While this is welcome, there remain many obstacles in the Soviet Union to the would-be private tourist, particularly the artificial rate of exchange for the rouble.

Mr. Hyde

Would my right hon. Friend draw the attention of the Soviet Government to the artificial exchange rate and point out the desirability of the introduction of a special tourist rate?

Mr. Turton

This is being done at Geneva at the present time.

Mr. Donnelly

Would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to point out the ludicrous nature of this artificial rate to all the Communist countries, and the fact that it precludes ordinary people from going to those countries—the very people they should be welcoming? Can he give an assurance to this House that very strong representations will be made about the whole nature of this artificial rate of exchange?

Mr. Turton

This matter is being discussed under Item III at the Geneva Conference at the present time.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind also this further point, that at the present time it is not possible to obtain a visa for an individual to enter Russia with a motor car, and will he see, among the representations which are being made about these relaxations, whether the subject of a visa giving the right to cross in a motor car may be included?

Mr. Turton

I will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. D. Jones

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Soviet Government will require these visitors to have their finger-prints taken?

Mr. Turton

If the hon. Gentleman will put that question down, I will try to answer it.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

Can my right hon. Friend say how many people will be allowed to visit Russia under this new scheme, and how that number compares with the pre-war numbers and the numbers before the Soviet Revolution?

Mr. Turton

I can give the figures for the last available year only. In the year 1954, there were 9,700 visitors to the Soviet Union from all countries. During the same year there were 900,000 to Great Britain and 9 million to Italy.

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