HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc23-4
33. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now take steps to initiate negotiations with the Soviet Government for a cultural agreement on the lines of that negotiated between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Commander Allan Noble)

Her Majesty's Government have recently proposed to the Soviet Government that talks should take place with a view to promoting the free exchange of information, views and contacts between the British and Soviet peoples.

Cultural and other exchanges between this country and the Soviet Union similar to those envisaged in the agreement to which the hon. Member refers are already taking place under the auspices of the Soviet Relations Committee of the British Council and as a result of arrangements made by other bodies. No comprehensive Anglo-Soviet cultural agreement is, therefore, necessary for this purpose.

Mr. Swingler

While thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for that hopeful reply, may I ask whether he is aware that he will have the support of all sections of the community in pursuing these negotiations as vigorously as he can, as there appears to be a great desire on the part of the Soviet Government to conclude a cultural agreement, although in fact it might not mean very much more than is arranged at present? Might it not be a good thing to make that a basis of future exchanges, as the Americans have done?

Commander Noble

If the hon. Member studies my reply, I think he will agree that the machinery to which I have referred will meet the purpose which he has in mind.