HC Deb 15 April 1959 vol 603 cc1006-7
5. Mr. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the Anglo- Soviet cultural agreement was recently signed without agreement being reached to end the jamming by Moscow of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Russian language broadcasts, or to provide for increased sales of British newspapers and periodicals being allowed inside Russia.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The agreement mentioned by my hon. Friend was the result of negotiations on a programme of Anglo-Soviet exchanges for 1959–60 between the Soviet Relations Committee of the British Council and the Soviet State Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. Such matters as the jamming of broadcasts and the circulation of newspapers in the Soviet Union are subjects for inter-governmental discussion and as such were outside the scope of these particular negotiations.

Mr. Osborne

Since improved relations between Russia and ourselves depend upon a better understanding of each other's situation between the two countries, is not the jamming of the Russian-language broadcasts of the B.B.C. the central problem? Have the Russian Government given reasons why they still refuse to allow B.B.C. broadcasts to be received in their country?

Mr. Lloyd

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of this matter, but one of the satisfactory features of the recent agreement was that it was agreed that representatives of the two Governments would meet at intervals to discuss these matters. I think that the point which my hon. Friend has mentioned is a very suitable matter for discussion at the first meeting.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the fact that the Prime Minister paid such a glowing tribute to the Soviet Union and referred to Russia as the promised land in a speech at the British Embassy, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman will remember, is there any need to have discussions about this jamming business?

Mr. Lloyd

Without accepting the accuracy of the preliminary part of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, I rather gather that he supports my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne).