HC Deb 15 June 1964 vol 696 cc908-10
8. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has studied the Council of Europe Recommendation No. 389 on East-West relations including suggestions for joint scientific research with the Soviet bloc, particularly meteorological research; and whether he will approach the Russian Government to discover their interest in the joint construction of a freely-floating balloon circulating in the upper atmosphere and radioing information to earth about weather information over all parts of the globe.

Mr. Mathew

I have seen this Recommendation, which is at present under consideration by the Committee of Ministers' Deputies at Strasbourg. On the second part of my hon. Friend's Question, I think that, before we decide whether to approach the Soviet Government about this, it would be as well to study the discussions on the general proposal which have been taking place at the World Meteorological Organisation meeting at Geneva with the participation of Soviet delegates.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

I thank my hon. Friend for that information. When the matter comes back from the World Meteorological Organisation, would my hon. Friend recall that President Kennedy suggested that meteorological research was a fruitful sphere for joint research, that the Soviets have been particularly co-operative over meteorological matters, and that a balloon of this nature would be quite cheap to build and well within the compass of European nations? Would he, therefore, consider it sympathetically?

Mr. Mathew

Yes. I repeat that the Recommendation is still being considered by the Committee of Ministers' Deputies at Strasbourg. I will, however, say that we are wholly in sympathy with the spirit of the Recommendation as reflected in the Preamble.

24. Sir R. Russell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps have been taken by the Government to implement Recommendation 325 of the Council of Europe which urged Member Governments to ask the General Assembly of the United Nations to insist on the holding of genuinely free elections in the Communist countries of Eastern Europe and to oppose charges of imperialism and colonialism levelled against them in the General Assembly by initiating debates on the Soviet colonialism practised in those countries.

Mr. Mathew

This Recommendation was brought to Her Majesty's Government's attention in 1962. We consider that the first part is impracticable. As far as the second part is concerned, the colonialism practised in areas which the Soviet Union has incorporated in her territory has been condemned by British spokesmen on many occasions.

Sir R. Russell

Does my hon. Friend agree that the other 16 member nations of the Council of Europe ought to support us much more than they do in resisting resolutions criticising affairs in Southern Rhodesia or other parts of the Commonwealth, and will he make representations that they do so when these issues come before the United Nations?

Mr. Mathew

If my hon. Friend is suggesting that we are treating the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe with less respect than other nations do, my Answer is "No, Sir". The Assembly's views are not binding upon member Governments of the Council of Europe but are taken into account when policy is formulated.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

In furtherance of the general aims of this Question, will my hon. Friend remind the House of when was the last occasion when members of the Committee of 100 and Labour supporters opposite went in for all-night vigils and protest marches about conditions in Eastern Europe?

Mr. Speaker

That is no part of the Minister's responsibility.