§ 16. Mr. Biggs-Davison
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to implement the latest recommendation of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe on action to secure the release of political prisoners in Central and Eastern Europe.
§ Mr. George Thomson
I have nothing to add to the reply given by my hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. Carol Johnson) on 22nd February.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Are the Government aware of Lord Kennet's abstention on a Motion calling for the release of these political prisoners on the technical ground that political prisoners in the non-represented countries should also have been included in the recommendation of the Consultative Assembly? With due deference to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), may I ask whether it is the Government's policy and the policy of the Labour Party that there should be no call for the release of political prisoners in one country or group of countries without calling for the release of political prisoners in all countries and groups of countries?
§ Mr. Thomson
I certainly give the hon. Member the assurance which he seeks on the last point. The Government and, I am sure, all quarters of the House deplore the existence of political prisoners wherever they are. The practical question in relation to this recommendation of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe is what kind of action by the Government would serve the best interests of the political prisoners. It is open to doubt whether official action by the Government would, in fact, do that.
§ Mr. Lipton
Will my hon. Friend take note of the fact that the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) is advocating the release of political prisoners not only in Central and Eastern 918 Europe but in South Africa, Spain and one or two other places which I could mention?