HC Deb 15 February 1966 vol 724 cc1098-9
23. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Technology what is the purpose of his visit to Russia.

Mr. Cousins

In order to have discussions on British and Soviet policies and methods for stimulating the use of advanced technology, and on the ways in which the country can best benefit from the technological exchange provisions of the existing Cultural Agreement with the Soviet Union.

Mr. Osborn

Is the Minister aware that we on this side of the House welcome any technological visit to Russia? Can he say exactly what establishments he will visit, whom he hopes to meet, and if he will make a statement on his return?

Mr. Cousins

I am not in a position to say exactly what establishments I shall be visiting. The primary purpose is to have discussions with those involved. As the hon. Member knows, there have been exchanges. Because the Russians have been over here more frequently than we have been there, it was thought desirable that I should go to have discussions.

Mr. Hogg

While wishing the right hon. Gentleman every success in his visit, may I ask if he will bear in mind the tendency of the Russians to play their technological cards very close to their chests? Will he press upon them the need for reciprocity in giving information which is as valuable as that which they get from us?

Mr. Cousins

I accept that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was genuinely saying that he welcomes the idea that I should go on this visit. We are conscious of the fact that the Russians tend to want to find out rather than to give information, but we hope that as a result of the visit we shall have a mutually satisfactory exchange of experts. This is the purpose of my visit.