HC Deb 12 December 1967 vol 756 cc203-5
Q5. Mr. Blaker

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been achieved towards the conclusion of the Treaty of friendship and peaceful co-operation between Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics upon which he and Mr. Kosygin agreed in February, 1967.

The Prime Minister

We have put a number of ideas for the content of the Treaty to the Soviet Government, and await their comments, Sir.

Mr. Blaker

Bearing in mind the disregard by the Soviet Government of accepted standards of international behaviour in the case of Mr. Gerald Brooke, does the Prime Minister think that there would be much substance in such a Treaty if it were concluded?

The Prime Minister

We continue to press the case of Mr. Brooke. I agree with the hon. Gentleman in his strictures on the Soviet Government in this matter. I think, for all that, that it would be a mistake not to press on with, and we are pressing on with, the Treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union and to try to get other means of agreement with the Soviet Union. If this can be done, perhaps it will help even in this one case where we believe that the behaviour of the Russians has been unacceptable.

Mr. Mendelson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the announcement when Mr. Kosygin was in London that such a Treaty was being discussed received widespread support throughout this country? Will he take an opportunity after his visit to the United States to have another meeting with Mr. Kosygin so that the Treaty can be brought forward to a successful conclusion?

The Prime Minister

I cannot at this stage say exactly when my visit to the Soviet Union will be, but we are pressing on with the Treaty of friendship. We have sent our draft. We are waiting for the Soviet Union's comments. The Soviet Ambassador told me as recently as yesterday that we may expect to get his country's comments very quickly.

Sir C. Osbome

Despite the very unhappy temporary differences, which no one under-estimates, between the Soviet Union and ourselves, will the Prime Minister press on with the long-term policy of increased friendship and trade with the Soviets, as both are essential to the survival of this country?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I thank the hon. Gentleman. As I have already said to the House, I think that the recent visit by a very authoritative group of British industrialists to follow up the technological initiative was a very helpful step in this direction.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that the spokesman on foreign affairs for the Opposition made a television speech in Moscow six years ago in which he said that we must not only co-exist with the Soviet Union but we must co-operate with the Soviet Union? Is it not time that these negotiations were speeded up, because the British people want to see friendship with the Soviet Union?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I entirely agree with the sentiments expressed by the then Foreign Secretary, I think it was. This was what we have sought to do on my own two visits to Moscow and on Mr. Kosygin's visit to this country. The Treaty of friendship is not being held up at the moment by us. We hope it will not be delayed much longer.