HC Deb 05 May 1969 vol 783 cc14-5
14. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is now taking in order to alleviate the discriminatory treatment meted out to British nationals in the hands of the Russian and Chinese Governments.

Mr. M. Stewart

We have no reason to complain of discrimination in the cases of Mr. Parsons and Mr. Lorraine, who are detained in the Soviet Union. There is a later Question about Mr. Brooke. As regards British subjects detained in China, we have made repeated representations here and in Peking for consular access and details of the charges against them without success. We shall continue to press the Chinese. The Governments of other nationals detained in China have also been unsuccessful in their approaches to the Chinese authorities.

Captain Elliot

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we all know the reasons why our countrymen are being held? In the circumstances, would he not agree that soft diplomatic words are not always enough? Would he convene a conference with our friends and allies and work out what concerted action is necessary to convince Russia and China that the cruel and barbarous treatment of our nationals in their hands does not pay?

Mr. Stewart

We have had consultations with the other Governments concerned. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question spoke of discriminatory treatment. We must notice that the treatment which our nationals have received has been matched by that applied to the nationals of other countries.

Mr. Onslow

That is no comfort.

Mr. Wood

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember his hon. Friend the then Under-Secretary of State, during the passage of the Consular Relations Bill, giving a specific undertaking about the regularity of consular access which would be available in these cases? Is it right that such an undertaking should have been given if it could not be honoured?

Mr. Stewart

If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the Consular Agreement with Russia, that refers to "periodic" access, but it does not state the periods.

Back to