HC Deb 16 November 1970 vol 806 cc860-1
42. Mr. Neave

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the detention of Rudolf Hess.

Mr. Rippon

An approach suggesting the release of Rudolf Hess was made by Her Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow on 23rd February to the Soviet Government on behalf of the Three Powers. It was unsuccessful. Since then, however, the Russians have agreed to certain improvements in Hess's conditions of imprisonment. We shall of course continue to watch for an appropriate moment to raise once again with the Russians the question of Hess's imprisonment.

Mr. Neave

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. As it is Her Majesty's Government's policy that this man should be released on compassionate grounds, will my right hon. and learned Friend initiate new high-level talks with the French and American Governments with a view to a new approach to the Russians at Ministerial level?

Mr. Rippon

The answer to the first question is, "Yes, Sir". As for the second, we shall continue to search for a suitable moment to raise this matter again. If I may say so, I welcome my hon. Friend's interest in this matter. There is certainly no man in the House or outside who has a better claim to press this matter.

Mr. Rose

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman stress to the Soviet Union that those who suffered most at the hands of the Nazis would expect a higher degree of humanitarian conduct, and that to keep this man incarcerated indefinitely when he is half-crazed and no danger to anybody at this stage is an act which no one in the House can possibly support?

Mr. Rippon

I am grateful to the hon. Member for his comments. I agree.