HC Deb 26 April 1971 vol 816 cc19-20
17. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now give instructions to his officials to make representations to the Soviet Government on behalf of Jewish people detained in Soviet psychiatric hospitals or hospital wards for the mentally sick, because of their efforts to leave the Soviet Union in accordance with the Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Kershaw

I have every sympathy with persons, whether Jewish or not, who would like to leave the Soviet Union but are prevented from doing so. However, we have no formal standing to make representations to the Soviet Government on their behalf, and I am not persuaded that such representations at present would be helpful to them.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that, in addition to an unspecified number of people of many religions who are locked up in mental hospitals because of their wish to leave the Soviet Union, 23 men and women who wanted to leave the Soviet Union for Israel have been con- fined in prison for over seven months awaiting trial on unspecified charges? Is he further aware that these people are named on the Order Paper of this House. Could he not find some way of bringing to the attention of the Soviet authorities the concern felt on all sides of the House?

Mr. Kershaw

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman on 22nd February how concerned we were. The hon. and learned Gentleman also will have noticed since then, on 2nd March, the British delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York has made a statement appealing to the Soviet Union to behave in a different way.

Mr. Longden

Could my hon. Friend say why we continue to trade with the Soviet Union?

Mr. Kershaw

That is rather a different question.

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