HC Deb 26 January 1971 vol 810 cc314-5
Q5. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Prime Minister

I have accepted in principle an invitation from the Soviet Government, but no firm dates have yet been fixed.

Mr. Marten

While there is probably no great need to rush this meeting, may I ask my right hon. Friend to take up with the Russians, when the meeting takes place, the persistent imbalance in our trade with them?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. This matter has been taken up by each Government in turn on many occasions, going back to the 1945–50 Parliament. In 1964, when I was President of the Board of Trade, I secured an agreement or commitment from the then Russian Minister of Trade, Mr. Patolitchev, and the Soviet Government, that they would balance up our trade. It is to my great regret that this has not happened.

Mr. Crawshaw

When the Prime Minister goes there, which I hope will be at the earliest possible opportunity, will he raise with the heads of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the question of the treatment of the Jewish community in that country now and point out that the repressive measures which are being taken there are abhorrent to all British people?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. We have done this on many occasions. The last occasion when I did it personally was when Mr. Gromyko paid a visit to London.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Does my right hon. Friend recall that the Leader of the Opposition said that he had brought about a treaty of friendship with Soviet Russia, though he did not tie it up? Will my right hon. Friend try to finalise what was done at that time?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure that I would want to tie up anything that the right hon. Gentleman left untied. However, I am very much in favour of a treaty of friendship.

Mr. Maclennan

What replies have the Government received to the approaches to the Soviet Union about Berlin?

The Prime Minister

Discussions are going on between the four Powers about the whole question of Berlin, including access to the Western part of Berlin and access between the two parts of the city. These discussions are continuing.