HC Deb 09 August 1972 vol 842 cc1700-1
1. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications whether he will now make representations to the Soviet authorities concerning the continued interference with telephone communications between subscribers in the United Kingdom and Mr. Vladimar Slepak and other Jewish scientists in Moscow.

The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications (Sir John Eden)

I would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the answer I gave on 28th June to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman). The assessment of evidence of interference with the telephone service is a matter for the Post Office, and I suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman writes to the corporation in the first instance.—[Vol. 839, c. 1422.]

Mr. Janner

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the interference with communications between this country and Jewish scientists such as Mr. Slepak, which began at the time when President Nixon went to Moscow, is still continuing and is thoroughly scandalous? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that the main brunt is borne by his own telephone operators whose patience is constantly and sorely tried, particularly when dealing with the scandalous behaviour of the Moscow telephone operators putting calls through to outside Moscow, to places like Sverdlovsk where the Markman trial is being held today?

In the circumstances will the right hon. Gentleman, first, convey to his telephone operators the deep appreciation of all those who have to work on this line and who make calls on it and, second, convey to the Soviet authorities his protest at the disgraceful treatment which is causing such harm to telephone operators in this country?

Sir J. Eden

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman's points will have been noted. However, the detailed evidence which he has available should be directed to the Post Office.

Mr. Tilney

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in attempting to speak to Professor Levich, a distinguished scientist who has been offered a fellowship at University College, Oxford, and who has been prevented from so doing and deprived of all his academic qualifications because his family wish to go to Israel, one is constantly told that his number is engaged?

Sir J. Eden

This again is a matter which the Post Office itself would certainly wish to consider; and it is for the Post Office to determine whether representations should be made to the USSR.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this interference extends to the delivery of registered packets which the Soviet postal authorities appear to be illegally refusing to deliver?

Sir J. Eden

I have had indications that this may be the case, but one again needs detailed evidence.