HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 c1265
4. Mr. Townsend

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reply he has received from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics concerning the release of Rudolf Hess from Spandau Prison.

Mr. James Callaghan

The Soviet Embassy has now made clear that the Soviet response to our recent representations on the release of Rudolf Hess is negative.

Mr. Townsend

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this vindictive and intransigent attitude of the Soviet Government will be deeply deplored by hundreds of thousands of people in the Western world? Will he consult the French and Americans about reducing the absurdly large size of the military guard at Spandau Prison?

Mr. Callaghan

Both the French and American Governments made parallel representations to the Soviet authorities. I inquired into the extent of the guard when I was in Berlin recently. I understand that, taking into account the four countries concerned, there are 20 warders and 104 soldiers, who take it in turns in their tours of duty one month in four to guard this one man. But I see no prospect of a change in the situation at the moment.

Mr. Maudling

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that this attitude by the Russian Government is consistent with the spirit of Basket III of the Helsinki Conference?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think that it has anything to do with Basket III of the Helsinki Conference. The imprisonment of Rudolf Hess arises from agreements made at the end of the war, and we should depart from any one of them at our peril, because in doing so we might upset others.

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