HC Deb 02 February 1977 vol 925 cc540-2
34. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the other Foreign Ministers of the EEC.

41. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet EEC leaders; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Crosland

I expect to meet my EEC colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council on 8th February.

Mr. Blaker

Is it not regrettable that, at their meeting on Monday, the Foreign Ministers simply referred to the political directors further study of the question of human rights in Eastern Europe? As the main facts are well known and as every visitor who comes out from behind the Iron Curtain tells us that the best way we can help is to speak up in defence of human rights, would it not be desirable that the Community as a body should put out a firm and clear statement about its position on that subject?

Mr. Crosland

Yes, it would be desirable. That is why we have asked that the matter be looked at by the political directors. In my view, there is an uncertain response from the West as a whole to these events. We ought to be able to speak with more of a single voice than at the moment. I refer not merely to this side of the Atlantic but to the other side as well. We have asked the political directors to report to us for the essential reason that the human rights movement in Eastern Europe, critically important as it is, is not uniform in terms of motivation. As has been made clear by the leaders of Charter '77, their motives, attitude and objectives are not the same, for example, as those of the Russian dissidents. We felt that, in order to help us to achieve the possibility of speaking with a single voice, we should have a report from the political directors. There is no difference between us on what the hon. Gentleman said about the objective.

Mr. Skinner

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that when he has had discussions with EEC leaders they have made fine federal European statements about all things under the sun but that in practice they have tended to put national interests first, as with sanctions on Rhodesia, the purchase of oil, and the West Germans employing Turks when it suits them and then kicking them out when they have finished with them and lending us money to purchase their goods? What is the point of having direct elections with a motley crew like that?

Mr. Crosland

The point is that, if we have direct elections, my hon. Friend might be elected and might bring the motley crew under control.

Mr. Channon

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman said in his last answer, will he give a definite assurance that Her Majesty's Government intend to proceed with the necessary legislation in order that we may have direct elections at the time they promised?

Mr. Crosland

Yes. That assurance has recently been given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, and I repeat it today.