HC Deb 13 July 1977 vol 935 cc424-6
35. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about his latest talks with the other Foreign Ministers of the EEC regarding the Belgrade Review Conference.

Mr. Luard

Various aspects of the Belgrade CSCE follow-up meeting were discussed at meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council on 21st June and at the ministerial political co-operation meeting on 12th July. On the latter occasion Foreign Ministers received a report from the Political Committee on the progress of the Belgrade preparatory meeting. We shall continue to keep a close watch on the course of that meeting with a view to ensuring that the arrangements agreed there allow for a thorough review of implementation of the Final Act at the main meeting in the autumn.

Mr. Blaker

Will the Minister urge the Secretary of State in these discussions to resist the idea that the Soviet Union might abandon détente because of the moderate criticism made in the West of Soviet violation of human rights? Is it not clear that détente should be seen not as a favour granted by the Soviet Union to the West but as a matter in which the Soviet Union has an interest for a variety of reasons, including economic ones?

Mr. Luard

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. I personally share his view. I believe that the Soviet Union sees a strong national interest in the maintenance of détente, and particularly in continuing good relations with the United States Government. I agree that we should not be deterred from stating our views about human rights and other matters at the Belgrade Conference for fear that the whole future of détente may be imperilled.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

Did the talks cover the concern expressed at the July session of the European Parliament about the human rights of Soviet Jews—a concern expressed among all political groupings in the Parliament? Will the Minister urge the Soviet Union to go for a much more open exchange of information about Soviet Jewish prisoners, many of whom have been adopted by individual Members of Parliament in the various Parliaments of the EEC?

Mr. Luard

Concern on that matter is deeply felt in this House and in the Common Market as a whole. The hon. Member can be sure that the Government reflect those views in our discussions. Discussions in the EEC have been related mainly to the preliminary Belgrade meeting, which is dealing with the organisation of the main meeting, which will not begin until the autumn.

Mr. George Rodgers

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity of discussing with his fellow EEC Ministers the repugnance felt in many quarters at the decision of the President of the United States to go ahead with the production of the neutron bomb, particularly bear- ing in mind the disarmament aspects of the forthcoming Belgrade Conference?

Mr. Luard

I do not think that is closely related to the Question on the Order Paper, but I shall pass on my hon. Friend's views.