HC Deb 15 June 1977 vol 933 cc368-70
10. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to visit Washington.

Dr. Owen

I shall visit the United Nations General Assembly in New York at the end of September and may well visit Washington then.

Mr. Canavan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the autumn thousands of people from Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom will be marching in protest against the presence of American nuclear bases in the Holy Loch and elsewhere in the United Kingdom? Will he pay more attention to the Labour Party manifesto commitment in this respect, and will he pass on appropriate information to the American President, Jimmy Carter, and to our whizz-kid ambassador?

Dr. Owen

I can assure my hon. Friend that the whole issue of disarmament is one in which I have taken a great deal of interest when sitting on both sides of the House, and I shall continue to do so. The question is one of achieving genuine measures of disarmament. We can look at the whole question of a comprehensive test ban treaty. We can encourage greater progress in the SALT negotiations. We can contribute to the mutual and balanced force reduction negotiations, which are continuing. In all three areas we are extremely active at present.

Mr. Blaker

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the American Administration that he welcomes President Carter's confirmation that he proposes to continue his campaign on the subject of human rights? Will he assure the House that, in co-operation with the United States Government and our other partners, we shall do our best to ensure that at Belgrade there is a serious and thorough examination of the record of the parties to the Helsinki agreement on all aspects of the agreement, including human rights?

Dr. Owen

My position on human rights is well known. I support the stand of the United States Administration. I recognise that it is a very important aspect, but only one of many aspects that will be discussed in Belgrade. We recently had a debate on this matter in the House, when I think that there was a broad measure of agreement that we need to see all parts of the Helsinki Final Act implemented. We shall approach Belgrade in a spirit of trying to ensure that there is full implementation. It will take time, but we are determined to achieve it. The fact that there is a human dimension to détente is one that I fully support.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

When my right hon. Friend sees President Carter will he encourage him to think of the human rights of Arabs in Israeli-occupied territory as being equally as important as the human rights of Jews in the Soviet Union?

Dr. Owen

I know from conversations with President Carter that he is concerned about human rights everywhere in the world and judges the matter on its merits. As his actions have shown, he by no means sees the issue of human rights as being confined to the Soviet and Communist countries. He will look at the matter in the Middle East, the Far East and even in his own country.

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