HC Deb 25 July 1978 vol 954 cc1358-9
Q.1 Mr Whitehead

asked the Prime Minister what recent communications he has had with President Brezhnev.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I conveyed to President Brezhnev in late May through a distinguished Soviet visitor my views on detente, the need to maintain stable relations between East and West, and the factors in Soviet policies which make this more difficult.

Mr. Whitehead

In continuing that correspondence, when my right hon. Friend next writes to President Brezhnev will he tell him that, although the vast majority of the British want detente and would like to work for it, we are not prepared to buy it by silence about the trials of human rights activists and trade union leaders, and that in consequence the Soviet Union can expect further ostracism along the lines of the ties, sporting and cultural, that have been broken within the past week or so if it does not change its ways?

The Prime Minister

The Soviet Union understands very well from statements made by me, by the Foreign Secretary during discussions with Mr. Gromyko and by others the damage that is done to British-Soviet relations by its inhumane treatment of human rights campaigners. This is clear to the Soviet Union. At the same time, we wish the policy of detente, as expressed through a comprehensive test ban treaty and a strategic arms limitation treaty, to be continued and those agreements to be made as soon as possible, because they are in the interests of both sides.

Mr. Stokes

When he next meets President Brezhnev, will the Prime Minister ask him to use his influence to have all the Cuban troops removed from the different countries of Africa?

The Prime Minister

I shall certainly make that request, but I do not think that it will necessarily have all the influence that the hon. Gentleman thinks it will have. I have a feeling that the Soviet Union will take decisions on a different basis from that.

Mr. Greville Janner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a growing body of opinion in the country and in the House that if the present repressive measures continue in the Soviet Union it will be inappropriate for the Olympic Games to be held there in 1980?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

The Prime Minister

I understand that, and from the cheers in the Chamber it is clear that many hon. Members share that view. I do not think that it is for the Government to express a view on that; they are not directly concerned at this stage. It may be necessary later.

Mr. Adley

What about the Springboks?

The Prime Minister

I know that the cold war warriors are waiting to jump into action straight away, but it is not necessary for us to go into those details for the Olympic Games, which are three years away.