HC Deb 28 November 1979 vol 974 cc1265-6
1. Mr. Sproat

asked the Lord Privy Seal what regular steps his Department takes to monitor breaches of the Helsinki Agreement by other countries.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

Instructions have been given to British embassies in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries to monitor and report regularly on implementation. Information is also exchanged regularly with our partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Nine. A summary of the results will continue to be made available to the House at six-monthly intervals until the review conference in Madrid next year. I am making the latest such report in a pursuant reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) today.

Mr. Sproat

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the progress made in persuading the Soviet Union to fulfil the pledge in the Helsinki Agreement that there would be a much freer flow of information into and out of the Soviet Union and inside it? Which British newspapers, and how many copies, are freely and openly available in Moscow? What is the Minister doing to increase the number of British newspapers on sale?

Mr. Hurd

We are not satisfied with the progress made, although there has been some improvement since the Helsinki conference. However, there has not been enough improvement and that will be pursued at the Madrid review conference next year.

I understand that British newspapers can be found, but often only in tourist hotels. A preference appears to be given to the Morning Star, which we would not all think to be justified.

Mr. James Lamond

Has any monitoring been done in Britain as regards breaches of the Helsinki Agreement? Is there any evidence that dissident workers who have published pamphlets attacking either their own management or the Government, have been dismissed?

Mr. Hurd

No, and that is not a question for me.