HC Deb 24 April 1980 vol 983 c698
Q3. Mr. Sainsbury

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 24 April.

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon, Friend to the reply which I gave earlier.

Mr. Sainsbury

Will my right hon. Friend find time during the day to look at the information available on the increasing persecution in the Soviet Union of the so-called dissidents, who are, of course, people seeking to exercise fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of religion and speech and the right to emigrate? Will the Prime Minister consider how this information can best be made more widely available so that those who are considering going to the Soviet Union, for whatever reason, might be more aware of the extent of the denial of human rights there?

The Prime Minister

The latest information that I have was given during the course of a debate in this House. It was information compiled by a distinguished academic. It said that between August 1978 and March this year there were some 97 political trials in the Soviet Union, leading to over 200 severe sentences of imprisonment for political matters. As my hon. Friend knows, in addition to those matters, Sakharov has been sent to the town of Gorky, where he cannot communicate with anyone. There is widespread persecution of minority groups in the Soviet Union, and that is endemic to the system.