HC Deb 03 December 1980 vol 995 cc250-2
6. Mr. William Shelton

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the progress of the Madrid review conference.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Blaker)

Her Majesty's Government welcomed the agreement on the agenda and procedures reached on 14 November, which enabled the main Madrid meeting to proceed as planned. The thorough review of implementation of the Helsinki Final Act now taking place will last until Christmas. We expect the meeting to end in March 1981.

Mr. Shelton

Will my hon. Friend accept my warm congratulations on his determination, which, I understand, ensured the review of the Russian implementation or lack of implementation of the Helsinki agreement? Does he agree that Russian military intervention in Poland would be another clear and decisive breach of the Helsinki agreement, which would have serious repercussions in Madrid?

Mr. Blaker

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his congratulations. The co-operation between the NATO countries when trying to resolve problems of procedure was remarkable and solid. There is no doubt that foreign interference in the internal affairs of Poland would be a flagrant breach of the Helsinki Final Act. It is difficult to see how the conference could survive in such circumstances.

Mr. Hooley

When the self-righteous barrage of critimism of the Soviet Union comes to an end, what positive proposals to carry forward the process of detente in Europe will be made by the United Kingdom.?

Mr. Blaker

I do not accept the description of the conference implied in the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question. One interesting thing about the conference is that it has been conducting a serious and practical review of what has happened since the previous conference at Belgrade. United Kingdom initiatives are the subject of the next question.

Mr. Cormack

I thank my hon. Friend for what he said a moment ago, but could he be a little more robust? Will the Western Powers make it plain that there can he no question of continuing the conference for a minute if the Soviet Union invades Poland?

Mr. Blaker

I do not need to add to what I have just said. I made that clear. The Soviet Union is in no doubt that interference in the internal affairs of Poland would be a flagrant breach of the Helsinki Final Act. If it appears to be necessary during the conference, we shall remind the Soviet Union of that.

Mr. Winnick

Will the Minister accept that on Poland one should speak with clean hands? Is he aware that there is no justification for Soviet intervention in Poland, and that those who have consistently campaigned against aggression, unlike a number of Conservative Members, would condemn any Russian aggression against Poland?

Mr. Blaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for confirming our views.

7. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Lord Privy Seal what initiative the Government will take at Madrid towards East-West detente; and if he will make a statement on the conference.

Mr. Blaker

The Government's first objective at Madrid is to have a thorough and frank review of the implementation of the Final Act by all signatory States. We shall be ready at the appropriate stage to put forward with our partners new proposals intended to achieve a substantial improvement in implementation of the Final Act, with particular reference to human rights, security, freedom of movement and freedom of infomation.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister accept that, whatever our views about Russia, we have to live with her or die with her? Does he therefore agree that hostility to infringement of civil liberties in Russia must not be allowed to damage co-existence or detente, since war will help no one?

Mr. Blaker

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of avoiding war. However, one has to remember that the Soviet Union freely agreed at Helsinki in 1975 to all the clauses of the Final Act and to the fact that review conferences should take place every few years, during which we would consider to what extent the undertaking signed at Helsinki had been observed. That is what we are doing. There is no acrimony about the procedure. It is a practical review.

Mr. Lawrence

In the context of human rights, can my hon. Friend assure the House that the deplorable position of the 2½ million Jews in Soviet Russia is being raised by our representatives at Madrid, particularly the breaches of international obligations that the Soviets are pursuing in suppressing cultural, religious and emigration rights?

Mr. Blaker

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. We have already raised the question of the many forms of blatant discrimination by the Soviet Union against Jews. We shall continue to do so as long as we consider it necessary. We have also referred to discrimination by the Soviet Union against other minorities.

Mr. Edward Lyons

Will the Minister arrange for our representatives at Madrid to remind the Soviet Union of the terrible fate of Professor Orlov and other members of the committee in the Soviet Union that was monitoring the Soviet Union's failure to observe its undertaking at Helsinki? Will they further remind the Soviet Union that, if it wishes to have detente, the release of those people will be a great step forward?

Mr. Blaker

We have already specifically taken up the case of Dr. Orlov and the fate of the people who have been trying to monitor the performance of the Soviet Government's obligations under the Helsinki agreement. We may well have proposals to put forward later.

Mr. Amery

Does my hon. Friend agree that, while we are all primarily concerned with averting a Soviet invasion of Poland, the sabre-rattling and the barrage of propaganda already undertaken by the Soviet Union is reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda that preceded the Munich agreement? Does he agree that that is totally contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Helsinki agreement?

Mr. Blaker

I entirely agree.

Mr. Shore

Is the Minister aware that there are two matters in addition to our concern about human rights that we should pursue most vigorously? First, can he assure us that the first part of the Helsinki Final Act will be discussed and reviewed, and, above all, that the guiding and dominating principle that all the participating States will refrain from the use and threat of force in their relations with each other and with countries outside Europe will be emphasised? Secondly, in the general discussions of confidence building and East-West military easement, does he consider the Madrid conference an appropriate forum to take up the tremendously important question of the SS20 and other Soviet weapons being introduced into Eastern Europe?

Mr. Blaker

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are other forums in which the question of the SS20 is being taken up. It would be a departure from the Helsinki process to discuss that aspect of disarmament and arms control in Madrid, although we shall have proposals to put forward at the apropriate time about confidence building measures. We have already vigorously made the point that the right hon. Gentleman first referred to. We have gone through the 10 principles in the first part of the Helsinki Final Act and made the point that it was expressly agreed at Helsinki that the signatory countries, in their relations with all States, not only the States of Europe, would observe the principles in the Final Act.

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