HC Deb 14 July 1980 vol 988 cc1046-7
16. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he proposes to take on behalf of British Airways' pilots and crews in view of the restrictions imposed upon them when in Moscow compared with the freedom of movement enjoyed by their Aeroflot counterparts when in London.

Mr. Tebbit

None, Sir. British Airways pilots and crews suffer the same restrictions on their freedom of movement in Moscow as the crews of aircraft of other foreign airlines operating to there.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my hon. Friend aware that, unlike their Aeroflot counterparts, British Airways pilots and crews have to suffer the most time-consuming and strict passport controls and Customs inspections, often lasting up to an hour, and then have to face further restrictions on their movements in Moscow during their free time? Will he enter into international discussions to ensure that these procedures are fairly applied?

Mr. Tebbit

Sir Denis Follows, who is in Moscow assisting a Russian propaganda exercise, is a former general secretary of the pilots' union. I hope that the British pilots there will take him on one side and explain the disadvantages of working in Russia, as opposed to being there for pleasure. I should be unhappy to degrade our democratic standards of conduct towards visitors to those imposed in Russia.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Will our embassy staff in Moscow be allowed to attend the Olympic Games, or is it true that the Prime Minister has ordered the tickets allocated to the embassy to be destroyed?

Mr. Tebbit

It is not a matter for me, but I hope that none of our embassy staff will attend the Games.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

To use the Minister's own word, why must he degradingly attack someone who has gone to Moscow when there is no law against his doing so? Does he not accept that Sir Denis Follows is there doing his job as he sees it? Is it not wrong for a Minister to stand at the Dispatch Box and denigrate a man who is doing what he believes to be right?

Mr. Tebbit

I am perfectly prepared to say outside this House about Sir Denis Follows what I have said inside it. I wish that every hon. Member was prepared to do the same when he attacked people.