HC Deb 05 June 1980 vol 985 cc1670-1
Ql. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to Eastern Europe, in the light of her proposals to initiate a massive propaganda campaign, using powerful transmitters, to beam television programmes to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Our policy is to use the resources at our disposal, consistent with our international obligations, to ensure that Britain's voice is heard by the peoples of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as by the rest of the world.

Mr. Dalyell

As a lawyer, was it prudent for the Prime Minister to float an idea that breaches international agreements? As a scientist would not it have been wise if she had checked her technical facts? Is this yet another case—to borrow the delicate phrase used yesterday by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—of " suck it and see? "

The Prime Minister

I hardly think so, bearing in mind that I have been interested in this for some time. As a politician, I would do what I believe that the hon. Gentleman would do, bearing in mind the extent to which he practices freedom of speech. I would pursue the ideological struggle and try to put across the Western free world case to Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe as hard as I possibly can.

Mr. Adley

Is not there a danger of lumping together the situations in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe? Does my right hon. Frend agree that there is ample evidence that the peoples enslaved by the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe are almost literally dying to make contact with the West? Will the Prime Minister do her utmost to increase our broadcasts to the people of the enslaved Eastern European countries in particular so that they know at least that we in the West occasionally think about then-plight?

The Prime Minister

I do not know whether there is much difference between some of the enslaved peoples of Eastern Europe and the USSR. I make a point of seeing all the dissidents who come out so that I can hear precisely their experiences.

Mr. Skinner

All of them?

The Prime Minister

I see all the dissidents who ask to see me. Many of them do. We are particularly anxious that broadcasts to the Soviet Union and the East European States should have top priority in the external services.

Mr. Hooley

Will the free world case include a detailed explanation about the deployment of vast numbers of nuclear missiles in Western Europe and, in particular, an explanation of why the majority are in the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

The fact is that the Soviet Union has the latest nuclear missiles—the SS 20—and it is facing Europe. We must have an effective deterrent.