HC Deb 15 April 1981 vol 3 cc309-11
5. Mr. Bendall

asked the Lord Privy Seal what response Her Majesty's Government had to inquiries made of the Soviet Union at the Madrid review conference concerning the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.

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

The Soviet authorities have not yet responded to the appeal made by the Swedish delegation to the Madrid review conference, and supported by the British and other Western delegations, for a reinvestigation of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg.

Mr. Bendall

Is my hon. Friend aware that on 13 January my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Thomas) accompanied by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) tried to present a petition to the Soviet embassy in connection with Raoul Wallenberg? The embassy refused to see them. In view of that, and in view also of the answer that my hon. Friend has given, what can the Government do to try to persuade the Soviet authorities to give more information about this courageous and well-respected man?

Mr. Blaker

I am sorry to say that the attitude of the Soviet authorities in this sad case has been consistently unhelpful. As my hon. Friend will understand, this is primarily a matter for the Swedish authorities. It would be wrong for us to try to usurp the lead from them. We have made it clear at the Madrid conference, and in other ways, that we shall do everything that we can to back up the Swedish authorities by supporting their representations. Also, we have told the Swedish authorities that we shall put them in touch with British subjects who may be able to help by giving evidence in support of the search.

Mr. Greville Janner

is the Minister aware that the Raoul Wallenberg family, whom I know well, are exceedingly grateful to Her Majesty's Government who, together with the Opposition, have made it clear to the Soviet authorities that this country will not rest or relax until this extremely brave and important man is either released from custody and is allowed to go home to his family and people or they produce acceptable evidence that he has died? Is the Minister aware that the present Soviet practice of maintaining silence is unacceptable to us all?

Mr. Blaker

I endorse everything that the hon. and learned Gentleman has said. I am grateful for his initial words. This is an all-party matter, and I agree with him especially about the brave actions of Raoul Wallenberg at the end of the Second World War.

Sir Bernard Braine

Does my hon. Friend agree that the persistent refusal of the Soviet Union to give information about the fate of Mr. Wallenberg—a hero if there ever was one, who intervened to save the lives of 100,000 Hungarian Jews who would otherwise have been consumed in the Nazi holocaust—underlines the callous and insensitive attitude of the regime to elementary human rights?

Does my hon. Friend agree also that in view of the continued imprisonment of such brave men and women as those in the Helsinki monitoring groups in the Soviet Union and the satellite states, and other prisoners of conscience, we in the West should never allow the oppressors to think that we shall forget the oppressed or cease to call for their release? Can my hon. Friend assure us that after his own firm stand at the Madrid conference the British Government will never flag in this regard?

Mr. Blaker

I endorse what my hon. Friend has said. Raoul Wallenberg was concerned with securing the release of 100,000 Jews from Hungary at the end of the war. I endorse what he said about the importance of the monitoring groups. At Madrid, with our colleagues, we have made a specific proposal to try to ensure the freedom of monitoring groups to monitor the performance of their Government in carrying out the provisions of the Helsinki Act, which was clearly the intention of those who signed it. There is a later question on the subject, but whatever may result from Madrid, the conference has been useful in that it has allowed us to direct the attention of the world to the abuses to which my hon. Friend referred.

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