HC Deb 12 March 1981 vol 1000 cc999-1000
Q2. Mr. Soley

asked the Prime Minister what response she intends to make to Mr. Brezhnev's proposals concerning European security.

The Prime Minister

We are examining President Brezhnev's proposals with our Allies. I welcome any proposals that will lead to effective and verifiable measures of arms control, but I cannot accept proposals designed to give unilateral advantages to the Soviet Union at the expense of the West.

Mr. Soley

Does the Prime Minister believe that we have anything to lose by accepting the Soviet proposal to extend the area of notification for troop movements, including naval, air and large-scale troop movements, to the whole of the European part of the Soviet Union? If we have anything to lose, what is it? If we have not, will there be a quick and positive response?

The Prime Minister

As far as I understand and recall that aspect of President Brezhnev's speech, he said that he was prepared to extend confidence-building measures to the Urals, providing that the West would respond by extending them, rather beyond Europe. We want to know what that means.

Mr. Newens

Find out.

The Prime Minister

Indeed, we are trying to do exactly that. We already have the whole of Europe in those confidence-building measures. It would seem unwise to extend the measures to the United States.

Mr. Latham

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that genuine and balanced disarmament is a Western aspiration? If President Brezhnev has realistic proposals in that regard, can she confirm that the West will not dismiss them out of hand?

The Prime Minister

We all want genuine and balanced reductions in armaments. We cannot have reductions that put the West at a disadvantage in defending our way of life.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Russians expressed interest in the French proposals at Madrid for a European conference on disarmament and for confidence-building measures? Will the Government give full and unequivocal support to the French proposals so that we can advance the Madrid process further later this year?

The Prime Minister

It was the French proposal that suggested that confidence building measures should be extended to the Urals as the quid pro quo for having them in the whole of Europe. As I understand it, President Brezhnev wishes the West to go even further. If that is so, we shall have to consider going in the other direction, beyond the Urals.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend agree that talks on arms limitation with the Russians could be entered into with much more enthusiasm by the West once the Russians have withdrawn from Afghanistan?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree. The same also applies to the Helsinki accord, once implemented.