HC Deb 07 July 1982 vol 27 cc283-4
15. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Poland.

Mr. Rifkind

Her Majesty's Government deplore the continuing failure of the Polish authorities to live up to their declared intention to return to the path of renewal and reform. We shall continue to urge the Polish Government to lift martial law, release all those in detention and restore a dialogue with the Church and Solidarity. In the absence of any real progress towards those objectives, our present measures in respect of Poland must remain in force.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend agree that we tend to forget Lech Walesa and the 2,000 Solidarity leaders who have been in prison since last December at the Kremlin's behest? Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that no concluding documents of the Helsinki conference at Madrid will be signed until those people are released?

Mr. Rifkind

Far from the British Government and other Western countries forgetting the detainees, we have made their release, and that of Lech Walesa, one of our principal requirements if the Polish and Soviet Union Governments wish for a return to normalisation of our relations with Poland. Events in Poland will be an important consideration when trying to achieve an agreement at the Madrid conference.

Mr. George Robertson

In the light of the understandable anxiety about the Polish authorities' unwillingness to move towards ending martial law, what is the state of negotiations about rescheduling Polish debts?

Mr. Rifkind

The commercial banks are now negotiating with the Polish authorities. Western nations have said that they do not intend to initiate negotiations with Poland about rescheduling debts. That remains our policy.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that there have been reports that some members of Solidarity have been taken involuntarily out of Poland? Will he make inquiries about that, as the people concerned may have connections in this country?

Mr. Rifkind

I have heard suggestions to that effect, although we have not yet been able to confirm the rumours. Certainly any movement of detainees to other countries, or attempts to put pressure on them to emigrate from Poland, would be viewed by the Government as matters to be condemned.