HC Deb 25 April 1984 vol 58 cc713-4
Mr. Andrew Bowden

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current state of Anglo-Soviet relations.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

We shall continue to seek to broaden understanding between East and West and to improve Anglo-Soviet relations. The recent visit of Mr. Kornienko, the Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister, to London was a useful step in this process. We shall hope to build on it when my right hon. and learned Friend visits Moscow in July.

Mr. Bowden

Will my hon. Friend ask the Foreign Secretary to tell the Russian leaders, when he sees them in July, of the whole of the British people's passionate wish for peace? Will he also ask the Foreign Secretary to tell the Russian leaders not to be misled by the campaigns for one-sided nuclear disarmament, which do not represent the majority view of the British people?

Mr. Rifkind

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. He will remember that the late President Andropov said that those who believed in unilateral disarmament were naive. This Government will not subject themselves to that type of accusation.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Does the Minister share the concern about abuses of the Soviet postal system which mean that mail posted here for recorded delivery is not delivered and is often not returned to senders here?

Mr. Rifkind

I agree that such interference is a sign of the Soviet leaders' inability to allow their people to be exposed to ideas which are not approved. The whole spirit of the Helsinki agreement should facilitate such exchanges of information.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Is my hon. Friend aware of the unhelpful editorial in Pravda recently about the decision by Her Majesty's Government, rightly, to break off diplomatic relations with Libya? What representations have we made to the Soviet Union, and what response has been received?

Mr. Rifkind

Her Majesty's ambassador raised that matter with Mr. Kornienko, the Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister, yesterday. The reply was to the effect that what appeared in Pravda did not necessarily reflect the Soviet authorities' views and that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had not yet come to a view on the matter.

Mr. Healey

Does the Minister agree that, at a time when almost all negotiations on disarmament are deadlocked, it is very important that the arms race is not allowed to enter a new field? Will the Minister therefore strongly support proposals for the demilitarisation of outer space, which is as much a British interest as an international one?

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentleman will he aware that the concept of the demilitarisation of outer space is attractive. We are always willing to consider constructive proposals which might lead to that end.