HC Deb 27 June 1984 vol 62 cc983-4
8. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has had with the Government of the Soviet Union since the economic summit.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We remain in regular contact with the Soviet Union on diplomatic channels. I shall be conducting substantial discussions with the Soviet Foreign Minister on a full range of international and bilateral issues when I visit Moscow next week.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is it not fair to say that, apart from the summit's statement on democratic values, it failed to address the real problems of tension between East and West and, in particular, escalating expenditure on armaments? If the justification for the deployment of cruise in Britain was the deployment of SS20s in Eastern Europe and—

Mr. Holt

What has this to do with economics?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

A great deal. If the deployment of SS24s and SS25s arises from the deployment of cruise in Britain, unless there is control of escalating expenditure on armaments, which is harming the economies of the Western world, will there not inevitably be war?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

It is sad that the hon. Gentleman's perception of the realities of the situation are as limited as they are. A great deal of time at the London economic summit was devoted to discussion of East-West relations. The Heads of State and Foreign Ministers devoted much time to the methods that could be followed to make headway on arms control talks. Nothing is a higher priority in the minds of those Western leaders. There was a Western initiative on the table at every arms control negotiation. The summit declaration on East-West relations made it plain that the United States was willing to return to arms control talks anywhere, at any time and without prior conditions.

Mr. Dykes

As this is an international human rights matter, not just an internal domestic policy matter, will my right hon. and learned Friend and Her Majesty's Government continue to press their protests against the treatment of Dr. Sakharov and his wife with as much force as the French have done?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

As my hon. Friend said, this is a matter about which we are greatly concerned, inside the House and elsewhere. I have mentioned the case on one or more occasion in talks with the Soviet Union. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade mentioned it to a Soviet Minister in Moscow last month. Certainly, the case deserves to be pressed firmly.

Mr. Healey

When the Foreign Secretary is in Moscow, will he make it clear that Her Majesty's Government would support negotiations for the completion of a comprehensive test ban treaty and for a ban on military activity in outer space, both of which have recently been proposed by Mr. Chernenko and could form a useful way of breaking the deadlock between the Soviet Union and the United States in this area?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Both topics deserve discussion in the context of my talks. With regard to armaments in outer space, the right hon. Gentleman will recollect that the North Atlantic Council statement from Washington welcomed the fact that the United States was prepared to embark on discussions on research in that area.

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