HC Deb 20 March 1985 vol 75 cc859-60
11. Mr. Sumberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to make any invitation to the Soviet Union to attend ceremonies in the United Kingdom to commemorate the 40th anniversary of VE Day conditional on the Government of the Soviet Union revealing details of the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.

Mr. Woodall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will seek to make an invitation to the Soviet Government to participate in the VE Day 40th anniversary celebrations in the United Kingdom conditional on the release from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Soviet war veterans and others.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We hope that the 40th anniversary of the end of the war will be seen in all countries as an occasion for a rededication to the causes of freedom, human rights and the dignity of man for which victory was won. We do not believe that it would be either appropriate or effective to set preconditions to foreign representation at our national commemoration. However, we have on several occasions pressed the Soviet Government to provide further details on the important question of the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.

Mr. Sumberg

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is somewhat ironic that in 1985 we are commemorating the 40th anniversary of peace and freedom, yet that heroic man Raoul Wallenberg is probably enduring his 40th anniversary of imprisonment? Is this not an ideal opportunity to get the Soviet Union at long last to tell us and the world the truth?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I agree with my hon. Friend that the 40 years of peace that we shall be commemorating have many blemishes upon them, a particularly important one being the fate of Raoul Wallenberg. As my hon. Friend knows, the Soviet claim is that he died in prison in the Soviet Union in 1947. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall continue to make inquiries about the matter until we achieve a satisfactory answer.

Mr. Winnick

In view of the immense contribution made by the Soviet Union to the defeat of Hitler's Germany, would it not be ludicrous to make any condition about the Soviet Union participating in the 40th anniversary? That having been said, is the Foreign Secretary aware that many of us find it very difficult to understand why the Soviet authorities continue to deny information about Mr. Wallenberg? Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the Soviet authorities should make clear when Mr. Wallenberg died and in what circumstances — and particularly why he was kept in custody at all, bearing in mind the very brave role that he played in trying to save lives near the end of the war?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

It is not often that I have the opportunity of agreeing with the hon. Gentleman, but I am glad to be able to do so and to acknowledge the point made in the first part of his question. I am sure that the whole House will support any representations that we continue to make on this important matter.