HC Deb 09 July 1986 vol 101 cc297-9
10. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he intends to attend the next conference concerning the Helsinki accords and conference in Vienna in November.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (Mr. Tim Renton)

Participants in the conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe have not yet decided at what level to hold the opening session of the Vienna meeting. If it is at Foreign Minister level, my right hon. and learned Friend plans to attend.

Mr. Janner

Do the Government not find it odd that a conference on human rights is to be held in a country which has just elected Kurt Waldheim as President? When do the Government expect to conclude their investigations into the interrogation — and subsequent deaths — of British prisoners of war by German army group E — Waldheim's group? Will that be before the conference? Is there any hope of the Government achieving anything other than a cover-up if they will not even ask for access to the relevant documents from the files of the United Nations and the Federal Republic of Germany?

Mr. Renton

As the hon. and learned Gentleman will know, the Madrid CSCE meeting, which concluded in 1983, provided for the next follow-up meeting to be held in Vienna from 4 November 1986. That is what will happen. As for the hon. and learned Gentleman's question about Dr. Waldheim, I mentioned to him when replying to the foreign affairs debate some weeks ago that the Ministry of Defence was still searching into its records with regard to the evidence and the details that the hon. and learned Gentleman sent to the Ministry. I understand that the search is not yet complete, but when it is, the Minister will get in touch with the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Rhodes James

Will my hon. Friend expedite those inquiries? Will he look into the case of Sergeant John Dryden, who fell into the hands of unit E, was interrogated and sent for special treatment under Waldheim?

Mr. Renton

The MOD is searching carefully into the evidence that the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) has sent. We cannot prejudge the results of that search, but the Ministry will be in touch with the hon. and learned Gentleman as soon as the search is completed.

Mr. James Lamond

Will whoever represents us at the conference draw to the attention of one signatory of the Helsinki Final Act—Turkey—the fact that we object strongly to its troops occupying the sovereign territory of another signatory to the Helsinki Final Act—Cyprus—refusing to withdraw troops, bringing settlers to northern Cyprus, trying to establish for all time that it has a right to be there, and refusing to co-operate in tracing the many hundreds of Greek Cypriots who disappeared during the invasion 12 years ago? Could not that matter be raised under the Helsinki Final Act?

Mr. Renton

The Vienna conference will deal with three broad matters following the Helsinki Final Act —security, economic and humanitarian matters. In the humanitarian part of the conference, the question of human rights in eastern Europe will be followed up actively, not least by members of our delegation.

Mr. Terlezki

When the Foreign Secretary goes to Vienna, will he be very positive and ask at the conference whether it would be possible to arrange for the Eminent Persons Group to visit the Soviet Union on a fact-finding tour, as there are millions of innocent people imprisoned and persecuted in the Soviet Union? What is good for the blacks is also right for whites.

Mr. Renton

I understand my hon. Friend's point. The recent Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation to Moscow, led by that eminent person my noble Friend Lord Whitelaw, handed over a list of human rights cases that it wished the Soviets to look into. The Soviet failure so far to implement the Helsinki Final Act, especially in relation to human rights, is a matter of great concern to us and one that will be taken up regularly at the Vienna meeting.

Mr. George Robertson

Before anyone goes to Vienna in the autumn, would it not be worth while for the British Government to speak out against the United States veto of the agreement almost reached at Berne in the same forthright terms as the President of the Federal Republic of Germany did last Wednesday in the Royal Gallery? Does the Minister agree that progress in freeing people from the artificial and wholly indefensible restrictions on their ability to travel will come about only when the United States starts to listen to its European allies?

Mr. Renton

The hon. Gentleman refers to the United States' refusal to agree to the summary document after the Berne meeting on human contacts. The United States delegation took the view that the document was in some ways a backward step from agreements that had been reached and announced publicly. That is why the United States delegation did not support the document. We took the view that, although we should have liked to support it, the Americans had a perfectly understandable point of view of their own on that issue.

Forward to