HC Deb 21 October 1987 vol 120 cc717-8
14. Mr. Lawrence

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to persuade the Soviet Government to permit further emigration by Soviet Jews.

Mr. Mellor

We take every opportunity to put pressure on the Soviet Union about this matter. I last raised this in clear and forthright terms at the resumption of the CSCE meeting in Vienna on 22 September. I am glad to say that one of the four specific cases I raised, that of Ida Nudel, has since been successfully resolved. Mrs. Nudel, a prominent long-term Jewish refusenik, was granted permission to emigrate at the beginning of this month and has now arrived in Israel.

Mr. Lawrence

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the considerable efforts of this Government for the release of Soviet Jews are greatly appreciated by them and by hon. Members on both sides of the House? Does he also agree that the recent increase in Soviet Jewish emigration is indeed a most welcome departure? Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that, if the Soviet Union totally honours its commitment to human rights in the Helsinki accord, that will only strengthen our confidence that it will totally honour any commitments it may enter into regarding arms reduction and the maintenance of world peace?

Mr. Mellor

I am glad that these long-standing cases are beginning to be resolved. There was the case of Sasha Blonsky, with which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Neale) were prominently involved, together with other Members of the House. Up to September the figures show that some 5,397 Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union have been allowed to emigrate, and that is a larger figure than for the previous four years taken together. However, that figure still falls short of the 50,000 who were allowed out in 1979. In recent months the numbers have flattened off to a degree that should allow for no complacency.

It is important in our dealings with the Soviet, Union that we make it absolutely clear that, while we are prepared to do business with Mr. Gorbachev, it cannot be only on those parts of the agenda that suit him. Trust is one and indivisible and respect shown for human rights carries over into the trust and confidence that we can repose in Soviet willingness to adhere to arrangements that they make with regard to arms control.

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