HC Deb 29 November 1989 vol 162 c696
1. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new representations he intends to make to the President of Romania on human rights.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. William Waldegrave)

We will continue to protest strongly to the Romanian Government on every appropriate occasion about their appalling human rights performance.

Mr. Flynn

Does the Minister agree that today's news of the escape of Nadia Comaneci proves once again that life in Romania is unbearable, even for its top privileged people? Has he noticed that Ceaucescu has called on the butchers of Tiananmen square to join him in a crusade to make permanent the Stalinist gulags of China and Romania? Will the Minister today announce a counter-crusade by East and West—a panEuropean crusade—using the powerful instruments of broadcasting and international pressure to persuade and to encourage Romania on its long march towards democracy?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman has already played some part in such a crusade. I know that he has been broadcasting on the BBC, which has helped to keep alive the guttering flame of freedom in Romania. I shall certainly talk to the BBC authorities to see what can be done to help through the Romanian language service of the world service.

Mr. Hunter

In his dealings with President Ceaucescu on human rights, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that the further isolation of Romania will achieve little? Will he seek to explore and improve the existing contact through trade that is to the advantage of the United Kingdom and Romania?

Mr. Waldegrave

I take a rather different view from my hon. Friend on this matter. We do not intend to interfere particularly with trade, but this is a time to bring all pressure to bear on Romania. That Her Majesty's Government have been making some headway on this may be evidenced by the fact that recently, on instructions, the Romanian abassador accused me of menacing revisionist Hungarian plots. That may show that we are making some progress.

Mr. Skinner

Did the Minister see the report the other day that the President of Romania got 67 standing ovations? Is there any truth in the rumour that the British Prime Minister will continue in office until the Tory party conference gives her—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Supplementary questions must be made relevant.

Mr. Waldegrave

It is our privilege to be able to make such jokes. If only such jokes were available to the inhabitants of Romania.

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