§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are aware that the continuance of economic and financial negotiations with countries that respect neither religious freedom nor essential human rights must greatly weaken any representations which they may make on these subjects; and whether they will take this fact into account in the negotiations which are at present proceeding with representatives of the Czechoslovak Government.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD HENDERSON)
My Lords, His Majesty's Government have on repeated occasions made it clear that they disapprove of State interference with religious liberty and human rights but I do not think it would be generally agreed that in this matter His Majesty's Government should take special action which would sacrifice the economic interests of this country at the present time. One of our objects in these negotiations is to secure payment of Czechoslovak debts due to this country and compensation for British interests which have been nationalised in Czechoslovakia.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, whilst I thank the noble Lord for his answer, which, as I think he will realise, I cannot regard as satisfactory, will he at least make it clear to the Czechoslovak negotiators, and through them to the Czechoslovak Government, that the religious persecution which is at present obtaining in that country must necessarily arouse great public resentment here and must, therefore, make the present negotiations more difficult.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I do not think that the trade delegation is a good medium for such representations. I would add that having regard to statements made by Ministers, both in your Lordships' House, and in another place as well as in discussion at the United Nations Assembly, the Czechoslovak 833 Government can be in no doubt whatsoever as to the views of His Majesty's Government and of British public opinion generally regarding religious persecution and denial of human rights.