§ Mr. Soames
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he is taking to stimulate Soviet studies in universities and polytechnics.
§ Mr. Walden
Those engaged in the field of Soviet and East European studies are undertaking a task of importance to this country. At a time when changes of great significance appear to be taking place in the Soviet Union, and when greater contacts are taking place between our two countries, it is especially important that the United Kingdom should have the expertise to follow and analyse what is happening.
Following the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on Soviet and East European studies, published in May 1986, The Government undertook to consult representative figures from the academic world, the University Grants Committee, the Economic and Social Research Council, and interested Government Departments. In fulfilment of that undertaking I chaired a seminar on 30 January this year which brought together specialists from a number of universities and polytechnics, at which fears were expressed about the future of work in this field. Because of the national importance of Soviet and East European studies, I am considering with my colleagues in other Departments whether steps might he taken to improve the position.