I would have considered it quite improper to have told Mr. Kosygin or anyone else in the Soviet Union what requests had been made of Her Majesty the Queen. I do not think that there was much doubt in Mr. Kosygin's mind about my ability to speak for this country, although I found one or two Russian officials rather interested in the smallness of our majority.
Can the Prime Minister explain the rather curious omission of the Foreign Secretary from his party? Might not the negotiations have been more successful if he had been there? Secondly, can he say whether the question of the limitation of arms in the Middle East and the question of a nuclear guarantee to India were raised during the talks?
The hon. Gentleman may have missed the fact that my right hon. Friend had a very extended visit to the Soviet Union just before Christmas. It was during that visit that my own visit was arranged. As for the other part of the supplementary question, although I do not wish to go into detail, I can confirm that both questions were raised by me.
I went into this question at some length with Mr. Kosygin, and it was also discussed with other Ministers whom members of my party and I met. There is to be a meeting in May of trade representatives of both sides to—in the words of the communiqué—"discuss how we can widen and deepen the exchange of goods."
Can my right hon. Friend say whether—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up"] That is an unusual request. Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that he is optimistic about the outcome of these talks in May?
Yes, I am hopeful of this. But this has been a continuing problem. I remember arguing on exactly the same problem and the same sort of gap as long ago as 1947. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken this matter up on many occasions. We know what answer the Soviet authorities give. But I think that there is a willingness to do something about redressing the balance.
The Prime Minister will be aware that in May, 1964, Mr. Patolichev signed a firm undertaking to the effect that Anglo-Soviet trade would be maintained in balance. Why is it that the Government, in their period in power, have done nothing to ensure that this undertaking was adhered to?
Nothing was done by the previous Government, although a similar undertaking was given, I think, by Mr. Kabanov in 1957. Of course, the answer which is always given—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will recall this—is that many of the things which they would like to buy are at the wrong price or the wrong date of delivery. We do not accept that any more than his party did and we are seeking to widen the basis of the goods they buy.
Because we have preferred to deal with this on an expanding basis. It would be possible—if this is what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind—for example, to impose sharp quotas on Soviet soft wood to this country. We decided to have one more go at expanding our exports to them rather than taking the restrictive attitude which the right hon. Gentleman wants.
He visited the computing centre of the Scientific Research Institute of Complex Automation and the weaving factory of the Moscow Silk Combine named after Ya. M. Sverdlov. In the course of the discussions there was a full exchange of views on international problems and also on questions of Anglo-Soviet relations. The two sides declared their desire to make every effort to reduce tension, to improve the international situation, to avert the threat of nuclear war and to develop relations between the U.S.S.R. and the United Kingdom.
The sides discussed the problems of European security and of a German peace settlement. It was noted that the normalisation of the situation in Europe would be served by the creation of an atmosphere of confidence and of reduced tension and by the encouragement of efforts leading to the establishment of comprehensive co-operation between all the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.
The sides concurred that the conclusion of an agreement about the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons would correspond with the interests of all peoples. They recognized as important that no activities should be undertaken in any part of the world which would be inconsistent with the purposes of such an agreement.
In the course of an exchange of views it was noted that the Tashkent declaration was an important step towards the establishment of good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan. In the opinion of the sides, the carrying into effect of the Tashkent declaration created real conditions for the preservation and consolidation of peace in the sub-continent. For their part, they would help towards this in every possible way.
Consideration was given to the state of relations between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain and the prospects of their further development were discussed. The sides confirmed their intention to work for the improvement of Anglo-Soviet relations in all fields in the interests of the peoples of both countries and of the reduction of international tension.
Both Governments agreed that the discussions and personal meetings which had taken place during Mr. Wilson's visit to Moscow, had been useful and constructive. They reaffirmed their desire to hold periodical meetings and consultations at all levels for the improvement of relations between the two countries, for the reduction of international tensions and for the consolidation of peace.