Soviet Union (Treatment of Jews)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st June 1971.

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Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester North West 12:00 am, 21st June 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in view of the further and recent trials of Jews in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics arising from their desire to leave that country for Israel in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a party, he will now make further representations to the Soviet Government in connection therewith.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

The Soviet Government did not support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it was adopted in 1948: the Declaration is, therefore, not the best basis for an approach to the Soviet Government on this matter. However, the Soviet Government are well aware of our views, which were repeated by the British delegate to the Commission on Human Rights at Geneva in March of this year.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester North West

While I readily appreciate the right hon. Member's views, may I ask whether he is aware that the series of show trials unfortunately continue this week with the trial of a woman called Miss Raiza Palatnik? Can he not find it possible to make some representation to the Soviet authorities, asking that independent observers or the foreign Press be admitted to these trials so that Soviet justice will not continue to be brought into constant disrepute?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I recognise the feelings on this matter, and it is one to which my right hon. Friend and I have given a great deal of thought. The hon. Member will recognise that we have no standing through which we can make an official intervention. This has not prevented us from making representations, as my right hon. Friend did with Mr. Gromyko when he was here and as the Permanent Under-Secretary did with the Soviet Ambassador. It is certainly a matter about which we are gravely concerned. The trouble is knowing in what way we can do anything to help. I think our attitude is well known to the Soviet Union.

Photo of Mr John Gorst Mr John Gorst , Hendon North

Would my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that should there be any inhuman or outlandish sentences in future trials of Jewish people wishing to leave the Soviet Union, the most vigorous protest will be made by the Government in view of our support for the Declaration of Human Rights?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

Yes, Sir. Anything of that kind would be looked at and considered in the light of such sentences as are imposed. It is our desire to help but we do not always help by making official protests. We have to try to find the best ways of seeking to influence the situation.