European Security and Co-operation

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th November 1975.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Walsall North 12:00 am, 26th November 1975

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the signatories of the Helsinki Agreement regarding the fulfilment of the terms of that declaration.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

We have discussed with a number of other Governments matters relating to the implementation of the provisions of the CSCE Final Act. At official level we have done this in the context of the Economic Commission for Europe and UNESCO, and also bilaterally. For example, our Embassy in Moscow has initiated with the Soviet Union a wide-ranging review of the problems facing journalists.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Walsall North

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is growing suspicion that the Helsinki Agreement is another example of high-placed humbug? What is being done, besides what my right hon. Friend has mentioned, to make that agreement more effective? Has the Foreign Secretary made recommendations to the Soviet authorities about freedom of travel for Dr. Sakharov to go to Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

If my right hon. Friend believes that the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe is little more than humbug, I fear that he has not followed the debates on the subject in this House. We have always made it clear that the CSCE Final Act was the beginning of a process rather than the achievement of a process. During the past six months we have tried by small and specific measures to put its many aspects into operation. It is only four months since we began that process and I think that my right hon. Friend must allow much longer to see how it is working out before he condemns the CSCE in the terms in which he has condemned it this afternoon.

As for the Soviet Union's unwillingness to allow its Nobel laureate to accept his prize, I point out that this is something that naturally the Government and I personally regret, but that in itself is not a condemnation of the CSCE.

Photo of Mr Stephen Hastings Mr Stephen Hastings , Mid Bedfordshire

The Minister has said that we must wait and see how it works out. How does he square the Final Act and its splendid intentions with what the Soviet Union is now up to in Angola?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

To use the hon. Gentleman's inelegant language, I "square" that in the terms of the speech that I made in the House four months ago during a debate at which, I believe, the hon. Gentleman was not present. I said that the Final Act stipulated the boundaries of possible and necessary improvement in Europe during the next two years. Our policy and duty now are to try to make various aspects of the CSCE Final Act reality rather than words. We have been doing that for some months and we shall continue to do so. It is not possible to make a judgment about the success of the Final Act so recently after it was signed.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

Does my right hon. Friend share the expressed ambition of a former Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, who said that he hoped to live to see the day when there were no pass-ports? Is it my right hon. Friend's ambition to seek to make progress towards détente and to get rid of all passports, since the present system provides considerable embarrassment on occasions, even to hon. Members?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Yes, I certainly share that ambition and I hope that the CSCE can be the beginnings of what I suspect will be a very long process in bringing it about. There is a later Question about how it might come about within the EEC and I regard that as a first step towards this altogether desirable achievement.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet Chipping Barnet

From what the Minister has said, I take it that in his view the Helsinki Agreement has no relevance outside Europe. If that is so, what does it mean?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Its title is very specific to Europe and it is concerned with the European States co-operating within Europe. It means the creation of a framework within which the European States can live in peace and amity and can make détente a reality for ordinary people. That is what we tried to do for ordinary people of all kinds during the provision of Basket III and that is what we shall continue to do. The right hon. Gentleman cannot judge yet whether the Final Act is being implemented. We are trying to make its provisions a reality. Perhaps in a year's time the right hon. Gentleman will be in a position to make a judgment about whether that has happened.