Postal Communications

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th March 1987.

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Photo of Mr David Sumberg Mr David Sumberg , Bury South 12:00 am, 18th March 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the United Kingdom delegation to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe review conference in Vienna will raise the subject of the free movement of postal communications between the United Kingdom and countries in eastern Europe; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

Our delegation has already raised this issue in debate on a number of occasions. With other Western countries, we have tabled a proposal aimed at ensuring freedom of transit of postal communications.

Photo of Mr David Sumberg Mr David Sumberg , Bury South

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's reply, but does he not agree that the Soviet record in these matters is a yardstick by which its general commitment to human rights should be judged? Will my hon. Friend advise our partners in Europe and at the Vienna conference that no agreement should be reached with the Soviets until the subject of the free movement of postal communications can be sorted out?

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

My hon. Friend is right when he says that freedom of postal communications is one area where we should be watching carefully porgress on the Soviet side. That is inherent in the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act, and we shall be pressing the Soviets continually on that point.

Photo of Mr David Atkinson Mr David Atkinson , Bournemouth East

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of the recently released Soviet dissidents have returned home in very bad health, but that Soviet law currently prevents the mailing of medical supplies to them from the West? Will he take up this matter in Vienna and also when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister goes to Moscow?

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

I thank my hon. Friend for drawing our attention to that matter. I shall certainly ask our delegation in Vienna to raise it with the Soviets. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary go to Moscow at the end of next week, I have no doubt that human rights abuses will be high on their list of priorities. It is one matter that I shall see is in their brief as well.