Human Rights

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1988.

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Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher 12:00 am, 4th May 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made on human rights at the CSCE.

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

So far, advances have been distinctly modest. When I addressed the Vienna CSCE meeting on 15 April I made it clear that we would not conclude business without much more progress on human rights issues.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

Will my hon. and learned Friend convey to Mr. Gorbachev that it is all very well talking about glasnost and perestroika, but that if he wishes to make progress on conventional arms stability talks and on nuclear arms reductions he had better pay attention to the human rights issues at the Vienna review conference and instruct his negotiators to make distinct progress? We are holding ourselves armed against the Soviet Union because we distrust that country's callous disregard for human liberties.

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

I agree with my hon. Friend. That was the burden of what I said. In particular, there is a gap between what Mr. Gorbachev has said—much of which is very welcome—and what has been carried into law. We look to him to deliver on what he has said he wants to do, and he will have every support from the West in so doing. What we cannot accept is an unbalanced outcome at Vienna. That would sell short all the reasonable aspirations of people in the East who were given such hope by the Helsinki accord.

Photo of Mr James Lamond Mr James Lamond , Oldham Central and Royton

Is it not a fact, however, that the Soviet Union has done its very best to make progress on humanitarian affairs by suggesting that the Soviets themselves host a special international conference on the matter? Has not the West dragged its feet and answered that request by suggesting that every non-governmental organisation that wishes to go along should have the right to go to such a conference—and even that the Voice of Free Europe should be allowed to participate?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

The hon. Gentleman is an astonishingly tolerant observer of the Soviet scene. I can only say that if he really thinks that it is an answer to the sustained and continuing human rights abuses in the Soviet Union for people to go to Moscow and just talk about it, his tolerance does him little credit.