Skip to main content

East Germany (Leipzig Fair)

Volume 656: debated on Monday 19 March 1962

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Lord Privy Seal why the British representatives on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council supported its recommendation to the Governments of the fifteen member-States to boycott the Leipzig Fair in Eastern Germany.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the nature of the advice he gave to the Members of Parliament who are attending the Leipzig Fair.

I would refer the hon. Gentlemen to the answer I gave to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) on 19th February. As for the instructions given to the United Kingdom representative in the North Atlantic Council, these, together with the discussions in the Council, are, of course, confidential.

Is not the Lord Privy Seal aware that the N.A.T.O. Council made a recommendation to boycott the Leipzig Fair on the initiative of the West German Government? Is it really the Government's intention to let N.A.T.O. be the catspaw of policies that injure this country's trade, injure the prospects of peace, and make N.A.T.O. the accomplice, as in the case of Cuba, of Charter-breaking intervention in the internal affairs of a member-State?

I cannot accept the facts in the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Is it not essential that this country should at some time take steps to break down the rigour of the cold war, and is not one of the means of breaking it down the freedom of individual Members of Parliament and British business men to trade with and pay visits to Iron Curtain countries? Will the Government look again at this policy of exhorting people not to have contact with East Germany, and will the Government invite the editors of the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph into their deliberations?

If the noble Lord will reread the Answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East, he will see that I pointed out that very often visits of a bona fide nature made for trade and other purposes are exploited for political purposes, and Her Majesty's Government asked that these should be taken into consideration by those making decisions about visiting the Leipzig Fair.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that at the present time Courtaulds hope to get a £7 million contract from the Soviet Union? What is all this nonsense about trying to prevent trade when Courtaulds are likely to benefit from it?

If the hon. Gentleman, too, will read my Answer, he will see that its purpose is not to prevent trade but that it points out the possible consequences of personal contacts.