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Helsinki Final Act

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1979

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asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the progress made by all parties in implementing the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act.

While the implementation of these provisions is generally satisfactory, the record of the Soviet Union and a number of Eastern European countries has got somewhat worse in the course of this year.

Will the Prime Minister give an absolute guarantee that her Government's plans on immigration will not result in the United Kingdom being in breach of either the letter or the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act, particularly that part of the Act dealing with the reunification of families?

We have looked at this matter. We believe that the obligations of Her Majesty's Government under the various international conventions and agreements are compatible with the recent White Paper on immigration.

Following her comments on the failure of the Soviet Union to implement the provisions of the Helsinki treaty, will my right hon. Friend confirm that, in her view, present activities in Afghanistan—creating yet another appalling refugee problem—are among the worst examples of not merely failing to act in accord with the Helsinki treaty but acting directly counter to it?

I am aware that it appears that there may have been further troop movements into Afghanistan. We shall be looking at all these matters in preparation for the conference in Madrid, next year, which I believe will he extremely important.

Since the right hon. Lady is always so ready to spring to the assistance of dissidents everywhere, may I ask whether she has given any thought to the case of Professor HansKÜng in West Germany, who has been deprived of his livelihood as a teacher by the Roman Catholic Church because of his religious beliefs? Or, perhaps a little nearer home, is she prepared to help Derek Robinson, the shop steward at British Leyland, who has been dismissed from his employment because he expressed views that were not acceptable to the management?

I am not responsible for either of those cases. In the latter case, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we have consistently said that we leave the management of these matters to the management of British Leyland. I believe that, at the moment, the management of British Leyland is in excellent hands.

Will my right hon. Friend give her considerable support to any representations that can be made by other of my right hon. Friends in respect of Soviet Jews who ask, under the Helsinki agreement, for permission to leave Soviet Russia? Will she particularly bear in mind people such as Ida Nudel and Mende Leevich, whose cases have attracted the sympathy of the entire world?

I most certainly will do so. There are six particular cases which have been pursued vigorously in this country and the world over and on which we made representations during the month of October. My hon. Friend asked about applications by Soviet Jews to leave the Soviet Union. There have been slightly increasing numbers leaving, but a smaller proportion, I believe, of the very much bigger number of applications. We shall, of course, continue to make representations on this vital matter.