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Written Answers

Volume 416: debated on Monday 26 January 1981

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Written Answers

Press Cards: Police Acceptance

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they endorse the action of the Metropolitan Police on the occasion, among others, of the delivery at the Soviet Embassy of a protest against the invasion of Afghanistan, in their refusal to accept the authenticity of the press cards of the National Union of Journalists recognised by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales and accepted for 70 years, and insisting instead that press cards be carried issued by the Metropolitan Police themselves, resulting in the

exclusion from Kensington Palace Gardens of the representative of

The Times and many others.

This is a matter for the Commissioner, but he assures me that his officers are instructed to make efforts to meet the reasonable needs of all members of the press. I understand that on the occasion to which the noble Lord refers holders of National Union of Journalists cards were afforded the same facilities as holders of police press cards.

AlbanyBlundestonBristolDartmoorParkhurstWakefield
Total number of prisoners segregated in the interests of good order or discipline during 1980 … … … …122731232933
Average number of days spent in the segregation unit on each occasion …422528705164
Number of men segregated for more than 100 days on any occasion … …1586

Mr Kenneth Ashton: Exclusion From South Africa

asked Her Majesty's Government:What action they have taken to protest to the Government of the Republic of South Africa on the exclusion from its territory of Mr. Kenneth Ashton, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, who had been appointed by the TUC to assist black journalists to obtain trade union recognition.

In the light of the decision of the South African authorities not to allow Mr. Ashton to land, we are seeking clarification of the circumstances in which a United Kingdom citizen requires prior permission to enter South Africa.

Helsinki Final Act: Implementation

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress was made in the implementation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern Europe countries of the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act during the last six months.

The weeks before the opening of the preparatory meeting in Madrid were marked by a further serious decline in the respect shown by certain countries for the commitments entered into in the Helsinki Final Act.On 20th August 1980 the Soviet Government resumed jamming of Western broadcasts in the Russian language. In October, the German Democratic Republic increased its minimum exchange requirements; this has led to a drastic reduction in the number of Western visitors. Soviet troops remained in Afghani

Prisoners: Segregation

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many prisoners were segregated in the interests of good order and discipline during 1980 in Parkhurst, Albany, Bristol, Blundeston, Wakefield and Dartmoor Prisons respectively; what was the average number of days spent in the segregation unit in each case, and how many men spent more than 100 days in the unit in each case.

The information requested is set out in the following table:stan, and there has been no let-up in the intense campaign of repression within the Soviet Union against those who seek respect for basic human rights.

Basket I—"Security in Europe: Principles guiding relations between participating states; confidence-building measures and certain aspects of security and disarmament".

Principles

The Soviet Union continues to show no sign of readiness to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or any interest in a settlement except on its own terms. On 20th November a resolution expressing grave concern at the continuing foreign armed intervention in Afghanistan was passed in the United Nations General Assembly by an even larger majority of member states than in January.

The United Kingdom, together with most other Western, neutral and non-aligned participants, has made clear its view at Madrid that the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is a grave breach of most, if not all, the 10 Principles of the Final Act, to which the Soviet Government committed themselves at Helsinki. The USSR responded by claiming that Afghanistan was not the business of the Madrid meeting.

At times the Soviet and other East European reactions to events in Poland have prompted doubts about the strength of their commitment to the Final Act Principles. At the European Council on 1st-2nd December, the Nine called on all signatory states to abide by those Principles with regard to Poland and the Polish people and emphasised that any other attitude would have very serious consequences for the future of international relations in Europe and throughout the world.

Implementation of Principle VII—human rights and fundamental freedoms—showed no improvement in the period under review. In the Soviet Union, trials, arrests, committals to mental hospitals and harassment of dissidents, religious believers and members of non-Russian minorities continued before and during the Madrid CSCE Review Conference.

More than 300 dissidents have been arrested and some 50 have emigrated since early 1979. Some 22 people have now been sentenced after joining one of the five regional Helsinki monitoring groups, the first of which was established in Moscow by Dr. Yuri Orlov in May 1976. Others are awaiting trial. In addition, two have been recently committed to mental hospitals.

The Moscow group is now reduced to five active members, four of whom signed an appeal to the Madrid conference. Others to have suffered in the past six months include Tatyana Velikanova, a veteran Moscow human rights activist, V. Stus, a Ukrainian Helsinki monitor, a fellow Ukrainian monitor Heyko Matusevich, A. Ogorodnikov, a founder-member of the unofficial Christian seminar, and Father G. Yakunin, a founder-member of the working commission to investigate the use of psychiatry for political purposes.

The rate of Jewish emigration has fallen sharply. The final figure for 1980 was in the region of 21,500, compared with a record 50,000 in 1979. New regulations requiring invitations from abroad to be from "close" relatives, and official harassment and obstruction, have given rise to hunger strikes by refused applicants for emigration.

Victor Brailovsky, a leading Jewish activist, who has been seeking to emigrate since 1972, was arrested on 13th November. Brailovsky, whose flat has been the regular meeting place for scientific seminars arranged for Jewish "refuseniks", was joint editor of a samizdat journal Jews in the USSR. The United Kingdom delegation raised this case and that of several other leading campaigners for human rights during the review of implementation at Madrid.

There is also evidence of increased harassment and persecution of Soviet Jews over the past few months. Seminar members have been intimidated and other groups in drama, history and religion have been proscribed. Children's classes in Hebrew and Jewish culture and civilisation have been forcibly closed.

There has been some progress in Poland in the implementation of some areas of the provisions of Basket I of the Final Act. Some political detainees have been released. The Church has been given increased access to the mass-media, and a new law on censorship is to be prepared for discussion.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe there have been no major developments in the human rights field; in Romania, it is believed that some of the leaders of SLOMR, the Free Trade Union of Romanian Working Men, and Father Calcia, the dissident Orthodox priest, remain in prison.

Confidence-building measures

The GDR gave notification of a major manoeuvre "Brotherhood in Arms" involving 40,000 troops in September. Hungary gave notification of a smaller manoeuvre "Dyna 80", involving 18,000 troops, in August. Despite the Final Act recommendation that 21 days' notification of manoeuvres be given, only one day's notice was given of the latter, and on neither occasion were observers invited.

By comparison, the United Kingdom notified one exercise in this period, involving over 25,000 troops—Exercise Spearpoint in September 1980. Observers were invited from all CSCE participants and 24 days' notice was given. Full briefing was provided for the observers and they were permitted close observations and opportunity to talk to both Commanders and men in the field.

Basket II—"Co-operation in the field of economics, of science and technology and of the environment".

There have been no major changes in the implementation record of the USSR and East European countries in this area. The main restriction on an expansion of East-West trade continues to be the shortage of hard currency in the Eastern countries. The consequent stress on counter-trade procedures continues to cause problems for some Western firms particularly the smaller ones. The delegations of the European Community have introduced a proposal at the Madrid conference asking that these problems be further studied within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

In Czechoslovakia three new decrees on customs regulations came into force in July, the main effect of which is to limit the movement in and out of the country of goods affected by the new regulations. A new "law on economic relations with foreign countries" which also became effective in July, enabled some enterprises to negotiate direct with foreign firms in the conduct of certain forms of foreign trade.

Business contacts and facilities

Problems continue to exist in developing satisfactory contacts between sellers and end-users in Eastern Europe, particularly in the GDR and the Soviet Union. The situation is however still improving in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. There continues to be a general need for acceleration in the conduct of business negotiations and for improvements in procedures for accreditation of commercial representations.

Economic and Commercial Information

Publication of economic and commercial information has further deteriorated in the GDR and there has been no improvement in the performance of the USSR.

Basket III—"Co-operation in Humanitarian and Other Fields".

Human contacts

Soviet performance on family re-unification remains disappointing. Despite official representations, and the handing over of a list of outstanding cases, in Moscow in August, there has been virtually no reduction in the number of cases outstanding. It has been our recent experience that Soviet spouses of British subjects have generally been permitted to emigrate within a few months of marriage; but there has been at least one case where re-unification following marriage has been prevented through the denial of a Soviet exit visa and one of denial of an entry visa to a British fiancé for marriage to take place.

A list of five outstanding United Kingdom-Romanian marriage cases was handed to the Romanian delegation at the Madrid meeting in December and received an initial sympathetic response. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the modest improvement noted in earlier reports has continued with long-standing cases being satisfactorily resolved in Bulgaria, Hungary and the GDR.

Travel

In October the GDR increased the minimum compulsory hard currency exchange requirement for visitors from non-Socialist countries (most of whom come from the FRG and West Berlin). The basic rate was doubled and concessionary half rates within Eastern Berlin, together with exemptions for pensioners and school-children were withdrawn. As a result, visitor traffic from the FRG and West Berlin has declined by over 50 per cent.

In October, at the GDR's initiative, existing arrangements for passport and visa-free travel between the GDR and Poland by citizens of the two countries were amended. Travellers on private journeys are now required to possess an invitation processed by the police. This has drastically reduced cross-border traffic. Currency exchange regulations with the effects of limiting the frequency of tourist travel between Czechoslovakia and Poland have also been introduced.

Information

The most notable development was the reintroduction by the Soviet authorities on 20th August of the jamming of certain Western broadcasts, which had not been jammed since September 1973. Those involved were the Russian-language transmissions of the BBC, Deutsche Welk and the Voice of America, whose broadcasts in Ukrainian, Armenian and other languages of Soviet nationalities are also jammed.

The timing suggested concern to prevent the Soviet population receiving accurate information on the events in Poland. An article in Pravda of 23rd September sought to justify both the jamming of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe (never lifted) as well as the resumed jamming on the ground that Western radio stations enaged in subversive propaganda, contrary to the Helsinki agreements. Representations to the Soviet authorities by the United Kingdom have been rejected.

In Poland the press has become relatively freer with the information and criticism which it provides on domestic events. There has, however, been no noticeable improvement in the availability of Western non-Communist newspapers either in Poland or elsewhere. Western Communist newspapers are generally available at the usual outlets. In the USSR, during the Olympic Games, special temporary arrangements were made to import an increased number of Western publications, but they were not available to the general public.

Improvements of working conditions for journalists

Regulations concerning foreign journalists and the public order legislation introduced by the GDR in 1979 still inhibit the activities of foreign correspondents. Correspondents from some Western countries continue to experience difficulty in obtaining applications to interview DGR citizens and there has been no significant lifting of the restrictions on the information activities of the British embassy.

Access to information for journalists in Poland remains relatively easy, though from time to time there has been confusion over arrangements for visiting Western journalists. Western correspondents based in the USSR continue to be attacked from time to time in the Soviet press.

Culture and education

Because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent cancellation of planned visits and concert tours, no major exchanges have taken place with the Soviet Union. Routine exchanges of individuals, scholars and research workers have however continued.

Cultural exchange programmes with Eastern European countries continue as normal, although educational exchanges with Romania are virtually at a standstill at present. A new Anglo-Bulgarian cultural exchange programme was negotiated in Sofia in November and the Anglo-Polish Mixed Commission met in Warsaw in October for the first time to review the progress of the 1978 Anglo-Polish Cultural Convention.

Statutory Instrument No 1749

asked Her Majesty's Government:When Statutory Instrument No. 1749 of 1980, which purports to have been made on 17th November 1980, was laid before Parliament.

21st November 1980. I much regret that the order as originally printed incorrectly showed the date as 21st December 1980. A correction slip was published on 4th December 1980.

Employment Of Substitute Teachers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (a) What financial savings have accrued, to date, arising from changes in the arrangements concerning the employment of substitute teachers, as stipulated in the Department of Education (NI) Circular No. 1980/44, issued on 16th October 1980; and
  • (b) What are the plans of the department to review these changed arrangements in the interest of maintaining educational standards at all levels.
  • It is estimated that approximately £80,000 was saved up to 30th November 1980 as a result of the introduction in mid-October of the new arrangements for the employment of substitute teachers set out in Circular 1980/44. Information for December is not yet available. I have reviewed the operation of the circular and considered the comments received, and I am now consulting school authorities and teachers' unions about revised arrangements, which are aimed at achieving the financial savings required with as little detrimental effect on educational standards as is possible.

    Des: Principal And Higher Rank Administrative Grades

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many officials of Principal and higher rank there are at the DES and how many of them have had experience of teaching in maintained schools and establishments of further education.

    On 1st January 1981 there were 134 officials in the Department of Education and Science in the administration grades of Principal and higher rank. Precise information is not readily available on the second part of the Question but, of this number, at least 12 have had experience of teaching in maintained schools and establishments of further education.On the same date there were 414 members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate in England, to whom administrators look for professional advice. Regard is had to qualifications and teaching experience when recruiting candidates to Her Majesty's Inspectorate and in their subsequent deployment. Their collective qualifications and experience reflect the range of work they are called upon to inspect in maintained and non-maintained schools and establishments. It follows that the great majority of Her Majesty's inspectors will have taught in the maintained sector before recruitment.House adjourned at twenty-two minutes before seven o'clock.