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Mr. Waldegrave : I wholly sympathise with the vehemence of my right hon. Friend's concern. No one in the House has done more than he has to support dissident minorities in eastern Europe. I am aware of many of the allegations that my right hon. Friend has repeated today, not least because he has brought them to my attention. That means that they have been brought clearly to my attention.

Because of the very concerns that my right hon. Friend expresses, we are paying for 12 additional observers from local government in Britain to go and observe the election, and the formidable duo of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) is going from the House. I calculate that there will be about 100 other western observers, from a variety of countries and organisations. All this will help us to warn the Romanian authorities of the importance of having a free election, and will enable us to judge whether that election has been free.

Dr. Reid : Does the Minister accept that it is an unfortunate corollary of the development of free and democratic procedures in eastern Europe, including Romania, that views which are in themselves highly distasteful and highly dangerous are nevertheless tolerated lest it be felt that here is some impingement on the new freedoms? In exactly that context, we are seeing a new wave of anti-Semitism in Romania and throughout eastern Europe. What representations has the Minister made to combat the spread of this poisonous creed?

Mr. Waldegrave : I accept the implication at the start of the hon. Gentleman's question. It is perhaps inevitable that growing freedoms bring some of the unpleasant aspects of freedom. The only way to put down these unpleasant aspects is through true democratic parties fighting and winning the elections. We have been closely in touch in the Soviet Union and in other eastern European countries with groups that are trying to monitor

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anti-Semitism and the resurgence of fringe fascist groups of one kind or another. The best guardians against all that are free and fair elections.

Mr. Colvin : My right hon. Friend is right when he says that the Government are correct to offer encouragement and help to Romania and to other countries as they move towards what we hope will be free and fair elections. The news media also have a role to play. What are the Government doing to improve the quality and quantity of the broadcasts to eastern Europe by the world service of the BBC, as the countries in that area move towards the democracy that we all want to see?

Mr. Waldegrave : We have recently somewhat increased broadcasting on the world service to eastern European countries. However, there is in addition an important role for what we might call the more ordinary media of the west to spotlight through television and newspapers what is going on in those countries. I hope that representatives not only from this House and from other democratic Parliaments but many journalists will be observing those elections.


12. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received about human rights in Guatemala.

Mr. Sainsbury : We have received a number of representations in recent months expressing concern about human rights violations in Guatemala.

Mr. Lloyd : Is the Minister aware of the concern of various groups in Guatemala that there has been an increase in the activities of the death squads in that country? Many people expect that that increase in activity will increase further as Guatemala heads towards the elections. What steps will the Government take to monitor the situation there, and how will they put pressure on the Government of Guatemala to do what they can to stop the activities of these squads?

Mr. Sainsbury : I regret that there has been a marked deterioration over past months in the context of human rights, as the hon. Gentleman says. We do not think that the Government of Guatemala are themselves responsible for abuses, or that they encourage or condone violations. The problem is rather one of that Government's ineffectiveness in dealing with violations. We have made our views clear on the issue of human rights abuse and have expressed our concern about it on a number of occasions. In the past few months I have spoken about it to the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, to Vice-President Carpio and to the Interior Minister, Mr. Morales, when he was in London. On those three occasions, I emphasised the importance that we attach to an improvement in human rights.

Mr. Jacques Arnold : In considering these important matters, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that President Cerezo is the first directly elected President after 29 years of military rule? He has to cope with the murderous activities of far left guerrillas as well as with the activities of frustrated military potentates.

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Mr. Sainsbury : My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the abuses of human rights by the Unidad Revolucionara Nacional Guatemalteca. We welcome the democratic elections of President Cerezo and hope that the elections to be held later this year will also be free and fair and will continue the tradition of democracy recently established in Guatemala.

EC General Affairs Council

13. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what items he expects to be raised at the next meeting of the European Community General Affairs Council.

Mr. Maude : The Foreign Affairs Council on 18 June is likely to discuss, among other matters, political union, preparations for the European Council meeting, EC-EFTA relations, EC-eastern Europe and EC policy towards the Mediterranean.

Mr. Home Robertson : Will the Minister take the opportunity of those and other meetings to register the strongest possible protest at the prolonged detention of Mr. Paul Ashwell as a hostage for his lorry's cargo in Greece? May I voice the growing protests of thousands of British lorry drivers that Mr. Ashwell is becoming the fall guy for the incompetence of the Department of Trade and Industry? May I invite the Minister to contrast the efficient and fair actions of the Turkish authorities in relation to the consignments bound for Iraq with the antics of the Greek authorities, who are supposed to be our European Community partners?

Mr. Maude : We have taken a number of opportunities to express to the Greek Government our concern about Mr. Ashwell's circumstances : my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the case with the Greek Prime Minister on 28 April, our ambassador in Athens raised it with the Greek Minister of Justice on 2 May, and I raised it with the new Greek ambassador in London on Thursday last week. Our embassy in Athens remains in touch with Greek officials, and we hope that Mr. Ashwell's release will be secured before long.

Mr. Ashby : Will my hon. Friend impress on the Ministers the fact that Britain is the only truly European country, as we have put most EC directives into law? Countries such as Italy speak loudly of political union, but until last summer it had passed only seven directives. It recently passed another 100, but still has about another 350 to go. While other countries do not keep to their European obligations, we do.

Mr. Maude : Certainly any scrutiny of the implementation of Community agreements shows our record to be exceptionally good--usually the best in the Community. Some other countries--my hon. Friend mentioned one-- have a far poorer record. We attach great importance to meeting European obligations, and we are making a proposal to the European Commission that should emphasise the importance of so doing. Details will emerge before long. If we are to make a reality of Europe, we must ensure that agreements are implemented.

Mr. Ernie Ross : When the Minister attends the meeting, will he raise with our Community partners the appalling events that took place in the Jabaliya refugee camp on 26

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April, when, as a result of excessive force used by the Israeli military, three Palestinians died and 215 were wounded? Will he remind our Community partners that they, like us, are signatories of the fourth Geneva convention and have a responsibility towards those Palestinian people? Will he encourage them to take the appropriate action?

Mr. Maude : We regularly raise those matters, and they are frequently discussed among the Twelve.

Sir Jim Spicer : Will my hon. Friend also ensure that membership applications from Malta, Austria and Norway are not lost sight of?

Mr. Maude : At present, two applications are in front of the Community. There is general agreement among the Twelve that the Community has some major tasks to undertake in the near future. It would not be right to consider negotiations for further accessions for the next couple of years. It would be a surprise to most of us if it was still a Community of only 12 countries at the end of the century.

Mr. Winnick : Do the Greek authorities understand the immense harm that is being done to relations between our two countries as a result of the way in which Mr. Ashwell is being treated? If anyone is totally innocent in this whole miserable affair, it is him. Why are the Greek authorities insisting that there can be no bail? Is not it important for the British Government to make perfectly clear the strong feelings in Britain over what has happened? Great harm could be done--which is most unfortunate, as Britain and Greece are friends--to relations between our two countries if Mr. Ashwell stays in prison.

Mr. Maude : As has been said repeatedly, we fully accept Mr. Ashwell's innocence and have made that clear to the Greek authorities. We shall continue to press that case to make it clear to the Greek Government- -as the hon. Member suggests--that there is strong feeling about this in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Lester : In any other business that is discussed in the Council, will my hon. Friend consider the elections in Burma later this month? We have already heard indignation expressed about elections in Romania, but in Burma we have seen--

Mr. Speaker : Order. Is this to do with Europe?

Mr. Lester : Yes. The European Community has already made a demarche to Burma about its elections, and it is concerned. Not only have the Burmese Government killed more people than died in Tiananmen square but they have enforced massive resettlements, imprisoned the official opposition and will take three weeks to complete the count. Should not the European Community represent strongly its views on elections that are no longer free or fair?

Mr. Maude : Certainly it is difficult to contemplate that an election during which the opposition are imprisoned is likely to be fair.

Mr. Anderson : Does the Minister share the sense of frustration at the stalling of the peace process in the middle east, in large part because of internal developments in Israel? Will he take this opportunity to urge our European partners to increase pressure on Mr. Shamir, and in

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particular, to show that, if he persists in the policy of increasing or enlarging the existing, settlements in the occupied territories, or allowing Soviet immigrants to go there, that can have only a negative impact on the prospect of peace in the middle east?

Mr. Maude : Certainly recent events have stalled proceedings for the time being, but we shall urge that the new Israeli Government should pursue the Baker plan and get down to discussions with the Palestinians at the earliest possible date.


14. Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on the use of chemical weapons against UNITA forces in Angola by the MPLA.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are aware of the allegations that chemical weapons have been used by both sides in the Angolan conflict, but we have seen no proof of this.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes : My hon. Friend will recognise that the continuing conflict in Angola is in stark contrast with the agreeable trend towards peace in Namibia and southern Africa generally. Will he consider using the information that he has to bring international pressure on the parties involved to come to a negotiated settlement?

Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. It is encouraging that the first direct contact between the Angolan Government and UNITA took place last week in Lisbon. We hope that that will be followed by further contacts. If it is, that will be thoroughly welcome to us and, I am sure, to both sides of the House.

Mr. Tom Clarke : Does the Minister accept that those of us who have seen children whose legs have been blown off by UNITA-planted mines and who understand the problems of both sides will encourage him in trying to find a solution to this dreadful war and in supporting the United Nations and Perez de Cuellar in so doing?

Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. The hon. Member draws attention to the fact that, as in Afghanistan, there will be a terrible task of rebuilding in Angola, even if war is successfully brought to a conclusion. I fear that the sort of casualties that he describes will go on for many years.

Eastern Europe (Elections)

15. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received about democratic elections in eastern Europe ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd : The elections in the GDR on 18 March and in Hungary on 25 March and 8 April were free and fair. We hope that the forthcoming elections in Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia will be so too. I am glad that Members of this House are observing most of these elections under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We shall be sending teams of local government electoral officials to observe the elections in Romania and Bulgaria.

Mr. Thurnham : Will my right hon. Friend ensure that our increasing levels of aid to eastern Europe are conditional on free and fair elections in countries there?

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Mr. Hurd : Yes, this is extremely important, and we have made it clear to the countries concerned that the level of help, co-operation and friendship that they can expect to receive from us and from members of the European Community will be directly related to their progress in democratic and economic reform.

Mr. Heffer : Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of the Soviet Government to the fact that there have been free elections in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia? Will he also draw the attention of President Gorbachev to the fact that, while many of us support what he is doing, up to a point, Lenin in the early days of the Soviet state argued strongly for the self-determination of all peoples? That is why those three states got their self-determination. Even Stalin--it must have been an aberration-- wrote a pamphlet on the rights of nationalities and said that self- determination was acceptable. Since those three states were democratic and free until they were occupied by the Soviet Government in 1940, let us make it plain that perestroika, democracy and freedom must apply when the people themselves decide what they want.

Mr. Hurd : The hon. Member is right. Stalin allowed into the Soviet constitution--I think that it was in 1936--a provision that republics could leave the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, he omitted to provide any way in which they could actually do that. That omission has recently been repaired by the Supreme Soviet. The principle of self-determination is accepted, as is the right of people in the republics to leave if that is their freely expressed wish. We now need a discussion or a dialogue between the Baltic republics--first, Lithuania--and the authorities in Moscow to bring that about in an orderly and sensible way.

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16. Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in establishing the whereabouts and procuring the release of British subjects held prisoner by Arab or Iranian terrorist groups in Lebanon.

Mr. Waldegrave : We are encouraged by the recent release of a number of hostages in Lebanon. We are especially pleased that one of those released has confirmed that Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Keenan are alive. We very much hope these turn out to be the first moves towards freedom for all hostages. There has certainly been progress, but there have been previous disappointments. It could be a long process.

Mr. Latham : Stripped of diplomatic verbiage, is not the honourable course for Iran and Syria to get these entirely innocent people released forthwith and the death threat to Mr. Rushdie lifted, following which it will be possible to consider the resumption of normal diplomatic relations?

Mr. Waldegrave : My hon. Friend draws clear attention to some of the difficulties that lie between us and Iran.


Safeguards for Residents in Registered Homes

Ms. Harriet Harman presented a Bill to extend legal safeguards for residents in registered residential care homes and nursing homes ; to extend the Registered Homes Act 1984 to cover homes with fewer than four residents ; to require the police to disclose to registration authorities any relevant criminal convictions of someone applying to register a home ; to require all registered homes to have a complaints procedure ; to give residents in registered homes the right to an advocate on their behalf ; to require that nursing procedures in registered homes are only carried out by trained nurses ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 15 June and to be printed. [Bill 136.]

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