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Heath Pledges to Raise Soviet Jewish Issue During Visit to Moscow

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Prime Minister Edward Heath promised today that he would take up the question of Soviet Jews when he visits Moscow some time in the future at the invitation of the Soviet Government. The date of his visit has not been fixed. The Prime Minister made his promise in the House of Commons. He had been asked previously by Labor MP Richard Crawshaw to bring up with Premier Kosygin the treatment of Jews in the USSR and the “repressive measures taken which are abhorant to the people of this country.” Heath said he would do so and added, “We have done this on many occasions, and the last occasion I did so personally was when Mr. (Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei) Gromyko paid his visit to London.”

Heath’s apparent readiness to make representations on behalf of Soviet Jews was in contrast to the reluctance expressed by a Government spokesman in the House of Lords today. The question was raised there by Lord Burntwood, the former Julian White, who was a member of the Labor Government. He asked if the Government would make representations on behalf of Russian Jews who are denied emigration rights and cited as a basis for such representations, articles 13 and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which both Britain and the Soviet Union are signatories. Lord Lothian, the Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, replied that the Government had no formal standing on this matter and said he did not believe that further approaches would be helpful to Soviet Jews.

Lord Shinwell intervened to say that the Foreign Secretary might feel inclined to make private representations so that matters of protocol would not arise. Lord Lothian promised to convey the suggestion to Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Lord Janner pointed out that Britain was a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and so should find it possible to take some official steps. This matter should not go by default, Lord Shinwell said. Lord Lothian replied that one did not always get positive results by raising such matters at the United Nations. Lord Robbins said the expression of public disgust at Soviet anti-Semitism could do no harm to its victims. The Government spokesman agreed.

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