HC Deb 07 June 1917 vol 94 cc294-5

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that complete freedom to attack and criticise the Provisional Government of Russia and its supporters has been permitted; and, seeing that action was taken under the Defence of the Realm Act against critics of the war aims of the late Czar and his Ministers, can he say whether this immunity indicates a general change of policy in the matter of criticism of the Governments of the Allies or is confined to the Russian Government?

The MINISTER of BLOCKADE (Lord Robert Cecil)

If it is intended to convey the impression that His Majesty's Government have exercised discrimination in their treatment of criticism directed against the present Government of Russia and that to which the late Russian régime was subjected, I can only say that there is no foundation whatever for the suggestion. The policy of the Government in respect of this matter is exactly what it has always been.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the assurance that the war aims of the British Government coincide with those declared by the Provisional Government of Russia, he will take steps to secure the permission desired by the latter to publish the Treaties relating to territorial changes entered into between the late Czar and the Governments of the Alliance?


His Majesty's Government have received no request from the Russian Government in regard to the publication of the Treaties referred to.


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the declaration by M. Ribot that he in tended, with the approval of the Russian Government, to publish not only the Treaties and Agreements made, but all the secret documents without exception exchanged between France and Russia; and whether the British Government proposes to take a similar course?


I think that, if the hon. Member will reread M. Ribot's speech, he will see that the President of the French Council of Ministers was referring only to conventions entered into and documents exchanged before the outbreak of the present War, and that it was these Papers which His Excellency desired to publish. A similar course of action does not appear necessary in the case of His Majesty's Government, who were bound to Russia only by the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, which was made public at the time.


asked the Under secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Council of Workmen and Soldiers' Delegates in Petrograd have protested against the arrest by the British authorities at Halifax, Nova Scotia, of Russian political refugees desiring to return to Russia; whether the Foreign Office has any information, or has made inquiries, as to these arrests; and whether communications have passed between the British and Russian Governments on this subject?


I am not aware whether the Council of Workmen and Soldiers' Delegates have made such a protest as referred to. I understand some refugees were detained under a misapprehension. They have all been now released. The answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.

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