§ 2. Mr. TREVELYAN
asked the Under secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any convention has yet been signed between the British and Russian Governments as to conscripting British subjects in Russia and Russian subjects in Great Britain; whether any further negotiations on the subject have taken place with the Russian Government since the revolution; and, if so, whether they have been continued with the present Foreign Secretary, M. Tereschenko?
§ The MINISTER of BLOCKADE (Lord Robert Cecil)
The answer is in the nega- 494 tive, but negotiations on the subject are proceeding.
§ 5. Mr. STANTON
asked the Under secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why his Department granted passports to the hon. Member for Leicester and to the hon. Member for West Bradford to go to Russia?
§ Lord R. CECIL
The War Cabinet, after very careful consideration, decided that it was desirable to issue these passports if applied for, because the Russian Government had strongly and repeatedly expressed the desire that the representatives of the minority as well as of the majority of working-class opinion should be allowed to visit Petrograd, and have expressly mentioned the Independent Labour Party as one of the bodies which they desire to have that opportunity.
The War Cabinet were advised by those most qualified to express an opinion, including our Ambassador, Sir G. Buchanan, and Mr. Henderson, that a refusal would lead to very serious misconception among our Russian Allies, and would cause great discouragement to those in Russia who were most anxious to carry on the struggle for freedom with the fullest energy. If the passports are issued, they will be for Petrograd.
They are not intended to enable the holders to attend or take part in any inter- 495 national conference at Stockholm, and still less to communicate directly or indirectly with enemy subjects at Stockholm or elsewhere, and it is only on this express understanding that the passports will be issued. I understand that representatives of the views of the great majority of the working class may also apply for passports to go to Petrograd, and these also will be issued if asked for.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Will the Foreign Office demand from these hon. Members a written agreement that they will not take part in any other conference at Stockholm or elsewhere?
§ Lord R. CECIL
That is a mere detail. This is a matter in the hands of the War Cabinet, and not specifically in the hands of the Foreign Office, but every reasonable and proper precaution in that direction will be taken.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
If these conditions are accepted, may I ask the Noble Lord whether his intention is that at Stockholm we may hold conversations with such persons as Mr. Bran ting, or whether that is precluded under the conditions laid down by the War Cabinet?
§ Lord R. CECIL
As I understand, the conditions are that there shall be no communication, direct or indirect, with enemy subjects. I do not know whether it is possible to define it more exactly than that, but that is what is intended. Mr. Branting, as the House is well aware, is not only a highly respected statesman in Sweden, but he is by no means hostile to the Allied cause.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates at Petrograd are carrying on communications with the enemy, and that these delegates therefore—