HC Deb 07 August 1919 vol 119 cc517-8
53. Mr. RAPER

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a very powerful syndicate of German banks has been formed, under the leadership of the Deutsche Bank, for the economical exploitation of Central Russia, and that this syndicate has recently sent a special commission to negotiate with the Bolshevist Government with regard to the export of grain and raw materials from Russia and the import of German manufactured goods into Russia; and whether the British Government will leave the initiative of trade with Russia to Germany without attempting a vigorous commercial counter-offensive in those parts of Russia which have row been freed from Bolshevist domination?


(Department of Oversea Trade): I have been asked to reply to this question. I have no information in regard to the first part of the question beyond what has appeared in the Press. As, however, was stated in the House in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Hull on Tuesday, the 5th, existing conditions are understood to make actual trade with Central Russia physically impossible at the present time.

As regards the second part of the question, His Majesty's Government are fully alive to the importance of promoting trade with the parts of Russia which are free from Bolshevik control, and are devoting special and constant attention to the best means of doing this in the abnormal conditions which prevail. One special measure which has recently been put into force for this purpose is the provision of insurance facilities by the Government for goods exported to General Denikin's area and Russian goods exported from there in return.


Have the Government not considered it serious enough to assure themselves as to whether it is a fact that this commission has actually been appointed and sent to Russia by the German Deutsche Bank?


In answer to that question, I would point out that it is exceedingly difficult to get accurate information through Government channels as to what is going on in Moscow and Central Russia.

Captain W. BENN

Is it a fact that, while we are carrying on a war with Russia, the Germans are taking the trade away from us?


I cannot give any definite answer to an indefinite question of that kind.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Can you expect to trade with Russia while British ships are bombarding Russian ports?


I should be very glad to help hon. Members in their desire to promote trade if they will assist me in raising the necessary finance.