HC Deb 21 April 1920 vol 128 cc394-5

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the Russian ice-breaker "Solovei Budimirovitch," which has been icebound for three months with over 80 starving people on board; whether Norway is willing to send a relief expedition, but the only ship fit for the task is the ice-breaker "Cosma Minim," which is now in England, and which the British authorities refuse to loan; whether the Norwegian legation in London and the Moscow Government have made urgent appeals to the British Government for the "Cosma Minim," but without result; and whether, in view of the urgency of this matter, he will state if the Government are prepared to send out an expedition to rescue these people, or to loan this ice-breaker to the Norwegian expedition?


His Majesty's Government have been in correspondence both with the Norwegian Government and with the Soviet Government on the subject of the "Solovei Budimirovitch." When the question was first raised there appeared to be evidence, based on statements issued by the Soviet Government themselves, that they possessed the necessary resources for a relief expedition. This, however, now proves not to be the case, and His Majesty's Government are, therefore, fitting out with all despatch the ice-breaker "Sviatogor," which will leave in a few days accompanied by a collier, and are also effecting the necessary repairs in order that the "Cosmo Minim" may follow as soon as possible should that vessel be required. Details are still under discussion, but meanwhile all preparations are being pushed ahead as rapidly as possible, and it is hoped that the distinguished Norwegian explorer, M. Sverdrup, will organise the expedition, as he has a unique knowledge of the conditions in the Kara Sea.

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