HC Deb 27 April 1920 vol 128 cc1012-4
52. Colonel NEWMAN

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the President and Members of the Centro-sujus or governing body of the Russian co-operative movement are nominated by the Soviet Government and that only those who are approved by the local Soviet official are allowed to present themselves for election on the various local co-operative societies; and whether, in these circumstances, the Government will make it known that the Soviet delegation now on its way here does not consist of co-operators freely chosen to enter into commercial and other arrangements with Great Britain?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

I am aware that the statements referred to in the first part of the question have been made. I do not think it is necessary to take action on the lines suggested by the hon. Member in the second part of the question.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House the names of this deputation, and can he state whether they are the same who are reported to have come some time ago?


They did not come, but I cannot give the names without notice.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider it desirable that there should be someone from the Soviet Government with plenary powers to act? Seeing that one holds a position corresponding to that of the Minister of Transport in this country, and that it is a question of commerce, in which transport is an essential factor, is it not essential that he should come?


That does not arise on the question. The Government have been perfectly ready to allow members of co-operative societies to come here, in order to encourage trade.

Colonel NEWMAN

Could not the Government find out who these men are? Are they co-operators or simply emissaries of the Soviet Government?


I have been asked that question very often. It is known that the co-operative societies are under

the control of the Soviet Government. It is in the interest of this country as well as of Russia to get trade established.


Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that they are co-operators?


No, I do not.