HC Deb 09 June 1920 vol 130 cc374-5
26. Mr. SWAN

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty in what months were mines or minefields last laid in the Eastern Baltic; whether any orders have been or will be given to sweep the waters leading to Kronstadt so as to open a sea channel for traffic; and whether British mine-sweeping vessels are now in the Baltic which might be without delay used for this purpose?


It is not in the public interest to give the information asked for in the first part of the hon. Member's question. As regards the sweeping of the waters leading to Kronstadt, this will not be a British responsibility. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

If it is finally decided to allow peaceable trade with Russia, shall we give information to the Russians where these minefields are, just as we gave information to the Germans where our mines were in the Bight, in order that the mines may be swept up, and thereby remove a danger to peaceable commerce?


Certainly. When minesweeping operations are taken over by Germans or Russians, any information we can give them will be at their disposal, obviously.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it is not in the public interest to give the information?


I should have thought it would have been obvious. It is not usual to give either the time or the reasons for certain military operations. In this case it is most undesirable.

Captain BENN

Will the right hon. Gentleman say against whom these military operations are being directed?


As a matter of fact, these mines were sunk in order to protect British battleships that were doing their duty. Had they not been protected by mines they would have been liable to be sunk.

Captain BENN

The right hon. Gentleman means that this is part of the military operations against Russia.


I mean nothing of the kind. I mean, as the hon. and gallant Member knows perfectly well, that we had a squadron in the Baltic, which has been referred to very often in this House, and, being there, it was the duty of the Commander-in-Chief to see that they were protected.

45. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Prime Minister whether the question of joint action to remove the submarine mines in the Eastern Baltic and Gulf of Finland has been, or will be, discussed with the representatives of the Russian Soviet Republic now in this country; and whether information will be exchanged regarding the position of Russian, German, and British minefields in those waters?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the last part that the action to be taken must depend on the issue of the negotiations.