HC Deb 22 November 1920 vol 135 cc47-8
58. Mr. W. SHAW

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a large amount of gold was recently purchased by the Bank of England at 77s. 9d. per ounce, while the free market price was approximately 110s. per ounce; whether this purchase was made with the knowledge and approval or on behalf of the Government; that the gold came from Esthonia and was conveyed to that State under their agreement with the Bolshevik Government, an agreement which His Majesty's Government refused to recognize; that a portion at least of this gold was stolen from British subjects, and that when attempts were made to bring it to this country Lloyds refused to insure it on the ground that it was gold stolen by the Bolsheviks; and that the insurance was ultimately effected by Lloyds on the understanding that the gold was the property either of the Bank of England or of His Majesty's Government; and whether he will give an assurance that neither the Government nor their agents have received or will receive or deal in goods which may reasonably be suspected of being stolen property?


The gold bought by the Bank of England at Mint price in accordance with Statute was gold recently imported from Sweden, the title to which was beyond question, the gold itself being identifiable with gold exported from the United Kingdom a year or so ago. We have agreed to buy all Esthonian gold at Is. below the world price. We are advised that the title to this gold is unimpeachable.

87. Mr. W. SHAW

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that authenticated claims against the Soviet authorities for upwards of£60,000,000 sterling were registered with the Foreign Office more than two years ago by the Russo-Asiatic consolidated group; if that group has been consulted by His Majesty's Government when drafting the terms of the proposed trading agreement with Soviet Russia; if that group has notified His Majesty's Government that when their properties in Russia were confiscated a large quantity of gold belonging to them was stolen by the Bolsheviks; and if, subsequent to such notification, His Majesty's Government has purchased Bolshevik gold or has permitted dealings therein by British subjects.


I have been asked to reply. I am aware that claims were registered with the Foreign Claims Office as mentioned by my hon. Friend. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative, and to the third part in the affirmative. As regards the last part, there is no prohibition against British subjects dealing at their own risk in Bolshevik gold, but no gold has been purchased by His Majesty's Government from the Soviet authorities.