HC Deb 04 December 1922 vol 159 cc1166-7

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that large consignments of timber of Russian origin have, for some time past, been landed and exposed for sale in the porta of London, Hull, etc.; that, in many instances, this timber was originally the property of English timber merchants, was seized by the agents of the Soviet Republic, who overprinted the private brands of these firms with the hammer and sickle brand of the Soviet Republic, and was thus sent to the English markets for sale to customers of the timber firms at prices with which it has been almost impossible for the timber merchants to compete; and that, owing to the fact that the timber merchants and their agents have received no compensation whatsoever for the timber seized from them, this competition is prejudicial; and whether he is prepared to take any action in the matter and protect British interests?


I understand that the facts are substantially as stated in the question, though I have no information as to the prices secured for the timber in this country. As the hon. Member is doubtless aware, arrangements have been made for recording claims against the Russian Government, and His Majesty's Government will not fail to take all practicable steps to secure an equitable settlement.


Does the course adopted by the Russian Government here differ at all in principle from the policy of His Majesty's Government in dealing with German property in this country?


Yes, it differs in every possible respect.


Will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to receive a deputation from English firms, stating their various hardships?


I am certainly ready to see anyone at any time, if it can serve any useful purpose, but it is not possible, I think, at the present time to do more than tabulate these claims and press them when the time comes.


If there is the sale of timber at very low prices, as is alleged, is it not to the advantage of the building trade in this country?