HC Deb 20 February 1922 vol 150 cc1499-501
35. Mr. L. MALONE

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the urgent need for assistance to the famine areas in Eastern Europe, His Majesty's Government will place any obstacle in the way of the immediate raising of a loan in this country by the Soviet Government if suitable guarantees are given in return?


Government permission is not required for the raising of loans by foreign countries in the London market, and it is not the practice of His Majesty's Government to interfere in such matters, but it will be recognised by anyone conversant with the facts that there is no chance of the Russian Government being able to raise any loan in foreign countries until they have given the assurances indicated in the Cannes resolutions.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know of any single case in which the guarantees given by the Soviet Government to this country have been honoured?

63. Mr. DOYLE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to give reliable facts regarding the reported famine in Russia; how many people are affected in the stricken area; how many have died from starvation; and whether any of the food and money contributed by the Allied natiore has been diverted and used to feed the Bolshevist Army, and to the upkeep of the Soviet Government?

Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME (Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade)

I am unable to give any reliable figures in regard to the number of people affected by the famine in Russia or of those who have died of starvation. There can be no doubt, however, that the situation in some parts of the famine area is one of extreme gravity and that a population of many millions is affected. It is hoped that Sir Benjamin Robertson, who has just returned from a tour in the famine areas on behalf of the Russian Famine Relief Fund, will be able to give valuable information in his report on the extent of the disaster. As regards the last part of the question, the answer is in the negative so far as contributions from British sources are concerned, and this also applies, so far as His Majesty's Government are aware, to contributions from other countries.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Sir Benjamin Robertson reports that 33,000,000 people are affected and 19,000,000 are in danger of starvation, and probably a large proportion of them, whatever is done, must die?

Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD

Would it not be possible for His Majesty's Government to suggest to the Soviet Government the saving of the enormous expense in maintaining an army of nearly 2,000,000 men, by disbanding the army, so that they might devote the money to the suffering people of the country?


I should prefer to await the publication of Sir Benjamin Robertson's Report before dealing with isolated questions. I saw Sir Benjamin Robertson on the day after he arrived. While there is no doubt as to the very grave dimensions of the famine, and the fact that succour appears to be reaching the right quarters, it is only fair to say that Sir Benjamin Robertson informed me that, in his opinion, the inadequate facilities of the Russian transport was such that the transport system was inadequate to deal with any more imports of feeding stuffs than had already been arranged up to the beginning of April.