HC Deb 27 March 1922 vol 152 cc931-2
25. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the case of Mrs. Stan Harding, who went into Russia on a safe-conduct from the Soviet Government and on arrival was cast into prison on a false charge and gravely maltreated; whether, notwithstanding that His Majesty's Government have informed the Soviet Government that the British Government expected the Soviet Government to accept Mrs. Stan Harding's claim for compensation commensurate with the sufferings she had endured during her false imprisonment, the Soviet Government have refused to pay any compensation or make any reparation; and whether, under these circumstances, he intends to go into conference at Genoa with Messrs. Lenin and Trotsky, who are responsible for this grave outrage on a British subject to whom they had given a safe-conduct, until the compensation demanded by the British Government for Mrs. Stan Harding has been paid?


The answer to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, the claims of private individuals against the Soviet Government form a subject which it is intended to discuss at the forthcoming Conference at Genoa.


Is not this case being treated as quite exceptional, as evidenced by the White Paper which has been issued, and what is the use of entering into agreement with these gentlemen if they dishonour the safe-conduct pass given to a woman?


It would be better if the hon. Member would permit me not to anticipate the debate to be held this day week.


Will the Government press upon the Soviet Government the necessity of giving some satisfaction to Mrs. Harding? Is any action going to be taken? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an answer? Will satisfaction be given in this exceedingly wicked case?


His Majesty's Government will use their best endeavours to get satisfaction for a British subject who is aggrieved, but it would be inexpedient that I should be invited to discuss the Genoa Conference on a subject like this.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, on a Vote which is to be a Vote of Confidence in the Government, there will be any possibility of raising personal questions of this sort?


There would be an opportunity of raising the whole policy of the Genoa Conference, and of any discussion or negotiations with Russia arising therefrom.