HC Deb 12 May 1924 vol 173 cc878-80
32. Viscount CURZON

asked the Prime Minister if he will state what action, if any, has His Majesty's Government taken, or proposes to take, in connection with the premises formerly used as the Russian Embassy in London?


His Majesty's Government have received a request from the Chargé d'Affaires of the Soviet Union Government to hand over to the latter the buildings, furniture and archives which formerly belonged to the old Russian Imperial Government and the Provisional Government which succeeded it. His Majesty's Government have explained to the Soviet Chargé d'Affaires that they have no power to compel the present possessors of such property to hand it over to him, and, further, that failing an amicable arrangement, the Soviet Government must avail itself of the ordinary legal procedure in this country. His Majesty's Government have, however, intimated both to the Soviet Chargé d'Affaires and to those persons whom His Majesty's Government believe to be in actual possession of such property at this moment that, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, such of this property as actually belonged to the former Governments of Russia should be handed over to the representatives of the Soviet Union Government, which is now considered by His Majesty's Government to be the de jure successor of the old Provisional and Imperial Governments.

Viscount CURZON

Are we responsible in any way, under any Vote, for this property, and, if not, is it the business of His Majesty's Government to interfere in any way in this matter?


Has this at any time ceased to be Russian soil?


We are not responsible under any Vote for this property.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is it the duty of the Government of this country to express an opinion on a legal matter of this sort?


Do the Government consider the Soviet Government the successors of the liabilities as well as the assets of the Imperial Russian Government?


I think His Majesty's Government have very properly expressed the opinion they have.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is it the duty of the Government to express a legal opinion?


The Government have not expressed any opinion on that head. I shall be glad if hon. Members will put down any further questions.


But did not the hon. Gentleman state that the Government had advised the present occupiers that these premises ought to be handed over? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"] Was not that giving a legal opinion?

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

When certain claims are preferred against the Russian Government, surely that Government must be helped to get to its own archives in order to investigate the claims?


Further questions had better be put down.

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