6. Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, seeing that a communication has been sent to M. Sabline, who is acting as secretary of the remaining members of the old ambassadorial staff at the former Russian Embassy in London, calling upon him to vacate the premises to make way for a Soviet Ambassador and to hand over the archives at the Embassy to the Soviet representatives, he will state what action is proposed to be taken by the Government to enforce these demands; and when it is expected that an ambassador will be officially accredited to this country by the Soviet authorities?
§ Mr. PONSONBY
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the terms of the answer given to the noble and gallant Member for South Battersea on Monday, in which it was explicitly stated that His Majesty's Government have no power to compel the present possessors either to vacate the premises or to surrender the archives. In reply to the second part of the question, I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member on the 5th of March last.
§ 49. Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
asked the Prime Minister whether it was on his instructions, and, if not, on whose instructions, that representations were made on behalf of the Foreign Office to the occupiers of Chesham House that these premises should be given up to the Russian Soviet delegation at present in this country; and whether, in view of the fact that the ownership of property in this country is a matter to be decided in case of dispute by the Courts of Law, he will state why the Executive Government interfered in this question?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald)
In reply to the first part of this question I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea on the 12th May. In their communication to the occupiers of Chesham House, His Majesty's Government expressed no opinion whether these premises were or were not the property of the late Tsarist Government; and their 1313 action has not therefore prejudiced the right of the parties to obtain a decision on this point from the Courts of Law.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated on Monday that His Majesty's Government had informed the occupants of Chesham House that all property belonging to the late Russian Government should be handed over to the Soviet Delegation. If he will refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find that that is so.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Yes, but may I suggest that the hon. Member is mixing up two things. There is undoubtedly property that belonged to the late Tsarist Government; there is also property that is alleged to have belonged to the late Tsarist Government. On the first point I think that the interest of everybody concerned is involved in a recognition of the continuity of responsibility. The second point, on which we express no opinion whatever, is one that must be decided by the Courts of Law.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Surely all questions of ownership of property must be decided by the Courts of Law, and not by the Executive Government.