HC Deb 30 June 1926 vol 197 cc1163-6

I beg to make a personal statement, with your permission Mr. Speaker, to the House. It arises from the publication by the Government of what they have styled "Communist Papers," and I beg to correct certain words used by the Government which are not a part of any of the documents, even as claimed by them, which not only convey a false impression, but which reflect upon myself personally. I take it for granted that the publication of the documents was intended to supply proof of the assertions or the charges made in this House against certain parties or persons, or to supply proof or evidence in support of any inferences or insinuations made throughout the various discussions on the Communist position. Document No. 26, which is printed on page 58, is described, not by the contents of the document itself, but by the Government in their own wording to be a "Statement of Expenditure by the Communist Party of Great Britain on the General Election, 1924." The publication of that document under that description would naturally go to prove any previous assertions made by the Government or their supporters. One of these assertions, as well as a part of the contents of this document, refers to myself. On the 1st December, during the Debate on the Communist prosecution, while I was speaking, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary intervened, and asked me the following question: May I ask the hon. Member, as he has rather got away from my argument, would he think it desirable that a Member of this House should receive £300 for election pur- poses, and for the money to come from Russia?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, lst December, 1925; col. 2113, Vol. 188.] I took that question to be a purely hypothetical question, based merely on the question of principle involved, and that the sum of £300 was taken at random, and I answered it accordingly. I adhere to every word I then said in my answer, but I now perceive that in Document No. 26—I do not know what the document is; there is no heading to it, there is no signature to it, and there is no date attached to it. One does not know how far it was from the General Election, but my name and the figure of £300 are mentioned. I have now seen that some of the public are misled into believing that this is proof of what the Home Secretary insinuated on the 1st December. I, therefore, beg to state that it is perfectly untrue to say that in any one of the three General Elections I have gone through, I have asked for, or received directly or indirectly, a single penny from Russia, even though in principle I do not consider it is not proper.

That is not the argument. I am merely stating a fact, and I further state that, during my first two elections, I had not received, nor required to receive, any assistance from the Communist party of Great Britain, as my private resources, and the assistance purely of my countrymen, and Indian friends and relatives, was sufficient to pull me through. But the last General Election, coming on rapidly after the two others, and the papers creating a public scare about anybody having anything to do with me, I did apply to the Communist party to be prepared to give me my share out of the General Election Fund which they were advertising in our party paper, and every shilling and every penny has been openly acknowledged in our party Press. It was out of that fund that a sum of £130, purely collected locally, was passed on to the Battersea Labour party, as the contribution of the Communist party towards the Parliamentary election expenses. The subscriptions were all from British subscribers and British Labour organisations, collected in shillings and pennies, and were published quite openly in the paper. The Government were not right, and were not entitled, to call this little memorandum showing certain names and certain figures a "Statement of Expenditure." Any accountant, any apprentice in an accountant's office, any student in an accountancy school, would say that no statement of expenditure is drawn up in this form. Also the marginal notes, "reserve "and "loan," and certain other annotations, definitely point to the fact that it is some memorandum by some individual just to fix something to be borne in mind.

Further, there is Document No. 27, which is in its form, at any rate, a complete and bona fide statement of expenditure. The persons named are not included in it, nor is any sum given to me included in it, and the sums mentioned therein prove more conclusively that the figures in the draft Memorandum are not a statement of expenditure in so far as it is a certified statement of expenditure. These figures are different, although the difference may be slight. I, therefore, submit, as a matter of personal explanation, that Document 26 is not a statement of expenditure, and never should have been described as such, and it does not supply any proof that any of the members of the Communist party running in the general elections were financed from Russia with those sums of money, as is alleged by the Home Secretary, described in Document 26. I should be glad, in justice to myself and others, to have that point made clear.


If any hon. Member of the House states that he has not received money I need hardly say I accept that statement unreservedly. If the hon. Member cares to put a question to me in regard to these papers, it will be my duty to give him an answer.