HC Deb 17 July 1929 vol 230 cc404-6
3. and 5. Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether, in connection with any negotiations which may take place with the Soviet Government for the renewal of diplomatic relations with Russia, undertakings will be sought to ensure the cessation of Communist propaganda in Great Britain and in British Dominions by the Communist International, the Comitern, and the other Communist organisations which are controlled by the Soviet Government;

(2) whether his attention has been called to the plan of campaign outlined by M. Manuilski, a prominent Soviet official, in the State newspaper "Pravda" for provoking Communist; disturbances in India; and whether, in negotiating as to the guarantees to be given by the Soviet Government against interference in the internal affairs of the British Empire, as a condition of diplomatic recognition, assurances will be asked for as to the cessation of hostile propaganda, articles in the Soviet State press, and hostile utterances by Soviet officials?


My attention has been drawn to an article signed by Monsieur Manuilski which appeared in instalments in the "Pravda" for 14th June, 15th June, 16th June and 18th June, and also to a further article, not signed by Monsieur Manuilski, which appeared in the same paper on 2nd and 3rd July. These articles, which I presume to be those to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, contained a general review of the Communist movement and reference was also made to India. As regards the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the question of propaganda, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement on this point made by the Prime Minister in the course of the Debate on 2nd July.


Seeing that the Government intend to renew diplomatic relations with Russia, may I ask what guarantees they intend to press for in order that the regulations may not again be broken?


I think it would be highly undesirable to prejudge the negotiations.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is worth while to inquire into the relations existing between a notorious Communist organisation in Battersea and a local Conservative association?


That question does not arise.


asked the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs whether, in the course of negotiations with the Soviet representatives preliminary to the restoration of diplomatic relations, he will ask for the release of the hundreds of Baptist pastors and teachers now suffering imprisonment or banishment?


I cannot question the right of the Soviet Government to exercise jurisdiction within their own territory. I would, however, in the event of the machinery of diplomatic relations being re-established be prepared to make an appeal to the Soviet Government in the cases referred to by the hon. Member.


Will the right hon. Gentleman also recollect the unfortunate fate of the humble servants of the men who were prosecuted by the Russian Government when the mission was withdrawn?


I have no doubt at all that all those points will be brought to the attention of those who come to negotiate.


Will the Foreign Secretary bring to the notice of the Soviet representatives when the negotiations are opened that many people who would otherwise be favourably disposed towards a resumption of diplomatic relations will very seriously think about it?

18. Major WOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that great injury will be done to the herring-fishing industry if those engaged in it are kept in uncertainty until October or November as to the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia; and whether he can see his way to make an early announcement to guide the industry?


I cannot commit myself to any specific date for making an announcement about Anglo-Soviet relations; but the hon. and gallant Member may rest assured that the industry for which he speaks, and all others whose interests are in question, will receive the sympathetic consideration of His Majesty's Government.


Is the suggestion in the question well founded that diplomatic relations will not be resumed until Parliament meets again in the autumn?