HC Deb 05 November 1929 vol 231 cc895-1010
The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

I beg to move, That this House is of the opinion that the resumption of full diplomatic relations between this country and Russia is desirable, and approves the procedure for the settlement of questions outstanding between the two countries, including those relating to propaganda and debts, as set out in the Protocol of 3rd October, 1929, and published in Command Paper 3418. In initiating this Debate I make this submission to the House, that no part of the policy of this Government has been so much misrepresented or made the subject of so many misconceptions as that which deals with Anglo-Russian relations. Charges of breaches of faith, of repudiation of pledges, and breaches of trust have been freely made, and the Foreign Secretary, so the public are assured, has been guilty of a hideous humiliation and a miserable, ignoble, and abject surrender. Members and ex-members of the party opposite have been vying with each other in their criticisms of the Government's Russian policy, and I should like to give the House instances of the informing statements that have been put into circulation. The hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet), writing in order to enlighten the readers of the "Morning Post," said this: Whatever 'kudos' the Socialist party have derived by their conduct at The Hague has been completely offset by the obvious lack of backbone, courage and conviction displayed by their leaders over this question. Then the Financial Secretary to the War Office in the late Government, addressing an audience, said: Mr. Henderson falls flat upon his face and licks the dust from the boots of the Russian gentlemen without getting anything in return. I am awaiting with interest the kind of explanation that Mr. MacDonald will give on his return for the latest development in foreign affairs, and I should imagine that Mr. Henderson is also awaiting that return with no little trepidation. The astonishing thing in connection with all these statements, and I want to impress this point upon the House, is that they are based on Russian propaganda—propaganda that is so objectionable and yet so useful when a charge has to be made against the present Government. They are a consequence of Russian representatives and of Russian newspapers serving up descriptions of the negotiations for home consumption. One of the points freely made, at the time when we resumed our negotiations on procedure in September, was that the Soviet Government's position remained absolutely unchanged. Because in the Russian propaganda it had been said that the Soviet Government's position remained absolutely unchanged, it must be assumed that the Foreign Secretary had surrendered.

May I briefly state the facts? When we first of all opened our conversations on procedure at the end of July, the Soviet representative made it plain that, in the opinion of his Government at any rate, the first point of procedure to foe settled was the immediate exchange of ambassadors. That was the very first point upon which he insisted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that my friends opposite say "Hear, hear." What was my reply? I replied that, in view of the Government's commitment to this House, there could be no exchange of ambassadors until a report had been made to Parliament after the House reassembled in October. M. Dovgalevski then intimated that it was necessary for him to consult his Government on this point. After doing so, he came to see me again, and he intimated to me that his instructions were to return to Paris, which he did on the 1st August. Moreover, throughout the whole of the negotiations—and I want to make this clear to the House—M. Dovgalevski stated that his Government was unwilling to negotiate any question, including that of propaganda, until the ambassadors had been exchanged and had taken up their duties. The House knows that ambassadors have not yet been appointed, and the House knows, from the issue of the Command Paper, that an arrangement has already been made on the question of propaganda. Surely, these two last statements which I have made to the House show what a small amount of substance was contained in the charges which have been so freely made about this humiliating surrender to which I have referred.

I would also point out, before I go further, that the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the names of right hon. Gentlemen opposite seems to me—I will deal with it more fully later—to represent a similar attitude of mind to that to which I have already referred, and I welcome, in view of its character, this opportunity of responding to the challenge.

May I first deal with the Motion standing in my name? That Motion, I may remind the House, declares in favour of the desirability of resuming diplomatic relations; and, in support of the Motion, I would venture to call the attention of the House to the fact that for more than 10 years organised labour in this country has fearlessly, consistently and definitely urged the importance of proper relations with the Russian Government. Moreover, in the last Parliament, Labour, then the official Opposition, protested most emphatically and strenuously against the fruitless and futile policy of rupture with Russia, believing that it would have serious economic consequences and would be a wanton act of self-injury to British trade. I also claim that proper Russian relations were a very outstanding issue at the recent General Election; I do not think that that can possibly be disputed. The result is that this Parliament has a large majority, in my opinion, who are definitely pledged on this Russian issue. In order to emphasise that point, I should like to quote—I know that right hon. Gentlemen opposite are very anxious that we should strongly adhere to our election pledges, and, in order that there need be no doubt on this point, I want to quote, first of all, from the Labour party's election's statement, which said: A Labour Government, whilst opposed to the interference of the Russian Government with the domestic politics of other nations, would at once take 6teps to establish relations and … settle by treaty or otherwise any outstanding differences, and would make every effort to encourage a revival of trade with Soviet Russia. But that was not the only election statement that was made. May I now quote from the statement issued over the signature of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H Samuel): The policy of the Liberal party is to re-establish normal political and economic relations with Russia at the earliest possible date, on the basis of the non-interference of each country in the domestic affairs of the other. I claim that these two quotations show very clearly the General Election position of both the Government party and the Liberal party I now want to advance very briefly one or two general reasons in support of an immediate return to normal relations with Russia. Doubtless we shall hear during this Debate that many Britishers distrust the Soviet Government, and, on the other hand, I would say that the Soviet Government are very suspicious of British policy. They have their apprehensions of our alleged anti-Soviet activities; some of them even believe to-day in an eventual armed attack. However fantastic these apprehensions may appear to us, they seem to many Russians to be absolutely genuine. Moreover, I would point out that the younger sections of the Russian population are it is well known, coming more and more to regard England as the enemy. Surely, then, a continuance of the present state of affairs can only encourage the growth of this unfortunate opinion.

Take the question of trade, so vital and important at this juncture, as we heard yesterday. It is true, I admit, that the Soviet Union can buy here without the existence of diplomatic relations. It is true also that the Soviet Union continues to buy in the United States—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am quite prepared to make these admissions. But it is equally true that Russia has very largely reduced her purchases in this country since relations were broken off. The exports of British produce and manufactures were, in 1925, £6,240,000, and, in 1926, £5,858,000, a figure which fell in 1928 to £2,716,000. The fall in our re-exports is even more striking. In 1925, these were £13,017,000, in 1926, £8,543,000, and, in 1928, £2,089,000. There can be no doubt that the absence of diplomatic relations does impose a very serious handicap upon our trade. For instance, the recently issued report of a very important trade delegation which visited Russia.—[Interruption]—hon. Members may sneer at the delegation, but that is their responsibility. That report, which I am entitled to quote, indicates that the Committee is satisfied that there is a great volume of business available for Great Britain, subject to diplomatic recognition being afforded. [HON. MEMBERS: "Credits!"] Are hon. Members quoting this statement, or am I? I have no doubt that some of them would be very anxious to give the credits presently. The report goes on to say— if arrangements be made for the financing of the business on long-term credit. [Interruption.] What is wrong with that? I am now going to quote another interesting statement which I think has a very important bearing upon this subject. The City Editor of the "Times" newspaper wrote, on the 23rd July, 1927: In no small part, the abnormal amount of unemployment in this country is to be attributed to the absence of Russia from the economy and comity of nations… The direct trade may not be important, but the indirect trade is just as important to this country as to those immediately concerned. Surely, a more cogent justification of Labour's attitude, and of those who support the return to normal conditions towards Russia from the standpoint of Great Britain's trade, has never 'been written. There has been a great deal of misapprehension on one point, and here I want to say very emphatically to the House that the Government do not intend to recommend Parliament to pledge the credit of the British taxpayer to any loan raised by the Soviet Government.

I want to give one more general reason. It is inevitable, so it appears to me, in the case of two countries such as the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, that questions of many kinds apart from special problems, such as those of propaganda and debts, should continually present themselves for solution. Some of these more important questions are referred to in the Protocol. Those who have followed the Protocol will see references there to fisheries, to commercial relations and to the validity of existing treaties, but minor matters must, of course, continually crop up, as any of us who have had responsibilities in Government Departments know. At present it has to be admitted that all these questions, whether they be of minor or major importance can only be dealt with in a roundabout way and without the opportunity of that personal discussion which is so essential often to an amicable arrangement. Then it should be clearly stated that it is to the advantage of both parties to have at their disposal a universally recognised machinery for dealing with the ordinary routine of international intercourse. Moreover, the absence of normal relations between the United Kingdom and the Union of Socialist Republics necessarily has a most unsettling effect, not only on the two States concerned, but even upon third parties. It introduces, in fact, those political uncertainties and a sense of political insecurity which the late Foreign Secretary deprecated so strongly in his speech in this House on 25th June, 1926. Furthermore, the fact that the relations between the two countries are difficult, are unsatisfactory if you like, is in no way an argument for abolishing the normal machinery of diplomatic relations, but in my judgment the very reverse.

The second part of the Motion invites the House to give its approval to the procedure that has been adopted in the hope of reaching a friendly and mutually satisfactory settlement of outstanding questions between the two countries. This procedure is set out in the Protocol signed on 3rd October of this year. Under that Protocol the condition of the resumption of relations is the exchange of reciprocal guarantees relative to propaganda. This is provided for in Paragraph 7, which reads: Immediately on the actual exchange of Ambassadors and not later than the same day as that on which the respective Ambassadors presents their credentials, both Governments will reciprocally confirm the pledge with regard to propaganda contained in Article 16 of the Treaty signed on 8th August, 1924. Article 16 of the 1924 Treaty read as follows: The contracting parties solemnly affirm their desire and intention to live in peace and amity with each other, scrupulously to respect the undoubted right of a State to order its own life within its own jurisdiction in its own way, to refrain and to restrain all persons and organisations under their direct or indirect control, including organisations in receipt of any financial assistance from them, from any Act, overt or other, liable in any way whatsoever to endanger the tranquillity or prosperity of any part of the territory of the British Empire or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or intended to embitter the relations of the British Empire or the Union with their neighbours or any other countries.


Did they ever keep that?


Did you?


May I say how we interpret the obligations of Article 7 to which I have just referred. Our position with regard to propaganda may be stated thus—this is very important in regard to the questions which have been asked: We stand by the declaration we made in 1924 to the effect that we could not allow any direct interference from outside in British domestic affairs and would insist that the promise given by the Soviet Government to refrain from any act liable to endanger the tranquillity or prosperity of the British Empire, and to restrain from such acts all persons and organisations under their direct or indirect control, including organisations in receipt of any financial assistance from them, such as the Communist International, which is organically connected with the Soviet Government, should be carried out both in the letter and in the spirit. This is, in fact, an undertaking that Soviet propaganda will not be tolerated in any form or at any time.

Having stated our position with regard to Soviet propaganda, I should like to remind the House that this position of ours has been described in the Press by the late Home Secretary as a breach of trust and a broken promise. Let me give you his words: We are to appoint ambassadors, which means full diplomatic relations, and then we are to discuss all the subjects that are in dispute, including the cessation of propaganda. I claim, whatever else it may be said we have not provided for before an exchange of ambassadors takes place, it is not on the question of propaganda. As I have shown—and I am convinced of it—the position of His Majesty's Government in this matter has been definitely strengthened by what has taken place since the House rose in July and under the negotiations which I have had the responsibility of conducting. After 1924 it has been plainly stated to the Soviet representatives, and stated again twice by myself, that the Communist International will be regarded by His Majesty's Government as an organ of the Soviet Government. In order to strengthen my case on this point, may I ask the House to note the list of subjects left for settlement by negotiation between the two Governments. The list of subjects which have been reserved for negotiation is as follows:—Definition of the attitude of both Governments towards the treaties of 1924, commercial treaty and allied questions, claims and counter-claims, inter-governmental and private, debts and claims arising out of intervention and otherwise and financial questions connected with such claims and counter-claims, fisheries, and the application of previous treaties and conventions. In view of what I have said, I want to ask this question. Why, if nothing has been settled, is propaganda not included in the list of subjects yet to be negotiated? The answer is quite simple. Because an agreement has already been reached, and the guarantee must be exchanged not later than the date upon which each of the ambassadors presents his credentials. Hon. Members may say, if they care, that Article 16 is insufficient. They may say it is not drawn sufficiently tight. They may say that as an undertaking it is not quite definite enough. That is an understandable position, but it does not warrant the charges which have been made, especially against myself, of breach of trust or ignoble surrender. Then it must be obvious to everyone that the absence of normal relations does nothing to prevent propaganda, but in my judgment rather facilitates the opportunities for such propaganda.

Another important point on which I should like to say a word is the position of the Dominions. The King's Speech contained an intimation that the Government was in communication with the Governments of the Dominions on the question of the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia. His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions have all been kept fully informed of the policy proposed, and the replies received indicate that it is generally recognised that the renewal of relations was sooner or later inevitable. Several have emphasised the importance of safeguards against the possibility of subversive propaganda—I claim that we have made provision for it—but not a single Dominion has expressed dissent from the general policy which has been pursued. All the Dominions except one, whose views have not yet been received, have requested that the guarantee against propaganda, the guarantee which I have given to the House to-day should be made applicable to them.

5. 0. p. m.

The official Opposition Amendment is a direct challenge to the Government on two points. It is not very hold. It is, I think, a sort of bridge to enable the more moderate and the diehards to come together. It raises two points. It deplores the failure to maintain the conditions which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary laid down for the resumption of diplomatic relations, and in the second place it condemns the resumption of such relations until these conditions are satisfied. It is interesting to notice from the Amendment that it is not the Soviet Government which is to-day on its trial; it is not even the British Government on its trial for running away from its election pledges; it is not even the Government on its trial for failing to give effect to the declarations contained in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. If you examine the position there is apparently only one point at issue between the Front Bench opposite and ourselves, and that is the alleged failure—I say advisedly "the alleged failure "—on our part to maintain the conditions laid down last July. I think I have said sufficient to dispose of that charge. I think I have pricked that bubble quite successfully.

Let me put the House in mind of the two conditions which were laid down last July; they seem to have been overlooked. What were those conditions? First the Government declared that an agreement embodying a definite undertaking with regard to propaganda was necessary, and secondly the Government undertook to report to the House before recognition became effective. With all due deference to our friends opposite I claim that both those conditions have been fulfilled. The first has been fulfilled in the restoration of Article 16, and the interpretation which I placed upon that article in the negotiations with Mr. Dovgalevski; and the second condition laid down by the Prime Minister in July is being fulfilled to-day, within a week of the reassembling of Parliament.

Commander BELLAIRS

May I ask whether, as regards the resumption of diplomatic relations, the Soviet has at any time recognised the Communist International as part and parcel of the Soviet Government?


I am not at the moment concerned with what they recognise. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are."] We are concerned with our responsibility to carry out what we laid down last July. That is the point with which I am now dealing. The Amendment says that we have failed to maintain those conditions. I claim that we have fully and completely fulfilled those conditions.

I will say only one word, in conclusion. I am content to take the decision of this newly elected House on the Russian policy of the Government. I believe that this House has a very definite mandate for the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. In seeking to give effect to that mandate the Government has honoured the conditions relating to propaganda and other matters. The Government asks the House to declare that it is not prepared to continue a policy of wasted economic opportunities, a policy which is injurious, in our judgment, to British trade, which is a disturbing and even a menacing factor in European affairs, a policy which has failed to produce a single substantial advantage or any worth-while consequence to recommend it to any section of the House. On the other hand the policy which I am inviting the House to support is conceived in the interests of European peace, co-operation and confidence, upon which the prosperity and well-being of the nation so largely depend. In my judgment it is a wise policy, and it is as sound as it is necessary. I therefore leave our action, with all that has been said against us and our policy, to the judgment of the House, in the confident belief that the decision will be to approve what we have done, and to encourage us to go on with the negotiations in the hope of solving the issues still outstanding between the two Governments.


I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question; and to add instead thereof the words: deplores the failure of His Majesty's Government to maintain the conditions which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary laid down for the resumption of diplomatic relations and condemns the resumption of such relations until these preliminary conditions have been satisfied. I listened with great interest to the speech made by the Foreign Secretary; and I wonder whether to-day we shall be able to discuss this subject with more amity than it used to raise in the last Parliament. I remember that in the last Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that Government, brave man as he was, when he was going to mention the word "Russia" used to say to the Opposition, "Hold on to your seats, I am going to say 'Russia'," I certainly think that so far as the Foreign Secretary is concerned, since the speeches made in 1924, the present Government has learned something, and I am not without hope that in a few years they may learn something more.

I would assure the Foreign Secretary at the beginning of my observations that I have no intention of charging him with breach of faith, nor have I any intention of charging him with repudiation of pledges. I intend to make good, so far as I can, one charge to which he does not plead guilty, and that is a charge of making a most humiliating surrender. I ask myself—and I propose to make one or two observations later in what I have to say on the subject—what is the secret of the hurry in which the Government are in this matter? I think one reason may possibly be this; they gave a great many pledges at the election, a great many which will never be redeemed in this world or the next, but here they have a pledge which they can redeem if the House of Commons gives them permission. The Prime Minister last April said that relations with Russia were going to be resumed by hook or by crook, and the first opportunity has been taken; and I cannot help thinking that there lingers somewhere in the mind of the Foreign Secretary the recollection that to-day is Guy Fawkes' Day. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who is the guy?"] In the White Paper which was published by the Government, Command Paper 3418, which contains the relevant correspondence, it will be found that in Mr. Dovgalevski's note of 31st July, he refers to the fact that the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has stated … that it is impossible for the British Government to re-establish normal relations between the two countries before the solution of the questions outstanding between them, and he draws an inference which is at the moment neither here nor there. That is confirmed by the Foreign Office communique of the 2nd August, when the Foreign Secretary said that he was going to work on the subject during the Recess, and he felt sure that, with good-will on both sides, sufficient progress might be made to enable him on the reassembling of Parliament in October to report what had been achieved, that the principles upon which a settlement could be worked out, had been defined, and to request authority, and even if complete settlement of all outstanding questions had not been reached, for the exchange of fully accredited ambassadors between the two countries. Of that I have no complaint to make, and if the Government had stood firm upon that point, the Debate in this particular form would not have arisen.

If you come to look at the further statements and communications you will find that a gradual weakening comes along as the Russian representative makes it clear that he has his point of view, which is an opposite point of view to that which had been expressed by the Foreign Secretary of State; and so we go on until we get to the end of September. By the end of September the surrender was very near, because Mr. Dovgalevski's statement as reported in the "Times" of the 25th September, says: I am glad to state after the statement made to the Press by Mr. Henderson and by Mr. Litvinoff and after the exchange of notes which followed, the misunderstandings which arose during the first stage of negotiations seem to be now cleared up. That means that the Foreign Office were gradually beginning to take Mr. Dovgalevski's point of view; and we find that on the 1st October, an official statement was issued saying that a long interview had taken place between Mr. Henderson and Mr. Dovgalevski, not at the Foreign Office but in the White Hart at Lewes. It so happens that in old days I used to know the White Hart at Lewes very well, and to those whom it may interest I may say that you get the best of ale there. The White Hart at Lewes was a great resort to which people use to go when playing cricket matches in Sussex, and it occurred to me, if I may use a simile which hon. Members will all understand, that whereas the Foreign Secretary in July was playing with a straight bat very correctly and looked like keeping up his wicket, after lunch at the White Hart with Mr. Dovgalevski he was bowled out.

Immediately after that a final statement was issued declaring that the will of Mr. Dovgalevski had prevailed, and not the will of the British Government. Now between some countries I do not know that that would have mattered very much, but I believe that with Russia it is a very serious matter. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about Russian propaganda which was beneficial to us. I know what he was alluding to—the kind of propaganda which speaks in irreverent terms of the right hon. Gentleman's Government; but I want to call the attention of the House to two or three statements. I must quote them—they are very short—just to tell the House why I think it is a serious matter and a dangerous matter that this surrender should have been made by this particular Government. At week-end meetings held in Leningrad and Moscow after that date, "the rout of the pseudo-labour government by Soviet diplomatists backed by Great Britain's masses" was alluded to, and then there are two newspaper extracts which I will quote; and we must remember that the freedom of the Press in Moscow is very different from what we understand in London. A victory fraught with colossal revolutionary importance was the phrase which was used, And Mr. Henderson surrendered hurriedly, being unable to face the Labour Party Congress at Brighton without having concluded an agreement. And the "Pravda" said that to consult Parliament is an astonishing self-abnegation of the power of government. That would not have mattered twopence if it was written or spoken, as the right hon. Gentleman said, for home consumption, whether that home consumption were in Russia or in Great Britain. But that is the story which will run like wildfire through every bazaar in the East, into China, through Kurdistan and right through India. The right hon. Gentleman the Commissioner of Works shakes his head. He has never been at the Foreign Office. The Foreign Secretary knows the risk of that, as anybody who has been at the Foreign Office knows it perfectly well. I remember very well when few members of the Labour party had much knowledge of this subject that in the time of the Chinese trouble the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said in the "Daily News"—I have the quotation with me— the Soviet representatives have been at the bottom of the anti-British trouble and feeling in China. I remember very well a deputation coming from the Trade Union Congress not realising in the least what the situation in China was like, fed up with reports, and asking us and believing sincerely that there would be peace and settlement in China if we would make an agreement with a gentleman called Mr. Chen. Where is Mr. Chen now? There is not a man in this House who knows where he is. To make an agreement with Mr. Chen would be like making an agreement with a snowball under a hot sun.

That is the danger of a surrender of this kind to that particular Government at this particular time. It is a real danger and it will make more difficult the task of the Foreign Secretary as time goes on, and he will find it so. I wonder if the situation is at all similar to what it was in August, 1924. There was a sudden change and a sudden surrender then. We all understood that it was due to pressure of a certain kind. It is not for me to inquire into the pressure which may be exercised in other parties. I deal with my own. For the sake of the right hon. Gentleman I hope that the result of that pressure this time may be more favourable to him than it was the last. What is the procedure? We have been told one or two very interesting things. We have been told that immediately on the actual exchange of Ambassadors both Governments will reciprocally affirm the pledge with regard to propaganda contained in Article 16 of the Draft Proposed General Treaty of 1924. The right hon. Gentleman made a very interesting statement. I cannot quite understand from him what the position was from the statement which he read. It has not been published yet; I do not think so. The statement of propaganada is a very strong statement.


Nothing has been published except the Memorandum.


What about Article 16?


Article 16 which I read is taken directly out of the 1924 Treaty.


The right hon. Gentleman said something very much stronger about propaganda than appears in Article 16.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to explain. When I read Article 16 I went on to say that the Government's position might be stated thus and that it was our interpretation of Article 16, plus what I had told Mr. Dovgalevski as to our position with regard to the Third International.


May I ask if Mr. Dovgalevski agreed with that?


Mr. Dovgalevski said that he was going at once to report that to his Government.


I may say, in passing, I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman did put that point, because it it is an extremely interesting point and a very correct one. Nothing could have expressed better the position that any British Government ought to take up than the words of the present Prime Minister in that famous letter, which he sent to Mr. Rakovski, dated 24th October, 1924. I do not propose to read that. It is familiar to the House, and the gist of it is included in the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made to the House. I may say in passing that I am extremely glad to hear from those benches what has not always been acknowledged by the party as a whole, what I know the Prime Minister when he was Foreign Secretary held, and what has been specifically stated in articles by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I do not think it can be better expressed than in one sentence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer: It is idle for the Soviet Government to deny complicity in the hostile propaganda. The Soviet Government, the Communist International and the Russian trade unions are a Trinity, three in one, and one in three. Gradually that truth is permeating this country. I am always glad for the permeation of truth. I have three specific questions to put. The right hon. Gentleman will, of course, to the best of his ability insist on the guarantee with regard to propaganda being given. What will he do if that guarantee is broken? Will he be prepared to break off negotiations if he finds that propaganda does not stop or will he be prepared to denounce the agreement if it is reached at a later date and he finds then that propaganda continues? I believe that is an important point from our point of view. I want to know, does the trade agreement come into force automatically on the resumption of diplomatic relations, or is the agreement of 1921 coming into force at all, or will it be superseded by a new Treaty? Does this mean that the work that will be done will be done on the basis of the Draft Proposed General Treaty of 1924? The right hon. Gentleman made a very important statement about loans on which I will say a word in a moment. We want to know if the basis of a new treaty or of a new agreement will be the Draft Proposed General Treaty of 1924? Assuming that that will be the basis, or, at any rate, that all the subjects in that treaty will come under consideration, I should like to know if the Government still adhere to the single and indivisible unity of Articles 6 to 13. Particularly I should like a little information on the question of diplomatic privileges. I do not think any more fatal mistake was ever made than by singling out Russia for exceptional treatment in this regard. No country in the world has ever had, or ever ought to have, such privileges. Diplomatic immunity should be confined strictly to the diplomatic representatives of a country. To include in that members of a trade delegation is stretching altogether too widely the powers which never ought to be given without the gravest consideration. I should like some more information on that. The right hon. Gentleman said, as I understood him, there was no question of guaranteeing the interest or sinking fund of a loan.


indicated assent.


That is a good thing as far as it goes I should like very much to know what the Government will say if and when they are approached by the Soviet Government and are told that there will be no business without a loan what their answer is going to be. About the payment of debts. Can there be payment of debts without a loan? I should like a little more on that point. I want to make one more observation about the payment of debts. I hope the House will listen to this quite seriously because it is an important point. I know quite well that part of the statement I am going to make is always received with tremendous cheers from the other side. Whenever the Soviet Government talk to us about money there always comes up the question of claims with regard to our intervention in Russia. I do not want to consider for a moment, and this is not the place, and it does not very much matter how much that intervention, if any, was a continuation of the war or a new intervention. That is all a matter of historical argument and beside the question to-day. It is perfectly possible on that subject, as no estimate can ever be obtained, to name sums that will more than set off the whole of our claims for war debts and private debts. But will the Government remember this—and I have never seen this officially mentioned—there is as big or bigger claim on our side than that. The present Government in Russia are primarily responsible for the breaking of the treaty undertaking that was made between all the Allies at the beginning of the War which engaged the Allies to continue in the War and not to come out without the assent of the others. By breaking that treaty, by Crippling Russia, they added a year to the War. If Russia had stayed in there would have been no Paschendale. The lives that were lost owing to Russia going out of the War can never be computed and can never be replaced. The money which it cost that last year can hardly be computed. If any claims in the air are to be mentioned for intervention they are more than set off in our claims for the breaking of that treaty.

I would not wish to weary the House, and I merely want to draw to a conclusion what I have to easy by coming back once more to the subject on which I began. What is the secret of the affection which the party opposite hold for the Government in Russia? The Russian Government have called the Labour party every name they can lay their tongues to. If I called them half the names you would never listen to me in the House of Commons. You accept gold watches from them. I have tried to get at the bottom of it. I think that part of the secret is the innate conservatism of the Labour party. They started out when the Russian revolution began in believing that the old and evil Tsarist régime had been replaced by a good sound democratic con- stitution, and they have never got away from that. That is one explanation which I suggest. Another explanation, I think, is that there are many members of the Labour party who really believe that we on this side of the House want to see the Tsarist Government back again That is an illusion. If any hon. Members still believe that—and I know that some hon. Members think that to-day—I should like to disillusion them. The third reason is a very British one. When hon. Members speak in their constituencies, and particularly when they are speaking in the streets rather than in public halls, they use very vigorous language which can be understood by the common people. We do not take their bad language seriously, and they do not really take it seriously themselves. The Russians use serious language, and they mean it, but right hon. and hon. Members opposite think that they do not mean it.

The great difference between hon. Members opposite and ourselves is, firstly, that we would make no engagement on propaganda with the Soviet Government until we had seen for a period of time that they could and would stop propaganda. Secondly, I believe what the Bolsheviks say—the right hon. Gentleman does not—that although there are luke-warm men in it, and the system must crumble, yet those who are still at the head in Moscow believe as urgently and fanatically as ever they did that world revolution is possible. I do not believe that it is, but they believe it, and they say so, and nothing in this world will shift them from it; no more than the fire and the stake shifted the early Christians from their belief. They believe in it absolutely to-day. We may think that they are wrong, we may think that they are wicked, and we may believe many of the things that are said about them, but there can be no doubt that they believe these things and that they are sincere in their belief, and if only the right hon. Gentleman could realise that the Bolsheviks do believe in world revolution he would know that no agreement which he can make with them will be any good.

Whatever agreement they make with a bourgeois Government, the fact remains that over and above that lies the determination to set the fire of revolution, which they will never be able to do in Western Europe, running right through the East. They are watching India as they watched China, and that is one of the greatest perils in the political circumstances of the East that our Empire is up against. That is the reason why we part company with the Government on this question. We should have to be convinced in practice of the continuance of abstention from propaganda before we would do business with them. We do not believe that it is safe to do it. That attitude on the subject was expressed by the Secretary of State for the United States of America. I agree with every word that Mr. Kellogg said, only in February of last year, in regard to the American position. He said: In the view of the Government of the United States, a desire and disposition on the part of the present rulers of Russia to comply with the accepted principles governing international relations is an essential prerequisite to the establishment of a sound basis of intercourse between the two countries. A clear and unequivocal recognition of the sanctity of international obligations is of vital importance, not only as concerns the development of relations between the United States and Russia, but as regards peaceful and harmonious development of relations between nations. No result beneficial to the people of the United States or, indeed, to the people of Russia would be attained by entering into relations with the present regime in Russia so long as the present rulers of Russia have not abandoned those avowed aims and known practices which are inconsistent with international friendship. That sums up tersely and accurately our attitude, and for that reason I move my Amendment.


I rise to support the Motion which has been moved by the Foreign Secretary, and I desire very briefly to summarise my reasons. The speech of the Foreign Secretary so powerfully presented the case that very little is needed to be added by me. I was head of the Government which initiated the first Trade Agreement with Russia. The present leader of the Opposition and the late Foreign Secretary were also Members of that Government. I took a prominent part in the negotiations. I also supported the Government of 1924 when they carried the matter a step further. I took a part in this House in opposing the action of the late Government in breaking off relations with Russia. I am firmly convinced that it was not a deliberate act on their part. Really, they were rushed into it by the blunder of one of their own Ministers. It was not a well-thought-out considered matter. It ought to have been done very much more carefully and very much more cautiously, if it had to be done at all. It was done as a matter of police and not as a matter of policy.

To break off relations with one of the greatest countries in the world, whether revolutionary or not, required very much greater care and thoroughness of deliberation than the late Foreign Secretary had an opportunity of giving to it. It was not rushed by the Foreign Office but by the Home Office. It was a mistake. I quite agreed with the Foreign Secretary on that occasion that there had been undoubted breaches of the Agreement. The same thing occurred during the time that I was Prime Minister. I fully admit, there was no doubt about it, that some of the breaches were very flagrant. I agree that the case made out by the late Foreign Secretary about breaches of the Agreement was established, but what I was doubtful about was, having regard to the fact that we were dealing with a revolutionary Government, whether we ought not to have exercised more caution and whether we ought not to have taken a little more time.

Let us see what the position is to-day. The right hon. Gentleman asks why do hon. Members on the Government side want to resume relations with Russia? Is it because of any affection for them? There is not a country in Europe except ours—I am not sure about Bulgaria—that has not relations with Russia. Is it because of their affection for Russia? Is it because they have any sympathy with revolution? Is it not because they are just as well aware as the right hon. Gentleman is that there is propaganda going on, and propaganda going even in their own countries? There was a very notorious case in France, quite recently, but France has never perpetrated the folly of injuring themselves by breaking off relations with Russia. The United States of America have not resumed relations with Russia, but the United States can afford to do a great many things that poor Europe cannot do. They are pretty well off, they are very rich. They are in an overwhelming position, with the gold of Europe in their pockets.

We have 1,200,000 people out of work. Our export trade is down 20 per cent., as the right hon. Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) said yesterday. We cannot afford to throw away trade running into millions of pounds of exports and re-exports in this country. We are injuring ourselves, and for what return and what reason? Because there is propaganda in this country. What does it come to? When I was Prime Minister I used to get, and so does every Prime Minister, all sorts of reports about secret organisations and secret societies. If you really were to concentrate upon these documents you might imagine that there was going to be a revolution within the next twenty-four hours. I used to throw all of them into the wastepaper basket because I knew there was nothing in them.

What has happened in this country? We had a test of the power of Russian propaganda in the last election. How many Communist candidates were there, and how many of them escaped the forfeiture of their deposit? There is no country in the world, with the possible exception of the United States of America, where the Communist would make such a miserable show as they are making in this country. In Germany, on the other hand, quite near to Russia, the Communists are very formidable—there are three millions or four millions of Communists—but Germany still retains relations with Russia. Why? Because they know that the greatest danger for the propagation of Communism will be the breakdown of their business and their concern to get the millions of pounds which they are getting out of Communist Russia, in order to feed their population and to employ them. I do not mind saying that, from the point of the propagation of Communism, I am less afraid of the success of Stalin than the failure of the Lord Privy Seal.

What has happened in regard to some of our industries? Take the fisheries. There is no community in this country less likely to become Bolshevik than the fishermen of the East coast—steady, independent, self-reliant individuals to the last degree? There were no more patriotic body of men in the last War than the fishermen of the East coast. One knows how hard hit they have been by that very foolish—I will use the words of a Conservative paper— that act of supreme silliness, the breach of international relations with Russia. Those were the words of the "Spectator." The fishermen have been very hard hit. The people who have been damaged by the failure to resume relations with Russia are our own people. It is a very great mistake from the point of view which right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench always advance—from the point of view of the stability of our institutions, and from the point of view of that prosperity which can alone be the greatest and surest guarantee against revolutionary propaganda. With regard to the propaganda in the East, all I can say is that I have been longer a Member of this House than the Leader of the Opposition, and I can tell him of the sort of things that we used to hear about the propaganda of Imperialist Russia in the East. I remember perfectly well how the Russians were constantly accused, and I think rightly accused, of propaganda in India, and of designs against India. We were constantly having arguments as to the necessity to fortify the cactus hedge against Imperialistic Russia. I remember the speech delivered by the distinguished father of the late Foreign Secretary, when talking about the Russian Foreign Secretary, he said that you could not believe a word he said and that one who supped with the devil must have a long spoon. But nobody ever dreamt, least of all Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, of breaking off relations with Russia, turning out the ambassador here, and if anybody had proposed it in this House he would have been treated as if he were a lunatic.

You had the same accusations then; at a time when they were much more formidable. The Russian Army was much more formidable then than it is now. [An HON. MEMBER: "Was it?"] It has been my business to study that a good deal, and I may tell the hon. Member that at the present moment they are not spending half as much upon armaments as we are in this country; and they have a very gigantic territory and difficulties in the East and in the West. With regard to propaganda in China there could not be a worse illustration to quote. What has happened? They started meddling in China; they had a powerful propagandist organisation there. What happened? The Chinese have fired them out and now the difficulty of the world is to keep China from making war on Soviet Russia. They are a revolutionary Government, and all revolutionary Governments have their own psychology; their own code of conduct. You dealt with them in Mexico; you are dealing with them in Russia, and you will probably be dealing with them in China. You have to exercise very much greater patience and tolerance; not see too much, not take too much cognisance. When the right hon. Gentleman begs the Foreign Secretary to break off the first time there is a breach, I hope he will not. The Government of which I was the head did not break off relations, and the late Foreign Secretary exercised great restraint and tolerance. In my judgment he was right. He showed greater statesmanship than the late Home Secretary did in breaking off relations.

There are two things which we want. The first is trade with Russia. We stand in great need of trade. There is no doubt that the breach of diplomatic relations with Russia has had the effect of losing millions of pounds of trade which we cannot afford. That is the first reason why I think we should resume relations. The second reason is this. I think you would exercise greater influence upon Russia in the way of restraint if you bring her into the comity of nations. She may not behave at the table in the same sort of way as older Governments who are more trained in methods of restraint and of concealing their thoughts, and of doing their propaganda against each other. Make no mistake, there is a great deal of that, but it is done in such a way that they can repudiate everything. It has been done in the past, and it will be done again. The Russian Government do it more crudely and more roughly, I think more stupidly, but the old Russian subtlety will come back again and they will be able to beat the most exquisite master of that art by doing it in such a way that nobody will be able to point a finger at any particular Minister who has done it at all. That is almost inevitable until nations understand each other better, until there is more goodwill between nation and nation.

If the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition means that we are not to resume relations with Russia until she ceases to be revolutionary I despair of seeing any peace established in this world. The one thing which anyone who has made any study of the position in Europe knows is this that you cannot have disarmament in Europe until, first of all, you get Russia well into the organisation of nations. Poland cannot do it, Czechoslovakia cannot do it, Rumania cannot do it, if an unknown Power like this is pushed out of the way as a mere pariah Power, a Power with 120,000,000 of people and some of the bravest men in the world in their army, however badly equipped it may be. In the interests of peace in the world as well as in the interests of the poor people of this country who are seeking employment and honest trade—and you have equally honest people in Russia; I am referring now not to the handful of Ministers in Moscow, but to the millions of peasants and workers in Russia who are not even Communists, and who are anxious to have these goods—I say "God speed" the Foreign Secretary.


Hon. Members will no doubt understand with what diffidence a new Member rises to take part for the first time in a Debate such as this. It is on a motion which relates to a great policy of State; it is, by its nature, highly controversial; it has been debated by previous Parliaments on many occasions in recent years; and the Debate this evening is to be followed by a definite decision of policy when the House goes to a Division. There could be no combination of circumstances more calculated to intimidate a new Member who for the first time takes the Floor of the House. I rise, therefore, with peculiar diffidence and hesitation, and I ask the House to give me a peculiar measure of its kind indulgence. As I understand it, the Debate to-night falls into two parts—the case for the Amendment which has been proposed and the case for the substantive policy which the Government have announced. It appears to us on this side that the burden of proof lies with those who maintain that we should not have relations with Russia at the present time. The Soviet Government has been in power for 12 years. Nobody doubts its stability and its power to remain where it is. We have recognised that Government de facto and de jure, and the natural result of such recognition is the establishment of the fullest diplomatic relations of every kind.

The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has said that every important country in Europe maintains full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government. And so does every important country in Asia with the solitary exception of China, which maintained them until the recent unfortunate dispute. The Leader of the Opposition spoke as though by maintaining diplomatic relations we conferred a great favour on another nation. We maintain those relations for our own purposes; not for theirs. It is of immense importance to the Foreign Office to have such relations. Week after week and month after month questions arise, small questions and more important questions, upon which in its action the Government is embarrassed because we have no Mission in Moscow and there is no Soviet Ambassador in this city. They have not the machinery which they ought to have. It is of no use in this connection to quote the case of the United States of America. The United States is neither an Asiatic nor a European Power. Her interests hardly touch questions in which Russia is involved. We are both a European and an Asiatic Power, and our interests touch the interests of Russia at every point. Therefore, we say that in our view the burden of proof lies on those who are against the policy which the Government propose to adopt, and we submit that they must offer the country reasons sufficiently strong if they are to justify their point of view.

The Leader of the Opposition tries to find in some strange emotion the secret why the present Government desires to establish relations with Russia. I have had the privilege of discussing the matter outside with some hon. Members opposite who take a view on this question which is based upon emotion, emotion not of affection but of horror. I respect their feeling and I understand it. But we think that they are wrong, and hold that in a question like this it is essential for any Government not to act on a basis of emotion, which is an uncertain guide, but upon the sure basis of 6.0 p.m.

British interests. What are British interests in this matter? They are four; the maintenance of the peace of the world, the promotion of better trade, the settlement of British claims and debts and the cessation, if it may be, of hostile propaganda against the British Empire. In respect of every one of these the policy of the Government is the only policy which can promote the British interests involved. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs argued that the greatest of dangers to the British Empire is another international war. I think there is nothing which can break up our Empire fabric but another conflict like that which happened in 1914. The prevention of another war depends on two things; on the realisation of the Government's policy of disarmament and upon the spread throughout the world of the spirit of peace. We may start, the Prime Minister has already started, with naval disarmament; but he knows that that is not enough. The world knows that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is right in saying that unless Russia is brought in, a policy of general disarmament cannot be brought about. You cannot watch the negotiations at Geneva, as I have had to do for a number of years, without knowing that at every moment and at every turn the attitude of Russia and the importance of Russia comes in. In Central Europe, where disarmament is vital, nothing can be done without Russian help. We know that Russia has been ready to help. We also know that while Russia is spending half as much as we are spending on armaments, she is nevertheless arming as she was not doing a few years ago. I was deeply impressed by reading an account of the new preparations which the Russian Government are making in the "reply to Chamberlain" campaign. They are building tanks and aircraft and mechanism for warfare by poison gas. This is a sinister and dangerous development, and it is vital in the interest of this country and the world at large that it should be stopped. The same is true of the spirit of Russia. I was moved by what the Foreign Secretary said about the new generation which is growing up in Russia and which is being taught to regard the British Empire as the enemy which they must fight. Have we forgotten already the lessons of the latter part of the nineteenth century? Have we forgotten that a generation of Germans were brought up to believe that the British Empire was the enemy which they were to fight? Have we forgotten how great a factor that was in bringing about the catastrophe of the world War? Therefore the first step, vital to British interests, which must be taken, is to do everything to promote a policy of world disarmament and to exorcise this spirit of hatred against us which exists among the younger generation in Russia. To achieve that purpose the resumption of relations is the first essential.

May I say something on the question of trade? No one doubts that the resumption of relations will benefit international trade. The figures quoted by the Foreign Secretary prove conclusively that the rupture of relations has led to this that British working men have had to walk the streets when otherwise they would not have had to do so. In 1927 our exports and re-exports to Russia amounted to £4,500,000; in 1925, after the resumption of relations, that figure rose to £19,250,000; and in 1928, after the rupture of relations, it fell back to £4,800,000. In that same period the exports of Germany to Russia rose from £3,750,000 to £20,000,000 and those of the United States from £1,500,000 to £15,000,000. Our trade has fallen away and the trade of our rivals has increased. The reason has been told to us by many British business men who have been to Russia. Whereas they were able to arrange contracts while relations were established, since those relations have been broken they have been unable to do so, because of the political difficulties with which they have been faced. The loss of orders at this time means that we are not only losing a certain amount of work at the moment, but very much in the future. One order means further orders for repairs, for replacements, for spare parts, for extensions of the plant put in, and, above all, it means the creation of good will. While we are out of the market, the Russians are learning how to purchase German and American goods.

There is another exceedingly important factor at the present time which people are apt to forget. It is what is called the "Five Years Plan"—the plan of economic development, industrial and agricultural, which the Soviet Union is carrying through. We may think it a mistake, but it remains a fact. It is only a few months ago that M. Piatak of told a very important British delegation representing companies with a total of £700,000,000 capital, that if relations were renewed and the necessary credit arrangements—without which no international business can be done—were made, there would be orders for £150,000,000 worth of work for this country. I do not ask hon. Members to accept that figure, but I would say that the Moscow Government are, in fact, ahead of their programme in carrying out this five year plan, and if we lose the opportunity at this moment, we may also lose that great share in the execution of the plan which, if we resume relations, we may well obtain.

I turn to the question of debts and claims. Surely it is evident that our only hope of securing any satisfaction for British claimants and those in Great Britain to whom the Soviet Government owe debts, is the resumption of relations at an early date. Of course negotiations of that kind will not be easy and they will be the more difficult because they are complicated by the question of intervention in 1919. But I submit that the following facts cannot be disputed. First, the Russians, by the Protocol which the Foreign Secretary has signed, have recognised the principle that the debts exist. Second, they have promised to negotiate and to negotiate at once. Third, in official statements made in Russia it has been implied that the Russian Government is, in fact, ready to make a settlement at least as generous as that made by many of the Governments in Europe in respect of War and pre-War debts. I go further and I say that in similar circumstances, if such circumstances can be conceived in respect of any other Government in the world, there is no foreign Government which would give us more in respect of this question of claims than has been obtained for us by the Foreign Secretary in his Protocol of 3rd October. I would say also that no British Government will ever get more out of Moscow than he has got. Therefore, if we desire to do anything for claimants of any kind, the only thing we can do is to accept the policy which the Foreign Secretary has proposed.

There remains the question of propaganda' to which the Leader of the Opposition attaches such tremendous importance. There I would say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has pointed out, that Moscow at this (moment is free as air to do whatever it likes in respect of propaganda. The only means which can be taken to induce Moscow to stop that propaganda are, first, to secure the watertight undertaking which the Foreign Secretary has secured; second, to influence the exercise of that power by Moscow, through the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the building up of trade. I would remind hon. Members opposite that in a conversation between M. Rakowsky, then chargé d'affaires in London, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) then Foreign Secretary—an interview which M. Rakowsky never believed would be published but which in 1927 saw the light of day—M. Rakowsky said that the real way to change the attitude of Moscow about the Third International was to build up trade; that it was already changing, and that when Moscow had an increasing interest to keep in contact with other countries, so would their propaganda diminish and disappear.

If propaganda is the only reason, and I believe it is the only substantive reason, adduced against the policy. of the Government, I would ask this question and I can ask it with the happy irresponsibility of a private Member. What harm has Russian propaganda ever done? If it has done any harm in this country, we on this side of the House know all about it. If it has done any harm elsewhere, I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to show where it has been. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of China and he said that we on this side were wrong about China and that we were wrong to propose that an agreement should be made with Mr. Chen. It is an astonishing fact that, unless I am wrongly informed, the right hon. Gentleman's own Government, shortly after we proposed it, made an agreement with Mr. Chen himself about Hankow. That agreement stands to-day, and unless I remember wrongly,—I speak from memory—it was signed by Mr. O'Malley of the Foreign Office and Mr. Chen of China. I submit that what really did us harm in China was not the work of M. Borodin but the shootings in Shanghai, at the Shameen and at Wah nsien. What got rid of the difficulties which we had in China was the change of policy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham made by his memoranda of December, 1926, and February, 1927. It was at the moment of that change in policy that our difficulties in China disappeared and they had nothing whatever to do with M. Borodin at all.

I submit that the question for the House is very simple. Will it settle this matter now, or indefinitely postpone a settlement? We shall never get better terms out of the Soviet Union than the Foreign Secretary has got. If we reject them, what will be the result? Instability in international relations in East and West; an increase in the already almost insuperable difficulties in the way of disarmament; no hope of any kind for the settlement of our claims and debts; a decrease in our already dwindling trade; while the Soviet will intensify their propaganda against us and we shall prolong and embitter the estrangement between the Russian and, the British peoples. I submit that that is a prospect which will fill the nation, and which ought to fill this House also with dismay. I hope the House will recognise that there is both a new hope and an old anxiety in the hearts of the peoples of the world to-day. The common people in every land think of these issues of international policy in broad and simple terms. They cannot understand the difficulties which politicians and statesmen find in them. They are longing to-day for the end of war. They are longing for the end of international bitterness and hatred. They are longing for tranquillity, for tranquillity to labour, in order that by their labour they may make a world for their children which will be less bitter than the world which they have known. I hope that this House to-night will hear the voice of these patient multitudes who ask for work and peace.


We have been told that this arrangement provides that the undertaking which was given in 1924 has been renewed and that the so- called Russian Government has undertaken not to continue their policy of constant propaganda within the British Empire. We can accept that statement, but, at the same time, I am not at all satisfied that it is a safe thing to carry out the policy which the Foreign Secretary has inaugurated because we have learned from experience that you cannot rely on the word of the Soviet Government. I think everybody is anxious that we should have amicable relations with Russia, and that we should be able to carry on our business with Russia, but however anxious we may be in that respect, I am afraid that the hopes of the Government are doomed to disappointment. I have listened to the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in regard to their expectation of results from the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia, but I am afraid that those hopes are doomed to disappointment. He have been told that if we resume relations with Russia, we shall be able to restore an enormous amount of trade, and many figures have been quoted. The Foreign Secretary told us that at one time it was £6,000,000 worth of goods that we exported to Russia, and at another time it was reduced to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, but he omitted, as did the last speaker, to say what the Russians had exported to this country.

The Russians have absolutely confiscated all property in their own country, but we have nothing whatever to do with the internal arrangements of the Soviet Government. If they choose to confiscate, that is their business, but they have done more than confiscate the possessions of their own people; they have confiscated the possessions of foreigners, and in addition to that they have confiscated all the money that was in the various banks, and at the present time they are in a hopelessly bankrupt condition. The whole of the trouble as to the resumption of diplomatic relations is brought about owing to the misery that exists in their own land. Everybody knows that certain gentlemen from this country made a personally conducted tour, under the Russian Government, of Petrograd and Moscow, but they had everything prepared for them, and they were shown everything and were unable to see anything for themselves. Everybody who has any connection in Russia and who is able from time to time to carry on trade there, in an indirect way, knows perfectly well that the Russians are suffering very acute distress. The people in the large cities are starving, and it is essential to the Russian Government at the present time to get credit.

I am not going to oppose the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia. We are assured that we have been guaranteed against propaganda, but the time will come, probably very quickly, when the present Government will propose financial assistance to Russia. I am not surprised at all that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs will support the Government in the resumption of diplomatic relations. It was the same right hon. Gentleman who, in this House, in order to save the Russian Government from a prosecution and a lawsuit in this country, when stolen timber was sent to this market that belonged to a British firm, and action was taken in our courts to claim that timber for the rightful owners—it was the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs who brought in a Measure to create the facilities to the Russian Government to bring their stolen property here. I opposed that in this House at the time, and I then told the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs—hon. Members may see it in the OFFICIAL REPORT—that he would have to alter the law of this country, because under the law it was a criminal offence to receive stolen property. By that Measure, the Government of this country passed a law that made it, so far as Russia was concerned, no criminal offence to steal the property of British subjects or any other subjects. To-day the Russians have confiscated everything, and we have given them authority to be able to dispose of that property here. That was the act of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and I certainly expect that he will continue his support of the Russians, because he has pledged himself to do so.

It has been stated that the decline in trade with Russia is due to the interruption of diplomatic relations, but there would be no decline in trade but for the decline in the willingness of the Russians to purchase goods in England. They are still perhaps in the hope that, having got the Socialist party into office here, they will be able to get all the money they want. They are at the present time quite free to do whatever trade they like in this country. They are shipping to this country, selling in this country, and taking money away from this country to the extent of £18,000,000 or £20,000,000 every year, and they are buying in return, as the Foreign Secretary said, only about £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 worth of goods. If, later on, the Government bring forward any proposals for credit to Russia, they should insist that, before they have any credit in this country and before the Government do anything to assist them, the money they get in this country should be expended, not to buy American or German goods, but to buy goods in this country, and so pay for the labour of our working classes. We must bear in mind that trade has nothing whatever to do with the suspension of diplomatic relations, because trade with Russia has never been stopped. They are absolutely free to do whatever they like.

We are told that the Soviet Government are anxious to be friendly with this country in the interests of peace and disarmament. The Soviet Government have at the present time the largest army in the world. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs told us that they spend less money on armaments than we do. That is more than probable, because they do not pay their army. They have the largest army in the world, because it is essential to the Russian Government to maintain themselves in power, and they can only do it by having the largest army, which is ready at their bidding to shoot down the population if they venture to utter a single word against the powers that be. We have seen the reports of terrible massacres of the Russian people, without trial and without any kind of consideration, women and children and priests being shot down, simply because the Soviet Government know that their position is so insecure that if they do not act drastically their tenure of office will be brought to an end. Their army is not there for the purposes of international aggression; it is there for the protection of the autocrats who have placed themselves at the head of affairs, and who will ruthlessly shoot down, as we have seen, anybody who ventures to attack them. Whatever we may do, if we come to an agreement for international disarmament, the Russians can never disarm and reduce their army. But it is undoubtedly less costly" for the Russians than for anybody else, because it is the men who are armed who are able to get all the provisions and necessaries of life that they require.

We were told by the Foreign Minister that this resumption of diplomatic relations is going to be a Godsend to this country, and he has told us of the benefits we are going to gain. I never like a one-sided agreement. The Russians have absolute freedom even now, without any treaty or agreement, to come here, to live here, and to carry on their business on the same conditions as we do, and they have the same rights as we have. If we have a resumption of diplomatic relations, we are going to have a lot of Russian officials, or so-called officials, having diplomatic immunity, who will come here to join the commercial undertakings that are here now, and they will be able, under this diplomatic immunity, to go where they like and do what they like, and virtually they will not be liable to the laws of this land. Evidently the present Government consider that the Russians are superior to us. What does the Foreign Secretary think of the position of British people in Russia, where the whole of the trade is carried on by the Government? They have full facilities to come here, and I want to know what facilities are to be given to British subjects to go to Russia. Are they to have the same facilities? Are the British Government going to insist that they have as many people of British origin able to travel through Russia, to do trade, and to give information as to the prospects of trade, and are those people to have the same diplomatic immunity as we are granting to the Russians in this country? We know perfectly well that our people would not be allowed to remain in Russia for a week. We know that we in this country are doing a certain amount of trade with Russia, but we cannot make propaganda in Russia for trade purposes. We cannot go to Russia as we go to other countries and as Russia comes here. We are entirely in the hands of the Russian Government, and when our Government breaks off diplomatic relations with them, the Russian Government out of revenge, and to take advantage over us, break off their trade with us. If there are proposals from the Government to give unlimited credit to the Russian Government, which does not represent the Russian nation, I shall oppose it.


I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Putney (Mr. S. Samuel) will forgive me if I do not follow him in all the questions which he has raised. We are very glad on this side of the House, in view of the important interests which he represents, to hear him say that he gives us support in our proposal to resume relations with Russia.


I said I should not oppose it.


At all events, we shall have one vote less against us. I want to make one or two references to what the resumption of relations will mean to my constituency of Northampton. I would like to say how I appreciate the turn which events have taken, and what satisfaction it brings to those of us who have followed this question for the past 12 years to see the climax which has been reached in the Motion which this House is going to pass this evening. It is a coincidence that exactly 10 years ago to-night, on the 5th November, 1919, we were asked in this House to pass a Supplementary Estimate amounting to £15,000,000 to supply further money to the support of certain forces in Russia. That amount made up a total sum of £94,800,000 which we had paid to certain interests in Russia in order to overthrow the Government as it existed. We were discussing in the Debate on that Estimate whether we should go on with the War, and whether we should provide more money or not; and those of us who moved the reduction of the Estimate ventured to suggest—and we were greatly abused for so doing, and have been abused ever since—that the policy of intervention then was helping no one and ought to be stopped. Soon after that, I am glad to say that it was stopped. The actual hostilities stopped, but the policy of propaganda continued.

Never was there such a mistaken policy. One cannot help looking back to that day and imagining what we could do to-day with that £100,000,000 to provide for the social services for which we are so hard put to it to find the money to-day. I do not believe in raising these past ques- tions, but it is just as well that we should remember how we stood in those days. I have referred to the question of intervention. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that there was a claim in regard to the withdrawal of the Russian people from the Great War. I am sure he is mistaken. Is not it common knowledge to anyone who followed the course of Russia in the Great War, that long before the arrival of the Bolshevist Government, and long before the arrival of the Kerensky Government, Russia was broken, disarmed and demoralised? It was perfectly clear that, whatever Government came into power in Russia, they would be unable to continue the War on the side of the Allies. When it came to that great Peace Conference which was held at Brest Litovsk in 1918, there was a demand of the Russian people to keep themselves on the side of the Allies and not on the side of Germany. I do not want to raise all these past recriminations, but if these questions of propaganda and paying compensation are going to be discussed, let us keep our sense of balance.

Let us admit that we have all made mistakes, and let us cry quits and get down to business, because really the fundamental advantage which we shall gain in this country from the resumption of relations is the business, trade and commerce which our people will get. Yesterday we heard from the Lord Privy Seal the possibilities of trade with Canada. Those possibilities may be limited, and many men of business realise that the really large possibilities for the finding of new markets lay, not in the West, but in the East, among the 160,000,000 people in Russia and Siberia, the 460,000,000 in China and the 300,000,000 in India. All those countries are passing through a stage which, if you do not want to call it an adoption, is at least an adaptation of what we call western civilisation. That means that they are striving towards a higher standard of life, towards a development of new tastes and new requirements. It means that they are developing the demand for the purchase of more goods, and we in this country have to see that we get a share. China is a very difficult country in which to get a large increase of her markets, for it is a great country broken up into fragments, and the only trade which you can do is that which you can obtain by trickling through the treaty ports into the vast centres throughout the country.

In dealing with Russia, you have a much simpler proposition, because there you are dealing with a Government, with a single entity, and if you can come to a satisfactory agreement, you are dealing, not with one treaty port or with one locality, but with a great organisation, a great machine that stretches to every market throughout the length and breadth of Russia and Siberia. That is why it is so important to get in where we can on the ground floor of the great markets of Russia. Look at the loss of trade which we have sustained from the misguided policy of the last three years. I would like to quote, not my own figures, but the figures which have been published by business men. Some of these men are business men of no politics; many of them are certainly not Socialists, and by no stretch of imagination could they be said to be in sympathy with the Bolshevist Government. Here we are dealing, not with intangible things but with facts, not with theories but with figures. Our orders in this country from Russia have steadily gone down from £23,500,000 in 1924–25 to £5,900,000 in 1927–28. During that period the total imports from different parts of the world into Russia has increased from 674,000,000 roubles to 820,000,000 roubles. While the general import into Russia has gone up, our share has gone down from 18.6 per cent. to 5.5 per cent. in 1927–28. While our share has gone down, the shares of America and of Germany have gone up from 17.7 to 22.1 and 25.5 to 29.5 respectively—a very substantial increase in what is a largely increased total. Exactly what I predicted 10 years ago has occurred. I said then: American export houses will assuredly not be long in appreciating the possibilities of supplying Russia, and if British industry gets its fair share of Russian trade, there need be no unemployment for British labour for a long time to come. Now Conservative business men are saying what many of us used to say in this House 10 years ago. I am interested with the possibilities which are held in store for the boot and shoe trade, with which I am particularly concerned. I was much impressed at a function which I attended in my constituency a few days ago, when I heard the President of the Northampton Boot Manufacturers' Association deliver his annual review of the possibilities of the boot trade. He gave a comprehensive survey of the future of the trade, and he showed how the internal markets of this country might be benefited by the social improvement and the social legislation which the Labour Government has introduced and is introducing. He showed the difficulties of trade in this or that part of the world, and the only place where he showed that there was likely to be a real increase of trade, the only country which really provided a virgin soil for the unemployed factories of this country, was Russia. He went on to say, if I may quote his words—and I very much appreciate being able to quote what a business man says: I am constantly being asked whether Russia can buy English shoes, and whether there is any possibility of being able to do business with Russia. I am quite satisfied after the investigations made that business can be done with Russia, provided the necessary financial arrangements can be made. Here you have a country with vast numbers of people wanting shoes. It is estimated that the excess of consumption over production amounts to no less than 35,000,000 pairs—a colossal figure. When the two Governments get together, there is no reason why progress should not be made, and I am hopeful that before long some way may be found by which English manufacturers can supply shoes to those Russians who are so badly in need of them. At some of the places we visited, we saw queues longer than we have ever seen before waiting for shoes, and then we saw them leave without them because they were not there to be had. If I may turn to another trade which also concerns my constituency, that of leather, here is what a delegate to the Business Men's Committee which visited Russia in the early part of this year said. He is Mr. Cross, who is managing director of the British Chrome Tanning Co. of Northampton, one of the largest tanning concerns in this country: The output of sole leather in Russia is 75,000 tons per year, and they want 95,000 tons. Russia could purchase £5,000,000 worth of sole leather per year, and approximately the same amount of upper leather. Their requirement in boots and shoes is 120,000,000 pairs a year, leaving a shortage of 60,000,000, which could be largely purchased from this country. There is an output in Russia of only 60,000,000 pairs of shoes a year. That means one pair of boots per head of the population of Russia every two years. Just see what that means. In this country the output of boots is two and a half pairs per head of the population every year. In America the internal consumption is three pairs per head of the population every year. In Russia it is one pair per head of the population every two years. Those figures, I think, show what a tremendous opportunity there is for our trade. He went on to say that here was a country with vast resources and with vast output but unable to satisfy its requirements. Germany and America are doing business there, and in his opinion it was too big a country for us to ignore. That is the report of a business man who is probably a Conservative in politics. Here we have a very simple situation. We have in this country 1,250,000 unemployed, and we have this great country with 160,000,000 people demanding the goods which we in this country are able to produce.

What applies to boots and shoes and leather in my constituency applies to shipbuilding, to textiles, to iron and steel, to woollen goods and to nearly every other industry.

This Business Men's Committee state at the conclusion of their very comprehensive report that their Committee were satisfied that there was a great volume of business available for Great Britain, subject to diplomatic recognition being afforded. In a few hours' time this House will pass a Resolution which will secure that diplomatic recognition and enable business to be resumed between these two great peoples. I pointed out 10 years ago the great field there was in Russia for British enterprise. I am glad that what I said then has been endorsed by this very representative committee of business men. The Amendment submitted to-day is only a quibble. It is the last remnant of propaganda, the last dying embers of the General Election of 1924. I quite understand that those who won the election of 1924 have still to fly what remains of that tattered emblem. The Amendment will be rejected, because trade in Northampton and Leicester and on the Tyne and the interests of our people and of trade and commerce generally are more important than the prejudices of Mayfair and Kensington. Let us by passing this Resolution close what has been a volume of 10 years of black history, and to-night take a step forward which may well prove to be one of the greatest aids to the solution of the unemployment problem which we are able to make under our present system and under present conditions.


I wish to acknowledge the great honour which you do me in calling upon me, when I address the House for the first time, to discuss this most important question, and if I may I would like to pay a compliment, which has not yet been given, to the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Noel Baker), who spoke from the other side, on the eloquent and reasoned language of his speech, which snows promise that he will one day be as famous in national and international politics as he has been in national and international athletics.

Those of us who have argued against diplomatic relations with Russia before their inception, during their continuance, and after their rupture, have at our disposal certain arguments based upon political morality. It has often been argued that a Government which is, after all the crudest form of tyranny, which relies for its protection upon the ramifications of secret police with despotic powers, and which has at the same time brought the masses of its population almost to economic ruin, would be short-lived and must fall. The Soviet Government has falsified the hopes both of those who wished the Government to fall and those who feared that it might not continue. It is seven years ago almost to the very day since the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister thought fit to write the following observations in a newspaper: I have the greatest sympathy for the Russian Government.… Those of us who take the world into account when we make our promises and devise our methods can now take the Moscow Soviet Communist Revolutionary Government under our wing and clothe it in the furs of apology to shield it from the blasts of criticism. The Soviet Government did not need the right hon. Gentleman's apologies; and M. Stalin was able to boast the other day that the Soviet Government was the most stable Government in Europe, a Government of which any bourgeois State might well be envious. That may be true. A bourgeois Government which may be afraid to put into force the fiscal policy in which they believe, or which may tremble at the rise in the price of one single commodity, may well envy that other Government which, after starving the millions of its population, still possesses a greater stability than ever. That Government could not have been a popular Government. No popular Government could have survived the vicissitudes through which the unfortunate people of Russia have passed during the last 10 years. It is only because the Government was a dictatorship that it has been stable; but it is the stability of a tyranny; and we on this side of the House would do wrong to oppose diplomatic relations with Russia on account of the instability of Russia's form of Government.

Again, there are many of us who have thought and prayed that a Government which denies God, persecutes religion and mocks at the greatest hopes which humanity cherishes, was accursed and doomed to destruction. We might have thought that the religious sentiments of a deeply spiritual people would have overwhelmed the small atheistic oligarchy which governs Russia; but we have been wrong, and if the Soviet Government have been unable to expel religious feeling and private enterprise from the homes and fields of Russia the Soviet Government still retain their distinctive atheistic and communistic character.

But if this were all and the Soviet Government were a Government merely exercising dominion in their own boundaries there would be a good deal to be said for giving this terrible Government full diplomatic honours. But that is not so. We have tried the experiment. In spite of what hon. Members may say, there have been breaches of faith, and significant breaches of faith. If I went into that question, perhaps I should be opening up a controversy which would be unsuited to a maiden speech, and I am content with the observations published in the Press by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who admitted such breaches of faith. I can only say, if I may presume to criticise the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal party, that whereas he began his speech by holding up Russia as an insignificant bogey, he ended his oration by saying what a great danger she really is in international affairs.

Russia is a tyranny. She has a quite different conception of sovereignty from any other nation in the world, or any other nation that has ever existed. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary talks about bringing these two great countries together. So far as Russia is concerned he is talking in language which is entirely inapplicable, for the old diplomatic organisations with their ambassadors and their attaches, pre-suppose an individual nation State which has power to recognise other individual nation States and to keep control of its inhabitants and its organisations, so that they can respect those other individual nation States; but the fundamental doctrine about Soviet rule is that it is international in its outlook. Their very constitutions are not formed for the government of one people or one country, they are documents drafted to be valid throughout the whole world.

But of course it is not in the constitution that you will find the real significance of the Soviet policy. You will find that in the declared observations of the Communist party in Russia. Everybody knows that the Soviet Government is only the Communist party's engine for carrying out government of that part of the world over which they already hold dominion, and that the Communist International is their machinery for extending that dominion throughout the whole world. Everybody knows that M. Stalin said the other day, in answer to the American trade unions, that not a single important decision was taken by the Government without the direction of the party. The fundamental basis of the doctrine of the Communist party is that they are never at peace. They are going to achieve their international aims by war, and the war they carry on is only a question of degree. You will read it all in the programme of the Communist International a year ago. Where they can they will promote war, where they can they will promote civil war, and where that is not possible they will work by means of agitation. It is quite useless for M. Stalin and M. Rykoff, who a year ago subscribed to the programme of the Communist International, to regard the British Empire with feelings of mutual dignity and esteem. How can they, who a year ago talked about the British Empire in terms of undisguised opprobrium, who denounced its ways and denounced the work of the United States of America, and mocked at every institution which we set up for world peace, talk about these new international obligations? A year ago they were talking about the international obligations of the Communist International to stir up strife all over the world. It is impossible to reconcile these two sets of international obligations. The thing cannot be done.

It would seem that a Government which has declared war upon the whole world has disposed of the old methods of diplomatic representation and would despise them. However, it does appear that they place a value upon them, and they have clearly stated the purpose to which they are going to put them. In the same programme of the Communist International which reiterated the use of world revolution appears the following: Russia's isolated position compels it to resort to economic manoeuvring and utilising economic compacts with capitalist countries. The principal and fundamental line to be followed in this connection must be the line of establishing the widest possible connection with foreign countries—within limits determined by their usefulness to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They go on to state On the other hand, the capitalistic States, notwithstanding their interests in the markets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, continually vacillate between their commercial interests and the fear of the growth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which means the growth of international revolution. Could anything be clearer? The Communist International is here advising the Soviet Government to enter into diplomatic and economic relations with other countries for the purpose of international revolution and not goodwill between the nations of the world. The second and less important purpose of Soviet diplomatic representations was stressed by M. Rakovski himself at the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist party when he talked about utilising the contradictions existing between the capitalistic States, between bourgeois and petty bourgeois groups in various capitalistic countries, as being one of the means of diplomatic manoevouring. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said that these were rude people. I do not believe him. I believe they have great diplomatic skill. Certainly, they have two notable triumphs again hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. In 1924 the Prime Minister said that there would never be any question of a loan of money to Russia. We all know what happened a few months after. When negotiations began to break down, as a result of diplomatic manœuvring between the Russians and certain hon. Members opposite, that loan was granted, surely one of the greatest triumphs in the diplomatic history of the world. The other triumph was scored the other day, and if it was not so substantial it was at any rate no less spectacular, for, no matter what the Foreign Secretary may say, on reading the Command Paper one is forced to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman was forced to recede from his original position. You have only to read the documents and you will see that the Soviet Ambassador thought he was taking up a very strong position, and at any rate the upshot of those negotiations was regarded in Russia as a great diplomatic triumph; while at the most the admirers of the right hon. Gentleman can say that he had retired from an impossible position in order to be able to fulfil an election pledge. At all events, many on this side of the House feel that the laurels which His Majesty's Government won at The Hague and the White House, Washington, have been irretrievably tarnished by the conversations at the White Hart, Lewes.

7.0 p. m.

I may be accused of speaking too much from the political aspect of this question. It is fashionable to say nowadays that economics control politics, but the truth is that in Russia politics control economics in defiance of economic laws, and, what-even trade we have with Russia, it will be with a hostile Government which controls every avenue of foreign trade. We shall have to rely upon them—and who can rely upon them? Next, the only terms on which the Soviet Government can appreciably increase her trade is on long-term credit. Anybody can obtain orders on long-term credit. I would suggest that there are many countries in the world, even if we have to look outside our own Empire to indulge in generosity, which are not controlled by the Communist International and which are not confessedly hostile to us and which are not the greatest financial defaulters in history, who would be very glad to avail themselves of the terms that are now being suggested for the extension of our trade with Russia.

Lastly, why do they want this money from us? Everybody knows the reason. The Soviet Government have succeeded in establishing Communism among the industrial population. They have utterly failed in doing so with the vast majority of the people who are agricultural by trade, and who still in their humble way are capitalists. This has proved exceedingly inconvenient for the Soviet Government, and, in order to put this right, they have introduced their wonderful five-year plan to make the industrial population independent of the peasants. For this purpose, they require capital from abroad. And so, in order to make the victory of Communism complete, they call in the aid of foreign capitalists. If they ever obtained this victory, what would 'be the position of the foreign capitalist and investor. They now have to choose between bolstering up "the big nine" in the Kremlin, who are out to destroy them, and waiting for some time when some reasonable guarantee shall really be given for private property in Russia and for the sanctity of international relations?

It might have been that at this moment, when the right hon. Gentleman and the Soviet Ambassador were bringing these two countries together, some kind of reciprocation might have been shown on the other side. Yet on the very day when these conversations were taking place at the White Hart, on the very day the Berengaria was well on her way towards New York harbour, on her mission of peace and good will, M. Voroshiloff, the Commissar for War, was making a speech in Moscow in which he declared that war between the Soviet and capitalist Powers was not only probable but a matter of certainty. He said: Adhering to our traditional policy of peace is the only sensible policy at this stage of our development. We must at the same time construct our economic system in such a way as to be ready at any moment. That is why we must construct our army and navy at the same time that we develop our economic structure. A few days later he said: We have already conquered one-sixth of the whole earth. We know that the future is in our own hands, but the bourgeoisie imagines also that it can continue to exist. This enmity is bound to lead to an armed conflict. Truly, it can be said by right hon. Gentleman opposite about these people that "We labour for peace, but, when we speak to them thereof, they make them ready for battle." It is no doubt in order to strengthen their economic structure that they now ask for closer diplomatic and economic relations with this country. When the time comes, they will thus be strengthened to spread wider still that strange and terrible force of Bolshevism which gathered its original momentum, not from democracy or any principles of equality, but in the words of a great English poet, from A terrific reservoir of guilt, And ignorance built up from age to age, That could no longer hold its loathsome charge But burst and spread in deluge through the earth.


I should like to claim the indulgence of the House for a moment whilst I congratulate the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) upon the very able maiden speech which he has just delivered. Knowing from my own experience the generous treatment of this House on such occasions I know that his words have been listened to with very great interest. His eloquence has been noted, and I am sure the House will be delighted to hear him again on some future occasion. Perhaps the hon. Member will permit me to say that in my opinion he has merely linked together a number of propaganda phrases with regard to Russia that we have heard inside this House and outside for some years. They are the same arguments dished up again in practically the same language, and perhaps the hon. Member will forgive me if in the earlier stages of the few remarks I am going to make I suggest that in future he should guard himself when he is using such phrases which are without foundation.

The hon. Member for Eastbourne spoke with tremendous awe of the secret police of Russia just as if he had never heard of the secret police in more civilised nations. We have the Criminal Investigation Department in our own country and does the hon. Member not know that many of us sitting on these benches who are trade union officials have our dossier at the Criminal Investigation Department offices. Does he not know that we are docketed there and our birthmarks are recorded as well as our history. I hope we shall not have in this new House of Commons any more of these pharisaical remarks about what one nation does in these matters. The hon. Member for Eastbourne rather exaggerated when he spoke of Soviet Russia starving to death millions of the Russian people. That is an exaggerated statement which the hon. Gentleman made in the heat of the moment, and which I am sure the House looked upon somewhat indulgently. That statement is not true and it does not assist very greatly by exaggerating a case which is scarcely worth making out. I would ask the hon. Member how long has Great Britain governed India? Have we never heard of a famine in India under the British flag? It is well known that thousands of people have died in that, vast nation, or rather that congregation of nations because of the difficulty of feeding them Russia is in the same position, and a good deal of this is due to the greater severity of the Russian climate.

The hon. Member for Eastbourne spoke about the persecution of religion in Russia. I have had some experience on this matter in Russia and I speak very feelingly upon it because I believe that everyone is religious faith should be deeply respected and should be left entirely alone by the State. I pursued some very close inquiries in Russia with regard to the persecution of religion, and the House will be surprised to know that I found the people worshipping in the churches and wayside shrines perfectly freely. The answer I got to questions were not that there was any persecution of religion but that the Soviet Government did not subsidise any religion. I spoke to one of the Soviet leaders in Moscow on this subject and he told me that the only difference between religion in Russia and in this country was that in England we subsidised one religion against all other sects whilst in Russia they were all upon an equal footing. It may surprise hon. Gentlemen to know that the Baptist sect in Russia has increased since the Revolution out of all proportions of what it was in the old days.


Will the hon. Gentleman give the date of those inquiries?


They were made in the year 1924, and there has been some improvement in the conditions in Russia since that time.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I know on the best authority that the religious instruction to the children of Russia is absolutely forbidden?


The only reply to that remark is that it is not true. The principle laid down in regard to religion is equity for all, and Russia takes the view that no religion shall be taught at the expense of the nation. That is true, but let us be fair. We may not agree with it. There are many hon. Members in this House who in religious arguments would differ, and perhaps be bad friends. There has been a great deal of bloodshed in the world from the efforts of those people who have been so eager trying to save souls. In Russia, they teach nothing, and they leave it to those concerned to teach it themselves. It may be wrong; I do not think it is, but in the opinion of Members opposite it may be wrong.

The hon. Member who so ably addressed us a short time ago spoke of diplomatic triumphs. Why not get away from triumphs? It is these triumphs that have brought thousands and thousands of young men year after year to destruction, all because of the desire to triumph. May we never get into the frame of mind of making amicable arrangements with people because they speak a different language to ours and live in a different country. When we speak of the desire Russia for war, do not let us forget that Russia called for total disarmament, and it is no use saying that they did not mean it. The Russians called our bluff at Geneva on the question of total disarmament, and as we refused we cannot accuse Russia of desiring war.

During the earlier part of the Debate a remark fell from the opposite benches that many people distrust the Russian Government, and that remark was received with a volume of applause. I do not know that that is any reason why this country should not trade with Russia. There are many people here who distrusted the Conservative Government, and they proved it at the General Election. Distrust of a Government would be no reason why a foreign country should not trade with this country.

One of the Amendments which is put before us for serious consideration, urges that we shall do no business with Russia until the Soviet have made amends for wrongs inflicted upon British citizens and provided compensation for its plunder of British property. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to hear, "Hear, hear!" from Members opposite. I wonder if they have ever read of the "Alabama," for which international failure we had to pay a small amount of money to the United States of America. There is still such a thing as international law, and, if we are thus going to deal with Russia, do not forget that Russia in 1924 was prepared to recognise debts to individual citizens but refused to recognise the debts of Russian Tsardom for past wars. It may be interesting to some Members opposite, when they are thinking about the payment of debts incurred, not by the people of Russia but by Tsardom, if they would inquire about some of the millstones round the neck of our country. These were war debts for one of our Kings, who made war, and not for our people. One British King for the purpose of his wars in Flanders borrowed one million two hundred thousand pounds from a few bankers at 8 per cent., in return for which the Charter of the so-called Bank of England was granted. The nation has paid some four million pounds in reduction of capital on this debt, and over a hundred million pounds in interest and yet still owes to the moneylenders of the Bank of England some eleven million pounds, and is paying interest thereon at the rate of two hundred and seventy-five pounds per annum. That on a debt incurred as long ago as 1694. Because we have no power to repudiate these debts, is that any reason why we should complain because Russia's new Government can do so? We should recognise their courage in refusing to accept such millstones. Yes, I repeat it, we should glory in the fact.


May I ask the hon. Member to go on with his argument and explain whether the Soviet Government will pay back the £200,000,000 they have spent which is the money of British citizens?


I am coming to that. The House will hear with interest the speech by the hon. and gallant Gentleman on Russia. I think I can tell him what he is going to say! I was dealing with Tsardom's debts which the Soviet Government repudiated, while at the same time they did not repudiate individual debts. To come back to the "Alabama" incident and international law. When we talk, as the second Amendment does, of compensation for plunder and damage and so forth, I would point to what I saw when I travelled in Russia five years ago when I observed some of the results of the Denikin counterrevolution, financed by £100,000,000 of British money granted by the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, or rather by the Coalition Government by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Tory Administration. He has been attached to so many parties that it is difficult to know quite where he is. Great Britain advanced £100,000,000 to assist Denikin after the War. As a railwayman, I took an interest in looking at the railways, and I found all through the Ukraine and in the Donetz Basin, every station burned out, the blackened walls of signal boxes, station buildings, and warehouses, and the heaped up skeletons of carriages and freight wagons burned to the ironwork, and in at least three places I examined I found the railway had been broken and scores of locomotives run off and heaped up into the fields where they had been subjected to shell fire until everything was smashed up. Also in the coal mines in the Donetz Basin Denikin had run hundreds of coal wagons and even locomotives into the mine shafts until the shafts were' entirely filled to the surface. I suggest that, when we are talking about recovering damages, it is correct to say that, according to international law, the Soviet Government may have claims against this country. Let us give up talking in these sacrosanct phrases about paying for damage to our nationals and about our debts when we have such examples as this before us of wilful damage. The Foreign Secretary has not given everything to Russia that she claimed, even where she thinks she is right. Russia is tied up in the matter of propa- ganda in so far as this country or the confines of our Empire are concerned.

Let me make it clear that no one on these benches is sympathetic with Communist propaganda. We have fought it more than right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite have done. In fact, we are the only people who can deal successfully with it. This Government, and everyone on this side of the House, is determined that it shall stop; but let us remember that, whatever Moscow may do, it is due to a fear in Russia, a fear engendered by the £100,000,000 we supplied to Denikin that went to lay waste their nation. My experience in going through Russia was not gained only from the ordinary factory worker, but included that of educated workers in Russia, of university professors, and of professional men generally, who believed that nations which still clung to the old capitalist regime were prepared to attack them. You may smile, but we know that this nation has had a sickener of war, and therefore we may smile at the idea that we would make a great military attack on Russia. But, if they believe it, it is of no use telling them to dismiss it when it is seriously believed by them. That is their belief, and we have been responsible for it. Even when we speak of propaganda in this country, do not let us forget that we have our spies in Russia to-day, and we have had their reports during the time when the late Government was in office telling of the results of their espionage in Russia and the number and disposition of troops, of aeroplanes, and armaments. Let us get away from the sanctimonious professions that our hands are clean. That is the reason for their propaganda—because they believe that the nations surrounding them and adjacent to them, and this country more especially, are only waiting and anxious to fall upon them and crush them because of their form of Government. The one way to prevent this propaganda, either in "Pravda" or any other of their papers, is to recognise them, to treat them at least as honourable people so far as they will keep to their agreements and discontinue their propaganda—dealing with them if they do not.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL

Will the hon. Gentleman say how he would deal with them?


I am not a member of the Government, but I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to possess his soul in patience until they break an agreement made with the Labour Government. I think it will be found that it is not beyond the wit of man to deal with that when the time comes. But do not let us bemoan the rotten old bridge that we remember 20 years ago, only to find, when we come up to it, that a new bridge has been built in the interval. Last night in this House the suggestion of the Lord Privy Seal that we should develop our export trade was received with derisive cheers from the other side of the House, but still it was received with cheers. Let us have sufficient intelligence, in this great and ancient Parliament, to realise that the foreign trade and exports of Great Britain will never be what they used to be. Let any Member who doubts that sit down with two maps before him—the map of Europe before the Great War, and the map of Europe after the Great War. Let him trace the trade of the world, and he will find that we are not now living in the Napoleonic era, when we were the workshop of the world. He will find that other nations have arisen, and that, while we have not stood still, neither have other people. We shall never be able to get back to that position while we exclude certain nations.

We exclude, by our system of governing that country, much trade with India. We exclude much trade with China. But here is a great nation with about 160,000,000 people. They told me there that in the North-East of Siberia there are hundreds of square miles, full of timber and untapped fur-bearing animals, that have never yet been exploited, and there are timber and manganese in other parts. There are a thousand things to be developed in Russia that will mean trade for this country. That is what we are concerned about on this side of the House, and not interference with their internal method of government, not holding up our hands in mock horror and professing this sanctimonious nonsense that we have no secret police that we do no espionage that we put out no propaganda. Of course, Great Britain has been putting out propaganda to our international advantage all over the world at all times, and not only during times of war. Let us come down to earth, and keep at least one foot on the ground.

Here in this country we have, possibly, a million and a half of people unemployed. I am not talking of those who are on the register, but of the unemployed people in this country. There are more people employed to-day than there were in 1913, the supposed boom year, and about a million were knocked out in the War. Practically a quarter of a million employables leave school every year. What is the good of our sitting here and talking nonsense about increasing the export trade and finding work, when we choke off a great nation with tremendous possibilities for our trade, because their form of government is anathema to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Of course it is, and I know that the gentlemen of the party which they represent fear the consequences coming to this country. Of course they will come some day, though in another form. They will not come in this country by a violent revolution, but mankind is getting wiser, and kinder, and more Christian, and will not allow, even in this old country, a continuation of the system that dresses in purple and fine linen and feeds, clothes, houses, wines and dines a section of its people while the others starve. That is bound to come, and to decry Russia and make false and exaggerated statements with regard to Russia will not hold for five minutes.

Let us, therefore, face up to the fact that we are acting for the people of this country who are suffering by unemployment. Russia, if her trade is assisted, will want a fleet of mercantile marine, and she cannot build it herself. It is no use her building ships in the Black Sea, because she could not get them out. Her only available seas are the Baltic and the White Sea, which are frozen over during the winter for a greater or lesser period. Consequently, she has no great shipbuilding yards. The shipbuilding industry of this country, owing to the German reparation ships, has been languishing smashed for years, and a great percentage of our skilled working men are going almost into unemployableness. If we begin to trade with Russia, we shall benefit our shipyards. One of my hon. Friend's remarks that it will also benefit our boot factories, and it will also benefit the now languishing cotton trade in Lancashire.

I saw, when I was in Russia, how British engineers could have extended their work there had this financial assistance with regard to credit terms been available to them. I saw one great electrical station being built, and I spoke to a man in Russian garb who spoke very good English. He was not of our party, but was merely listening, and on one or two occasions he assisted in translating. I said to him, "You speak remarkably good English," and he replied, "I am an Englishman; I come from Trafford Park, Manchester. I have been here for several years. I ran away when the revolution came, and joined the British army, but afterwards came back here and confessed, and took up my work again, and I have never been interfered with." He went on to say, "Your Government in England have only recently supported a large loan to Czechoslovakia. You see those workmen there. They are under a Czechoslovakian foreman. These foremen are from works in Czechoslovakia, and all these Russian people are working under them. They have a contract for a large amount that we could have done ourselves to complete the contract that we have for this side of the building, but your Government helps to lend money to Czechoslovakia to find employment for these people, while we are here prepared and ready to do the work but cannot get the same accommodation."

We help another country to raise a loan which supports them in doing trade with Russia, but we are too holy to trade with a nation that happens to have destroyed its royalty. No one on this side stands for that. I myself, least of all, would stand for taking human life even if I believed that it would bring nearer by 50 years the ideals which I hold so strongly. If our people are not sufficiently intelligent to bring them without hitting anyone on the head, let them remain until they are sufficiently sensible. Do not let us forget that we were about the first nation that killed a King, and our nation is still going on and is filled, generally speaking, with pretty decent people. I appeal to the House, therefore, to cut out all this sanctimonious nonsense, and not to profess that we have clean hands while the other fellow is the only one that is wrong. The system of government, and the internal affairs of Russia, are nothing to do with us. Let us realise the unemployment in this country and the great field that is open for us in Russia, and let us, as business people, say to Russia, "As long as you care to keep your hands off our affairs, and keep your bargains with us, we are prepared to trade with you." Let us do that, not because we may love Russia, but because we have some duty towards and some affection for our own people.

Captain EDEN

The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will, perhaps, forgive me if I do not follow him, either into his very elaborate and ingenious argument for the repudiation of the National Debt or into distant lands in Siberia. As I have listened to this Debate, I have become more than ever convinced that, firstly, the Foreign Secretary, and then others who have spoken from the opposite benches, have as yet failed to read the Amendment on the Paper. The Foreign Secretary explained at great length why he thought it ncessary and right to enter into diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government, and we are not quarrelling with him for that. For my part, I have certainly no quarrel with hon. Gentlemen opposite because, on this rare and single occasion, they choose to fulfil a pledge which they gave at the last General Election. Our complaint is not of the fact that they have recognised the Soviet Government, but of the methods and means that they have adopted to effect that recognition, and that is the measure of the complaint that we have against the Foreign Secretary to-night.

For my part, I believe that he has pursued, in these negotiations, the worst method of diplomacy that any statesman of this country could ever follow. He has combined strength of speech with weakness in action, and you can do no greater disservice to your own country's prestige in international affairs than to pursue that policy. I do not overstate the case, as I think I can show to the House. The right hon. Gentleman came down here in July, and gave us certain very definite assurances. He told us, first of all, that he was going to stand by the Prime Minister's declaration of 1924—no propaganda; and he told us that he could hardly conceive that there would be any difficulty in obtaining the necessary assurances from the Soviet Government, because they must know that that was his attitude. Where are those assurances now? All these months have gone by, and we are now being asked to approve of a meeting so that the assurances may then be given. Why have they not been obtained in the interval. There is evidence that that was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman. Anyone who reads the correspondence will see there very clearly expressed the reasons why, at the first meeting in July, no progress could be made. The right hon. Gentleman evidently asked for such assurances, so far as one can extract anything from this extraordinarily veiled diplomacy under which all the negotiations have been carried on; and the Soviet envoy said that it was no use, he could not carry on, because the representatives of His Majesty's Government were firm and insisted upon the necessary assurances before they would grant diplomatic recognition. That was obviously the meaning of M. Dovgalevski's statement that: It is impossible for the British Government to re-establish normal relations before the solution of the questions outstanding, between us. It was because of that failure that the negotiations broke down. We want to know, and perhaps, if the Under-Secretary is going to reply, he will tell us, why there has been a departure from that course of action. I think it is not very difficult for us to guess. I confess that I was very much surprised when I read that the right hon. Gentleman's firmness on this matter had not had the effect of crumpling up the Soviet representative, but that he stood firm. I was surprised because I thought that the right hon. Gentleman meant business; but the representatives of the Soviet Government sometimes know the mind of the Socialist Government better than the Members of His Majesty's Opposition. They were shrewd enough to guess that they only had to stand firm until the salubrious air of Brighton began to gather members of the Socialist party into that city, for the right hon. Gentleman to give them anything that they might want.

Those of us who were in this House at the time remember the events of 1924. One evening, when we were sitting here, certainly no more excited than we are at this moment, and discussing some ordinary subject, the hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. Ponsonby) came down. There was great cheering from the opposite benches, though no one seemed to know why. Then the hon. Member got up and said that the Treaty had been signed, but he seemed not to know why, and still less to know what was in the Treaty. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) got up and denounced the Treaty, but he did not know what was in it either, though that did not stop him from denouncing it, and telling us that it was a fake. This is not a fake, but a muddled Treaty, which may be even worse. It is entered into under conditions which may do more harm to the prestige of British diplomacy even than the ludicrous performance of 1924. The right hon. Gentleman has shown himself pliant and pliable before the threats of the Soviet Government. They are not likely to forget that, any more than they are likely to forget the suggestion with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs presented them this afternoon, that, even if they did break these guarantees, which they have not given yet, you must not be cross with them, for bow could you expect anything else? I should like to hear from the Under-Secretary what result he expects to gain by these extraordinarily murky and muddled methods of diplomacy in which the Government have been indulging in connection with this matter during recent months. Does he really think there is going to be any real gain in trade? Surely anyone who has studied this factor has ruled that out for good and all. You have only to compare what is happening with other countries who are now having relations with the Soviet Government.

The biggest trade Prance had with Russia before the War was the wine trade. Russia and America were the two largest markets. France gave the Soviet Government diplomatic recognition. If hon. Members opposite choose to make inquiries they will discover that there has been no increase of trade whatever with Russia, not because of a sudden arrival of sobriety but because the wine merchants of France find it impossible to carry on business whether diplomatic relations are given or not. You may turn to other countries and you will find the experience precisely the same. We were beginning, in the early part of this year, to do better business with Russia than the year before. We shall do business with her whether there are diplomatic relations or not if the mutual desire of nations to trade exists, as it does, and if they want to buy our goods and we want to buy theirs. I deplore the fact that we have not pursued throughout the attitude of the United States. I am very sorry these shiftings of policy should have taken place. I am sorry that at one moment there is recognition and at another there is not. These treaties, brought about by pressure from the back bench Members, and these negotiations do no good to us or to anyone else and they certainly do not raise our position in' the eyes of the Soviet Government itself. It is a pity we ever attempted to give recognition. A far more dignified, more proper and more profitable course has been pursued throughout by the United 'States. If the right hon. Gentleman is making this treaty in a desperate attempt to get trade, I fear very much that he is going to be as disappointed as were some of the industrialists of France and other countries when they gave them recognition.

There is one other possibility with which I will deal. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman may tell us it is his purpose, if he can, to obtain some control over propaganda and to curb it. The omens at the moment are not very hopeful. On the very day, or the day after the right hon. Gentleman sent a note to the Soviet representative saying he was going to ask Parliament for permission to approve the sending of representatives, a representative, and an important one, of the Soviet Government spoke in these words: Our chief task is, and will continue to be, that of unmasking the policy of all and every imperialist party and of revealing to all workers the line of the proletarian State with relation to the capitalist powers. The fight for the resumption of relations between Great Britain and the Soviet Union merely helps us to unmask, in the eyes of the masses, the thoroughly bourgeois policy of the Labour party, a policy which becomes a parrot whenever there is a question of defending the interests of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, and protecting Imperialist positions. I make the right hon. Gentleman a present of that. I should never call him a bourgeois parrot. I think the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite have greater need perhaps than any of us to do all that lies in their power to curb this propaganda, and we should be most interested to hear what are the guarantees, if any, that it is proposed to obtain from the Soviet Government. They will be absolutely useless unless they cover the propaganda of the Third International, and even then they are not likely to be guarantees in which we could place much faith. This House, in my judgment, would be quite wrong were it to allow these exchanges of diplomatic representatives to take place without a representative of His Majesty's Government telling us upon what guarantees those exchanges shall be made.

I have no quarrel with hon. Members opposite because the Government have seen fit to recognise the Soviet Government—we expected that of them—but I do not believe any of the results we have heard acclaimed in such eloquent language will result from that recognition. We shall find ourselves, even after recognition, a year hence, very much in the position we are in now, except that the paper of the Foreign Office will be liberally bespattered with protests and exhortations to the Soviet Government to behave itself. I do not think they will achieve the results they are looking for. I do not think this policy will produce any practical consequences of a beneficial nature whatever, but I think the way in which the Government have carried out these negotiations has done them and the country a serious measure of harm in the eyes of the world. They have let the Soviet Government boast of a diplomatic victory. They have shown themselves supine and powerless the moment the Soviet Government stood up to their protestations. The Foreign Secretary reminded me to-day of the frog in La Fontaine's fable. He came down in July, like that frog. He puffed himself out, he spoke very big, and the bigger he spoke the bigger he grew, until at last he cracked, his big words burst him, and when he came to actual action there was nothing left but a punctured carcase to maintain against the Soviet Government. I hope in future, when hon. Members opposite are engaged in negotiations with the Soviet Government, they will worry less about the size of their words and trouble more about the size of their deeds. Then, perhaps, they may be able to repair the damage they have done by the methods of this negotiation, which for the first time for a generation has made British diplomacy contemptible in the eyes of the world.


There are two methods of approach to the question we are discussing. The first is the international aspect, to which most speakers have addressed themselves, but there is another which is of no less importance and, if we consider it, it may give us a part answer at any rate to a question which the Leader of the Opposition put earlier in the evening. He asked what was behind the Government in putting down this Motion. I come from a constituency where this question was the greatest single issue of the election. Indeed, to' a great many of my constituents there were no other issues in the election at all. The argument that was put up against me was that the Labour Government was the only one that was likely to bring Russia back into diplomatic and commercial relations with this country and, as that was the only thing they required, it was no use voting for anyone else. I did my best to point out the difficulties that lay in the way, and I am sure a great number of these men will be disillusioned by the difficulties the Foreign Secretary has encountered in trying to get Russia back into the comity of nations. I do not blame the Government for the delay, nor am I surprised at it, although I regret it very much indeed. The difficulties show how easy it is to break off relations. One State can break off relations, but it takes at least two to patch them up again, and that makes the operation very much more difficult indeed.

There is no constituency probably in the whole country where the outcome of this Debate will be awaited with greater interest than in Banffshire. To my constituents it is vital. The resumption of trading relations with Russia is not a mere academic matter with them. It is a question of their bread and butter, and that is due to the fact that there are more herring fishermen in my constituency than in any other, even than in East Aberdeenshire. The herring fishing industry is a very important one in Scotland. At Yarmouth or Lowestoft at the present moment you will see close on 20,000 fishermen and fish workers pursuing their hard life trying to catch herring. Much capital has been invested in the industry and, up to the War, it was probably one of the most prosperous in the whole country. Since then, however, it has been having a very bad time indeed, and in the last few years it is safe to say that it has been shivering on the very brink of disaster. Hon. Members who do not know much about it will be surprised to hear that three-quarters of all the herrings caught in these islands are pickled and sent abroad, mainly to the north of Europe, and before the War, Russia was one of our chief customers. Since the War she has fallen out almost entirely, and the commodity is of such a peculiar kind that it is very difficult to get alternative markets. The industry has been searching all over the world doing everything it can, by research and by new methods, to get new markets and it is not far from the mark to say it has signally failed. It is, indeed, unanimous that, unless Russia comes back into the market and begins to take herring to something like the extent she did formerly, the industry will have to be cut down by half. I need not point out the social dangers of such a thing.

8.0 p. m.

The industry, in Scotland particularly, has not been a capitalist industry in the sense in which we speak of capitalist industry, but has been carried on largely by co-operative methods, the boats being owned by the fishermen, and for that reason it is well worth doing something to help it and prevent it falling out. For the last few years it has been at a standstill for six months in the year, and it is unnecessary to point out the grave effect that has upon the unemployment question. I said Russia had fallen out of the market. It is not absolutely correct to say that, because in 1924 Russia came in and bought a large quantity of herring, and the result was that that was the only successful year the industry has had since the War. There has been some dispute as to whether this was caused by the Labour Government or was a mere coincidence, but it is not germane to this Debate to try to decide that dispute. There can be no doubt of the effect of it, and it shows how much Russia means to this industry, and shows therefore the extreme interest which those fishermen, and all engaged in the industry, have in the question which we are debating to-night.

There is another thing which influences them. For the last few years this industry had been unable to start its work until later in the summer than it used to do; and why is that? It is because in the earlier part of the year the fishermen catch herring which is rather immature, and in the past Russia has been the only market for that immature herring. The result of that is that to-day, Russia being out of the picture, they cannot go to sea, and unemployment in the industry in the district in which the fishermen live is all the greater.

I think I have now given enough facts to show that the Government may have had very good reason indeed for doing something to re-establish trading relations with Russia. It is the only method that I can see of relieving unemployment in constituencies like my own, which is not unique, at any rate in Scotland. I, of course, know perfectly well that, supposing we resume commercial relations with Russia, it does not necessarily mean that Russia is going to begin to buy the herrings which these fishermen are so eager to catch, but I also know perfectly well that, unless we do re-establish commercial relations, Russia certainly will not buy. The first thing that we can do is to make a beginning, and the beginning is to bring her back into the commity of nations and to treat her as we would treat anyone with whom we proposed to do business.

A great number of hon. Members have tried to warn us and frighten us about the grave risk which we are taking if we enter into commercial or diplomatic relations with Russia. I think they grossly exaggerate that risk; but so far as I am concerned I am quite prepared to admit that there may be some risk in taking the action which the Government proposes to take. What I do say, however, is that letting things drift as they are at the present time drifting, doing nothing, and letting our relations with Russia go from bad to worse, is the worst thing of all and the gravest risk of all. I am glad therefore that the Government have taken and are taking some steps to put an end to this; and there is, as I have said before, no part of the country in which the action which they are taking to-night will be hailed with greater delight than in the north-east of Scotland where these fishermen live.


I, like other hon. Members, who have spoken in this Debate, need the indulgence of the House, which I think it never fails to extend to Members who address it for the first time. I need the further indulgence of the House in that I cannot, like many hon. Members opposite have done, enter into a detailed account of the Soviet Government. I have visited Russia, and I find, largely as the result of that visit, that I know very little about Russia. Many of those opposite, however, are in the position of not having visited Russia, but of being very willing to tell us a very great deal about it. I would prefer to rely rather on the fact that I have visited the industrial areas of this country. I have visited Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and the other depressed industrial areas of this country, and it is my knowledge of those areas and of the conditions which obtain there, and of the necessity for increasing our trade in the great industries upon which those areas depend, which makes me so keen an advocate of the course which the Government is taking to-night.

There have been during this Debate many desperate efforts from the other side to belittle the importance of our possible trade with Russia. It seems to me a somewhat desperate enterprise to begin on—to suggest that our trade with a nation of 130,000,000 people, covering one-sixth of the world's surface and some of its richest areas, can be of small importance. How desperate that enterprise is was illustrated in the speech which we heard just now in which the fact that the champagne and wine trade between France and Russia has declined was put forward as an instance of the impossibility of increasing our trade with Russia. It is quite true that Russia is buying less champagne than she did before the War, and it is quite true that I see no possibility of that particular trade being greatly increased, but in other industries which I think I may say are not less important, to this country at any rate, than the wine industry—in the industries which produce the prime necessities of life, in the industries which produce machinery, in the industries which are more developed in this country than in any other country in the world, the industries for industrialising another country; industries for exporting not goods produced but for exporting the very means of production themselves—in those industries the opportunity of trade with Russia has not decreased, but has immensely increased. It is for those reasons that I regard it as of the utmost importance, not only to establish diplomatic relations but to make that a first step in a consistent policy for opening up trade relations with Russia.

I think there is a certain misconception of the relative importance of our possible trade with Russia in relation to our whole export trade. After all, the exports of this country go at present to a relatively small number of our customers. Our greatest customer is India; we export to that country just over £80,000,000 worth of goods. Our next greatest customer is Australia; we export to Australia £60,000,000 worth of goods. After that come a group of customers the largest of whom, the United States of America, takes £40,000,000 of our goods; and our total exports to the whole world are only about some £700,000,000 worth of goods. I think that it can be very clearly shown that our exports to Russia could be increased to at least £40,000,000 worth per annum in a very short period; and I think I put the figure moderately. That would make our trade with Russia comparable in importance with our trade with any country in the world. That seems to me an opportunity which it would be stark, staring folly for a country in the position in which we are to-day to ignore. We have only to hear the speeches made in yesterday's Debate, largely from the other side of the House, to know the utter importance of increasing our export trade, not merely from the point of view of the employment which it will directly yield, but for the strengthening of our whole financial position, which can hardly be effected in any other way than by an increase in our export trade. I suggest that the great opportunity that is before us as an exporting country is the rapid development of the almost untouched market which is before us in Russia.

I am not for a moment suggesting that that market does not present special problems and special difficulties, but I suggest that every market which we, as a great exporting nation, have yet tapped in this world has presented special difficulties. It is quite true that if we are going rapidly or immediately to increase our trade with Russia on a great scale, we shall have, to a very large extent, to finance that trade. But is this a unique position? Is it not the case that at this very moment we are negotiating a credit, which is said to be of some £19,000,000, for the financing of our export trade to the Argentine? Is it not the case that in every country which is in a comparatively undeveloped state, in every country which is primarily an agricultural country not yet industrialised, if an industrial country like ours wishes to open up a great export trade with that country, then it is the industrial country which in the main has to finance that trade? My point is that there is no special problem in this matter in regard to Russia. It is the problem of financing a great export trade from a country with a high degree of capital accumulation such as this country, to a country such as Russia which is in a comparatively undeveloped state.

It is true that there are special features in the position with regard to Russia, but I suggest to the House that on the whole those special features are decidedly advantageous to the rapid development of such trade. In the first place I do not think anybody can possibly doubt that there is a tremendous determination not merely of the Russian Government but throughout the Russian people to-day to industrialise their country almost at all costs. They are determined to let no sacrifice stand in the way of building up great industries and developing their productive system to the very utmost. That in itself gives us a great opportunity. But more than that, as any practical exporter of goods who may be in the House at the moment could confirm, the great difficulty in developing an export trade which you have to finance, as I have just said you always do in practice have to finance it, very largely is to find some institution, some authority, in the country to which you export which is of such unimpeachable financial stability that you can grant credits to it.

In the case of most countries organised on an individualist system, such institu- tions can be only, either private individuals or companies or corporations, all of whom have only their own private credit to back any undertaking which they may give you. Take the case of the Argentine, of which I have been speaking. The credit of the Argentine Government is no doubt unimpeachable, but the credit of any particular Argentine firm with whom it might be necessary to deal may be by no means so good, and the risk of their becoming bankrupt may be apparent at any time. In the case of Russia, however, owing to the fact that the whole of the foreign trade is centralised in Government institutions, that risk is not apparent, and the whole credit of the country is behind any purchases which may be made either in this country or in any other country of the rest of the world. That gives, in my opinion, a far greater opportunity and far greater facility for providing financial facilities for export—that export which we so dearly need today. And I do urge on the Government that the wise step that they are taking tonight should be only a first step in a considered policy for the development of our trade with Russia.

I think that enough was said yesterday to make all sides of the House agree that the unemployment problem represents a question which we have as yet come little nearer solving than we were before. Therefore, cannot we take this very practical step, at any rate, to find employment in those very industries which are most depressed? Let us see to it that the present move is followed up by the development of some scheme on the lines, perhaps, of the present Export Credits Scheme embodying, perhaps, certain features of the late Trade Facilities scheme. A new scheme embodying those two earlier schemes and designed to assist our export trade in this vitally important Russian market and also in other comparatively undeveloped markets, such as China and other countries, might be of great importance to our export trade.

We shall be told that any development of policy along those lines is open to the gravest risk. I think that in the case of Russia, at any rate, it can be shown that these risks are comparatively small. As a matter of fact, the Russian Government cannot possibly default in any international payment because it could never buy a single article again in the world's markets if it did so. It has never defaulted a single payment and it never can, for the simple reason that the whole credit system is centralised and one default would break down the whole of Russia's buying capacity in the world's markets. Even if there were some risks, even if there were new developments and new questions, as perhaps there are, to deal, with was the vast export trade of this country, which gave us our industrial preponderance, built up on a policy of Safety First? I think not. I think that this country became industrially great by pushing out trade throughout the world, by taking certain risks, by having a policy which was bold, wisely conceived and had vision, and I take it that this Government's step tonight is the prelude to such a policy. I believe that such a policy can bring immense benefits both to the industrial workers of this country and to the great peasant masses of Russia. I do not feel ashamed to admit that I care very much about the benefits, about the immense improvements in the living conditions, which such a policy should bring to the workers and peasants of Russia, just as I care, primarily of course, for the benefits it will bring to our own workers. Therefore let the Government which is doing so well to-night take this the first step in a really constructive Russian policy.


We have just listened to a very good speech and it is the first time it has fallen to my lot to congratulate an hon. Member on making his maiden speech. I am proud to be here to-night to continue that wonderful tradition of the House, that on whatever side of the House we may be we are always willing to pay tribute where tribute is due. I am sure that on all sides of the House we congratulate the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Strachey) for the way he has delivered his speech and for the tone and quality of it, and to express the hope that we shall hear him on many future occasions. I thank him all the more because of the publication with which he and his family is connected and to which I have been a life-long subscriber. If I may add one personal note, it is a standing joke in my family on Sunday afternoon, and they say, "Do not make a noise, he is going to read 'The Spectator.'" The hon. Gentleman spoke very optimistically about Russia's ability to pay and said that we should continue a bold policy as we have always done in the past in the development of our Empire and world trade. I would call his attention to a statement which was made by a leader of his own party.

The Foreign Secretary during his speech spoke of long term credit and I ventured to make an interruption to say credits could be had if the security was there. He rather demurred at that and in the next breath the Foreign Secretary announced that the Government as a Government would not give any guarantee or loans as credit to the Russian Government. So that with all his enthusiasm to carry this Motion to-night, when it comes down to hard business—and he would like I expect in his heart of hearts to make large advances to the Russian Government—he knows perfectly well that they would not be safe and he would not for a moment be able to carry such a proposal in this House or in the country. When it comes to a test this is what the Foreign Secretary really thinks of the value of this Agreement to-night. I would also like to ask the Under-Secretary of State, who, I understand, is going to reply—and I have ventured to ask several questions on this subject—this question. The Foreign Secretary referred to the replies of the Dominions but he did not give us a Very detailed account of the matter. He said that they did not dissent but I should like to know how many actually assented.

The Foreign Secretary and most of the speakers to-night kept on referring to the Soviet Government, but in dealing with the Soviet Government you must always remember the intimate connection and contact there is between the Soviet Government and the Communist International. This has been recognised by the present Prime Minister and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will not worry the House with quotations more than I can help for I have a goodly number of quotations to-night. I have them by me if anyone wants to hear them. But the fact remains that the Soviet Government and the Communist International both depend on the Politbureau of the Russian Communist party in which Stalin is the Dictator. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who I am sorry to say is not in his place, said that the Russian mentality likes to shift responsibility. Here they have every opportunity of doing so. It may be one of the means they will have, if the agreement about propaganda is not carried out, of evading the issue. In my opinion it is quite impossible to believe the word of the Soviet Government and its Allied organisation to-day.

I would like to ask whether the Communist International, the Komintern, has ever renounced the policy of world revolution. It certainly has not, and it is for the moment devoting its energies to the British Empire, especially in India and China, which are the principal objects of its activities. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that he did not fear a revolutionary movement in this country. Nor do I, nor do the Soviet Government. They know perfectly well that to get a real revolutionary movement in this country would be one of the most difficult things in the world, and therefore they are concentrating their activities on our Empire, our Dominions and the borders of our Dominions, especially Afghanistan and the north-west frontier. The dictum of Lenin, which says: Let us turn towards Asia, and we shall succeed in the West, was the starting point of the vast turning movement to overthrow the world. The Second Congress of the Komintern have passed the following Resolution. [Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will allow me to proceed. It is not easy for me to speak in this House, but I consider it to be my duty to try to put before the House the widespread net of activities of the Soviet Government and its organisations. I hope the House will allow me to do that, without making my task more difficult. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The Second Congress of the Komintern passed the following Resolutions: The Colonies constitute one of the principal sources of the forces of European capitalism. The suppression by the proletarian revolution of the Colonial power of Europe would overthrow European capitalism. The Communist International must start revolutionary movements in the Colonies. The manifesto of the Central Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is a Government institu- tion, published on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Soviet, an appeal to Oriental people to revolt, with the support of the Soviet union, "the first proletarian State." The Sixth World Congress of the Komintern, held in Moscow in 1928, adopted in the official programme of the Communist International, "Thesis on the revolutionary movement in the Colonies, and semi-Colonies." The thesis maintained the Resolutions of the Second Congress, and said: The maintenance of the Soviet régime in Russia has enabled the setting up of a basis and centre of attraction for all the Colonial revolutionary movements. The second paragraph explains the role of the Chinese revolution, the third explained the revolutionary movement in India, and the fifth speaks of South Africa. I want the House to note that all this subversive propaganda is spread along the borders of or within the British Empire itself. The seventh paragraph affirms that the essential causes of the revolutionary movement are still existing and the revolution cannot but develop. The eighth paragraph insists upon the importance of the anti-Imperialist block formed by the U.S.S.R. and the revolutionary movements in Europe and the revolutionary organisations in Asia and Africa. These latter, it says, must be ever actively supported by the Communist International. The solution of the Colonial problem is only to be found in a direct fight under the protection of the revolutionary Soviets. The remaining chapters expose the characteristic features of the colonial economy of Imperialistic policy, and studies the Communist strategy and tactics in China, India and other Colonial countries. That is the theory of the Soviet Government and its allied organisations.

I would now direct the attention of the House to the extent to which that theory has been put into practice. [Interruption.] I am anxious to show the House and the country the extent of the subversive propaganda and activities against the British Empire that is going on to-day. I do not think they are generally known. Let me direct attention to the organs of the Soviet Government. There is the Commisariat for Foreign Affairs which has a Near East section, a Central East section and a Far East section. There are diplomatic, consular and commercial representatives in Turkey, Hedjaz, Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan, Mongolia, China and Japan.

Then there is the Commissariat of Commerce. The economic organs in the Par East are linked with the Vladivostok section of the Association for the Study of the Orient, a revolutionary organ in connection with the Central Committee of the Soviet Government. This is in close touch with the corresponding sections of the Foreign Office and the Komintern. The Association popularises "scientifically" among the eastern peoples, the principles of Leninism. Its organ is "The Near East" and this association is called "The Laboratory for the Bolshevisation of the East." The sections of this association are the Near East section, which is following the revolutionary movements in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, South Africa, Persia and Turkey; the Far East section, to look after China and Japan, and the Central East section for India and Afghanistan. In addition there is a section of Colonial law and Colonial policy, a special Seminar for the history of colonial policy in the east, and there is a section for the study of the work and life of women in the east. The association has two important branches at Vladivostok and Kieff, where it organises the "Eastern Peoples' House."

Another form of subversive propaganda is found in the schools. There is the Communist University of the Eastern Workers, called the Stalin University; the Institute of Oriental Studies, connected with the central committee of the Soviet Republic; the university of the Chinese Workers, the Sun Yat Sen, Leningrad, and the Institute of Living Oriental Languages with the following Sections, China, Japan, Mongolia, Tibet and Hindustan and Turkestan. The Institute admits only members of the Communist party. [Interruption.] I knew that I should bore the House and that what I had to say would not be received very kindly, but I am anxious to point out and I mean to point out the widespread nature of this revolutionary organisation.

Up to this point I have spoken only of the organs of the Soviet Government.

I now turn to the organs of the Komintern. They have the Oriental Secretariat at Moscow, the Indian Communists, the Communist party of South Africa, the Oriental Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Communist International of Youth at Moscow, and the International Secretariat of Women.


Will the hon. Member tell us the name of the book from which he is reading and then we might get it.


I am not reading from a book; I am very anxious to quote carefully, and I am fully aware of my responsibility to the House. I am quite confident, as far as I can possibly make sure, that the information is authentic. The Oriental Section of the Society for Cultural Relations with foreign countries, the Profintern, that is the Red Trade Union International, has already published two volumes of revolutionary literature dealing with India, Iraq, China, Palestine, Persia, Ceylon, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and British possessions in Africa, Egypt, and the South African Union. Then there is the Red Trade Union of the Pacific, and the Anti-Imperialist League. It is worthy of attention that at the first congress in Brussels the following delegates were present: 22 from China, 14 from India, three from South Africa, one from West Africa, one from Egypt, one from Palestine, and 18 from England.


Are we to take it that the hon. Member is unable to state when this meeting took place? Surely he should have verified the quotation before giving it to the House?


It is not a quotation. I have taken great care to see that all the details are correct. I have them from a very well-informed source, which I have promised not to divulge, because it would not be safe for certain persons.


Is it a secret society from which you had the details?


May I intervene? The hon. Member has assured us in this House and the country that all the agencies he has mentioned are agencies of the Komintern, controlled by and under the direction of the Komintern. I was until recently the International chairman of one of these organisation. I have not yet severed my connection with the inter- national body, although I have had some quarrel with the British section, and I want to assure the hon. Member that his authentic information on this matter at least is not authentic.


Will the hon. Member tell me to which organisation he refers?


The Anti-Imperialist League.


Of course I accept what the hon. Member says, but I still assure the House that I have taken great trouble with these details, and these are the methods by which the more or less violent forms of revolutionary propaganda are being spread throughout the world. The point I want to make is that it would be childish to think that all these organisations will put an end to their activities because an agreement has been come to between our Foreign Secretary and the Soviet Government. I hold in my hand a paper which gives a list of 18 countries, most of them in Europe, where the Soviet Government, in violation of its undertaken engagement, has carried on subversive propaganda, and this subversive propaganda is mainly directed against the British Empire. In my opinion it is impossible to have any confidence in the Soviet signature or in the fair play of their emissaries and ambassadors. You cannot placate the implacable. I should like to have spoken about their war against religion and the disgraceful methods which have been taken to drag down the children, and "especially some children which were sent from this country. I have myself seen a photograph of a poster exhibited in Soviet Russia in which a rich peasant by the foul action of clearing one nostril meant to show that he was clearing religion out of his head. There was another poster where the Founder of Christianity is seen in a cafe with loose women.

By resuming diplomatic relations with Russia we, who with all our faults are still the country with the highest standard of morals and character, are setting the seal of our recognition on this revolutionary movement in Russia and creating an effect throughout the world. It is exactly what the Soviet Government wants. By giving them this recognition we shall be giving them greater power and greater strength to carry on their revolutionary propaganda by these diabolical methods. The Prime Minister the other afternoon said that he was proud that when he went to America he spoke as a spokesman of the whole British Empire. He went with a message from His Majesty the King and with the good wishes of the Leader of the Opposition. Does he claim that he speaks for the whole nation to-day? I think not. He went to America to try and bring peace to the world and a reduction in naval armaments. By their action to-day the Government is not making for peace but for more strife, and instead of being able to reduce the number of our ships we shall require more in order to keep peace and order in the world. In conclusion let me quote a saying of Menjinsky: As long as there are idiots to take our signature seriously and to put their trust in it, we must promise everything that is being asked, and as much as one likes, if we can only get something tangible in exchange. I regret that the question is being brought forward at this time and I shall certainly vote against the Motion.


We all sympathise with the hon. Member who has just sat down. I wonder how he will sleep tonight amid all those nightmares and specters and dangers of which he has spoken. He is living in an atmosphere of "the goblin will get you." If we were to believe the hon. Member we would come to the conclusion that the Bolsheviks had "dumped out" a moral regime in which religion and family like were taken seriously—with Rasputin in charge. He asks us to believe that Russia was a country of super-morality and he draws a picture of the disasters that will happen in consequence of the Bolsheviks having come into power. He argues that we are to expect a world revolution because there is subversive propaganda in no fewer than 18 countries. I wonder how many of those countries have such heroic Home Secretaries as the late Home Secretary of this country. If they know that this subversive propaganda is going on, and that Russia is a country without any religion and without any wedding rings, then perhaps they ought to do what our late Home Secretary did here. They ought to commit acts of burglary and "dump out" the Russians but, peculiarly enough, we are the only people who have done this sort of thing.

An hon. Member opposite put the question, "What are we going to do about it," but what are we going to do about the mess made by the late Home Secretary? Are we going to keep up hostile relationships with the Soviet Government for ever? Are we going to try to make a bargain with Russia? It takes two to make a bargain, and I hope the Foreign Secretary has made the best bargain possible. I know that if I were the Foreign Secretary of Russia, a country whose business here has been interfered with so violently and dealt with so unceremoniously, I should want guarantees. I should want to know whether there was any danger of anything approximating to the Arcos raid happening in future. The Russians are the people who are suffering from a sense of grievance. The late Home Secretary made a blunder and it is up to our Government and the Foreign Minister to undo the damage and wipe up the mess which other people have caused. He has done it to our satisfaction and I believe the business community of the country will approve of what he has done.

This is a psychological question. It is not the first time we have had this kind of propaganda. It is not the first time we have lived in this kind of atmosphere. Some people need to have an enemy and a fear. They are not happy unless there is something to frighten them and when we are in that mood, the truth is never told. We told lies about the Germans, about the French, and about the South Africans. We have boxed the compass in our likes and dislikes and we have never been without an enemy approximating to what Soviet Russia is to-day. Whenever there has been this kind of propaganda the British public have paid dearly for it. Concerning Russia we have been living in an atmosphere of lies from the beginning. There has been a lot of propaganda, some of it financed by responsible Government Departments, which has been inexcusably dishonest. We know that classic instance of the "Pravda." A British Government Department was responsible for the forging of that newspaper. They imported type and set up the paper, headlines and all, and in that forged "Pravda" there were all sorts of stories to the effect that the Russians were a most impossible people incapable of civilisation and guilty of all kinds of atrocities. They only made one mistake. The London printer printed his name and address in the last column. It was Sir Basil Thomson who was responsible for that. They cut off the name and address of the London printer and put these forged newspapers on to British gunboats and sent them to Riga for world distribution. Everything in the garden was lovely, for anti-Russian propaganda, until the compositors came into the "Daily Herald" office and gave original copies. The matter was brought up in this House and a number of hon. Members may remember the sequel. Sir Basil Thomson had to retire, but he still continued his anti-Bolshevist propaganda. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Of course he did, and he was continuing his investigations one night in Hyde Park when he was caught.


In what year was this?


In 1922 or 1923.


Do I understand the hon. Member to say that this was used as propaganda on British ships? If, as he says, the paper was printed in Russian, how could British sailors read it?


I never said anything of the sort. This is a matter of history—a matter of fact and of truth. The whole issue was forged, headlines and all, and the forgery was perfect, but for one mistake—just as Crippen only made one mistake, but it was enough. Our opponents very often blunder, and in this case they made the mistake of adding the name and address of the London printer in the last column. The game was up when the London compositors came into the office of the "Daily Herald." We know that as far as Russia is concerned they have been pouring out lie after lie from Riga. There is a sort of international lie factory there, sending out lies for world consumption, but the public are waking up. This is nothing new in international politics. It was the same with the Boers, the French and the Germans. You have never known how to tell the truth where international prejudices are concerned. The same old game is being played now, and the story is that there are a number of people now walking the streets out of work. Your Arcos raid was an act of war, and if it had been done to any other nation than Russia there would have been war, and we should all have been wanted, and our King and country would never have forgotten us.

The great joke is this that you people now who quarrel with Soviet Russia can strain at a gnat and swallow a circus camel. You would have accepted the old Russian Government, and you did accept it when it was tottering when Stolypin was using that famous necktie and hundreds of thousands of decent men, whose only crime was that they believed in a square economic deal, were hanged without a trial, when decent men and women were going on their walking tour to Siberia, when 300,000 men, women, and children were shot, but you cooperated with that tottering Tsarist régime. You did something more. If the War had gone according to plan, if there had not been the Bolshevik revolution, if the Bolshevists had not come into power, if the War had been in accordance with the treaties about which the Leader of the Opposition talked this afternoon, supposing Russia had kept to those treaties and the Allies had won the War, Russia to-day would have been occupying most of Germany, there would have been no Poland, no Estonia, no Latvia, no Finland, the Russians would have been in Constantinople, and there would have been a large part of Arabia controlled by Russians. We should have supported Tsarism, and we would have accepted an extension of it to include Bessarabia, parts of Germany, and Constantinople. You did accept a despotism, and you did support it. You lent money to that despotism, and when we come along now and ask what the Bolshevists have done that is so terribly wrong, I know this much; I know that you are angry over atrocities, but a little bit of common honesty would not hurt you.

The real atrocity that the Bolshevists committed was the atrocity of saying that the land was not to be owned by the landlords, but by the people. I know that that is the sin against the Holy Ghost, as far as a number of hon. Members opposite are concerned. It is a terrible thing to think that the land should belong to the people. Another atrocity they committed—and for this they will never, never, never be forgiven—was the publishing of the secret treaties which demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the last War was fought for a lie; and if the British public had known what it was being fought for when the War was on, believe me, that War would not have lasted until 1918. A large number of my pals are now sleeping in soldiers' graves because of that War. Another very great atrocity committed by the Russians was that they said, "Give us a peace without annexations and without indemnities, a fair peace, a clean peace, not a Carthaginian peace, but one where we can all start afresh." I do not believe there is a statesman in this country with a reputation to lose who does not now realise that the Russians were right and who is not now sorry that we did not have that kind of peace. We are paying a very big price, and perhaps Europe will pay a very big price in the future, (because we did not get the kind of peace that the Bolshevists wanted, and if we could have got it, we should have celebrated our Armistice Day much earlier. Straining at gnats again, we object to the Russian methods of revolution. We do not like physical force. It is a terrible thing to use physical force. This afternoon there was a question concerning conscientious objectors and what a terrible thing it was to allow them to earn a living.


On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is the discussion about conscientious objectors or about Russia?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)

I understood the hon. Member was merely making use of an illustration.

9.0 p.m.


Let me inform the hon. Member opposite who is so impatient that I introduced the subject of the conscientious objectors because we object to the Soviet Government on account of the element of force in that Government, because they used force, violence and bloodshed in order to change the Government and to get rid of the Tsardom. You object to force, and you suddenly take the Sermon on the Mount seriously, but you have no objection really to Soviet methods in other directions. I would like any hon. Member following me to tell me any difference between the methods of Moscow and the methods at Cairo before the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary had has last say. Tell me any difference between the dictatorship at Moscow and that at Cairo, except this much, that there was a whole lot more democracy at Moscow than at Cairo. What is the difference between our methods in India and their methods in Russia? We are now talking about force and unlovely methods of controlling political opponents. What about Italy? What is the difference between the methods of Mussolini and those of Lenin? The difference is that Mussolini came and destroyed democracy, destroyed actual democratic institutions, smashed up the Labour Press, destroyed the co-operatives, and Mussolini from a reactionary Government in this country received, I believe, the Order of the Bath. That is the kind of Order he needed, but no amount of Orders will ever wash his régime clean.

I do not like the use of force, and I do not believe that in this country we require to use force. I believe that we are going to settle all our differences by common sense and reason. I believe in government by consent, but I also know that I do not know of any alternative in Russia, barring force, when the Tsarist régime was there. The Bolshevist Revolution will probably be found to have been more important than we think. Where should be had there been no revolutions here? Revolutions take place because the patience of the people has been exhausted. We do not blame Simon de Montfort or Oliver Cromwell, or the Revolution of 1688. If there had not been the threat of force in this country, we would not be in these seats to-day, and there would not be such a thing as democracy. We should still be talking in terms of divine right. I rejoice in the fact that the Bolsheviks were successful. With regard to propaganda, what do you mean by it? A lot of us use phrases and we do not know what we are talking about. When we talk about propaganda, we should all speak what we believe. I believe that the Bolsheviks or any other people should be allowed the liberty of saying what they like. Our answer to the Bolsheviks, if there be any answer, should be argument, and not Arcos raids. If there be no sense in Bolshevism or Communism or Socialism, let arguments settle it. Let us answer the Communists here with argument. The Conservative party should be awfully glad that there is a Communist party in this country. If I were a Conservative and wanted Conservatism to thrive, I should subscribe to the Communist party funds, because that party is practically the last argument that the Conservatives have got.

I was going to say a lot more, but I have sympathy with the Member with the great undelivered speech, so I will end by saying this. We have paid a very big price for our prejudices in the past, and we should welcome trade and co-operation with Soviet Russia. It is a good thing for the world that the Soviet Government are there. It will be a bad thing for the world if another Government in Russia were to take their place. We need Russia. By the way, whatever their government, it is not our business; let the Russians find the way out of their own difficulties. The Russians have done awfully well, and if you will take the trouble to read what they have done, you will find that they have taken over a war-battered ruin and inherited chaos and a disease-ridden country, and they have been able to produce order out of chaos. We need Russia more to-day than ever before. If ever there were a time when we could afford to turn down trade and to indulge in prejudices, this is not the time. I am glad beyond words that the Foreign Secretary has had the courage to do the right thing, and I believe that history will more than justify what he has done.


I should be very sorry if an inadvertent glance at the clock on my part has done anything to stem the torrent of oratory of the hon. Member for West Salford (Mr. Haycock), because I would gladly have him go on for some time. I was enjoying his speech very much, although towards the end I felt inclined to go out and form a Fascist party, and shoot as many people as I could see, because of the atmosphere of force and violence which he created. I only want to make one apology. He accused me of defending the Stolypin massacre. My excuse is that I was only five years old at the time it took place.

This is a question of vital importance to the future of this country, and I am in the unfortunate position of having to do a thing which is not easy, and which any hon. Member must do with great distaste, that is, to take a line different from, the party to which he belongs. All I would beg of hon. Members opposite is that they will not cheer any observations which I make. I intend to vote in the Lobby for the Motion. That must be enough for them. I have, of course, special interest in this question of resuming relations with Russia because of my concern with the herring fishing industry. This industry, which is an important industry, has been going from bad to worse ever since the War; and to-day it is in a most desperate condition. I am certain that, unless we can get back some part of the Russian market which has been lost, the industry cannot be saved. It has been estimated that if Russia to-day took in proportion what she took before the War, we would be able to sell 800,000 more barrels a year. We must export the herrings because they are caught in such quantities and during so short a period that it is not possible to discover new markets which would absorb the catch. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State, to bear this in mind in the forthcoming negotiations. It is the only industry which is almost entirely dependent for its revival on the Russian market. Resumption of relations with Russia will help other industries; but it is vital to save this industry, and we ought to make it the most important item in any commercial demands we may put forward.

I am therefore in this position. A large body of may constituents in the North, quite independent of party, are extremely anxious to see relations with Russia resumed at the earliest possible moment; and it is my duty to give expression to that desire in the only place where I can, by voting here for the resumption, unless I consider that the national interests or the national security will be jeopardised by such action. I cannot conceive that either our national interests or security are going to be jeopardised by the step which I believe we are going to take to-night. And this brings me to the larger issue. As a matter of fact, I should vote for this whichever constituency I represented. I have thought for a long time that it is highly desirable that relations between this country and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics should be restored, and so far as possible, improved. I believe that it is vital for the peace of the world. We are in an entirely different position from the United States of America. They can afford to take up an isolated position. They are rich, and they are far removed from Russia; under any circumstances they cannot establish very close contacts; but we are geographically a part of Europe, and we cannot get away from Europe.

So long as Russia is kept outside the diplomatic barriers by a great Power in Europe like ourselves, the condition of Europe, from the point of view of world peace, is bound to be uneasy. And so long as you have a shadowy, nebulous army, of no known size and about which we have no statistical information whatsoever, lurking behind the eastern frontiers of Europe, how can Europe ever disarm at all. Unless and until we can get Russia not only into the comity of nations, but into the Disarmanent Conferences, and have the facts on the table, disarmament in Europe on any reasonable scale is going to be an absolute impossibility. Nobody can afford to go in for disarmament. The Germans cannot, the Poles cannot, the Rumanians cannot; all that eastern frontier of Europe cannot afford to disarm. We can give up talking about disarmament for good and all unless and until we can bring Russia right into the comity of nations, and until we in this country resume relations with Russia she never will be brought in.

Until quite recently I sincerely believed that it was useless to make the attempt to re-establish diplomatic or commercial relations with Russia, and for this reason. So long as there was any chance, and not so very long ago there was a very good chance, of Bolshevist success in China, we were confronted not by a nation but by a sinister and most formidable world movement—nothing to do with a nation or a Government—but a world movement. That was the position up to about 18 months ago, and it was menacing. If the Bolshevik movement had captured Asia, or the bulk of Asia, I think a clash between it and the forces of western civilisation would, in the long run, have become inevitable, and would always have been imminent. The collapse of Bolshevism in China, which was referred to by the leader of the Liberal party, has, to my mind, fundamentally altered the whole state of affairs, and the whole problem so far as Russia is concerned. Russia has ceased to be the centre of a formidable world movement, and has become once more a nation, a great nation, and a powerful nation, but still a nation, ruled over by a Government. You can see instances of the tide going back upon the Communist movement all over Asia to-day. In South Russia itself there is a tendency for some of the small States to revert to nationalism. [Interruption.] I take a different view.

The point I am trying to make, and I think it is a reasonable and fair point, is that the Bolsheviks are not any longer a serious menace to us. I think they are now merely a group of politicians trying rather ineffectively to govern another nation. You can deal with a Government and a nation like that, however trying, however exasperating, they are, and I am sure they are going to be just as exasperating in the future as in the past. You can deal with a Government of that kind in a way you cannot deal with a movement which seriously menaces your own civilisation. With such a movement, you can have no dealings except perhaps by recourse to military measures of defence.

We broke off relations with Russia in 1926. It is easy to break off relations. I think that under the circumstances of that time the break was not only inevitable, but necessary, and I supported it. I think it had to come because at that time the movement in China was just about at its height. However, I am not going to argue about the merits of that; it is past history. There is only one thing we know for certain about Life, and that is that nothing can ever stand still. After the break there was a state of more or less suspended animation; and to my mind it is impossible for that state of things to go on. The tide of events in all human affairs moves remorselessly forward in one direction or another; you cannot stop it; and it seems to me that there are only two ways out of the existing situation. You can restore relations and improve relations on the one hand; or you can go to war. In the long run there is nothing between these two things. You cannot stand still. Well, I do not want to go to war.

So far as propaganda is concerned, of course there will be propaganda; there has been for hundreds of years in the past; there will be for hundreds of years to come; and a great nuisance it will be; but is anyone seriously going to say that propaganda of that kind is really a grave menace to the British Empire? I do not for one moment believe that it is. I believe that when there was this great potential movement in Asia, when it showed signs of capturing China, and possibly India, it might have been the greatest menace that we had ever had to face; but I do not believe that is the case to-day. The question we have to put to ourselves upon this propaganda business is, shall we best check and control propaganda by having an Ambassador in Moscow to see what they are up to, or by cutting off relations with them altogether? I think we shall do very much better by having a trained observer in Moscow, in close touch with them and ready to protest—and Heaven knows he is likely to be busy enough in the first year or two—to see what they are doing, and report to us and establish contact on both commercial and political affairs. I believe that is the best way to tackle this problem of propaganda.


There has been a lot of talk about propaganda to-night from the other side. Is it the argument which is put forward that the Communist party in this country must not propagate the theory of Communism?


I do not say that for a moment.


Everybody knows that the theory of Communism includes revolution, and if the Communists of this country propagate their theory of revolution, you cannot say that it is the Russian Government which is behind them every time.


So far as I am concerned, I would never break off relations with Russia because the Communist party of this country was preaching Communism; though, of course, if they were acting under instructions from the Comitern, acting on behalf of the Soviet Government, that might raise another question. But nobody is going to say that a Communist may not say that he is a Communist on every soap box in the country. I do not think anybody on this side would suggest that that should not be allowed.

To turn for a moment to the question of trade. Hon. Members opposite have made a great deal of this, but I cannot say that I am very optimistic about the trade we shall do with Russia in the immediate future. There is no doubt that the economic position of Russia to-day is infinitely worse than it was three years ago. And their credit requirements are proportionately greater. They have to pay more for their credit, and they are finding much more difficulty in getting credit at all. They want between four and five years' commercial credits, which makes it extremely difficult to do business with them on a large scale. I do not say this problem is one which cannot be solved, but many people have been taught by hon. Members opposite to believe that we needed only to restore relations with Russia to be saved—incidentally, in my constituency they promised to do it a fortnight after the Election—and that trade would at once come back. A lot of people will be disillusioned. However so many people are going to be disillusioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite that I think this will be swamped in the general mass of disillusionment.

But I think hon. Members opposite will agree that one of our main problems in this country is to try and bring consuming power all over the world into some closer relationship with productive capacity. Very well, you have in Russia a tremendous potential market, with 150,000,000 consumers, and we in this country have got vast productive capacity. I do not see that we are in a position at the moment to neglect any possible chance of extending our markets overseas for our produce, or of trying to close the gap between potential production and consumption. I do not think that either this country or the world at the present time is in a state to allow 140,000,000 or 150,000,000 of people, living in a vast, fertile country like Russia, to remain as a kind of stagnant pool, isolated, and having no commercial relations whatsoever with the outside world. I am quite certain that somebody ought to try and stir that pool—we ought to stir that pool; and I believe that the best way of getting some sort of sense into the Soviet Government is to establish purely trading relations with her as quickly as we possibly can. I believe that is the best way from their point of view, and from ours; and that is why I do feel that it is desirable to resume relations now.

In order to get business re-started the City of London will have to grant certain credits to the Soviet Government. There was an idea some time ago that the Midland Bank were going to grant a substantial amount. I do not see how anybody in the City of London could be asked to risk any money in Russia without there being a resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia. I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that His Majesty's Government are not going themselves to pledge the taxpayer's money. It is not necessary or desirable. We have lent quite enough money to other countries during the last 20 years. But I do think it is necessary to take the step that the right hon. Gentleman is taking in order to give the City the amount of confidence that it must have if it is to lend money on an adequate scale to the Soviet Government. We want trade desperately: we want more export markets; and if we can do £10,000,000 worth of trade with Russia next year it will put more people into employment than all the schemes o£the Lord Privy Seal. The hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Strachey) said he contemplated the sale of £40,000,000's worth of goods to Russia per annum. I think that is an exaggeration; but if it were possible what an advantage it would be! It would bring Russia third on our list of export markets; and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility, if things go well, that something along those lines might ultimately take place. If there is the faintest chance of anything like that happening, can we in our present position afford to throw it away unless it seriously jeopardises our safety?

In conclusion, I want to make one complaint. I greatly admired the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs handled the League Assembly. I cannot say that I have admired at any stage his handling of this particular question during the last five months; and I express a pious hope that he may handle the negotiations now about to take place a little better. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Oh, yes! All these obscure shufflings and manceuvrings that have been going on for five months past are absolutely incom- prehensible. I would ask the Under-Secretary, as he is going to reply, to state what the game really was?


There was no game.


The Leader of the Opposition said it was cricket. I think it was a sillier game than that. Anyway we lost it. And I do not think we need have played it at all. I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman had gone resolutely about the business we could have had relations with Russia on better terms from our point of view and without loss of prestige within 10 days of the Government's taking office. I do not think all this manoeuvring was really necessary.

But that does not affect the main question before the House, which is this: are we going to resume diplomatic relations with Russia and exchange Ambassadors now, or are we not? If we decide not, the Government would go out of office. I think we ought to resume relations with Russia for the reasons I have attempted to give to the House; and, secondly, I think the time has not yet come to remove His Majesty's Government. I hope the Secretary of State will not be offended with me for having criticised his handling of this affair. I do believe that he has a good chance of bringing off a successful and, I hope, a final conclusion to the negotiations that lie ahead. They will be tough and difficult but he can do it; and for my part I hope with all my heart he will do it, and that we shall get a commercial agreement as well, and a debt settlement. I wish him all luck in these negotiations; but in the meantime, believing as I do that we ought to resume relations with Russia, and that we ought to wait a bit before we turn out His Majesty's present advisers, I cannot see that I have any option but to go into the Lobby in support of the Government tonight.


As I have had rather special opportunities in a professional capacity, as the adviser of the Russian Co-operative movement, I venture to address the House on the matter. But I want to point out, lest there be any misapprehension on the score, that I have no right or power to speak for, nor have I any responsibility for any political action of, any organisation of any kind whatsoever in Russia, nor is it my desire to attempt to assume any such responsibility. I approach this subject entirely in the interests of those whom I represent. What is the point before the House? Shorn of all the trimmings of religion and past history and prejudice this way and prejudice that way, the simple question before the House is whether we should continue the policy which was pursued by the last Government, or bring into operation a new set of relations between ourselves and Russia. The last Government in a pet decided to proceed as if Russia did not exist. Their policy was embodied in the idea that we should carry on without any relations with that country, that it did not vitally matter, and I presume that they had certain objectives which they desired to obtain; though I suspect that there was a good deal of truth in what was said by the Leader of the Liberal party that they were pushed into their policy without very careful consideration of what its effects would be. But hon. Members opposite have made no secret at all of what they expected to result. Politically, I suppose they intended that, by severing British relations with Russia, they might bring pressure to bear on the Government to limit or control the actions of the Communist International, to persuade or force the Russian Government and the other organisations in Moscow to adopt a more friendly attitude towards this country.

What are the facts? We have heard them from the mouths of Members of the Opposition to-day. There is a constant series of complaints of the action of the Communist International now in this country and in other countries, and especially in Asia. On their own showing, then, if that was their objective, it has completely failed. Moreover, I should have said from my own experience and the experience of everybody who has been in contact with affairs in Russia during the last three or four years that the effect of their action has been to lend a handle to those who wished to set up in Russia an attitude of mind and an agitation hostile and extremely dangerous to this country, which otherwise they would not have had. The course of the last three or four years have been marked by a constant and steady growth in that feeling of hostility towards this country for which we shall have to pay very dearly. It has been accompanied by a steady Russian union towards the rest of the world which is certainly not hopeful for the cause of peace.


What is the Russian nation?


The Russian nation can only be discovered by those who come in real contact with the people in Russia. The other objective of the late Government was to bring pressure to bear on Russia by an economic and financial boycott so as to get better terms in regard to the debt and other financial transactions with this country and other countries. There was an exploitation in certain quarters which was not without a good deal of substance, as I discovered from my own acquaintance with continental bankers in France and bankers in America, who were asked to join with us in a sort of boycott of Russian trade. I am aware that when our Ministers broke with Russia there was some talk about their not desiring to interfere with trade, but every commercial man knows how hollow was that pretence, and we all know the immediate effect of that break on Russian trade.

Throughout the continent of Europe in financial circles there was a belief that the British Government desired to bring the other countries into a boycott of Russian trade, and what has been the result? The rest of Europe refused and no country followed the example of the last Government. In 1924 our trade with Russia practically equalled the trade of Germany and the United States. In the course of last year our sales to Russia dropped to one-fourth of what they were in 1924. In the meantime both the sales of Germany and the United States have more than doubled. In July last American sales to Russia were nearly as much as this country sold to Russia in the previous 12 months. Consequently, so far as that exploitation was concerned, it utterly failed.

There seemed to be a belief in some quarters that in one way or another our action would bring the Soviet Government down, but in spite of what was said by an hon. Member opposite I say, speaking with some knowledge of the economic position inside Russia, that, judged by any ordinary tests, the economic position in Russia now is stronger than it was three or four years ago. It is true that the financial position is difficult, but that is because of the shortage of capital and the concentration of their reserves on pensions for industry and agricultural producers. The Russians are admittedly short of capital. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because Russia is an agricultural country which in the past has depended for its development on capital from abroad. That is the position of Canada, South Africa, and Australia, and it is the position of every South American country. That was the position of Russia before the War, and it is the position of every other country since the War except ourselves, and, I think, America.

Other countries have had to rely upon foreign capital for reconstruction and repairing the damage of the War and the revival of industry. Russia is the only country which, since the War, has not had any foreign investments, and it is almost the only country which since the War has raised its production agriculturally and industrially to more than its pre-War figure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Those are facts which hon. Members opposite may dislike, but they are essential factors in the whole discussion. Our previous policy, so far as its objectives were concerned, and so far as it was not a mere act of bad temper on the part of the last Government, has failed economically. That in itself is a sufficient justification for a change of policy. Hon. Members opposite ask us why we should bother about recognising Russia, when the United States manage to get on very well with Russia without any formal diplomatic relations. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who leads the Liberal party, gave reasons why the circumstances of America in relation to Russia differ from our own. Let me give one or two other instances which cut away the force of that argument.

In the first place the relations between the United States and Russia have been uniformly friendly. United States manufacturers have not been troubled by a Churchill, a Curzon or a "Jix" during the years which have passed since the War. The United States has always pursued informally, whatever may have been its former policy and relations, a policy which has produced good will and not bad will. When Russia was prostrate in the days of the famine the United States appointed its present President to organise relief. The United States Government allocated millions of money to relieve destitution, famine, and disease in Russia. The result is that throughout Russia that fact is remembered with gratitude, contrasted with the policy of His Majesty's Ministers at the time, who at the risk of the death of millions of Russian peasants, and in order to attain some political end in the direction of the payment of old debts and old claims, pursued quite a different policy.

Those policies are constantly contrasted and Russia has not forgotten the contrast. It is perfectly true that the United States has had no diplomatic relations with Russia, but there has been a mass of friendly informal relations. There have been Russian trading organisations in New York; there has been for years a Russian unofficial mission in Washington, living in infinitely more friendly relations with the Departments of the American Government than ever was the case in this country. For example, visas for Russian engineers and business men have not been withheld, whereas constantly it has been impossible for responsible Russian buyers to reach this country. Within the last week I saw that arrangements had been made for 35 American engineers to go to Russia to help the Russians to restore and reorganise their mining industry, while at the same time 10 or more Russian engineers per annum are going to America to learn American methods. The great firm of Ford, to take another illustration, has had hundreds of Russian workmen in America, going through its works. The last Home Secretary would have had a fit if such a proposition had been made with regard to this country. In that way, and in numerous other ways, personal and friendly relations between America and Russia have been facilitated, whereas every conceivable obstacle has been placed in the way here.

I will give another reason why we should change our policy. The last speaker referred to a particular trade, and said that in that trade we were absolutely dependent on the possibility of the revival of the Russian market. He spoke about the trade that he knew, and assumed that that trade was peculiar; but there are many other trades in this country in much the same position. There is the agricultural machinery industry. During the last two or three years, Russia has bought millions of pounds worth of agricultural machinery in America and in Germany. Its inability to get its experts here, to get confidence here, and the uniformly unfriendly attitude of the last Government, have made it almost impossible to place orders in this country. Then there is the textile machinery trade, there is all the range of trades concerned with textiles and clothing, electrical machinery, and a dozen other things. In all of these cases the demand in Russia at this moment is enormous. There is no doubt about the need and desire of the peasant to get tractors, ploughs, reaping machines, and every kind of machinery of the sort that this country could and would supply.

When I am asked, "Can Russia pay for them? Will they be paid for?" I am entitled to cite two things. In the first place, in these last 10 years, without any setback, despite harvest difficulties, despite the actions of Members of the last Government and of other Governments year by year, the Russian export of commodities for sale on world markets has increased. Russia's power to pay is determined year by year by her exports. This year they reached the quite respectable total of approximately £90,000,000. Last year they were about 20 per cent. less, and the year before that they were still less; and there is no reason to doubt that year by year these figures will increase. Russia's export capacity depends upon the steady revival of her industry and agriculture internally, and there is no country in the world which can point to an increase in industrial production year by year, for the last three years in succession, of from 15 to 20 per cent. per annum, and boast, as she can boast, that this has happened entirely through her own exertions and from her own resources. If it is a question of the power of Russia to' pay, there can, I submit, on any fair and dispassionate examination of the progress made and the possibilities for the future, be no possible doubt at all.

In regard to whether Russia is willing to pay, I have heard hon. Gentlemen opposite say, "Oh, yes, they will pile up their credits, and then suddenly they will refuse to pay again." In the first place I would like to remind hon. Gentlement of an answer given, I think, by a Minister in the last Government, to a question in regard to the number of bad debts made by the British Government in connection with the Export Credits Act and other loans in the last 10 years in the operation of these schemes. In these last 10 years, of the 43 countries, apart from Russia, to which such credits have been given, there was not one in which bad debts have not been made by His Majesty's Government, and there is not one in which bad debts have not been made by British traders. The only country in Europe in regard to which in the last 10 years, not a single bad debt has been made by any British trader, is Soviet Russia, and during that time there has been a turnover of trade running into hundreds of millions. I submit that that is a fact which this House cannot ignore; it is a fact which the business firms concerned in this and other countries fully recognise.

I submit that for long enough relations between this country and Russia have been tested by the passions, by the emotions, by the animosities of 10 years ago, and it is time we looked at this question in a new spirit, in a businesslike, sensible way. We have but to create such relations between the two countries that it will be possible for those strong elements in Russian opinion which desire to be friendly with us to make it clear that it is well worth their while to be friendly with us. I submit that that is the only effective way of dealing with the question of propaganda. With regard to debts and these other questions, the only possible method of reaching a settlement is by friendly and co-operative discussion across the table in the manner proposed by the Foreign Secretary. With regard generally to the question of debts, and all the other questions which have been raised in this discussion, I submit that it is time that this House paid as much attention in this matter to the interests of South Wales as to the interests of South Kensington.


At this very late hour I shall not occupy the House for more than a very few moments. There have been a great many speeches to-night, and a great deal of oratory on both sides, either pointing out the iniquities of the Soviet Government or belauding its admirable disposition; but I think that all these questions are really hardly what we meant to discuss to-night. I find that we are asked, in the Motion before the House, to approve the procedure for the settlement of questions outstanding between the two countries, while, on the other hand, we are invited by the Amendment to deplore the failure of His Majesty's Government to maintain the conditions which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary laid down for the resumption of diplomatic relations. I should have been quite happy if the Amendment had ended at the words "Diplomatic relations," and it is on that point that I wish to speak. It might, perhaps, be considered unnecessary, in a Motion of this kind, to go into the question of procedure, but procedure and usage and tradition is not without its value as a safeguard.

At one time, at the beginning of this discussion, I was curious to know from whom came the initiative for the resumption of relations. Since I have read the White Paper, and even some time before, from observations which came to me, if not absolutely at first-hand, at secondhand from the people to whom they were made in continental countries—from agents of the Soviet there who were already, in January and February, assured that, as soon as the elections took place in England, and when a new Labour Government was returned to Office, the first step they would take would be to renew relations—it seems to me that there can be no longer any great reason to inquire from whom the initiative came. I feel that there has been, so far as I can see, not only an initiative here but even an importunity, from the way in which initiative was met when it was first put to the Soviet Government. In all the diplomatic history and precedents I could think of, where there has been a rupture of the nations between two countries it has been unusual, and I should say unprecedented, that the party to whom the injury had been done, and who was compelled to take measures for his own preservation, should be the one to take the initiative and ask the other party to kiss and make friends.

I will leave on one side the expressions of sympathy that the Soviet Government have received from a few individual Members on the other side, I think the same Members who have suggested that when we are about to renew relations with it it would be perhaps desirable that we should suppress that very small allocation which is given for the Secret Service and for protecting ourselves against intrigues in other countries. I sincerely believe that hon. Members opposite believe that, if we can renew relations, it will go far to improve our commercial position with Russia and that we shall develop before long an important trade there. I believe them to be very optimistic but I think the position is a laudable one and I would ask them at the same time, in view of the criticisms I have made of what I call initiative and importunity, to ask themselves whether, besides that material advantage, which to me seems to be of a shadowy kind, we have not also to think in a matter of this kind of national dignity. I may be old-fashioned in speaking of national dignity but it appears to me in the whole of this rupture that the attitude adopted by the United States and France has been the dignified attitude to adopt. If we are going to sacrifice principle and precedent and all these things for possible tangible, material advantage, we must not resent it when those nations which have retained their dignified position revert to the old jibe and describe us as a nation of shopkeepers.

10.0 p. m.


This Debate has spread over a very wide ground and, listening to some of the speeches, one might suppose the only question we had to discuss was the herring trade, or the development of other British industries, without any regard to the political consequences of the action the Government are taking. What has struck me in the Debate is the extent to which hon. Members ignore and some wilfully close their eyes to the facts of past experience. I myself was a Member of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when they signed the Trade Agreement. I thought at that time that it was an arguable proposition that to bring Russia back into the comity of nations would lead her to observe the recognised practices of international relations. I agreed that it was worth while to make the experiment and I was a Member of the Government that made it. Our experience was that, whilst Russia took every advantage she could obtain under that Agreement, she failed to keep the pledged troth by which alone the Agreement had been secured, and it was with her failure to keep that Agreement definitely before them that the last Labour Government, instead of calling them to book and insisting on the fulfilment of obligations, proceeded on the same assumption that, by welcoming them more freely, by recognising them more fully, you would cause them to cease their nefarious practices, and gave them diplomatic recognition. The Agreement, again repeated, to abstain from propaganda was broken from the day it was signed, and continued to be broken until the day when we broke off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Wise) spoke a moment ago as if the only complaint this country had at that time was against the action of the Third International, but, in the White Paper which give the reasons for breaking off negotiations, it was shown that the Chargé d'Affaires of the Soviet Government in this country was himself directly implicated in anti-British propaganda, and that the agent in China for whom the Soviet Government had disclaimed all responsibility had received his instructions directly from Moscow.

I think it was a mistake on the part of the Prime Minister to give all that he had to give before he had ensured the fulfilment of the Russian Government's previous promises, but, when we came in, I desired, in this as in other matters, to preserve as far as was possible the continuity of British policy, and I did my utmost, though I would never have initiated diplomatic relations in the circumstances in which the right hon. Gentleman did, to maintain them. The Government of which I was a member exercised a forbearance under extreme provocation which broke down only when our hospitality was openly abused. It is in the light of those facts that we have to examine what the Government ask us to approve to-day.

I wish, first, to ask the hon. Gentleman who is going to reply to me not to forget the question put by my right hon. Friend as to whether the Government have it in contemplation to extend diplomatic privileges to anything but the Soviet Embassy, if that be here received, strictly so limited. That is a matter of great importance, for the extension of diplomatic privileges to the Soviet trade agent was a cause of great embarrassment, and any such extension of diplomatic privileges, wholly one-sided as it was, was an experience which we ought not to be asked to undergo a second time.

I want to deal, very briefly, with questions important in themselves, but less important in my view than the great political issue which is before us. It is obvious from the speeches made in support of the Government to-day that the hope of Members in the majority—the combined majority—is for a great extension of trade. Incidentally, the Government hope to secure a settlement in some form or another of the debts which the Russian Government owes to the Government of this country and which Russia owes to private individuals in this country. As regards the debts of the Russian Government, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that I have not perfect confidence in him, but I am convinced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see that we do not obtain less from Russia than he asked of our other Allies. [Interruption.] Let him get what he got from Italy; that is something, at any rate. What I care most about is not the exact amount of money which we may receive, but the recognition of the public law of the world that when a Government inherits from a previous Government, it inherits its obligations and duties as well as its rights. [Interruption.] I hope hon. Members opposite will allow me to proceed. I have agreed to divide the remaining time between that side of the House and this. If I fail to keep that bargain, it will only be because I am interrupted.

That is all I propose to say about debts. As regards trade, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has himself admitted that trade could be conducted perfectly well without diplomatic relations. It has been so conducted and extended with other countries which have not diplomatic relations with us. Why, then is it supposed that the mere resumption of diplomatic relations will give us this great expansion of trade? It rests, I think, on one fallacy and on one fact, and I do not know whether the fallacy or the fact is the more significant and the more dangerous. The fallacy is that the restriction of Russian purchases depends solely upon Government action. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs developed at considerable length the thesis of the immense trade which we should do. He said that nothing stood between us and it but this unfortunate breach of diplomatic relations. That was not always the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. I quote from his speech in 1922, made on the 26th July of that year. Talking of the conditions in Russia, he said: It is idle to talk about 'recognition' in these conditions until you restore the country. … My right hon. Friend, the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) asked: 'Why you do not give recognition to Russia first, and all the rest will follow?' just like my right hon. Friend asked to-night. Still quoting the right hon. Member for Platting he went on: Send an Ambassador to Moscow, to be followed by a train of bankers, financiers, manufacturers, traders and so on. Then comes the answer of my right hon. Friend: If you sent out the best Ambassador we possess, he would not be followed by a single banker or trader until the necessary conditions were established, and to say otherwise is really misleading the public. That is the fallacy which underlay a good many of the speeches this evening. The danger is this: Trade with this country has not been limited because the Government of Russia had not credit available in this country, because we have always purchased more from Russia than Russia has purchased from us, and she therefore has always had a balance which could have been spent here if she had wished it. Why has it not been spent? Because trade is not free in Russia. Trade is a function of government and an instrument of policy, because the Russian Government have used their control of trade to say: "Unless you accept our political terms, orders shall not be placed with you." The danger of the right hon. Gentleman's action is that he submits to this blackmail, and encourages, as every submission to blackmail does, a repetition of it.

One observation of the right hon. Gentleman I heard with great satisfaction: He stated that he wished to make it clear that the Government do not intend to recommend Parliament to pledge the credit of the British taxpayer to any loan raised by the Soviet Government. I gladly acknowledge and thank him for that. The Government have learnt something since 1924. But I observe that in the agreement which they made in 1924 the provisions of the chapter dealing with the loan and with trade are described as constituting a single and indivisible unit, and I imagine that, when the carrot is withdrawn, the animal will gallop less willingly.

The right hon. Gentleman finds it difficult to imagine on what grounds we put forward our Amendment. He said, as he always did, that he has maintained every promise and every undertaking which the Government gave. How is it possible to maintain that somebody has not changed his attitude? Why were the negotiations broken off at the end of July and beginning of August last?


I told you.


Why have they succeeded and resulted in an agreement now? Because somebody has changed. Who is it?


I told you.


The right hon. Gentleman tells us that it is the Soviet Government. The Soviet Government say the contrary, and, what is more, the right hon. Gentleman's White Paper proves it. The Soviet Ambassador handed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 31st July a Note, in which he said: The fact that the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has stated … that it is impossible for the British Government to re-establish normal relations between the two countries before the solution of the questions outstanding between them makes negotiations impossible. What did the right hon. Gentleman do when he received that Note? Did he say "You are under a complete misapprehension. I never intended to make it a condition that these questions should be settled before the exchange of Ambassadors." No, Sir; he accepted them. He explained that it had been his hope that at least the principles on which a settlement could be worked should have been denned before he met Parliament again. The principles have not been defined now. None of the questions have been settled. The Soviet Government have maintained their attitude. The right hon. Gentleman has surrendered to their insistence. Even more important in my opinion is the question of hostile propaganda. The pledge which the Government gave was explicit. There is no difference between us when I say that the pledge was explicit, and that it was that the conditions laid down by the right hon. Gentleman in his Note to Mr. Rakovski would be conditions essential to any settlement. The defence of the Government to-day—and I must say it took me completely by surprise—is that that pledge is fully and adequately met by the inclusion in the Protocol of Clause 7, which provides that on the exchange of Ambassadors the pledge with regard to propaganda contained in the Draft Treaty, 1924, will be reciprocally confirmed.

The question which I invite hon. Members to put to themselves is whether both parties understand the pledge of 1924 in the same sense? It is for this purpose, I think, important to recall what has been the previous attitude of the Soviet Government. The right hon. Gentleman said in explicit terms to-day that propaganda by the Third International was included under the terms of this pledge, and that the Government would insist upon the observance of the pledge by the Soviet. He was asked, "Did you inform Mr. Dovgalevski of your interpretation?" He replied that he had. He was asked, "Did Mr. Dovgalevski accept it?" He replied, "He said he would repeat it to his Government." Have the Soviet Government accepted it? Have they made any reply? It is vital. This statement is not on record, so far as we know, between the two Governments. So far as we know and so far as we can perceive, from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, it has been reported to the Soviet Government, and ignored by them. It is not safe to proceed on that basis, where one Government attaches one meaning to the condition of ratification and the other Government attaches a different meaning. Without an express avowal by the Soviet Government that they have changed their view in accepting the interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman, it is incredible that any such change should have taken place, and it is impossible to believe that this new pledge will have any more value that the old one.

I do not want to trouble the House with lengthy quotations, but I would recall the following statement made on the 13th July, 1926. I spoke to their Charge d'Affaires on this subject, and he replied: As to what I had said about the Communist International, it was impossible for the Soviet Government to control its activities or interfere with its liberties. It would be contrary to freedom as understood in Soviet Russia. Freedom to attack other nations is apparently the only freedom which is understood in Russia. The following statement was made by Mr. Litvinoff on 26th July, 1927: The Soviet Government declared then and there that it could, not assume responsibility for the acts of an international organisation directed and controlled by delegates of the Communist party of different countries. In other words, the Soviet Government have placed repeatedly on record their disavowal of all responsibility for and of the power to control the Third International. Now, the right hon. Gentleman says that he has a pledge that they will control it and will prevent it from repeating the acts of which he complains. I say to him, Get that pledge countersigned expressly by the Soviet Government before you proceed further! If he puts the question directly and simply to them they will tell him now, as they have told the British Government on every previous occasion, that they will not and cannot control the Third International, and that they do not interpret the pledge of the Treaty of 1924 in the same sense as the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has not been wholly fortunate in the arguments used by his supporters in this Debate. It is, I think, a case in which he might pray to be saved from his friends. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs came forward as his most loyal and eager supporter.


And made a good speech.


And he had the courage of his convictions.


So, I hope, have we all. I impute no motives. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs defended the action of the Government by reasons which are wholly destructive of the position taken up by the Secretary of State. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that we all know—several speakers have repeated the same statement—that whatever you say and whatever they say, propaganda will go on. You say it cannot go on, it shall not go on. Your supporters tell you that it will. Then the right hon. Gentleman hopes that the Foreign Secretary, having renewed relations with Russia, will not be so foolish as to sever them merely because the pledge not to propagate hostilities is broken; and the Secretary of State, who formally declared that the Government would tolerate no such propaganda, nodded approval to the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs.


I am sorry to take up the time of the right hon. Gentleman with an interruption, but this is rather important. All I did was to plead that the Foreign Secretary should display the same forbearance as the late Lord Curzon and the right hon. Member himself displayed, and that he should not at the first infringement respond to the appeal that was made to break off relations.


I have generally understood that a recidiviste receives shorter shrift than a first offender. I confess that the only thing that remains obscure to me at the end of this Debate is: who is it that is being deceived. Have the Government been fooled by the Soviet Government or are they consciously trying to fool the country?


Those of us who sat in the last Parliament have noted a certain difference in the tone and temperature of this Debate as compared with the tone and temperature of the Debates on Russia in the Parliament which was elected on the Zinovieff letter and which was consumed in the smoke of polling day last May. In the last Parliament, whenever Russia was mentioned the Conservative party had a night out, thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and at the end of the evening had a majority in the Division Lobby. Tonight the position is different. To-night it is we who have enjoyed our night out very much, and we have noticed that many of the speeches made by hon. Members on the other side have been pitched in a very minor key. We have not had quite the same assurance, not quite the same, I hope I may say it without offence, truculence, not quite the same vigour in the denunciation of the Russian policy of the Labour party which, as the Foreign Secretary has shown, has been a consistent policy for 10 years. We have missed the contribution which the hon. and gallant Member for Handsworth (Commander O. Locker-Lampson), is wont to make on Russian Debates. It has been his misfortune not to take part in the Debate to-night. May I recall to the House a speech he delivered on the 26th May, 1927, when amid great hilarity the Reds were cleared out. The hon. and gallant Member said: The Communist State in Russia, enthroned and strong though it be there now, could not continue and will not continue if we do our duty to-night and throw out Russian recognition. Indeed it can be said that British recognition alone has kept that monstrous idol upon its legs. This Debate, therefore, is historic. For if we do our duty to-night Bolshevism as a world force is doomed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th May, 1927; cols. 2255–6, Vol. 206.] In the result it was not Bolshevism, but the Tory Government which cleared out the Reds, which was doomed. We meet to-night in other circumstances. When this Debate concludes and when the Government appeal for the judgment of the House on the policy which has been expounded by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to-day, we have little doubt that there will be a reversal of the foolish act of policy committed in 1927 and supported by speeches of the quality of that which I have just quoted. The Leader of the Opposition put certain questions in the course of his speech and I shall endeavour to answer them as directly as he put them. May I note in passing that the Leader of the Opposition said—and we were glad to hear it—that, whatever might be the attitude of other elements in his party, he himself made no accusation against my right hon. Friend of breach of faith and no accusation of repudiation of pledges. He merely wondered why my right hon. Friend and the Government were in such a hurry.

That last question can be simply answered. We are in a hurry in order to catch up with all the time that has been lost during the last four years in many spheres both of domestic and foreign policy. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not the way to do things."] The hon. Gentleman opposite who interrupts and the Government which he supported in the last Parliament—if he was here—are good judges of how not to do things. Now let me try with the permission of hon. Members opposite to answer the questions courteously put by the Leader of the Opposition. He asked what was the position with regard to the Trade Agreement of 1921; would it fall to be revived automatically if Ambassadors were exchanged, or, if not, would it be revived by us deliberately? That Trade Agreement was terminated on 26th May, 1927, when the previous Government took their decision to break diplomatic relations. Parts of it to-day are out of date. It was drafted in 1921 under conditions which have considerably changed in the intervening eight years. Many parts, as I say, are out of date and it will not be revived automatically, nor do the Government propose to revive it in the form in which it was previously entered into. Our proposal rather is to negotiate de novo a commercial treaty covering many matters dealt with in the Trade Agreement of 1921 and, possibly, certain other matters not dealt with therein, but which in the intervening period of time have become suitable for embodiment in a commercial treaty.

He asked me, in the next place, "Would the Treaty of 1924 be the basis for a new agreement and a new Treaty?" The answer to that again, as to the last question, is that parts of that Treaty of 1924 are no longer applicable. In particular, the Foreign Secretary to-day made it very clear that His Majesty's Government do not propose to recommend to Parliament to pledge the credit of the British taxpayer in respect of a loan raised by the Soviet Government. In so far as that was a proposal embodied in the former Treaty which we do not propose to re-embody in any new Treaty, it is evident that the Treaty of 1924 would be only an imperfect basis of discussion. Certain other changes, no doubt, in the Treaty of 1924 will be necessitated by the march of events and the change of circumstances. On the other hand, certain parts of the Treaty would form a quite useful basis for discussion in the near future.

I was asked, "Are the Articles 6 to 13 in the Treaty of 1924 to he regarded as an indivisible whole?" Those include the provision for the guaranteed loan, and consequently the answer to that question is evidently no. We shall endeavour, when we enter into negotiations, if the House shall give us authority to-night, to re-discuss the various subjects dealt with in those Articles in the light of these new conditions, one of which I have indicated. May I mention in passing, in reference to the very able speech of my hon. Friend the member for Aston (Mr. Strachey), a very able and delightful maiden speech, that he threw out a suggestion that it might be desirable to devise some new scheme, some half-way house, as it were, between the Export Credits Scheme and the old Trade Facilities Act. That seems to me a very interesting suggestion, which he did not develop in any detail, but there are, of course, many alternative modes of finance which would not offend against the principle laid down by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I have no doubt that all those possibilities will be explored and examined to see how far they are practicable at the present time. The House will, of course, remember, so far as the present Export Credits Scheme is concerned, that the Government have already extended that scheme to cover Russian trade as well as trade with other countries, and the House will also remember that, so far as trade facilities are concerned, the old Trade Facilities Act has lapsed and that nothing can be put in its place without new legislation, as to which, of course, I am not in a position to give any undertaking to-night.

I was asked also by the Leader of the Opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last emphasised the question, to say something on the subject of diplomatic privileges and immunities. Quite evidently, that is to some extent a question of detail, although to some extent a question of principle as well. [Laughter.] If hon. Members find that difficult to understand, it is probably due to a blissful ignorance of the political and economic conditions prevailing in the Soviet Union. I think I may, however, say that it is not the intention of the Government that diplomatic privileges and immunities should be unduly extensive. [An HON. MEMBER: "What does that mean?"] That is a matter for the negotiators to consider; and let me remind the hon. Member that whenever the treaty which we hope to conclude after the interchange of Ambassadors has taken place, and negotiations have been completed, whenever that treaty is signed, it will be brought to this House before ratification, and that an opportunity will then arise for the hon. Member who thought that that was a very amusing phrase to get up in his place and to discuss whether or not he considers that the privileges and immunities which will have been granted under the treaty are unduly extensive. That will then be a legitimate subject for intelligent debate.


Is it suggested that wider powers should be given to the Soviet Government and that their diplomatic representative would have further facilities than any of the other recognised Ambassadors?


I am quite sure that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour), who is a member of the Anglo-Russian Committee which has been examining trade conditions in Russia, and has made an interesting Report, appreciates the fact that in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics trade is a State function. It may be argued, as no doubt the Soviet representatives will argue, in the negotiations which follow, that that would entitle them to a somewhat—[Interruption.] I was endeavouring to reply to a question put to me by one of the hon. Gentleman's own friends, and I shall be obliged if he will endeavour to allow me to answer. If he does not wish me to answer, I will pass on. The hon. Member for Hampstead has put this question to me, and the answer is that no doubt the representatives of the Soviet Government will argue that they are entitled, by reason of the facts stressed by the late Foreign Secretary, to a somewhat more extensive range of diplomatic privileges and immunities than are States where trade is not a State function, and we shall have to consider their arguments on their merits. In the light of the principle which I have laid down, that the privileges granted must not be unduly extensive, we shall consider any arguments that they will put up, and the result of our consideration of them will be embodied in a treaty which will come back to this House before it can finally foe ratified.

The broad ground on which we have been challenged is whether or not we have fulfilled the conditions laid down by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in earlier Debates. It has been maintained, and I certainly maintain it, and in my judgment the majority of this House believes that we are right in maintaining it, that these conditions have been fulfilled, and amply fulfilled. With regard to propaganda, we have been better than our word. We have obtained a guarantee in very wide terms before the resumption of full diplomatic relations, and before the exchange of ambassadors has taken effect. Under Article 7 of the Protocol of 3rd October, we have secured from the Soviet Government an undertaking that, as soon as ambassadors are exchanged, they will implement a pledge in terms taken from the Treaty of 1924. The late Foreign Secretary said that in respect of these matters we have been guilty of a surrender, and he quoted in support of that the third document in the White Paper which is the translation of a note handed by M. Dovgalevski to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 31st July, 1929. We do not accept that note as giving an accurate account of what was said to M. Dovgalevski by my right hon. Friend. Those who have read this correspondence carefully will of course have noticed that the invitation from His Majesty's Government to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an invitation to send a responsible representative to London in order to discuss with the Foreign Secretary direct the most expeditious procedure for reaching as rapidly as possible a friendly and mutually satisfactory settlement. And so on. It is evident that M. Dovgalevski, possibly owing to his imperfect knowledge of the language in which the conversation was carried on—[Laughter.] Such difficulties are not unknown in diplomatic conversations with persons of another nationality. It is possible that M. Dovgalevski was not quite able to appreciate the point put to him by my right hon. Friend. I do not know whether that is the explanation or not, but it is a possible explanation. [Interruption.] No doubt the hon. Gentleman would have been able to carry on a most intelligent conversation in Russian if he had been conducting the negotiations. The point we desire to emphasise is that that (statement by M. Dovgalevski was a misrepresentation, no doubt quite well intentioned, but, still, a misrepresentation of the view taken by my right hon. Friend, as explained very clearly in the first document in this White Paper. "The most expeditious procedure" was what was to be discussed, and in the course of time it was possible to make that clear, and in the course of time we secured an agreement by the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics to a pledge on propaganda before ever Ambassadors were exchanged. I wish again to emphasise that. Hon. Members may say this agreement is not worth much, but we have got this agreement referring to propaganda before Ambassadors are exchanged, and we have also got the agreement embodied in the Protocol of 3rd October laying down the procedure for dealing with a very large number of outstanding questions between the two countries. In view of that I think I am entitled to repeat that, so far as our pledge concerning propaganda is concerned, we have been better than our word.

It has been the custom in these Debates to quote past utterances by leading Members of all parties. I shall only be following that tradition if I refer briefly to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman who was Foreign Secretary in the last Government on 25th June, 1926. He was resisting a proposal from the "die-hard" section of his own party to break off relations with Russia at that time, and he said: The issue is, 'Shall we break off relations which have now existed for some time; shall we terminate an Agreement which has been in force?' I believe that to answer those questions in the affirmative would be no good to us, would give us no weapon for fighting disorder or disloyalty or revolution within our own borders, would create division where we seek union, and would in its echoes abroad increase the uncertainty, increase the fears, increase the instability of European conditions, which it is and ought to be our chief object to remove."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1926; col. 777, Vol. 197.] So spoke the late Foreign Secretary on 25th June, 1926, in reply to his own "die-hards," his own extremists, if I may use a word sometimes applied to hon. Members on this side of the House, his own wild men. In June, 1926, he withstood his extreme right wing; but not for long was that victory secured. A year later he was defeated and, to use his own words, compelled to surrender to his own extremists. What he said on the 25th June, 1926, has proved to be abundantly true. He feared in 1926 that if he ruptured relations with the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics that action would in its echoes abroad increase the uncertainty, increase the fears and increase the instability of European conditions. And that is exactly the effect which was produced by the action which only a year before he had deplored and resisted. That is part of the heritage of the present Government, that is part of the heritage of my right hon. Friend. When we have been to Geneva, when we have visited The Hague, we have found there, and we have found elsewhere, evidences of this increased uncertainty, increased fear, and increased instability, which the right hon. Gentleman so clearly foresaw in 1926, and was unable to prevent in 1927. And it is our object now to diminish the fears, to diminish the uncertainty, and to diminish the instability, which were increased by the action of the right hon. Gentleman and of the last Government.

As for trade, there is little that I need add. Business men have been quoted. Hon. Members, one a supporter of the Government, and one a Member of the Liberal party have dealt with other aspects of the case, such as the herring fisheries. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) has admitted that he is a member of the Anglo-Russian Committee, but that he did not agree with the Report.


I desire to correct that. I entirely agreed with that Report, but there were two conditions precedent to that Report: one was an absolutely determined guarantee for the absence of propaganda, and the other was the recognition of debts to British nationals.


I am delighted to hear that the hon. Gentleman entirely agreed with the Report.


On those two conditions.


Now that he has told us that, perhaps I might be allowed to refer to the final paragraph of that Report, in which it is pointed out that there, is a great deal of trade waiting for development: In a resolution carried on 10th April—the hon. Member agrees with this: The delegates emphatically affirm the conclusion that no economic development between the two countries is possible without the existence of normal diplomatic relations"—


Quite true.


"—and undertakes to make these facts generally appreciated by British public opinion."


The hon. Gentleman must recollect what was fundamental to the whole of this: It was unanimously agreed that none of these things could be done until we had a definite and absolute guarantee against propaganda. It was only on that condition that that Report was agreed to.


It is a most interesting Report, and very well worth reading. It goes on— and undertakes to make this fact generally appreciated by British public opinion"— I expect, including the electorate of Hampstead— and, having regard to the fact that this delegation is non-political, the Committee be requested to further the interests of British industry without regard to any political party, and to avoid anything which might be interpreted as introducing political bias. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman and his friends upon drawing it up.


The political bias is on your side.


It is a very valuable report, and, if it secures a wide circulation, it will do a great deal of good in educating public opinion. I now come to propaganda. At the present time, there is no undertaking binding on the Soviet Government and the Third International against propaganda. There has been no such undertaking since the right hon. Gentleman opposite broke off relations with Russia, and since that time they have been subject to no undertakings regarding propaganda. We have now obtained an undertaking from Russia on that point. Whether or not that undertaking will prove effective the future will show. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs upon his interesting speech. In that speech, he showed more knowledge of the history of this question than many other hon. Members, and he pointed out that Russian propaganda did not begin in 1917 with the Bolshevist revolution. It was Queen Victoria who in 1868—[Interruption.] Is it common form now in the Tory party to jeer when the name of Queen Victoria is mentioned? Is this the latest illustration of Tory loyalty? The right hon. Gentleman said that for many years before the War Russia was sending large sums of money out of her secret service to carry on propaganda in the East against British interests, and therefore it was no new thing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that it was done in Persia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan and India, where large sums of money were spent in order to create anti-British sentiment in all those countries. Finally,

the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that that was only changed when an understanding was reached between British and Russian representatives. We say that there is now a possibility of building up a better understanding between this country and the Soviet Republics than has existed in the past. I ask the House to-night to give us authority to go forward and take the next step, to bury these stale old hatreds which have been an electioneering asset of the Tory party for so long, and to enable us to march forward towards better times, and a better understanding between these two great countries.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 324; Noes, 199.

Division No. 8.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Charleton, H. C. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Chater, Daniel Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Church, Major A. G. Groves, Thomas E.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Clarke, J. S. Grundy, Thomas W.
Alpass, J. H. Cluse, W. S. Hall, F. (York, W. R. Normanton)
Amnion, Charles George Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Angell, Norman Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)
Arnott, John Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Aske, Sir Robert Compton, Joseph Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland).
Astor, Viscountess Cove, William G. Harbord, A.
Attlee, Clement Richard Daggar, George Hardie, George D.
Ayles, Walter Dallas, George Harris, Percy A.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Dalton, Hugh Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Barnes, Alfred John Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Haycock, A. W.
Barr, James Day, Harry Hayday, Arthur
Batey, Joseph Denman, Hon. R. D. Hayes, John Henry
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Dickson, T. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Bellamy, Albert Dudgeon, Major C. R. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Dukes, C. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Duncan, Charles Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Ede, James Chuter Herriotts, J.
Benson, G. Edge, Sir William Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Edmunds, J. E. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Hoffman, P. C.
Birkett, W. Norman Egan, W. H. Hollins, A.
Blindell, James Elmley, Viscount Hopkin, Daniel
Boothby, R. J. G. England, Colonel A. Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Bowen, J. W. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Horrabin, J. F.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Foot, Isaac Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Broad, Francis Alfred Forgan, Dr. Robert Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Brockway, A. Fenner Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Bromfield, William Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Isaacs, George
Bromley, J. George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Brooke, W. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) John, William (Rhondda, West)
Brothers, M. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Johnston, Thomas
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Gibbins, Joseph Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Jones, Henry, Haydn (Merioneth)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Gill, T. H. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Gillett, George M. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Buchan, John Glassey, A. E. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Buchanan, G. Gosling, Harry Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Burgess, F. G. Gossling, A. G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Gould, F. Jowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Kelly, W. T.
Caine, Derwent Hall Granville, E. Kennedy, Thomas
Cameron, A. G. Gray, Milner Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Cape, Thomas Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Kinley, J.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Kirkwood, D.
Knight, Holford Nathan, Major H. L. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Naylor, T. E. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Lang, Gordon Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Noel Baker, P. J. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Lathan, G. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Law, Albert (Bolton) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Sorensen, R.
Law, A. (Rosendale) Owen. H. F. (Hereford) Spero, Dr. G. E.
Lawrence, Susan Palin, John Henry Stamford, Thomas W.
Lawson, John James Paling, Wilfrid Stephen, Campbell
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Palmer, E. T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Leach, W. Perry, S. F. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Peters, Dr. Sidney John Strauss, G. R.
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Sullivan, J.
Lees, J. Phillips, Dr. Marion Sutton, J. E.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Picton-Turberville, E. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Lloyd, C. Ellis Pole, Major D. G. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Longbottom, A. W. Ponsonby, Arthur Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Longden, F. Potts, John S. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Lowth, Thomas Price, M. P. Thurtle, Ernest
Lunn, William Quibell, D. J. K. Tillett, Ben
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Tinker, John Joseph
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Rathbone, Eleanor Toole, Joseph
McElwee, A. Raynes, W. R. Tout, W. J.
McEntee, V. L. Richards, R. Townend, A. E.
Mackinder, W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
McKinlay, A. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Turner, B.
MacLaren, Andrew Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Vaughan, D. J.
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Ritson, J. Viant, S. P.
MacNeill-Weir, L. Romeril, H. G. Walker, J.
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Wallace, H. W.
McShane, John James Rothschild, J. de Wallhead, Richard C.
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Rowson, Guy Watkins, F. C.
Mansfield, W. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
March, S. Salter, Dr. Alfred Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Marcus, M. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Markham, S. F. Sanders, W. S. Wellock, Wilfred
Marley, J. Sandham, E. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Mathers, George Sawyer, G. F. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Matters, L. W. Scott, James West, F. R.
Maxton, James Scrymgeour, E. Westwood, Joseph
Melville, J. B. Scurr, John Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Messer, Fred Sexton, James White, H. G.
Middleton, G. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Millar, J. D. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Mills, J. E. Sherwood, G. H. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Milner, J. Shield, George William Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Montague, Frederick Shiels, Dr. Drummond Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Shillaker, J. F. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Morley, Ralph Shinwell, E. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Simmons, C. J. Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Mort, D. L. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Wise, E. F.
Moses, J. J. H. Sinkinson, George Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Sitch, Charles H. Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Muff, G. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Muggeridge, H. T. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Murnin, Hugh Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Charles Edwards
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Braithwaite, Major A. N. Cranbourne, Viscount
Albery, Irving James Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Buckingham, Sir H. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Bullock, Captain Malcoim Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Burton, Colonel H. W. Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Atholl, Duchess of Butler, R. A. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)
Atkinson, C. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Carver, Major W. H. Dalkeith, Earl of
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Castlestewart, Earl of Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cautley, Sir Henry S. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Davies, Dr. Vernon
Balniel, Lord Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Beaumont, M. W. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Duckworth, G. A. V.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Dugdale, Capt. T. L.
Bennett, Sir Albert (Nottingham, C.) Christie, J. A. Eden, Captain Anthony
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Edmondson, Major A. J.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Elliot, Major Walter E.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cohen, Major J. Brunel Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Colman, N. C. D. Everard, W. Lindsay
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Colville, Major D. J. Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Boyce, H. L. Courtauld, Major J. S. Ferguson, Sir John
Bracken, B. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Fermoy, Lord
Fielden, E. B. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Fison, F. G. Clavering Little, Dr. E. Graham Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Ford, Sir P. J. Llewellin, Major J. J. Savery, S. S.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Galbraith, J. F. W. Long, Major Eric Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Ganzoni, Sir John Lymington, Viscount Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Smithers, Waldron
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General E. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Glyn, Major R. G. C. Margesson, Captain H. D. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Gower, Sir Robert Marjoribanks, E. C. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Grace, John Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Meller, R. J. Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Greene, W. P. Crawford Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Thomson, Sir F.
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Tinne, J. A.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Morden, Col. W. Grant Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Gunston, Captain D. W. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Train, J.
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Muirhead, A. J. Turton, Robert Hugh
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Hartington, Marquess of Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Haslam, Henry C. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Warrender, Sir Victor
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) O'Neill, Sir H. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Peake, Capt. Osbert Wayland, Sir William A.
Herbert, S. (York, N. R. Scar. & Wh'by) Penny, Sir George Wells, Sydney R.
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Pilditch, Sir Philip Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pownall, Sir Assheton Withers, Sir John James
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Purbrick, R. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hurd, Percy A. Ramsbotham, H. Womersley, W. J.
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Rawson, Sir Cooper Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Iveagh, Countess of Reynolds, Col. Sir James Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Kindersley, Major G. M. Ross, Major Ronald D. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Knox, Sir Alfred Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Salmon, Major I. Sir B. Eyres Monsell and Major
Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Sir George Hennessy.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House is of the opinion that the resumption of full diplomatic relations between this country and Russia is desirable, and approves the procedure for the settlement of questions outstanding between the two countries, including those relating to propaganda and debts, as set out in the Protocol of 3rd October, 1929, and published in Command Paper 3418.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Forward to