HC Deb 03 February 1930 vol 234 cc1474-8
14. Mr. DIXEY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied that the terms of arrangement between the Soviet Government and this country with regard to Communistic propaganda are being properly carried out?

18 and 26. Sir KINGSLEY WOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he has taken any action with the Soviet Government in relation to the statement recently appearing in "Izvestia," the official organ of the Soviet Government, that it is futile to expect any change in the Comintern's activity as a result of the Anglo-Soviet agreement, and that there was not the slightest foundation for the view that the agreement concerns the Comintern in any way;

(2) whether his attention has been called to a statement in the issue of the "Izvestia" of 25th January relating to his protest against the message from the Communist International which recently appeared in a daily journal; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

27. Captain EDEN

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any communication from the Soviet Government with reference to his recent representations as to propaganda by the Third International?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has had any reply from the Soviet Ambassador to his recent communication on the subject of the letter from the Third International which appeared on 1st January in a London newspaper?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the issue of "Izvestia," the official organ of the Soviet Government, of 25th January, stating that the Soviet Ambassador had informed the Foreign Secretary that the activities of the Third International with regard to propaganda were never intended to be included in the assurance given by the Ambassador on the presentation of his credentials; whether this information was officially given; and whether he can now assure the House that the Soviet Ambassador places the same interpretation on the assurance given by him as that given by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the House of Commons?


I have already, on several occasions, stated the position of His Majesty's Government on the points raised in these questions, and there is nothing that I can usefully add at present. I take this opportunity of pointing out that since the 20th October I have already answered 101 questions relating to the Soviet Union, of which 42 were directly on the subject of propaganda. The Five Power Conference is proceeding, and the demands upon my time and that of my Department, I need hardly say, are exceedingly heavy. It will, perhaps, be convenient if, with the permission of the House, I make a restatement of our position. I have already made it clear that His Majesty's Government are firmly determined not to be rushed into any hasty judgments in these matters. Should causes of serious complaint arise, the Government will not hesitate to take the House into their confidence, but they must in the first instance be the judge as to the action which may be expedient and necessary to safeguard the interests of this country. I feel sure the Government may equally count upon the House not to go out of its way to attempt to magnify or create incidents, or to complicate relations with other countries, by the raising of questions which cause embarrassment without advancing public interests.


With regard to Question No. 18, to which I take it the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to reply, does he deny that the statement contained in that question is perfectly true; is it a fact that the terms of the Treaty themselves are perfectly plain; and is it not equally true that from the moment they were signed they have been flagrantly broken?


I have not denied anything. I have simply said that I have nothing to add to what I have already said.


There is one question to which the right hon. Gentleman has not even attempted to reply. I refer to Quest/ion No. 27. The right hon. Gentleman on a previous occasion said that he had made representations to the Soviet Ambassador on this matter, and. in reply to a further question, he said that be had not asked for an answer. The question now is whether an answer has been returned, and will he be good enough to say whether an answer has been returned or not?


I have already answered that question on various occasions.


The right hon. Gentleman says he has answered it. Will he lie good enough to refer me to the answer?


I simply said on the previous occasion that I told the Ambassador here, when we were discussing the negotiations on the Protocol, that something had been done that was not calculated to assist the negotiations. I did not put a question for a reply.


On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is in accord with the Ruling which you have given several times that after two or three supplementary questions no more would be allowed?


Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to conduct the business in my own way. The fact is that the right hon. Gentleman's answer deals with six questions, and I must allow move supplementary to six questions than to one question.


May I press the right hon. Gentleman to reply to Question No. 27 on the Paper, which is perfectly specific, and which he has hitherto carefully evaded?


If I have carefully evaded, as the right hon. Gentleman says, he has been sufficiently long in my position to know that there are occasions when the public interest demands silence.

Colonel ASHLEY

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how the public interest is to be hurt by answering "Yes" or "No"?


Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the country is much more interested in maintaining friendly relations with Russia?

Several HON. MEMBERS rose


It is no good repeating the same question and getting the same answer.


I have not asked one supplementary question, and surely I am entitled to know, in reply to a question to a responsible Minister, whether he is satisfied—that is the only question that I have put—that the terms of the arrangement are being kept. I ask for an answer.


I have already answered the question in this House that experience alone would tell whether we could be satisfied.


Can the right hon. Gentleman—


Order !


On a point of Order. You, Sir, heard the right hon. Gentleman's reply, in which he inferred that hon. Members of this House, and inferentially yourself, who go through the questions before they are put, are failing in their duty in asking questions such as this. I should like to know whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to cast such aspersions on hon. Members of this House?


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman cast any aspersions.


On a point of Order. My question, number 29, was included, and I asked the most specific point, which has not been answered, namely, whether or not the Soviet Ambassador gave the answer stated in the "Izvestia" and printed in my question?


That question has already been answered.


No, Sir.

15. Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Indian students and students from other parts of the British Empire are under training in Soviet Russian colleges in revolutionary propaganda; and whether he has addressed any representations to the Soviet Russian Government on this matter?


I have no information on the subject on which I could make any representations to the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But if the hon. and gallant Member will forward to me any particulars, I will have them examined.

Commander BELLAIRS

Will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to ascertain particulars for himself, seeing that in many of these cases, as in India, students have been sent to prison who have been trained in Moscow?


I think I am entitled to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to provide me with the information on which his question is based.