HC Deb 11 May 1931 vol 252 cc801-2

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the fact that Lord Goschen and the other British members of sub-committee B of the Anglo-Soviet Joint Committee, which is considering the claims of British citizens against the Soviet Government, at their meeting on Tuesday last, the 5th May, decided that further progress was impossible in view of the attitude adopted by the Soviet delegates; if he has received any report indicating in what way the attitude which the Soviet delegates adopted with reference to British claims makes further progress impossible; and what action the Government now propose to take in the matter?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the breakdown of negotiations on sub-committee B of the Russian Debts and Claims Committee, and in view of the fact that the British representatives are unpaid, he will now dissolve this committee and release the British delegates from their duties on it; and will he consider reducing the staff at Cornwall House who are dealing with this matter?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the present position of the negotiations in regard to the settlement of the various debts outstanding between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Great Britain?


The debt negotiations are still proceeding. I am glad to have this opportunity to correct misapprehensions which appear to have arisen from a statement published in certain organs of the Press on the 7th of May regarding Lord Goschen's Com- mittee. The committee decided at the outset that no information should be given to the Press by either side except in the form of agreed official communiqués. The statement of the 7th of May was unofficial and inaccurate. I am informed that sub-committee B is reporting the present position in their work to the main committee, which will meet shortly. I uderstand, after consultation with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, that no question arises of reducing the present staff at Cornwall House, who are dealing with Russian claims; they are few in number, and are largely employed in correspondence with persons interested in Russian debts and claims.


In view of the fact that some £250,000,000 of British money is concerned, and that this committee has been sitting for eight months, does not the right hon. Gentleman think the House is entitled to know whether the Soviet representatives have agreed in principle to the payment of compensation?


I have already tried to give the hon. Gentleman an answer to his question.


Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman denies that this sub-committee have already decided that further progress would be impossible in view of the attitude of the Soviet?


Yes, I deny it so far as the information at my disposal goes.


Will the right hon. Gentleman employ some of the staff dismissed from Arcos?

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