HC Deb 06 March 1933 vol 275 cc791-3
31. Captain CAZALET

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any in- formation as regards recent negotiations between His Majesty's Government and the Soviet Government of Russia as regards the rights and privileges of diplomatic representatives to import into Russia articles for their own personal use?


The question is still under discussion with the Soviet Government, and I am not without hope that a satisfactory settlement may be reached. I am circulating a fuller reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


May I ask whether the Government of the Soviet has in the past made any different treatment from that accorded by other Governments to Members of His Majesty's Diplomatic Corps?


I cannot answer that question without notice, but the matter which we are now discussing with the Soviet Government represents a new departure upon which we have made strong representations.


When the right hon. Gentleman circulates his statement will he also, in that statement, tell the House whether the British representatives are being treated differently from others and whether any other diplomats in Moscow have made any complaints?


Yes, Sir, I think the statement will cover that.


Will the Government extend the same treatment as regards rationing to Soviet representatives in London as they extend to our people in Moscow?

Following is the reply:

On the 24th of October last the Soviet Authorities issued an order to the effect that foreign diplomats in Moscow would not, in the future, be permitted to purchase foodstuffs and other necessities of daily life at the State shop for roubles, but only for foreign currency; and an intimation was subsequently given to His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow that the privilege of free importation of such foodstuffs and necessities, previously enjoyed by them, might be withdrawn. These facts, coupled with the growing difficulty of obtaining provisions in the so-called "open" market, aroused grave concern among the diplomatic body in Moscow; and I accordingly caused representations to be made to the Soviet Government by His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow.

A somewhat similar situation has also arisen in connection with the purchase of railway tickets in the Soviet Union, instructions having been issued by "In-tourist," the Soviet travel organisation for foreign nationals, that in future all their tickets must be paid for in foreign currency. Representations by the Doyen of the diplomatic body have produced an assurance that diplomatists, consuls and diplomatic couriers will continue to receive tickets and sleeping car berths in exchange for roubles for all journeys in the Soviet Union or to any place in the countries bordering the Union and in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia; but the continuance of similar facilities has not yet been assured in the case of journeys to this country.

Representations have accordingly been made by His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow in these and in other matters of principle affecting the position of His Majesty's Representatives in the Soviet Union and of their staffs; and the Soviet Government have been informed that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are not prepared to agree that those representatives shall receive treatment which is not in accordance with international custom or courtesy.