HC Deb 26 June 1935 vol 303 cc1077-8

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received a reply from the Russian Soviet Government to the British Government's claim with regard to the robbery of plate, furniture, and other valuables from the British Embassy in Petrograd in 1918 by officials of the Soviet Government, in respect of which repeated representations have been made by the British Government, the last of such representations being on the 25th March, 1935; and what action it is proposed to take to secure the payment, without further delay, of compensation in respect of the property stolen from the British Embassy by Soviet officials, as above stated?


As regards the first part of the question, the Soviet Government have now informed His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Moscow that all the plate which it has been possible to discover was handed over to His Majesty's Embassy on 13th May, 1931, and that further search has unfortunately led to no positive result. As regards the second part of the question, the claim of His Majesty's Government for such compensation has been registered with the Russian Claims Department of the Board of Trade in the same manner as other claims; and I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree with me that it would not be proper to single out for special treatment a claim which could only technically be distinguished from the claims of private British subjects.


Is it not a very different matter when British property is taken by Government officials from a British Embassy, and is the House to understand that any foreign Government's officials can raid a British Embassy and that the British Government will con tinue relations with that country as if nothing had happened?


My hon. Friend raises a very wide issue. This matter is as I have stated, and I am sure the action we have taken is the wisest in the circumstances.


In assessing compensation, will due regard be paid to the fact that this incident took place during a period of civil war in which British capital and highly-placed British nationals were involved against the Soviet Government?

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