HC Deb 25 November 1936 vol 318 cc400-1

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the reason for the delay in entering into negotiations with the Russian Soviet Government for a formal treaty of commerce and navigation, seeing that the temporary interim agreement was made in February, 1934, and meanwhile nothing has been done to implement the pledges repeatedly given to British creditors; and whether notice to terminate the temporary agreement with a view to its replacement by a formal treaty will be given, especially as the interim agreement has failed in its object of providing additional employment in Great Britain?


As my hon. Friend is aware, His Majesty's Government have always declared that a settlement of the claims of British subjects is a necessary condition for the negotiations of a formal Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is owing to the fact that it has not been possible to reach such a settlement that negotiations for a Treaty have not yet been attempted. As regards the last part of the question, I am informed that it would not be correct to say that the existing Trade Agreement has failed to provide additional employment in this country, and I trust that the recent agreement providing for guarantees in connection with orders to be placed by Soviet import organisations for goods manufactured in the United Kingdom will furnish further opportunities of which our producers will take full advantage.


Does my right hon. Friend recollect that he informed me in February last that this matter was continuously receiving the attention of the Foreign Office, and that he did not then think any undue delay had occurred; is he aware that nine months have now elapsed, and that a very important chance has been missed of negotiating a permanent treaty in connection with the £1C,000,000 loan which was granted?


The point is that we have not negotiated a permanent treaty, and we shall not negotiate a permanent treaty unless we can get a settlement.


Is it not the case that we have already more unemployment than we can manage, without taking notice of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison)?


Does that not also apply in substance to the case of Italy and Welsh coal?

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