HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc870-1
5. Sir Cooper Rawson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will personally consider the case of Mr. Joseph Martin, of 18, St. George's Terrace, Brighton, formerly a teacher of English in Moscow, who, on refusing to join the anti-British section of the Communist International and work for a revolution in the British Empire, was arrested without being charged with any offence and, without trial, imprisoned in a filthy cell amongst corpses, where he contracted typhus and blindness, and was not repatriated for two years; why a claim, as promised by the then Foreign Secretaries in 1923 and 1926 was not put forward by the British Government to the Soviet Government in 1923 at the same as claims on behalf of Mr. C. J. Davison and Mrs. Stan Harding, both of whom received compensation; and will he take steps to see that compensation is now granted to Mr. Martin, who is now unemployable?

The Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

I am aware of the sad circumstances of this case. It is the intention of His Majesty's Government to press for a measure of satisfaction for Mr. Martin's claim, as well as other claims for compensation for personal injury, as part of a general settlement of the claims of British subjects against the Soviet Government.

Sir C. Rawson

Will my right hon. Friend deal with the question as to why, the late Government not the present Government at that time, did not deal with this case at the same time as the claims of Mr. Davison and Mrs. Stan Harding, when Mr. Davison got £10,000 and Mrs. Stan Harding, who did not suffer half as much as Mr. Martin, received £3,000?

Mr. Butler

I am aware that these two claims were settled in 1923, but Mr. Martin's claim is one of some 260, in all of which there are very sad circumstances, and I am afraid that we cannot treat his case any differently from the other cases that occurred.

Sir C. Rawson

When are they to be raised?

Mr. Butler

At the first suitable opportunity.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea of what the anti-British section of the Communist International is?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can help me to elucidate it.

Sir C. Rawson

Is it fair that a patriotic British citizen, who has refused to join—

Mr. Speaker