HC Deb 13 November 1940 vol 365 cc1681-2
8. Mr. Mander

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the reasons for the British protest against the Soviet Government's intervention in the administration of the Danube?

Mr. Butler

The protest to which the hon. Member refers was more specifically directed to the action of the Soviet Government in agreeing to become a party to an arrangement which included Italy but excluded the United Kingdom from the participation provided for by the existing international treaties in the regulation of questions relating to the Danube. His Majesty's Government's note made it clear that they appreciated the desire of the Soviet Union as a Power now in control of territories bordering on the Danube to take part in the regulation of that waterway.

Mr. Mander

Is it not the case that we want the Soviet Government to take as much interest as possible in the Danube, and was it not rather inopportune to make a protest on technical grounds at such a moment?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept the stricture of my hon. Friend, but, as I stated in my original answer, His Majesty's Government made it clear that they appreciated the desire of the Soviet Union to take an interest in the territories bordering on the Danube.

Mr. Buchanan

Will the right hon. Gentleman not say that, on reflection, it was a mistake?

Mr. Shinwell

Would it not be possible, having regard to the general situation, to show a little more conciliation towards Russia?

Mr. Butler

I think the hon. Member can be satisfied that His Majesty's Government have shown a proper spirit towards the Soviet Union. It is well known that it has been our wish to improve relations with the Soviet Union in every respect, and I do not think I should make any further observations upon this particular incident, the reasons for which I have explained and the scope of which I do not think the House ought to exaggerate.

Mr. A. Bevan

When the Note was sent, did the Foreign Office draw the attention of the War Cabinet to the matter? Can I have an answer to that question?