HC Deb 16 April 1947 vol 436 cc169-71
19. Mr. Thomas Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the Soviet Government have given permission to Soviet women married to Britons to join their husbands; and if it has given permission to Soviet women to marry British men.

The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)

In the past permission has been given to a number of Soviet women married to Britons to join their husbands, but there are, as the House is aware, at the present time 15 such wives to' whom permission has not been granted. Formerly, Soviet women were free to marry British men, but by a Decree of the Praesidium of the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R., dated 15th February, 1947, marriages between citizens of the U.S.S.R. and foreigners are now prohibited.

Mr. Hollis

Is it not a fact that at least one of these marriages took place before that date, and that one of these gentlemen was specifically given a Soviet visa to go to Russia in order to marry?

Mr. McNeil

I should be surprised it all the marriages had not taken place before this date.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether this is a new thing in international relations, a general forbidding of marriages between the nationals of two friendly States?

Mr. McNeil

I have such respect for the hon. Member's ability in research that I should like notice of that question.

22. Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to make a further report on the representations which have been made by him to the Government of the U.S.S.R. regarding the release of the Soviet wives of British Servicemen, who are at present detained in the U.S.S.R.

24. Major Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what were the reasons given by the Soviet Government for refusing to allow visas to the Soviet-born wives of Britons; and what further steps he is proposing to take in this matter.

Mr. McNeil

No reason has been given by the Soviet Government for withholding exit visas from these Soviet wives. The hon. Members will almost certainly have seen that I drew to Mr. Kuznetsov's attention, before his departure, the widespread interest taken in this country in this question, and I am confident that he will so report on his return to the U.S.S.R.

Mr. Gammans

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this action by the Soviet Government means that they have decided deliberately to divorce themselves from the long-established practice of civilised international procedure?

Lady Grant

Is the Minister aware that these women were married under Soviet law, and that at that time their husbands were given no indication whatsoever that there would be any difficulty in their leaving the country; and that, furthermore, some Soviet women have left the Soviet Union to come to this country to join their husbands who are British subjects?

Mr. McNeil

I am aware that Soviet women have previously been allowed to leave their country to join their husbands here. I am also aware that there was no ban at the time of the marriage. It is for these reasons that His Majesty's Government have pressed so forcefully and persistently for this.

Miss Bacon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that two of the reasons given to me when I was in Moscow last year were: First, that those wives who have been allowed to come to this country have been ill-treated by their British husbands; and second, that the Soviet authorities wanted the best type of Soviet women to come over here, and that the British husbands had evidently not chosen the best type?

Mr. McNeil

I think I ought to say that, happily, this Government have not yet added to their burdens by seeking to approve spouses that may be chosen by British subjects.