HC Deb 15 July 1963 vol 681 cc11-2
10. Sir W. Teeling

asked the Lord Privy Seal when the Soviet Government last referred to the Tsarist debts in discussions with Her Majesty's Government; whether Her Majesty's Government still consider that these debts must be dealt with separately from the Baltic claims; and what measures Her Majesty's Government intends to take to solve the problems of the Tsarist debts and of the distribution of such assets as are held against them by Baring Bros, and other banks.

Mr. P. Thomas

There has been no discussion of Tsarist claims with the Soviet Government since 1959. It was then agreed that the claims arising as a result of the October Revolution should be left in abeyance pending a settlement of the post-1939 claims. Her Majesty's Government reserved their position as far as the older claims are concerned. In view of this agreement, it would be inappropriate at the present stage for us to take unilateral action as regards Tsarist assets held in this country.

Sir W. Teeling

Since the people who are owed this money are getting older all the time and since it is becoming more difficult to trace some of the original claimants, does my hon. Friend not think that it is time, after four years, that we should get together on all these different debts and try to make one big final agreement with the Russians, who at the moment look as though they might be willing to agree?

Mr. Thomas

As my hon. Friend knows, this matter has been raised with the Soviet Union on numerous occasions between 1917 and 1959 and they have not been prepared to discuss it. At the moment we are negotiating for the claims after 1939, and I think that it would be wise now to concentrate on those.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us if there is not a counter claim against this country for the £100 million that was spent, unauthorised by this House, in financing the counter revolutionary generals? Has not that to be taken into consideration, too?

Mr. Thomas

The Soviet Union have so far not formulated any claim.