HL Deb 17 November 1931 vol 83 cc49-53

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government if Nicolas Klishko was removed at their request from Great Britain in 1923 or at any other time, the reason for such removal, if he has since returned and is still here, and, if so, the date and reason (if any) for his re-admission; and move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, during the heat and turmoil of the recent Election there appeared in the Morning Post of October 27 an article which stated that a certain Nicolas Klishko—I am afraid I do not know how to pronounce his name, not being a Russian scholar—had been allowed back into this country. Before I go any further perhaps I had better read the article. The article was as follows: Nicolas Klishko, one of the most trusted and energetic fomenters of trouble in the employ of the Moscow Government, has again arrived in this country. His record is as follows: Before the 1917 Revolution, Klishko lived in England us a political exile, married an Englishwoman and was in touch with many of the most 'advanced' thinkers in the Socialist movement. In 1918 he was deported with Litvinov to his native land, only to return in 1920 with Krassin, as secretary to the Russian Trade Delegation and as a person enjoying diplomatic immunity. In 1923 the true reason of his presence in Great Britain had been established—it was ascertained that he was in charge of the organisation for subversive propaganda, and Lord Curzon informed the Bolsheviks that his presence was no longer desired. Klishko was then withdrawn. He was employed for a time in the Moscow Foreign Office, and then was sent as the instrument of the Communist International to China, working there with Nicolas Borodin in 1924 and 1925 as one of the chief revolutionary agents. Finally, his activities again having become apparent, he was deported on the request of the British authorities. Within the last two weeks he returned to England.

Assuming the statements in that article to be substantially true, which I see no reason at all to doubt, it is, to put it mildly, a most unfortunate time to have allowed his re-entrance into this country, having once got rid of him, because if it be the fact that ho was admitted during the fortnight previous to October 27 it follows that it was at a time when Parliament was not sitting and His Majesty's Government could not be interrogated on the subject and the country was preoccupied by a vital General Election. The whole matter might therefore have been passed by without notice and without attention being drawn to it, had it not been for the article in the Morning Post. From inquiries which I have made, I understand that the Department which deals with the admission or refusal of admission of foreigners is the Home Office, and as the Home Secretary now is the same Home Secretary as was then in office it should not be difficult for the Government to supply the information for which I have taken the liberty to ask. In 1918 or 1919, as I have told your Lordships, Klishko was expelled. That was the time, I believe, when the Soviet Embassy was closed and Litvinov and others were actually expelled. In 1923 he was again removed, at the request of the Government of this country, and in 1925 he was again removed from China, at their request. Therefore it seems to be highly undesirable that he should be in this country at the present time. Although it may not be within the scope of my Question I hope that my noble friend Lord Lucan, who I understand will reply, will be in a position to say that no others who have been parties to subversive propaganda in this country have been or will be admitted to this country. I beg to put my Question and to move for papers.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has asked the Question has evidently got most of the details of Mr. Klishko's life's history, but I can assure him that they are all well-known at the Home Office, and I hope that what I shall be able to tell him will reassure him as to the presence of this gentleman in this country. I would like to correct what the noble Viscount said as to his being expelled in 1918. It is more accurate to say that he was interned as a hostage on September 6, 1918, and on September 21 he was released at Mr. Litvinov's request, as a condition of his sending a telegram which was necessary in the interests of British subjects in Russia. On September 26 he left Aberdeen with Mr. Litvinov's party. We need not go into the intervening years, I think, until eight years ago when, as the noble Viscount has said, Lord Curzon found it necessary to make representations regarding the activities of certain Russian officials, including Mr. Klishko, who was at that time Assistant Official Agent in this country of the Soviet Government. The relevant paragraph of Lord Curzon's Memorandum is in the Command Paper which I can read to your Lordships. It is as follows: In the same year (1922) a number of bank notes of £100 each, issued through Lloyds Bank and the Russian Commercial and Industrial Bank in London to Nikolai Klishko, Assistant Official Agent of the Soviet Government in London, in June, 1921, were cashed in India on behalf of a revolutionary Panjabi in touch with other seditionaries who are known to have been closely associated with the Russian representative in Kabul. I understand that as a result of that Memorandum Mr. Klishko left this country shortly afterwards. He is not now in this country, but he has paid four brief visits to this country during the past year in his capacity as manager of the technical bureau of the metal department of the Soviet Trade Delegation in Berlin, and I can assure the noble Viscount that his comings and goings are perfectly well known in this country. The object of his visits was stated to be the purchase of machinery, and the application that he should be allowed to come here was supported by an important British firm. The dates of his arrivals and departures were as follows: Arrived December 14, 1930, departed December 26; arrived June 18, 1931, departed June 25; arrived September 30, left October 11; arrived October 26, left October 30. I think that really gives all the information that the noble Viscount has asked for, but I would like to take exception to one remark which he made. He inferred that through this man coming to this country while the Election was going on he therefore escaped notice. I would like to remind the noble Viscount that although a General Election may be going on it does not interfere with the activities of the Home Office, on behalf of whom I hope I have assured the noble Viscount that they have the situation well in hand.


Am I to understand that people who were once regarded as so revolutionary and undesirable are allowed to come back here because some English firm wants to sell them machinery? Surely there are thousands of other Russians, equally capable, who might have come here instead. I think the reply is not at all satisfactory, but I suppose it is of no use asking for Papers, because they will be refused.


The only Paper I can give is the Command Paper, which is public property.


May I ask whether this man, who obviously is a very undesirable immigrant, is to be allowed to come here with no restrictions in future?


I understand that he has to get a visa to come to this country, and he has to be backed by individuals or firms in this country, and in that case I understand that there is no objection raised.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.