§ 81. Sir NICHOLAS GRATTAN-DOYLE
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the amount of cash and other liquid assets, such as oil, grain, timber, etc., which were taken over without compensation by the Soviet Government from British subjects legally trading in the country at the time of the Russian revolution; and whether any steps have been taken to secure repayment of these commercial debts?
The value of the trading industrial and manufacturing properties of which British subjects have been deprived is estimated by the claimants at, approximately, £180,000,000. I am unable to say what proportion of this represents liquid assets. Discussions have taken place from time to time with the Soviet Government in regard to the liquidation of these commercial and other claims, but no satisfactory result was obtained.
§ Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
Could the hon. Gentleman say if any means are being adopted to secure payment?
Yes; efforts were on several occasions as at Genoa and at The Hague, and when the late Government were in office, we did our best to get these claims recognised, but without success.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Is it not a fact that the Russian Government in the Trade Agreement of 1921 have accepted the principle of their liability to pay compensation, and that they have repeatedly offered to enter into negotiations for a full settlement of all outstanding questions?
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Before the hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask whether it is not the fact that in 7924 the Russian Government did in part recognise the debts referred to by the hon. Gentleman?
Perhaps I can answer both questions together. It is perfectly true that negotiations took place in 1924, but certain conditions were laid down for the payment of those debts which could not possibly be accepted.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Will the hon. Gentleman now state the conditions on which the Government would be prepared to reopen negotiations?
We have said we are waiting for the Soviet Government to make constructive proposals, but up to now they have not done so.
Sir F. HALL
In the circumstances of the case, should not the Soviet Government be put down as common robbers?
2202 [An HON. MEMBER: "The same as this Government!"]