Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £118,943, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1932, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."—[Note: £70,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I naturally regret that I have to raise a discussion on foreign affairs in the absence on public business elsewhere of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but the matter is of less consequence in this case, because what I have to say concerns the Prime Minister himself, at least as closely as the Foreign Secretary, and the charge which I have to bring against His Majesty's Government is that the Prime Minister and his Government have allowed the Soviet Government to ignore and flout the solemn warning which they gave when they renewed diplomatic relations, and that they have broken the pledge which they made to the House of Commons on the same occasion. I hope that it will not be necessary for me to make any large demand on the patience or attention of the Committee but in order that I may put this case in its proper setting, and that the illustrations to which I shall call attention may have their proper background, I must ask to be allowed briefly to recall to the memory of the Committee what has been the history of our relations with the Soviet Government during the last 10 years or so.
Relations with the Soviet Government were begun under the Coalition Government, presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon 1620 Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when a trade agreement was made and a trade agent of the Soviet Government was received in this country. That Government felt, rightly or wrongly, wisely or unwisely, that it was proper to make an effort to bring Soviet Russia back into the comity of nations, and they hoped that a" relations between Russia and other nations developed those things which we had most to complain of in regard to Russian foreign policy might disappear, and be abandoned by the Soviet authorities, and that relations, gradually becoming normal might ultimately become friendly. It was felt at that time that the easiest method of approach, and the most urgent, was in the economic sphere and that it was by renewed trade relations that we should most easily create an atmosphere in which our political differences could be approached with favourable prospects of success.
There was only one political clause in the Trade Agreement. It was one for abstention from hostile action against one another and from interference in one another's internal affairs. Hardly was the ink dry upon that Trade Agreement than the Coalition Government, through the mouth of Lord Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, had to call the attention of the Soviet Government to a breach of that undertaking and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, as Prime Minister, and as an advocate and an earnest advocate of this attempt to secure good relations with the Soviet Government, had to prove to the Soviet emissary, documents in hand, that the excuses and the pretexts which he was offering were false and that the Russian Government had already broken and were persistently breaking their pledges in this respect. This representation, solemnly and forcibly made, would, it was hoped, produce the desired effect. The British Government began then, that long course of patience which it pursued, in different hands, in the subsequent years.
The provocation continued, yet the Coalition Government, always hoping that presently the Soviet Government would become humanised and turn over a new leaf, continued the relations which they had established; they were continued by the late Mr. Bonar Law, and by my right 1621 hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his first Administration, and were still in force in the same form when the first Socialist Government came into office. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, then combining the arduous tasks of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in his own hands, without taking note or sufficient note, or at any rate without drawing the natural conclusion from the failure of the Soviet Government to keep their engagements so far, went further, gave them de jure recognition, and arranged for an interchange of envoys, which at that time took the form of chargés d'affaires.
That was the position when my right hon. Friend's second Government was formed and when I became Foreign Secretary. From the very early days of my occupancy of that post, I became aware that the breach of the engagement to abstain from hostile action towards the British Empire, with which they were nominally in friendly relations, and to abstain in particular from hostile interference within British territory, which they had solemnly pledged themselves to do, was being persistently and constantly broken. I had various interviews with successive Chargés d'Affaires of the Soviet Government. On each occasion I told the representative of that Government that it was useless to discuss new engagements as long as the old engagement was not kept, and that, before we could advance any further, we must have proof that the Soviet Government would abide by its pledged word and refrain from doing those things from which it had pledged itself to abstain; and I warned it in, I hope, courteous but certainly serious language against a continuation of this course of hostility and provocation.
Unfortunately, those warnings fell upon ears which were deliberately deaf, and after showing a patience which I think is without example in our relations with foreign Governments, in face of very grave provocation, we at last broke off diplomatic relations and we announced that we should not renew them until we were sure that the Soviet Government had ceased from those actions of which we had a right to complain and from which they had bound themselves to abstain. That was the position as long as our Government remained in office.
1622 Then the right hon. Gentleman was once again called upon to undertake the responsibilities of Government. He and his party had announced that they proposed to renew these relations. I think it was a mistake to make that announcement in advance, and not to reserve to themselves full liberty until after they had come into contact with the realities of office and had seen in exactly what conditions that renewal might take place. They themselves had had occasion to complain of the breach by Soviet Russia of her engagements. One would have thought that "once bitten, twice shy," and that, if they were renewing those relations, they would have taken pains before they made any agreement to see that the Soviet Government understood the conditions which they laid down, accepted them in the same sense in which the British Government meant them, and were prepared to meet the British Government with the same good faith which successive British Governments had shown to the Soviet Government.
They took none of these precautions. They signed an agreement without having previously settled any outstanding question. They signed and ratified the agreement knowing that they placed one meaning on the words of it and having fair warning from the Soviet side that they interpreted the same words differently and not merely differently, but contradictorily. They were deliberately blind to the dangers of that action. They said that the Soviet Government knew what the British Government meant; they told us that the British Government knew what they meant and that that should suffice. What has been the result? From first to last the Soviet Government have repudiated the interpretation which His Majesty's Government put upon the document. From first to last His Majesty's Government have been unable to pretend that the Soviet Government were showing any more good faith now than they had shown in the past, or were keeping now the pledges which they had renewed only to break them again; and within a month or two—I am not sure that it was not actually within one month—of the signature of the new agreement, the new Secretary of State was protesting, 1623 as his predecessors had protested, against the breach of a document only just signed.
That is not the only time that the Secretary of State has protested. What satisfaction did he get? What concession to the point of view of the British Government has ever been made by the Soviet Government? What guarantee have they ever offered that they would adhere for the future, even if they had broken them once again, to the solemn pledges which they had given? No, Sir. The Government put up a bluff; the Soviet Government called it. The Government have been unprepared to act. They have become an object of contempt to the Soviet Government, a laughingstock to other nations, and a shame to their own country. I am not going to trouble the House with many quotations, because I know how distasteful to hon. Members opposite it is to listen to what they themselves have said, apart from what their leader has said, but I must make one or two quotations.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in 1924, laid down what should be an axiom of international relationship, and is an axiom accepted by every Government except the Soviet Government of Russia. He said:No Government will ever tolerate an arrangement with a foreign Government by which the latter is in formal diplomatic relations of a correct kind with it, whilst at the same time a propagandist body organically connected with that foreign Government encourages and even orders subjects of the former to plot and plan revolutions for its overthrow.4.0 p.m.
The right hon. Gentleman was asked in the Debate on the Address, in reply to the first Gracious Speech from the Throne delivered in this Parliament, whether he adhered to those conditions, and he replied without qualification that he did. A few days later, when he had had further time to think the matter over, the present Foreign Secretary said:We stand by the declaration we made in 1924 to the effect that we could not allow any direct interference from outside in British domestic affairs, and would insist that the promise given by the Soviet Government to refrain from any act liable to endanger the tranquillity or prosperity of the British Empire, and to restrain from such acts all persons and organisations under their direct or indirect control, including 1624 organisations in receipt of any financial assistance from them, such as the Communist International, which is organically connected with the Soviet Government, should be carried out both in the letter and in the spirit. This is in fact an undertaking that Soviet propaganda will not be tolerated in any form or at any time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1929; col. 901, Vol. 231.]What have the Government done to maintain those pledges solemnly given to this House, and offered to their country as a security against the dangers which they had incurred from the Soviet Government when it had previously been in. diplomatic relations with them? From that day to this, there has been no cessation of Soviet hostility. Instead of using language which I have quoted, instead of re-affirming the conditions of 1924, they might have taken the line which it pleases the Foreign Secretary to take now, and which the right hon. Gentleman repeated in answer to a question of mine last week. They may say, "Oh, these matters are of no consequence." They may adopt the attitude of Mr. Toots—that nothing matters; we rather like it when the dog bites us. But they did not take that attitude. They said they would not tolerate this action, and they gave a solemn pledge to this House that it should not be tolerated. Since then the propaganda has gone on unchecked by them. They intimated that the action of the Soviet Government was not conducive to the good relations they wished to cultivate, but of any effective protest, or any attempt to protect us against this propaganda, or any attempt to fulfil their pledge to this House, there is not a sign. Their course is to threaten and then withdraw—Letting I dare not wait upon I would.There is no more dangerous policy than the policy of threat when you do not mean to back it up—none whatever. Therefore, the policy of His Majesty's present Government cannot be right, whatever view you take of what our relations should be, because it is a policy of threat without any intention of backing it up.
There is another side to their policy—the trade side. As an inducement to the renewal of diplomatic relations, they dwelt upon the importance of securing trade with Russia. It has not been very successful. They have never succeeded with their diplomatic relations in securing 1625 as much trade as America has constantly had without diplomatic relations. What is more important, they have never succeeded in getting the Russians to order goods from this country to the extent of the payments which we made to Russia for goods which were bought from them, and, in spite of the fact that Russia has always had a credit balance on the trade which she could have employed to extend her purchases here, she has preferred to employ it in other purposes than trade, or in other trades than ours. They have given to Russia a larger volume of credit than they have given to all the other countries of the world put together. If you pick them out for special favour, if you give them, through the export credits scheme, greater credit than you give to any other country, when, on the facts, it is clear that they do not need it because they have got a balance of trade already which they can employ for these purchases when they desire to do so. If you treat them thus as a most-favoured-nation, even while they are flaunting your remonstrances and breaking the promise they made, how do you expect to get any redress? For what purpose are all these credits given? To develop the Societ trade system. I am not sure that in the present condition of the world it is to our interest to equip for competition in manufactured products a country which has hitherto not competed in that sphere with us. I am sure that it is not in our interest to lend them credit for military equipment, and I am quite sure that they ought to have no credit at all—
I am not quite sure how far I can permit export credits to be discussed on the Foreign Office Vote. There is a separate and special Vote for export credits, and I could not allow the right hon. Gentleman to make this a principal argument.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I am not going to make it a principal point, but I am challenging, on the salary of the Prime Minister, the policy adopted by the Government towards Russia.
It is not the salary of the Prime Minister we are discussing. It is the Foreign Office Vote.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I asked for the discussion on the Prime Minister's 1626 salary, and I understand that the Government preferred that it should be on the Foreign Office Vote.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I wish to correct that statement. It was not on my salary, because things can be raised on the Foreign Office Vote which cannot be raised on my salary.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I have no grievance against the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope, Mr. Dunnico, you have no grievance against me, because we all three appear to be agreed, if I may reepectfuily include you in that phrase. The Foreign Office Vote is the occasion on which we have the greatest latitude to discuss the foreign policy of the Government, and what I want to challenge is the foreign policy of the Government in its relations to the Soviet Government of Russia. I am not going to discuss the policy of the export grants at large. I confine myself entirely to the use of the export credits in our relations with Russia. I was actually saying at the moment—and it is almost my last sentence on the subject—that I am quite sure that it cannot be in our interest to allow credits of this kind to a Government which is not keeping faith with us, which is not using them purely in the ordinary way of trade, but, in large measure, at any rate, to secure military equipment and military resources for herself.
§ Mr. R. A. TAYLOR
May I ask—[An HON. MEMBER: "What are you getting for it?"]—whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to discuss the credits given by a statutory committee which is independent of the control of Parliament; and whether it is not a fact that that committee cannot legally grant credits for the export of arms from Britain?
The point I lay down is that we are now discussing the Foreign Office Vote, and only matters which come directly under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Office can be discussed. Export credits come under a separate and distinct Vote and are not in order on this Vote.
§ Mr. GROVES
Is it in order for an hon. Member opposite to cast insinuations against an hon. Member here, and ask, "What is he getting for it?"
I did not hear any insinuation, but if such insinuation were made, it would be distinctly improper.
If there is a separate Vote for a particular subject, that subject must be discussed on that particular Vote. It cannot be discussed on other Votes.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I was under the impression that the refusal to grant credits under this scheme by the late Government was a Government decision and not a Departmental decision. I was under the impression that the decision to grant these credits by the present Government was a Government decision, and I should be surprised to learn that the Department of Overseas Trade took that decision on its own responsibility without any instructions from either the Foreign Secretary or the Cabinet.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not disputing my Ruling. What he says may be perfectly true, but what I am trying to emphasise and to lay down is that no matter what the policy may be, whenever a special Vote is put down to cover a particular and specific subject that subject must be discussed under that specific Vote, and not under any other. That is a long-standing Rule which is always observed in Committee.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I shall, of course, conform to your Ruling. I will confine myself to saying that to single out for special favours a Government which disregards your remonstrances and breaks faith is not the way to cause it to pay greater attention to your words and to observe greater propriety of conduct towards you in future. My conclusion is that her" we have a Power which has been persistently unfriendly to us from the first day on which we signed the Agreement down to the present time; that, wherever 1628 she has the opportunity to make or increase trouble to the British Empire, she makes that trouble or increases it, be it in China or in India or among the small disaffected elements in our own country. Wherever there is trouble she seeks to foment it. She uses the resources which she possesses—and we help her to increase her resources—not in order to carry on a natural and mutually beneficial trade, but to have in her hands the instrument of revolution, and to use the resources she has produced to wreck this market or that market or the other. To-day it is the corn market of the world, with consequent distress in the Balkan countries, where the great mass of the people are entirely dependent upon their crops for their welfare and their existence. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh as if they supposed that I attributed all the troubles in the corn market of the world to Soviet Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "You said it!"] I did not. It merely shows that hon. Members opposite have not begun to understand the first thing about it. The policy of the Soviet Government is to follow trouble wherever it arises, and to take advantage of trouble to foment discontent; and, as the Soviet Government are doing that and have persistently done it in regard to raw materials, so they will do it later with the manufactured articles which we by our credits are helping them to produce in future.
I understand that the argument now being used by the right hon. Gentleman is that certain action which is being taken by the Russian Government was one reason why recognition should not be continued. So long as the discussion is kept within that narrow limit, it is perfectly in order.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
My argument is that the Russian Government gave certain undertakings to this Government, and that this Government gave an undertaking to the House of Commons that the undertakings of the Russian Government should be observed; and I am illustrating the way in which every day and in one field after another these undertakings are being broken by the Soviet Government, and showing that the breach is 1629 tolerated by His Majesty's Ministers. They are using their control of trade not for economic prosperity but for revolution; they are building up out of our credit the material and the instrument for an attack upon our security and our prosperity; they are using whatever resources they have and whatever influence they have in order to foment revolution in any country, but above all within British territory. All we ask is that His Majesty's Government should open their eyes to facts which are patent, and should now insist upon the fulfilment of pledges which they secured from the Russian Government, and should themselves fulfil at long last the pledge which they gave to the House of Commons.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am sure that the whole Committee regrets that, public business calling him elsewhere, the Foreign Secretary is not able to reply to the right hon. Gentleman who has opened the Debate. My hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State will speak later on, and, should details arise, he will be able to answer them. I listened with a good deal of amazement to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He ought to have done two things before he decided to make himself responsible for this Debate. He ought, first, to have reminded himself of his own past, and then he should have equipped himself with some new facts. What single point, specifically stated, has he made against the Soviet Government? What single complaint has he made? [HON. MEMBERS: "Not one!"] My hon. Friends behind me are wrong. He made one, and that one was dumping. Therefore, for the first time in this prolonged controversy on what relations this Government should hold with the Soviet Government, the right hon. Gentleman has discovered that the Soviet Government, or their trading organisation, have, by the dumping of wheat or oats into this country, broken the Trade Agreement. Such a complaint is absolutely absurd.
Let us see what there is in this case. I understood, judging from the Order Paper of the last week or so, that the right hon. Gentleman was going to repeat charges made by the "Times" of 12th May. The Opposition have asked us again and again whether these statements were true. The House was informed by my right hon. Friend the 1630 Secretary for State, first of all, that at the Foreign Office we had no traces of some of the more serious of these allegations. To make sure, we made inquiries of our Ambassador at Moscow. What apparently has happened is that Riga has once again shown itself to be an extraordinarily imaginative purveyor of news. The Ambassador replied that the only publication which he could trace was of extracts from a new programme of the Indian Communist party which had appeared in the "Pravda" of 9th May; it was not issued from Moscow, and not issued by the "Pravda." It is just as though the "Pravda" were to copy some of the stuff issued by the British Communist party, and the fact that it had copied were to become a serious crime justifying a breach of diplomatic relations. That is the fact regarding those paragraphs that cause such very violent agitation in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, I cannot give way. The Foreign Office knows quite as much, and a good deal more, about the 12th May publication than any hon. Member who has not seen the papers. How do we stand? The right hon. Gentleman has said that after a declaration was made in 1924, if the Russian Government did not at once accept it, a breach would be made.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
If I am not happy in my interpretation, I am happy in my policy. In 1924 this statement was made. The right hon. Gentleman came into Office, and he was challenged again and again by hon. Members behind him. He was asked what he was doing to create a breach with Russia, and he was told that by keeping on diplomatic contact with Russia he was doing something that was degrading to the country and disgraceful to the Government to which he belonged. For three years the right hon. Gentleman went on. He knew all the time that the Trade Agreement had been broken. He never justified himself by saying that the Trade Agreement had 1631 not been broken. He said, for instance, in one of the numerous Debates, on the 25th June, 1926:If the mere question were, 'Has the Trade Agreement been kept?' I should answer,' It has not.' "—Yet there was no breach of diplomatic relations. in the same Debate he said:I say it is perfectly clear to His Majesty's Government, and should be perfectly clear to everybody, as it must be clear to the Soviet authorities, that they are not conforming to that definite engagement in the Trade Agreement.Perfectly clear!We are under no misconception as to the way in which the Trade Agreement has been broken.Later, towards the end of his speech, he used still stronger words. He said:Engagements are daily and persistently broken under the shadiest and shabbiest of excuses.Still no breach of the diplomatic relations He went on to explain why there was to be no breach of diplomatic relations. He said:The only question we have to decide is whether, in view of the situation in this country, and in view of the situation in Europe, it is in our own interest to continue, with our eyes open, these diplomatic relations.He went on to say:If I think we can afford, I do not say to neglect "—and he cannot say that of us cither—but to pass over some things which might at first sight appear to be unforgiveable, it is because I believe the protection of the people "—that is, our own people—by themselves would be even more effective than executive action by the Government on their behalf.That is the reply to Soviet propaganda in this country. I quite agree with him. No one, no Member of the Government, least of all a Foreign Secretary, can take decisions of this kind without having regard to the larger effect in the world outside, beyond our shores. If we break off diplomatic relations with Russia we introduce not only a new but a disturbing issue into European politics. What the right hon. Gentleman said was: "I know the Trade Agreement has been broken. I know that for two years they have been "heating us, and not playing the game, but under the circumstances I, 1632 as the Foreign Secretary, cannot afford, and, indeed, it would not be my duty if I tried it, to take merely a narrow view of a breach of this agreement. I must consider its repercussions at home and abroad before I make up my mind." The right hon. Gentleman was even more specific towards the end of that speech. As I have really little more to say against him than he said in his own favour a few years ago, I wish the Committee to know precisely what his position was. In that same speech, and in summing up what was in his mind, and what was the feature of his policy he said:If the Trade Agreement were denounced it would be no good to say it would give us a weapon for fighting disorder us disloyalty or revolution within our own borders. It would create division where we seek union, and would in its echoes abroad increase the uncertainty, increase the fears, increase the instability of European conditions which it is, and ought to be our chief object to remove."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1926; cols. 770–777, Vol. 197.]That is the right hon. Gentleman's reply to his own speech to-day. In order to make the point clear—and this is the last extract I will give—he said on the 3rd March, 1927, a year after the Debate from which I have been quoting:Had we to consider to-night nothing but our own domestic situation; had we to consider nothing but our own interest as affected by the Trade Agreement, or by the exchange of diplomatic messages, I do not think I should have waited so long before asking my colleagues to take action."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March. 1927; col. 630, Vol. 203.]He went on to say that it was a much wider issue. What has changed? Time, I admit. There is no virtue in waiting for two or three years and then saying that a new situation has arisen at the end of the third year. As I stated in the House in 1927, when the Arcos raid was made as an excuse for the termination of the Agreement, there was no result of that raid which justified any new situation, and in the same way there is nothing now that ought to influence us other than the very great wisdom and patience which the right hon. Gentleman himself showed an 1925, 1926 and 1927, up to the breaking off of diplomatic relations. At any rate that is where we stand.
I would remind the Committee that this is a very old question. It has been 1633 debated again and again, and the feature of this Debate, at any rate up to now, if nothing more is to be produced than has been produced so far, which marks it out from any of its predecessors, is this, that in preceding Debates there has always been some allegation of some new outburst on the part of the Soviet Government. To-day there is nothing requiring us to vary the right hon. Gentleman's principles of the diplomatic handling of the situation. But it has gone far beyond that, and the problem of the handling of the Russian situation by the Foreign Office has really come down to facts and considerations of results and consequences. What would be predominating in the right hon. Gentleman's mind if at this moment he were to transfer his position from that side of the House to this? He knows perfectly well that if he were sitting here now the reply which he gave in 1926 and which I have read would return as the dominating factor in his mind. That is true of other nations—France. We can complain about Moscow. I think that sometimes we complain and rather show our own weakness by complaining. After all, one gets a little bit too indifferent to the same criticisms from any quarter, but I do feel sometimes that the kind of squirm and the gasp that follows some of these rubbishy judgments passed by people in Moscow who neither know this country nor its institutions, nor the individuals who are responsible for its institutions, and who are far more interested apparently in maintaining enmity between their own people and the rest of the world than in doing their best to broaden the way to peace and to understanding is scarcely worthy of us.
I have not changed my opinion, not at all, and at the present moment nothing has appeared above the horizon to my knowledge which should warn us that I had better be careful in my language lest I should have to change it. France has been treated even worse than we have been, and France retains diplomatic relations. Germany is closer to the danger, closer to propaganda, has suffered far more not merely in words thrown at her, but in deeds done within Germany. If there was any uprising, any trouble, Germany would be in trouble, would be involved and whirling in the maelstrom, long before we, either at home 1634 or abroad, would be involved; and yet Germany to-day retains diplomatic relations with Moscow. In 1924, that red letter year in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, after years of coalition and Tory Government, this country had not found a proper relationship with Russia, but in that year a declaration was made as to what that relationship should be. What was it? The dispute was not regarding the Soviet Government itself directly and specifically, but regarding the relations between the Soviet Government and the Third International. To-day I have noticed a laxity which is new, which has not appeared before, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman when describing that position. The dispute is this. Is the Soviet Government responsible to a sufficient degree to make it proper for us to take cognisance of the activities of the Third International? Having stated the question I am going to answer it. The Soviet Government say "No." We say "Yes," and we continue to say "Yes," and we say it because we understand what we are talking about. But after all, what one has to do is to work out these things in their consequences in policy.
Take the propaganda of Communism in this country. I do not need to answer about that. That was answered by a predecessor in office of my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). Mr. Joynson-Hicks, as he then was, cornered by his people behind him as the right hon. Gentleman was, politically, said, in effect, "The propaganda of Communist opinion is legitimate. The Government just watches it. It is purely a question of internal action. If sedition is likely to produce results, then the Government will take action." I am sure that the Attorney-General, sitting beside me, will somewhat demur to the form in which I have made my statement, but nevertheless it is perfectly sound; that the propaganda of Communism in this country, like the propaganda of Mormonism, is a spread of opinion to which a Government cannot be indifferent but regarding which Government action depends upon what relates to the security, well-being and tranquillity of the State. If the Communist likes to deliver his speeches in Hyde Park then 1635 we shall deal with him, if it is worth while, if it is necessary if he becomes a menace to this State. The Soviet Government and the Third International are not involved in, that at all. In that respect I want to say that the louder they talk, the more offensive and aggressive language they use, the more verbally they threaten the security of the State, the more we know that they are doing it because they know they have failed in their propaganda. Political prosecution must have some relation to the effect on the State. We have been told that the foreign Press are publishing information and incitement, and so on, but we are doing exactly what the right hon. Gentleman did, and exactly what any other Government, with the exception of a Communist Government, would do. The only difference between what we are doing and what the Communist Government would do is this: We give liberty for the expression of opinion, and we shall continue to do so; we will never interfere with the expression of opinion except under the conditions which I have indicated.
In Moscow not long ago a friend of mine made certain remarks to a local authority about certain things published in Communist papers here during recent weeks. The authority in Moscow remarked: "You have no business to blame us for that; you have yourselves to blame. If those people came over here and published those things in our papers we should shoot them, and why do you not do it too?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is the difference between the treatment any Government in this country would mete out to the Communists and the treatment of a Government that is supposed to be so much superior to us, and in advance of us, in human civilisation. I do not believe it in the least. It is not for me to suggest it, but if the proposition is put up to-day—I am not sure that it is, and I am not quite sure what is put up—that on account of the publication of such things as were quoted on the 12th of May the Government should be disturbed, then I ask credit from the Committee that the Government have 1636 not been disturbed in the least, and I give the Committee an assurance that they will not be disturbed in the least.
I understood that India was going to be mentioned to-day, and there is one sentence which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) uttered with which I venture to agree, and it was the sentence in which he said that the agents of the Third International are very expert fishers in troubled waters—I vary it in my own way—the agents of the Third International are very expert fishers in troubled waters, and India at the present moment undoubtedly gives them a certain opportunity. But here again let us be realists. There is a great deal of excitement in India. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) in his place. India is in a very unsettled condition, and that excitement may be increased by "Pravda" articles and propaganda. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping believes that he must conduct this propaganda and protest against the Government policy in India, and against the Opposition policy in India as well. I am not blaming him at all. I know the right hon. Gentleman too well to believe that he is doing anything but carrying out a very deep sense of his duty, which is most uncomfortable to him, but if something that is merely mischievous, if expressions of views only stir up more strife in India and do not strengthen those who are moving towards a reasonable frame of mind and a reasonable settlement, then the right hon. Gentleman is to be condemned.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Does the Prime Minister suggest that I or anyone else have endeavoured to provoke rebellion and anarchy? If the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that, where is the parallel?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
On a point of Order, Mr. Dunnico, I am a little puzzled about the limits of this Debate. Are we discussing the Foreign Office Vote? If so, I would like to ask if this is the proper place for the discussion upon which the Prime Minister is now entering, or should that question be dealt with only upon the Vote for the India Office?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham made use of several illustrations which did not seem to me to be strictly in order. I understand that the Prime Minister now is replying to the argument that such expressions of opinion as might disturb India should be made a reason for severing diplomatic relations with Russia. I understood that that was the argument. If the right hon. Gentleman had been discussing Indian policy, I should have certainly called him to order.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Then I am in the same position as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, but I wish to keep in your hands, Mr. Dunnico, very closely. [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak up!"] Before I leave this point, I think it is only fair that I should say that I never had in mind that my right hon. Friend desired deliberately to stir up trouble, but it is the influences that make for trouble, whether deliberately done or unconsciously done, that we have to take into account. If I had been permitted to pursue that subject, I was going to deal with the point as to how far it had been proved that Soviet Government agents had gone to India, but will the Committee take it that I had that in mind. The position is—I am not discussing Indian policy—that the Indian Government have before them the problem of handling incitement and disorder, and that is a problem internal to themselves. All I can say, so far as the Foreign Office is concerned, and the Government generally, is that the Indian Government have never asked for any power to deal with the internal situation of India that the Government here have not granted. So far as Soviet influence is concerned exactly the same reasons which were present in the right hon. Gentleman's mind in 1926 are still present, and lead us to what I am perfectly certain is the sound conclusion, that diplomatic relations with Russia need not be broken. We indulge in protests like those the right hon. Gentleman indulged in, but we are pursuing methods of negotiation and exchange of views, and statements made about what has actually happened, and there is no reason why the diplomatic relations should be broken.
1638 I do not want to go into the question of export credits, but the Foreign Office is very much interested in that, and I will give one or two figures. It may be that the trade returns from Russia are disappointing, and I think we are all agreed about that. We all wish they were better, but when the trade agreement was abrogated and denounced in 1927 what happened? Trade went down as a result of the Foreign Office action. When the new contract was made trade began to go up, and it is very extraordinary that in the first three months of 1930 the exports of British products to Russia were £1,100,000 and in the first three months of 1931 £1,500,000.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The unfortunate thing is that orders are going down everywhere all over the world, and they are going down much more in respect of other countries sending goods into Russia than as regards ourselves. British trade with Russia in the first three months of this year—compared with last year when our exports were going down—has gone up by at least £400,000. Admitting that breaches have taken place, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted during every month of his office, we are now asked, "Do they justify a break?" We say, "No," for the same reasons that induced the right hon. Gentleman to say "No."
If we broke, should we be in a better position to handle the situation to-day? We say no. What justification has the right hon. Gentleman or any of his colleagues for coming to the conclusion that, as the result of the break in 1927, the political situation cleared up and it was easier for them to handle the problems that they were complaining so much about when they decided to make the break? If we broke, the situation in India would not be improved; it would not be imprived in China; it would not be improved here; it would not be improved in any part of the world where we have interests and where at the moment we are facing unsettlement. Is there any hope in a position being created such as that after the Arcos raid? We say there is decidedly no hope whatever, and, being 1639 realists, and facing facts—[Interruption.]—I am sure that hon. Members opposite, after their great display in facing facts, will excuse my reminding them that that rather curious philosopher, but very penetrating man, Anatole France, described a fact as a very complicated arrangement. It is very marvellous, and I am sure it is a great revelation to the hon. Gentleman who made that interjection. We shall continue to face facts; we shall continue to consider the consequences of political policy; we shall continue to take what action is effective; we shall continue to refuse to take action which is not effective; we shall continue, in facing facts, not to be led by prejudice, and certainly not by news from Riga. That being the case, I hope that the Committee will support us, not only in what we have done, but in carrying on that policy in the future.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I am sure that the Committee are amazed at the terms of the speech which we have just heard from the Prime Minister. He said, shortly before he concluded, "I do not know what the proposition is which is being put up to the Government to-day." Everyone else in the Committee knows what the proposition is. The proposition that is being put up to the Government to-day is that the Soviet Government, through their emissaries, through the Comintern and the Third International, are plotting the downfall of the British Empire in every part of the world. In the words of the special pledge given by the Soviet Ambassador when he took up office, they are plotting to endanger the tranquillity or prosperity of Great Britain. The Prime Minister made light of Press reports in Russia, and said that little attention could be paid to them; but may I refer him to a document which was published in May of last year, considerably after the pledge was given by the Soviet Ambassador, to which, at any rate, that criticism cannot apply? It is the Official Report of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern, of which many thousands of copies were printed. If the right hon. Gentleman will turn to page 91 of that document, he will find these words:We have a difficult path in India. In spite of everything we are not idle. From the platform of the National Congress, in 1640 the military camps, in the workers' quarters, in the peasants' fields, everywhere where we can penetrate we are at work, in spite of heavy Imperialist pressure. We have already concrete plans to deal blows in the rear if Imperialism adopts the offensive.It then goes on to say—and this is very material to present affairs in India—India is the most vulnerable spot from which it is possible to deliver British Imperialism a mortal blow. Every section of the Comintern must co-operate with us, and each in his own country must facilitate our work. With such co-operation, the day is not distant when we shall hurl British Imperialism into the Indian Ocean.The Prime Minister smiles at that quotation, but it is a quotation which can be verified. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is by his side; I have given him the reference, namely, the Official Report of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern, and these words occur on page 91. They are a direct incitement to the agents of the Comintern throughout the world, and especially in, India, to incite to revolution against the British power and to cause revolution in India. If the right hon. Gentleman will turn to a few pages later—I think it is page 100—he will see these words:The fundamental task of the Comintern must be to concentrate all its forces for organising work in the vital centre of British Imperialism, India, because just here it may be paralysed and receive its deathblow.It is idle, in view of the information in the possession of the Government, to say that the Government do not know that the agents of the Comintern are penetrating every village in India at the present time, that they are inciting the villagers against any ides, of an. arrangement being arrived at between that country and Great Britain, and that their idea is to cause a revolution which will turn Great Britain out of India altogether. The Prime Minister talks in an airy way about the Trade Agreement, but I would like to ask him, is the definite pledge which was made a condition of the resumption of diplomatic relations to have any force or not? It was put into the forefront of this Trade Agreement, which was signed on the 20th December, 1929, and, as the Foreign Secretary has informed us, it was a sine qua non of the signing of that agreement. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) has referred to this specific pledge. Its exact words were: 1641The Contracting Parties solemnly affirm their desire and intention to live in peace and amity with each other, and "—and these are the important words—to refrain and to restrain all persons and organisations under their direct or indirect control, including organisations in receipt of financial assistance from them, from any act, overt or covert, liable in any way whatsoever to endanger the tranquility or prosperity of any part of the territory of the British Empire or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Does the Prime Minister suggest that these words have been carried out? He makes light of the quotation from the "Pravda," which he says was merely a recital of resolutions which had been passed by the Communist party in India; but he omits to say that those resolutions were quoted with approval. It is not as though such a thing appeared in a British newspaper. We all know that the "Pravda" is an official Government newspaper; it is the direct representative of the Comintern; and what, perhaps, might be put on one side if it appeared in a British newspaper, cannot be so treated when it appears in a paper like the "Pravda," which is published under the direct auspices of the Soviet Government, and in which nothing can appear unless it is specially authorised by that Government.
I submit that it is idle for the Prime Minister to say, as he did this afternoon, "We will never interfere with an expression of opinion." The quotations which I have given are very much more than an expression of opinion. They are, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of all people who have any knowledge of the interpretation of documents or manifestos, a direct incitement to the people of India in particular; and not only in India, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham pointed out, wherever there is any difficulty, whether it be in Egypt, in this country or elsewhere, there you will find the emissaries of the Comintern and of the Soviet Government attempting to make mischief, in direct contravention of the express pledge which was given by the Ambassador on assuming office.
1642 I cannot understand how' the Prime Minister can say that he does not know what is the proposition that is being put up to-day. With an airy wave of the hand he ignores the fact, which is known to every citizen in this country, that these agents are going about in every village in India stirring up strife. I would ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to say, when he replies, whether he can deny that, and, if he has not information on the subject, I would ask him to consult the Secretary of State for India. One of the greatest difficulties in the way of the Government in coming to any arrangement at the present time, either with Congress or with Mr. Gandhi or anyone else, is the fact that these agents of the Comintern are going about in India urging that no such arrangement should be made, and also urging that the people of India should seize all their lands and turn the British Government and the British Raj out of India altogether; and, much more than that, they do not even say that it should be replaced by Congress or by Mr. Gandhi, but they say that a Socialist Soviet Republic should be established. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, as I know that there is only a short time for the discussion of this matter, but I do hope that the Under-Secretary in his reply will not imitate the Prime Minister and say that he does not know what is the proposition which is put up to-day. I have stated what I believe is felt very strongly by the great majority of Members on this side of the Committee at any rate, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will specifically deal with the quotations which I have given, and which, in my opinion cannot be set aside.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I do not pretend to the extensive knowledge of my hon. Friends opposite regarding India, China, Russia and all other places on the face of the earth, but I have read a little about the history of Russia, and I know what has happened in recent years. No protest was made in this House when the money of Great Britain was being spent to uphold the White Terror in Russia. No protest was made when those who were carrying on a campaign for freedom in Russia found themselves in Siberia in the days of the Tsars. Hon. Members opposite 1643 were here then, and they are here to-day, but they have only discovered the evils of Russian government when there has been a change. I do not accept the principle of the change; the more things change, the more they remain the same. The only difference is that now we have the dictatorship of what is called the proletariat, and before we had the dictatorship of people who thought that God specially appointed them to govern the world. They have gone west; now we have to go east. We are discovering now that the Government of Russia is playing its part in the dictation of affairs in Europe, as it is entitled to do. With its enormous population, for good or for evil it has the right to play its part. Their system of government is not our system; their ideals are not the same as ours. They have a different conception of methods of government, because they think they need other forms of government, and I Cannot for the life of me understand how Members of this House, representing the greatest Empire the world has ever seen, can find fault with the form of government which the Russians have adopted. There are two countries in the world which are practically dominated by the" village community system. You may call the Government of Russia what you like, but, so far as details of administrative government are concerned, Russia and India are the two most equal countries in the world. You have village government—
We are not now discussing the merits or demerits of the Soviet or Russian system of government. What we are discussing is whether the present Soviet Government have taken such action as to justify His Majesty's Government severing relations with them.
§ Mr. JONES
I was trying to lead up to the main argument by giving a little bit of history to some of those who had not read it. I am one of those ignorant Members of the House who do not know much, but what little I know I try to assimilate and convey to others. A Government has been created in Russia as the result of the revolution. They may not look at things the way we do. I do not look at things in just the same way that they do. There would not be a 1644 Government in Europe to-day that we could have diplomatic relations with if the policy of the party opposite was carried into full effect. They are all revolutionary Governments. Our Foreign Secretary has been patting Monsieur Briand on the back. That is a revolutionary Government. It sent all the aristocrats of France over to England to find a safe harbour. Their system of Government is altogether different from ours. I have read of prominent Members of our Parliament denouncing the French Government of that time. The whirligig of time brings its revenges, and every change in government means the same thing. The Bourbons opposite never learn anything and never forget anything. The Russians have a right to pursue their own policy and we have no right to stop them. What have we been doing? Have we not been carrying on propaganda in Europe against the Russians? Have we not financed armies to fight against them? What right have we to protest? What right have we to say what we will do in the way of patronising the enemies of the Rusian Republic? What right have we to assume a tone of moral respectability and say that what we can do with impunity they must not do with a long spoon? I belong to a fraternity which has been persecuted as much as any by the Soviet Government, but that is their funeral and not ours.
When you have broken off diplomatic relations have you made things better? Can you afford to ignore 150,000,000 people between you and India? Is it any wonder, in view of the attitude you have taken up, that the Russians have done their best to dig their way into India? A countryman of mine once said that Ireland was going to be the graveyard of the British Empire. Take care that India does not become the graveyard of the British Empire if the policy that you are adumbrating is going to be carried into effect. Russia cannot be ignored now. It is a different Russia from what it was. Although I do not agree with their policy and their methods of government, I do not believe in dictatorships, whether they come from the slum or the palace. Dictatorships have always been and will always be wrong, and eventually the people will assert themselves against the dictators.
1645 In the meantime, clean your own doorstep before you teach other people improved laws of sanitation. You are the cause of their not being clean. Nearly all the Members opposite who have taken part in the Debate have identified themselves with the enemies of republicanism in Russia. They have supported the Koltchaks and Denikins and all the other wasters in order to try and save a rotten Empire from its inevitable end. Now they ask us what we are going to do about it. We are going to pursue the policy the Government have pursued of trying to use common sense and human reason. We do not agree with everything that Russia does, but we are not going to slaughter our own people to make a Roman holiday. We are not going to have another war. War will be all right for the people when they are about 80. I hope, when the next war comes, we shall start conscription at 80 and not at 18. Then there would not be so many patriots on the benches opposite. All we are asking is that we shall have common sense in international affairs, and that we shall meet Russia in a fair and square way.
I do not care what Ambassadors do. They do a lot of funny things. They have been doing funny things this week. They have been calling one another nice names and have then gone home to conspire against each other, as they always do. They have their own national interests to study. They have to see which way the wind blows. On these benches we always like to read the reports of the conferences that Ambassadors have between them in "Punch." It is not the meetings of the Ambassadors that matter. It is the meetings of the bankers and the capitalists of the various countries that settle the job. The Chancellors, after all, go out to try to represent the interests of their countries, but the other people are behind the scenes to dictate the policy of their countries. The Russian Government has done its best to carry out the policy that it believes in. I do not pretend to know much about it, and I am glad I do not. Diplomatic relations up to now have been dipsomaniac relationships. The people have always been sacrificed to the hole-and-corner meetings, the conversations, the negotiations and all the things that do not matter.
1646 We are asked to denounce Russia. Will you propose to denounce any other country in Europe except Russia? Much as we may disagree with her policy, why is Russia singled out for special attack? Is she the only country that carries on political propaganda? We ourselves are engaged in the same policy. France is engaged in the same policy. The French Foreign Office is carrying on propaganda against the proposed economic union between Austria and Germany. Every country in the world is engaged in the same policy, in the preferment of its own interests at the expense of some other country. Yet Russia is the criminal. Speaking as a back bencher, I say let us have an understanding with Russia. If hon. Members opposite imagine that they are going to get Labour men to walk into the Lobby in support of a policy of breaking off negotiations they are making a big mistake.
The Russian psychology is different from that which some of our people have, and I am glad that it is different. I am not altogether converted to modern political methods in the sense of being a diplomatist. I say what I think and think what I say. You are talking about war, because that is what it means. It is the beginning of it. Language with you is meant to hide your thoughts, but, so far as we have been able to understand your language, it means nothing else. Russia is to be ostracised. One of the greatest countries in Europe is to be turned into a wilderness in international affairs. If that does not point to war, what does it point to? Let those who want another great war have it. I only hope that the class to which I belong will shoot their sons before they allow them to take part in another war on the lines of the last one. We will not stand it.
Those who have been talking to-day give me the impression that the only thing in their minds is that Russia is to be humiliated, just as they wanted to humiliate France 100 years ago under somewhat similar conditions. They have never been the friends of any revolutionary movement in any country. What friendship have they displayed for the Spanish republicans? None at all. All the bouquets have been thrown at Alfonso. He has not even been asked to sign on at the Employment Exchange.
1647 There has been more friendship shown to the defeated monarchists of Spain than to the workers in other parts of the world after a successful revolution. This Motion is simply an attempt to bolster up reaction in Europe and, just as we backed up the reactionaries in Russia in the early days of the revolutionary movement, just as we backed up the anti-revolutionaries in France, just as we have supported nearly all the reactionaries in every country in Europe once again we are joining in the procession to back up the people who are out to destroy the great working-class movement of the world.
§ Sir RENNELL RODD
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member in his historical analogies and his accounts of former chicanery in diplomacy. I have one or two points to put which may seem interrogatory rather than critical, but they will undoubtedly become critical if the answer is not that which I should hope and expect to get. One of the disabilities which Members of the House always have to encounter in trying to form a just appreciation of activities and conditions in Russia is the difficulty they have in obtaining any real official information on the subject. Questions addressed to the Foreign Secretary meet with answers which are almost always nebulous or non-committal. It is perhaps, not altogether unnatural that it should be so.
The Prime Minister's speech gives us a certain insight into the difficulty of maintaining relations of peace and amity with what we must call a friendly country and, so far as I could make out, the burden of his speech was, "How much are we to overlook?" That the information should be somewhat nebulous comes, I think, from the fact that the information in the possession of the authorities themselves is very often rather nebulous, and the reason is not far to seek. Our representatives, who should be in a position to keep them informed, have limitations and restrictions put upon their liberty of movement in Russia, and that makes personal observation and intercourse with those from whom they could obtain unprejudiced opinions almost impossible. I have not been in contact for a year or two with any of the official representa- 1648 tives in Russia of any other country, but I have been told that things are a little better than they were not very long ago. A former colleague of mine who at one time represented in Russia a foreign Government which anticipated us in renewing relations, told me of a discovery which he made, in his own bedroom at the Embassy, of a microphone fixed into the wall behind the curtains of his bed which would enable any observations he might make to his wife to be transmitted at once to headquarters.
§ Sir R. RODD
No. I do not think that it is quite becoming to mention the name of the gentleman I am quoting, but he was a foreign representative of some distinction. I think that it would be a little too much to expect me to go further than that.
Some weeks ago, when a question was addressed to the Under-Secretary of State in this House, in reference to the limitation and restriction of the movements of our diplomatic officers, the answer was given that we reserved to ourselves certain powers of restriction which we should be very reluctant to abandon. In the history of diplomacy, if you go back a little way, you will certainly find that those powers which are probably inherent in every State are often pretty rigorously exercised. In the 16th and 17th Centuries the Sultans of Constantinople made it a practice of sending a newly-arrived envoy to the castle of the Seven Towers where he had to live in small stone-walled chambers very like dungeons until he had presented his credentials and declared his business. The Republic of Venice, more courteous in external appearance, was equally rigorous in restricting intercourse, and inflicted the penalty of banishment upon any unauthorised person who was found discussing affairs of State with a foreign representative. Consequently, in order to find out what was going on, they had to take into their service certain retainers, obviously spies. Something of the same kind existed also in the Republic of Piedmont up to the end of the 17th Century. But that is all very old history. When we are told, in cases where the excuse is made for this restriction of liberty of our representatives in Russia, that we reserve certain 1649 similar powers to ourselves, the first question which occurs to me to ask the Under-Secretary of State is, whether he can cite a single instance in any civilised State of those powers having been exercised within the last 100 years, or, for a matter of that, if he likes, the last 200 years until they were enforced by the Soviet Union in Russia?
If the activity of a mission abroad is simply to be limited to the forwarding home of official documents, official Press articles in translation, or to presenting occasionally a claim or putting a question to which the answer returned is almost invariably unfavourable, one is inclined to question whether the sum of £17,000 a year paid in salaries alone, not to reckon the housing of the Mission because—that is always under another account—is rather a large price to pay for a mission which is debarred from exercising its functions in a manner which has been generally recognised in the comity of civilised nations. How different is the attitude of our Government in such cases. In spite of those powers which they would be reluctant to abandon, how scrupulously do they distinguish between the unofficial organs of the Press and the official organs in a country where nothing can be printed, and very little said without having received the sanction of the ruling oligarchy. How submissively we accept the assurances that the Soviet Government are unable to control those agencies which use their country for giving publicity with the object of undermining the Governments of all other countries and denouncing especially the British Empire as the main obstacle to bringing about that condition under which, Lenin himself said, the Soviet experiment, which was the introduction of the Communistic state into all the surrounding countries, could alone become a success. How blandly, when the Red Trades Unions International Bureau at Moscow publishes the plan of campaign for undermining the British Empire, we accept the view that the hands are Esau's and decline to admit for a moment that the voice is Jacob's.
Even occasions for propaganda seem to be readily conceded in this country. Not many days ago, I have been informed, a high official of the Soviet Embassy came down to this House and addressed 1650 a group in one of the Committee Booms here. Of course, I shall be told that meetings in Committee Booms are private—that is so—and that there is no objection to such a course. My point is rather a different one. The conditions under which foreign missions are received in all countries to-day include the unwritten law—the unwritten law which I have never known to be neglected with impunity in any of the many countries in which I have lived—that foreign representatives shall refrain from identifying themselves with any particular political party or group. It is almost inconceivable to me that it could have been possible for a member of a foreign Embassy to come down to this House, and in a Committee Boom, address a political party without an immediate demand for his recall.
There are a great many points to which I should like to draw attention, but the time at our disposal is very short, and I do not think that it would be fair upon other hon. Members were I to attempt to occupy the time of the Committee longer. It is to those few points I particularly wish to draw attention, and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State may give his answer to that part of them, at any rate, which he has heard.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I wish to deal with the last point which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saint Marylebone (Sir B. Rodd), which was that the secretary to the Soviet Embassy came to this House and told us how Russia was progressing, and also told us all about the five-year plan. I think that it was a mistake to confine that lecture to the Members of this party. I understand that M. Sokolnikoff is going to talk to the Liberals. They also should be able to learn something about the five-year plan. I hope that there will be a further meeting, and that he will invite the Front Bench opposite and all the back benchers of the Conservative party to come and listen, and find out what is going on in Russia. If he has established a precedent by addressing a meeting in this House, it is a good precedent.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I am very glad that the hon. and gallant Member mentioned M. Mussolini, because he has already visited this country. There was no objection to that visit. M. Mussolini was received with great honour. But there is a marvellous difference in the attitude of hon. Members opposite when it is a question of dictatorship in Italy and when it is a question of dictatorship in Russia. The only difference between Italy and Russia is that in Russia they are using their power and their dictatorship in order to give a square deal to the common people.
This Debate is quite wide enough without introducing irrelevant matters. The only question before the Committee now is as to whether Russia has permitted breaches of the Agreement which justifies taking certain action.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I beg your pardon. It was rather the stupid interjection of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. I say that it is perfectly legitimate for the secretary of the Soviet Embassy to come to this House and tell us all about what is happening in Russia—their hopes, desires and ambitions. It was one of the finest lectures to which I have ever listened, and I hope that if M. Sokolnikoff will do the same thing in regard to hon. Members opposite every Member opposite will avail himself of the opportunity and go and listen to him, and find out what he has to say. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saint Marylebone indicated that the Russians indulge in terrible propaganda, and that their great desire is to bring about the downfall of the British Empire. Attention has been called to what has been written in the "Pravda," the official paper controlled by the Russian Government. If there is anything in the Agreement concerning propaganda, it has to cut both ways. An article in the "Pravda" will not have any more effect upon uninformed Russian opinion than an article in the "Daily Mail" or the "Daily Express" will have upon uninformed British opinion. If there is such a thing as the Russians controlling their Press, there ought to be such a thing as preventing our Press from stirring up bad blood and fanning the fires of prejudice and ignorance. There was, perhaps, something to be said 1652 for taking action under the Defence of the Realm Act during the War, but if we want a square deal, as far as propaganda is concerned, we must see that propaganda factors in this country are also suppressed. Nearly every Tory speech which is now delivered from John o'Groats to Land's End, contains anti-Russian propaganda. Not only that, but they do not take the trouble to be very truthful. They lie innocently, but they lie. There have been many stunts against Russia—I do not know how many stunts there have been, but, perhaps, they will almost be in the thousands—but I do not know any of them which have been built upon the solid rock of truth or fact. You have lied., lied, lied, and you keep on lying; and you have to get a fresh lie—
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
May I call your attention, Mr. Dunnico, to the fact that the hon. Gentleman, addressing Members sitting on this side of the Committee, has just said "You have lied, lied, lied, and you keep on lying? I move that those words be taken down.
If the hon. Member addressed those remarks to Members opposite, and to individual Members, it is entirely improper and out of order, and they should be withdrawn. Perhaps the hon. Member will withdraw them without my asking the Clerk to take them down.
§ Mr. THORNE
On a point of Order. I have listened to my hon. Friend during this Debate. As a matter of fact, he has not mentioned a single name in regard to anyone lying; his remarks were general.
When the hon. Member was making the statement complained of, my attention was diverted. If the hon. Member did accuse hon. Members opposite of lying, it is a most improper accusation, and I hope he will withdraw it.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I do not accuse, directly or indirectly, hon. Members opposite of lying. [HON. MEMBERS: "What did you mean?"] I will explain. It is very simple. Statements have been made on platforms all over the country. I will not say that they are lies. I think the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) called such things terminological inexactitudes.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
On the point of Order raised by my right hon. Friend, I understood you to ask the hon. Member whether he would withdraw the insulting observation that he made respecting those who sit on this side of the House, and I gathered that he was going to make an explanation and to make the honourable amende which is customary in such circumstances, but he now appears to be adding to his offence by embroidering.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Of course, I withdraw. I have not accused, neither do I now accuse, any hon. Members opposite of deliberately lying or of saying what they believe to be untrue, hut I am going to say, and I am going to say it as emphatically as I can, and with deliberation, that lies have been told about Russia. [Interruption.] Yes. I know that the right hon. Member for Epping is there. Sometimes I wish he were all there.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The hon. Member says that we make statements that are inaccurate. Will he deal with the point that I made from the report of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern? They are not my words; they are from the official document.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I will deal with that. That was in the sixth year of the Labour Government. It was another Government that was there at that time. We are not talking about what happened in the sixth year following the November revolution, but what is happening in the year 1931. In other words, the hon. Member opposite is about six years out of date.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Let me come back to my point, as to whether or not deliberate lies have been told. I am going to show that there has been propaganda, deliberate, inexcusable and very dangerous, against Russia. I would remind hon. Members that a responsible Government Department, Scotland Yard, forged the whole newspaper, "Pravda." Let us not be too squeamish. I am reminding 1654 hon. Members that Scotland Yard forged "Pravda." They imported the type and included in the forged edition of "Pravda" all kinds of lies, and they nearly got away with it. They printed it, they forged it, but they made one mistake. [Interruption.] I do not know how many mistakes your parents made, but they made one mistake, and you are that one.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I am sure that my hon. Friend opposite will believe me that I do not mean to be personally offensive, but it is very difficult to get on with one's arguments, particularly when one is confronted with a snigger. Hon. Members opposite will get more than they want about "Pravda." "Pravda" was forged, from the title to the headlines and everything by a responsible Government Department, and it was found out in a most peculiar way. There is a law that the printers must put their imprint, their name and address at the bottom of the last column. In this case the London printers who had printed the forged "Pravda"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Luton printers "]—the Luton printers had put their name and address at the bottom of the last column. They cut off the name and address, put the papers into big bundles and sent them in a British warship to Riga. The game was flourishing merrily and everything was going according to plan until two working compositors brought a forged "Pravda "into the office of the" Daily Herald." The matter was brought up in this House, questions were asked and the result was that Sir Basil Thomson, the chief instigator of this business, had to retire. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"]. Never mind shame—
The hon. Member is entitled to state his argument, but he must not be offensive in stating it.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I do not want to be offensive to anyone. I am merely pointing out facts. It is a most serious thing. We are talking about the relations between this country and Russia. We 1655 are suggesting that there can be no such thing as false, lying, deceiving propaganda. I am suggesting that here there is a concrete, positive proof that not an individual but a Government Department was responsible for a forgery, a nasty forgery, of the Russian newspaper "Pravda." Hon. Members opposite object. What of all the stories about the nationalisation of women. Was that propaganda built on the rock of truth, or was it sheer lies? What about the other fairy stories? What about the last story of the slave labour in the Arctic circle? The notable thing about the last lies is that they come from the most incompetent liars of this age. They do not understand the business of lying. [Interruption.] If you do not, a little later you might.
If we had fewer interjections, and the hon. Member would address his remarks to the Chair, the Debate would proceed more smoothly.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Allegations have been made against Russia that were too silly for words. We were told that there were affidavits. Those affidavits have a certain market price. They are bought and sold. We were told that these poor people were working in the Arctic circle, in the winter time, where it was so cold that the ground never thawed the whole year round. The truth is that where the ground never thaws the whole year round you would not get even moss to grow, let alone trees.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
The only thing that it has to do with it is that I have made an assertion that anti-Russian propaganda has been built up on a foundation of sheer lies. Ever since the November revolution we have had nothing but lies concerning Russia. Until we have another little war with Russia I suppose hon. Members will not be satisfied. They will still want this kind of propaganda to go on. It is a very dangerous business for, sooner or later, this kind of thing leads to war. What do hon. Members opposite want? I make the definite 1656 statement that for years and years and years there has been hostile propaganda carried on by hon. Members opposite on practically every Tory platform in the country, and it is being carried on in the Press. We are entitled to know what they do want with Russia. Do they want another Arcos raid, with dynamite, pneumatic drills and the rest of it, or do they want a war? The Russians may not care very much about us and we may not care very much about them, but there is this to be said that the Russians have not done anything against us in a concrete sense. I could understand the Russians carrying on propaganda against us. Go back over the history of the last few years. The history of our intervention, the history of the blockade, the history of the illegal war conducted by the right hon. Member for Epping, who went behind the backs of Parliament and carried on a war which cost us £100,000,000, and for which we are paying to-day £5,000,000 a year in interest.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
A minute ago the right hon. Gentleman was very angry because he said that I had suggested that there was a little bit of lying going on. Now he suggests that I am lying.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, Sir. I am making no charge of mendacity against the hon. Member, but only one of hopeless, lamentable and invincible ignorance.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I do not know whether there is such a thing as hopeful ignorance, but if so there is a chance for the right hon. Member. I am accused of ignorance. I say that a war was carried on against Russia, an unofficial war, a war behind the backs of Parliament, that the troops were sent there, that they were sent up the country and that that war cost us £100,000,000. We assisted Denikin, Koltchack and others. When Denikin went through the Ukraine we were told by the Rabbi that 500,000 Jews were slaughtered; slaughtered because of our money. There was no protest then from hon. Members opposite. When atrocities took place that would sicken one's imagination, we did not hear that there was any protest from hon. Members opposite. We did undoubtedly interfere 1657 in Russia. We did subsidise those generals. It is common knowledge that we subsidised those generals. The one thing that I am surprised at is that the right hon. Member for Epping did not have to stand his trial in a criminal court because of that illegal war. He spent that money. Then there was the blockade, one of the most inhuman things in history, when we put a cordon round Russia and refused to allow anything to go over the boundaries, any medicines, or disinfectants—quite contrary to the Geneva Convention. It was one of the most damnable, diabolical, caddish, inexcusable—[Interruption.]—things to do. I tell you what it is, I know nothing more callous. When that blockade was carried out Russian mothers watched their kiddies die before their eyes. They could get no medicines, and in the hospitals operations were carried out without any anaesthetics. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but Russia has not forgotten. We have to ask forgiveness from Russia. I know hon. Members opposite do not like Russia. Why is there this enmity towards Russia? It is because there is a new social order in that country. They have done two atrocious things. First of all, they published the secret treaties. Hon. Members opposite do not like that because they prove that the last War was fought for a lie. If it had gone according to the plan in the secret treaties, what a different world there would have been in Constantinople, in Persia and in Germany—
The hon. Member must really try to confine himself to the question before the Committee. The contents of secret treaties have nothing to do with this Vote.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
That was a tragic occurrence. Russia committed the indiscretion of telling the world what the last war was fought for, and if there is any person who will apologise for the secret Treaties, then, believe me, they have some courage. The next thing they did was to take away the land from the landlords. That was the sin against the Holy Ghost. That is why hon. Members opposite dislike Russia. [Interruption.] Russia is there, and is going to stay there. There have been prophecies again and again to the effect that the Russian Soviet 1658 system will crumble and fall, and I have no doubt many hon. Members opposite would be glad to see a Tsar back again. But the Government of Russia is lasting and it is becoming more and more clear—
I have tried to make it perfectly clear to the hon. Member that we are not discussing the merits or demerits of the Soviet Government. We are discussing now whether the Soviet Government has taken certain action and broken certain agreements which justify a censure upon the Government for not terminating diplomatic relations. That is the only question before the Committee at the moment.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Then I will tear up these notes. I want propaganda to cease. I do not want any interference from Moscow, or for this country to interfere with Moscow. I want co-operation, friendly and peaceful co-operation, between this country and Russia. We need Russia, and Russia needs us. We do not require the kind of propaganda which may emanate from Moscow, nor do we require the propaganda which emanates from the benches opposite or from Fleet Street. We need Russia. We are living in a very difficult world. The position of this country is perhaps more difficult than that of any other. We have to sell our goods if we are to live, and the other fellow because of his economic nationalism is putting up his tariff barriers. We know how much progress economic nationalism has made in the last 20 years. It threatens our life. We require to be able to sell our goods. There are 150,000,000 of people controlling one-sixth of the earth's area who are able to send us the things we want, wheat and flax, and petrol and timber, the raw material, and we want to send them our manufactured articles.
I want the right feeling between this country and Russia because I know how much it matters. I happen to have been a commercial traveller and I know that if you are going to do business you must create the atmosphere of good will. We want good will between this country and Russia. If we are going to carry on encouraging liars we shall get another war. There is no necessity for a war between this country and Russia. There should be no room for anything but good will. Russia is perhaps the most wonder- 1659 ful country in the world. Why should we throw away trade? Why be foolish and indulge in all these attitudes of bad will? I hope that common sense will prevail and that we shall co-operate to the mutual benefit of the Russian people and the people of these islands.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The principal interest in the harangue to which we have just listened from the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Haycock) is the insight it affords us into a peculiar type of mentality found here and there throughout this country, a type of mentality which received a great deal more acclamation from Ministerial supporters before they were rendered tame and respectable, to some extent, by Office. I do not intend to follow the hon. Member into all his wild and woolly words, but there is one question which I must answer, and that in why it is that I have not been tried for the private war I waged in Russia. One of the reasons is that I did nothing that was not approved by the Cabinet of the day, which was headed by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) or that did not receive the full approval and endorsement of the House of Commons by enormous majorities, or which was not fully in accord with the published decisions of the Inter-Allied Conference, upon which President Wilson, amongst others, was a representative. The dock, if I am to be tried, must therefore be made ample enough to contain quite a large company.
There are two points in the speech of the hon. Member which, I think, call for some notice on the part of the Government. In the first place, there is the allegation that Scotland Yard has been deliberately forging documents. The Home Secretary is not in his place at the moment, but I am not aware that the right hon. Gentleman is ready to admit that he presides over a nest of forgers and that those confident officials and responsible persons who come to him every day, and with whom he has these relations, are in fact guilty of an odious and dishonest transaction of this character. If it is so, then the Government could inform us on the point when the time comes. As a matter of fact, I was not quite clear as to the date on which this alleged crime is said to have 1660 been committed; but it appears that it was committed at any time during the last five or six years. In that case the Prime Minister and his colleagues would have had cognisance of it, and would have been responsible for working with those who were connected with it. The charge, I need not say, is so absurd that it will not bear investigation, and I need not bother about it.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Has the right hon. Member never heard of the important and unprecedented happening of eight years ago? I am much surprised.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I never heard of such a thing, and I am not at all acquainted with it. The other point to which I invite the attention of the Prime Minister is the statement which the hon. Member made about the Secretary of the Soviet Embassy having visited the House of Commons and addressed a party meeting of the supporters of the Government. If that is so, I think it is altogether a novel departure in the relationships and actions which are appropriate to the representative of a foreign State in our midst. Very often those who are connected with foreign embassies visit chambers of commerce or make speeches of a non-controversial character to non-party meetings, but I should have thought it was altogether undesirable that a representative of a foreign nation should visit the House of Commons and harangue supporters of the Government. I had no intention or expectation of taking any part in this Debate, and it is only the extraordinary speech, to which we listened with increasing amazement, from the Prime Minister that has forced me to do so. The Prime Minister began by instituting a comparison between the speeches which I and others have made about India, and the Communist propaganda to create a revolution in India.
§ The PRIME MINISTERindicated dissent.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I heard the right hon. Gentleman. I do not say that he tried to make this comparison apply in all respects, but he used this in order to lead up to a conclusion in which he pointed at me and said, "If mischief is caused by Communists, it is also caused by your speeches." I think we 1661 may examine the basis of such a serious charge. I suggest that in all questions of speech or action the character of the speech or action must be considered. Before you can judge its consequence, if its character is lawful and proper, then it may well be that some anger is caused to other persons by it, but if the speech in itself and the doctrines in themselves are lawful and consonant with public order, there is no ground why silence should be maintained on public matters. Therefore, there is no comparison to be drawn between such doctrines and speeches and deliberate attempts to throw the whole country into a state of revolutionary disorder. There is this difference, I may point out, between the kind of speech which I make to one set of people and the kind of Communist propaganda handed out to another. But the people who are angered by the speeches which I make are the enemies of this country, and those who are angered by the Communist propaganda are its friends. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. TOWNEND
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to imply that the operatives of Lancashire, who were angered by his Indian speech, are enemies of the country?
The Chair can take no responsibility for the opinions of right hon. or hon. Members.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I cannot understand all this touchiness, Rather more than normal interest is being taken in the topic that we are discussing this afternoon. I cannot understand why we cannot be allowed to debate this matter without individual Members jumping up here and there and taking points of Order which they well know are an abuse of the rule which entitles a Member to interrupt a speech. But let me say, since the Prime Minister has referred to me so pointedly, and I think wrongfully, that I am not at all prepared to accept from him guidance in public matters as to what is right and patriotic. [Interruption.] I am sorry to have to say that, because I have a respect and admiration for the right hon. Gentleman, and, 1662 naturally, a respect for the great office which he holds; but of this I am sure, that he has never allowed himself to be hampered in what he thought was his public duty by the kind of taunts which he was good enough to fling at me across the Floor, and at any rate that is a matter to which I think I was entitled to refer. But I will not labour that particular point.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The hon. Gentleman, who is a very perfervid partisan, and very properly, of his leaders, must recognise that in all these questions it may be asked, who began it? [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman made an unjustifiable and unjust comparison for the purposes of a small debating point, and I have answered him as he deserves. But I sympathise very much with the right hon. Gentleman none the less, because his position to-day is one of great embarrassment, and he has, with his usual deftness and skill, attempted to conceal the awkward feelings and reflections which are filling his mind. No one has laid down the law about the behaviour of the Socialist Government more clearly than the right hon. Gentleman himself. I have here a copy of a letter, his own dispatch, in connection with the man Zinovieff:No one, who understands the constitution and the relationships of the Communist International will doubt its intimate connection and contact with the Soviet Government. No Government will ever tolerate an arrangement with a foreign Government by which the latter is in formal diplomatic relations of a correct kind with it, whilst at the same time a propagandist body organically connected with that foreign Government encourages and even orders subjects of the former to plot and plan revolutions for its overthrow.That is the doctrine which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down, and it has been supported in much more recent times, as late as 1929, when the right hon. Gentleman said:Our conditions are laid down in a public dispatch. Everyone who has read the dispatch knows what they are. My colleagues know; my opponents know; and the representatives of Soviet Government know. We stand by them. Of course we do.I have quotations from the Foreign Secretary, but I need not trouble the Committee with them, because they are 1663 beyond dispute. These are the declarations which the Government have made, which they have repeated and renewed, and which constitute the settled basis of their policy. The whole of these declarations are being flouted and mocked every day that passes. No one has talked more bold and brave than the Prime Minister, except the Foreign Secretary, on this subject of what he would stand and what he would not, what he would tolerate and what he would not. Why, he would tolerate anything! I have yet to see the dose or pill that he would not swallow if it came from Russia. The right hon. Gentleman is treated with open defiance and ridicule. I see that a gentleman named Menjinksy, Chief of the Ogpu, has said—I must say that the Russians are exceedingly frank—As long as there are idiots to take our signature seriously, and to put their trust in it, we must promise everything that is being asked, and as much as one likes, if we can only get something tangible in exchange.Let me read to the Prime Minister what is published in the official Press of Russia about India, in view of his attempt to make comparisons with speeches made by people who are endeavouring to advocate a steadier policy. This is what is said by the International Press Correspondence, the organ of the Communist International, and it is dated 26th February, 1931:We need in India to build class proletarian trade unions at a feverish pace, intensely, every day and under all circumstances…The preparations for a general political strike must be brought to the front. … We must rouse the masses…We must inspire them with the spirit of war to the bitter end, and the spirit of struggle for India in which there will be no place for British Imperialism.These things are published under the full authority of the Government of the day in a country where, as we have been reminded by the Prime Minister, no newspaper opinion is allowed to be expressed which is not in accord with the opinions of the Government of the day. And then you have to read these incitements, this deliberate avowal of attempts to cause revolution in India, side by side with the declarations which the Prime Minister made and which he told us he stands by. It is a case of contradiction of the most flagrant kind. I am Aston- 1664 ished that the Prime Minister has attempted even to cover up this change of front of his with a certain veneer of smooth words. He stands more stultified by it than any man I have seen, on this Russian question. Here he is sitting, having deliberately devoured with apparent gusto every word on this subject which he has ever spoken.
Then the right hon. Gentleman, trying to make a cheap point across the Floor of the House, quoted Some of the speeches of my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary. Our policy was to pursue with great patience the relationships which we found to exist when we came into office in 1924. Some of us would have liked to have seen them terminated sooner. Certainly there was no lack of provocation, as was so very well stated by my right hon. Friend, but it was thought that with the Government of Russia relations had been resumed, and that as long as we could endure the arrangement we must go on patiently year after year until they became intolerable. The arguments which were appropriate to that condition of affaire are in no way stultified now, because the moment when patience became exhausted the Soviet representatives were requested to withdraw from this country and the agreement between the two countries lapsed.
Why, then, did the right hon Gentleman attempt to charge my right hon. Friend with inconsistency? We gave a patient trial to a policy of which we did not approve and which we were not anxious to reverse, but in the end found the situation intolerable and we turned them out. The present Prime Minister has brought them back. He and his friends ran about the country telling the electors at the last election, that when the Russians were brought back trade would be so great that unemployment would be cured, and having deluded large numbers of working men with the idea that their misfortunes would be healed if only we brought back the Russian representatives, the right hon. Gentleman obtained a majority. And the people have seen the consequences which have followed from it. Our policy in this matter has been reversed. We turned the Soviet representatives out and the present Government have brought them back.
1665 I say to the Government, for the consequences in every sphere you are responsible. You cannot go harking back upon the previous period. You are responsible for the great spread of their propaganda in India. You are responsible for their increasing hostility to this country. You are responsible for the lamentable failure of the trade between the two countries; and you are responsible for securing them special favour of funds which are indirectly used for buying armaments that may be used in the event of war.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
On a point of Order. Once or twice, Mr. Dunnico, you have pulled me up on the ground that I was out of order, and I wish to know if the right hon. Gentleman is in order in that observation.
§ Mr. CHURCHILLrose—
§ Mr. TOWNEND
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to resume his place at the Box before you, Mr. Dunnico, have had an opportunity of replying to the point of Order raised by the hon. Member for West Salford (Mr. Haycock)?
I have been following the speech of the right hon. Gentleman and its bearing upon the point which is before the Committee, and as long as he keeps within a reasonable distance of that point I do not propose to intervene, but I think that he is now getting rather too far away from the issue before the Committee.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have said all that I have to say. When one looks back on the long past history of our relations with Russia, since the Great War and its subsidiary conflicts were brought to a close, one sees at a glance how very much more successful the United States have been in their relations with Russia than we have been in our relations with Russia. The United States have done far more trade and a more profitable trade. They have sold a much larger quantity of goods, and have a much more favourable record in that respect, but the United States have never done what we have done, and what we are continuing to do, namely to falisfy the foundations of our own system of society by giving greater favours to a Communist, revolutionary Government than we give to 1666 other friendly countries or even to our own Dominions. That is the policy which the right hon. Gentleman is enforcing to-day and his responsibility is there. I agree with him that there is no great danger of Communist propaganda in this country. There may be danger to the Communists but there is no danger to the country. This country is safe and sure and strong in itself. It is healthy and I believe will easily throw off the attempts which are being made to undermine it. But, if the country is safe and secure, that is no reason why it should be made ridiculous by the antics of this Government or the disgraceful tergiversation of the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. R. A. TAYLOR
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) commenced his speech by referring to my hon. Friend the Member for West Salford (Mr. Haycock) as being representative of a type of mentality which is not fully appreciated by the leaders of the Labour party now that they have acquired the responsibilities of office. There is one thing which we cannot say about the right hon. Gentleman. We cannot say that the fact of being in office changes his mentality, because he is just as irresponsible when he is dealing with the gravest international affairs, as he is when he is in Opposition, and I know of no more sinister figure in this controversy regarding Russia than the right hon. Gentleman. When he was occupying a responsible position in the last Government he went out of his way on a number of occasions to deliver speeches which were calculated to undermine the confidence of those manufacturers engaged in Anglo-Russian trade. He used language regarding the leaders of the Russian people which would have disgraced anybody delivering a speech at the street corner. He referred to them as "thieves" and "guttersnipes" and "the sweepings of the capitals of Europe." I wonder how he expects, in view of that attitude on the part of a responsible statesman in this country, that relations are going to develop between the two countries in a way which will be to their mutual advantage.
One would imagine, when listening to the late Foreign Secretary as he introduced this subject this afternoon, that it was impossible for any member of the Conservative party, to whatever eminence 1667 he may have attained, to see that there are two sides to this question like any other question. The right hon. Gentleman ignored one or two essential facts in relation to this matter of propaganda. First of all he forgot to remind the Committee, when giving us the background of the problem, that in the preamble to the trade agreement of 1921, it was clearly stated that it was a temporary agreement, preliminary to a general treaty between the two nations in which all outstanding questions would be cleared up, and that this temporary agreement was to be regarded as an arrangement, for the purpose of restarting trade, until such time as the two countries could move forward towards a fuller understanding. It was not the fault of Russia that no steps were taken to implement the principles laid down in the preamble to the trade agreement. Time after time during the period of the last Conservative administration, and even prior to then, Russia, through her responsible leaders, made it perfectly clear that she was willing to enter into negotiations for a general treaty. Hon. Members opposite must not forget that the two last Conservative administrations practised a systematic boycott of Anglo-Russian trade, and refused to give to manufacturers engaged in that business the conditions which were essential to its full and proper development. By administrative action in connection with the machinery of export credits and trade facilities they deliberately excluded the one country in the world where there was a real necessity for such machinery and where it could be used with advantage. They deliberately excluded Russia from the benefits of those measures and betrayed a consistent hostility towards any suggestion that we might get a full settlement with Russia.
If there are faults, they are not all on one side, and, if we are going to promote co-operation instead of strife in the world, we must be able to understand the other fellow's point of view. I think, therefore, that it would be a great mistake if this Debate were to finish with-out somebody attempting to make it clear that, as far as the masses of the English people are concerned, what we desire from Russia is that she should stick to her task of building up as high a civilisa- 1668 tion as possible for her own people, by whatever methods seem fit to the Russian people themselves, but that she must leave us equally free to work out our own problems in our own way. As far as the plain man is concerned, the vast majority of the English people—apart from those engaged in political controversy—they only desire the opportunity to conduct their trade, and to live in amity and co-operation with Russia. But every responsible member of the State will stand behind the British Government in resenting and dealing effectively with any attempt by Russia or any other country to interfere with our internal problems. Unquestionably, a certain amount of propaganda has been carried on by Russia, but it would be idle to ignore the fact that the Conservative party, in particular, have never honoured the bargain with Russia in the spirit or the letter of the agreement because the agreement lays obligations upon both parties. Article 16 of the 1924 Treaty—which was embodied in the settlement with Russia following the last General Election—states:The contracting parties solemnly affirm their desire and intention to live in peace and amity with each other and scrupulously to respect the undoubted right of a State to order its own life within it" own jurisdiction in its own way, to refrain and to restrain all persons and organisations under their direct or indirect control including organisations in receipt of any financial assistance from them from any Act, overt or otherwise, liable in any way whatever to endanger the tranquillity or prosperity of any part of the territory of the British Empire, or the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, or intended to embitter the relations of the British Empire or the Union with their neighbours or any other countries.Yet we have constantly had propaganda "stunts" from time to time, from Members of the Conservative party, responsible and otherwise. To-day we have been called upon to waste a good many hours of Parliamentary time, listening to a statement of the late Foreign Secretary, in which no single charge of substance has been made against Russia. Not one single specific charge relating to a specific breach of the agreement has been made. We were told by the late Foreign Secretary that the Russian Government were now busy trying to bring about a revolution by dumping. I do not know of any single commodity of primary importance in which the Russian 1669 supply on the world market is the determining factor in fixing the world price. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted to impress the Committee he might have used an argument which appealed more to our intelligence. Russia has to pay for whatever imports of machinery and other things go into Russia. She has to pay for those imports with the sums received from the sale of her exports abroad. I have no doubt whatever that that if the Russians could get a higher price for their wheat, their oil and their timber, they would be delighted to have to part with less of those commodities in order to be able to pay the bill for the oil engines and excavators which they are buying in my constituency. They would be delighted, I am sure, if they were getting a higher price and had not to part with so large a volume of raw materials and foodstuffs in order to settle their debts. To use such an argument as the right hon. Gentleman used, in order to show that we ought to alter the existing situation, was not to appeal to our intelligence.
I fear I should be out of order in following the right hon. Gentleman at any length in that part of has speech which was devoted to a criticism of the credits now being granted in connection with British exports to Russia. Instead of being a criticism which could legitimately be levelled at the Foreign Office, that criticism was one which ought to have been directed mainly against members of his own party and men of great experience in matters of world trade. These credits are granted by a statutory committee, which is independent of the control of Parliament, and is supposed to deal with each application on its commercial merits. Out of 13 or 14 members of that committee, 10 or 11, at any rate, are connected with banking and commercial interests and, as far as their political tendencies are concerned, most of those are identified with the party opposite. Therefore, it seems to me that we have wasted our time except to indicate that, however dangerous this kind of game may be for the future peace of the world, however dangerous it may be in the sense that it encourages those elements in Russia who believe that this issue must be fought out by force, for purposes of Party expediency Conservative propaganda must be carried on. 1670 Those extremists who believe in armaments as the only security for Russia are strengthened every time the Conservative party force a Debate like this, they feed extremists in Russia with the feeling that with the Conservative party there is absolutely no possibility of getting down to an era of good will and co-operation.
Another very serious kind of damage that is done by these Debates is the unsettling effect that they have on those who would endeavour, under difficult conditions, to develop economic enterprise with Russia. If one is engaged upon a. business that requires in some cases 18 months or two years before final payments are made in connection with the export of equipment, machinery, and so on. it is evident that so long as you have this outlook dominating one great party in the State, it prevents the full development of trade that would otherwise take place, and it prevents the Russian trading agencies from making arrangements with this country of a stable character in order to build up the kind of trading organisations that have to be developed in relationships between a State built on the Russian model and a State such as our own, because the Russians naturally fear, every time this sort of thing occurs, that with a change of Government another Arcos raid may take place, and that the whole of the organisation that has been built up will be destroyed.
An argument was used by the right hon. Member for Epping that because America had been able to do an expanding trade with Russia without entering into diplomatic relationships, therefore, I presume, if Great Britain had not had any such relationships, we too should have been able to do a larger volume of trade than we have done, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman gives us credit for a little more intelligence than to assume that he was really serious when he was advancing such arguments. He knows that the United States of America is neither a European nor an Asiatic Power. She has not the contact of interest owing to her geographical position, and owing to the other factors explaining the difference between the United States and the British Empire, it is quite obvious that, while one country might be perfectly safe in refusing to enter into diplomatic relationships, another great Empire, with a contact along thousands 1671 of miles of frontier and with great interests in the East where Russia stands between Europe and the East, would run far graver dangers than we now do when we have some kind of machinery with which to deal with difficulties as they arise.
There are a number of reasons why this very much extended business has been done by America as compared with Great Britain. The first and most important is that America has escaped the blessing of having front rank statesmen like the right hon. Member for Epping, and has had no great figure constantly conspiring to disturb relations between the two countries. Secondly, the political background is very different, because America went to the aid of Russia during the period of famine and has not our record of intervention there. Thirdly, the products which have been bought by Russia and imported in such large quantities from America are in the main products for which there is no competitive source of supply in Great Britain.
For instance, Great Britain has not yet evolved a tractor fully competitive with the organisation that the American tractor people have been able to establish. It is true that we have made some progress, and from the point of view of quality and price, I believe we have arrived at a stage when, if we can get a market of sufficient volume, we can do that as well as anybody else. But, as a matter of fact. we do not grow cotton in Great Britain, and a good deal of Russia's purchases from America have consisted of cotton and tractors. Fourthly, the American manufacturers of machinery have been willing in the past to concede far better credit terms and to encourage the Russians to engage in large-scale importation upon terms which came within their possibilities.
Therefore, I hope and trust that the Members of the Conservative party will come to realise that you cannot treat a nation of 150,000,000 people in the way that a great many of them treat Russia and Russian problems every time they are mentioned either in this House or outside. We have to realise that this great new experiment in the world is there. We have to see to it that the hot-heads in Russia, who believe perhaps that they can promote world revolution 1672 by a little propaganda of the right kind, learn that we as a people are determined to work out our salvation in our own way. We are quite willing to concede the same right to them, and anything that we can do to help their people to raise their standard of life and to improve their demand for the luxuries and amenities of civilised life, we shall do on terms that are fair to both sides.
§ Commander O. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), in speaking this evening, pointed across the House to me and referred to me as an enemy of Republicanism. I should like to say, in reply, that far from being an enemy in any way, I have done what I think the hon. Member has not done—I actually served a Republic during the War. I served the Republic of Russia during the War, and I wanted that Republic to grow to freedom. I was also in Russia when a paid agent of the Germans, named Lenin, was sent in a sealed carriage with a couple of million pounds to defraud that Republic of her liberty and to set up the present tyranny which has lasted ever since. If you compare the conditions in India to-day with those in Russia, there can be no question which country is the freer. The Socialist party in Russia is in prison. Kerensky, who may be called the Ramsay MacDonald of Russia, in that he is the head of the Socialist party there, is actually driven out of the country. He is not able to return to that glorious country of freedom. Therefore, there can be no possible comparison between conditions in Russia to-day and those which we permit in India, where there is freedom of speech, where even convicts are released and end by negotiating with the Viceroy of the day.
Now I would for a moment refer to the speech of the Prime Minister. I have heard a good many rambling and irrelevant utterances in my day from hon. and right hon. Members opposite, but of all the motley medleys of oratory, his speech, to use the common parlance, took the biscuit. The only point he made was the incredible patience of the late Foreign Secretary in relation to Russia, which we must all admit. If we look into our hearts, we must admit that the late Unionist Government tolerated propaganda which even this Government might not have tolerated had it been in 1673 office, and it only cut the painter under extreme provocation. My view has always been this, not that we should not recognise Soviet Russia. I have never said that. I say, "Never recognise her except upon our terms," and those terms ought to be, first of all, a loyal mutual undertaking not to propagand in either country; and, secondly, I would never dream of selling the priceless boon of British recognition for nothing. I would have said to the Soviet, "Pay some of your debts first. Recognise that you do owe us something, even if you do not pay, and then perhaps we will permit you to come over"—
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Is it not a fact that in the Trade Agreement of 1921 they agreed to the principle of compensation?
§ Commander LOCKER-LAMPSON
It may be true that 10 years ago they agreed to that. But they have not paid a single farthing since. If in 10 years they cannot pay a farthing, why should we recognise them? Why should we give them in return priceless privileges which we refuse to our own Dominions? Why should we grant to a defaulting Republic what we deny to our most loyal Dominions, which stuck to us in the War? We were told that if we refused recognition of the Soviet, we should have a war, but we have had no war at all. The result of permitting them back here, however, has been that we have never had peace throughout the British Empire since.
There is no one on this side of the House who is against trade with Russia. We signed the Trade Agreement of 1921 and voted for it. We would vote again for agreements that would facilitate and encourage trade with that great country. We are ready to trade with Mormons, about whom the Prime Minister spoke, or with anybody else who is ready to pay. But why should we give unique conditions of entry and permit special facilities to Russian representatives in this country? Their trading agents are more numerous than those of any other country, their diplomatic rights are greater, they have countless secret bags in which they can carry lying leaflets for distribution, if necessary, to our troops, or, rather, the money to pay for it.
1674 7.0 p.m. Of old, if you had an enemy, he advanced against you with sword, or gun, or rifle. In the late War we advanced one against the other with high explosives and with artillery. But now so-called diplomatic friends can attack you in a way that is just as damaging as going to war. They can send money which can percolate anywhere in the world and poison the wells of conciliation. Propaganda is the poison gas of peace, and Russian roubles are current throughout the British Empire to foment discord and anarchy. We have always held that the British Empire was the main bulwark against Bolshevism, and I hope it will long remain so. Trotsky, when we went to China and did our best to stop sedition there, referred to Russian activities in Shanghai as "a whiff of Moscow." I have never forgotten the words of Lenin respecting India and the East:India is seething; it is our duty to keep the pot boiling.I wonder what the Government would do if we took counter-action when it comes to propaganda. There was a General Strike organised not very long ago, under conditions to which we need not refer. Assuming hon. Members on this side were to start to-day a General Strike against the present Government and to secure the support of the Italian. Government, I wonder what the feelings of hon. Members opposite would be. Our views on this side of the House are that it is traditionally and morally wrong for one Government to interfere in the internal affairs of another. This is a sacred obligation which the Soviet has failed to keep.
§ Miss WILKINSON
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) sent £100,000,000 to Russia, and interfered in Russian affairs.
§ Commander LOCKER - LAMPSON
The hon. Lady said that £100,000,000 was sent to Russia. May I deal with that challenge in one sentence? Really that is not so. The position was this. Lenin was sent by Germany with £2,000,000 to steal Russia from her common allegiance in the War. The result was that Russia made peace a year and a half before the rest of the Allies. She stabbed us in the back, and hundreds of thousands of Englishmen died as a result of the prolongation of the War. That act of 1675 treachery lost us thousands of lives. But in Russia, all over the country, a few loyalists stood out against that defection, stuck to the common cause, and fought on for England and freedom. Were we wrong in supporting them?
§ Commander LOCKER-LAMPSON
If they stuck to us throughout the War, would you have us stop supporting them immediately after the War? Certainly not. There was a Government of chaos. If you put it to the House and there was a free vote, there would be an enormous majority for spending that money all over again. I have been led aside by the hon. Lady, but, if she had come in a little earlier, she would have realised that this has already been discussed. My final word is this. Mr. Gandhi is the official Bolsheviser of the brown races, equally an adept at fomenting class as well as colour war. There can be no question to-day that the long arm of Moscow has reached out even to India, that Soviet shekels are busy in the bazaars of Calcutta and that Russian roubles would be found in the pockets of Mr. Gandhi, if he wore breeches like the rest of us.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Dalton)
This is not a new subject for Debate in this House. We have had, in fact, four Debates on this subject of Russian propaganda since the resumption of relations with the Soviet Government. There is a Debate on this subject every few months, and questions on this subject every few days. Seldom does a week pass but that hon. Members opposite, with the assistance of the correspondent of a notable newspaper stationed at Riga, put questions on the Order Paper relating to various true or alleged statements, which are held to constitute hostile propaganda. This subject is not new, and this afternoon all the resources of originality have evidently been exhausted. Nothing very fresh has been said from the other side of the Committee, nor has it needed anything very 1676 fresh to be said on this side to defend the Government's position, nor can I hold out any hope of saying anything very fresh in the short time in which I shall address the Committee.
The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) travelled over a wide field, as other hon. Members did, so as to incur the occasional interventions of the Chair. At one stage the right hon. Gentleman went so far as to suggest that one of the forms of Soviet propaganda, against which we were entitled to guard ourselves, and which might cause a ground for breaking off relations, was the dumping of large quantities of goods into this country at low prices. That is, indeed, a notable extension of the doctrine of Soviet propaganda as hitherto expounded from the benches opposite. Other hon. Members such as the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) have been very consistent throughout all these discussions. They have always opposed the resumption of relations wish the Soviet union; they were continually pressing their own Government when they were on this side of the House to break off relations, with the result that in the end they triumphed and forced their Front bench to break them off.
I have, therefore, no comment to make on the hon. Gentleman's attitude except to pay tribute to his remarkable consistency. But I would remind him that, since the last Parliament, there has been a change in the view of the majority of this House on this subject. This party, and the Liberal party also, fought the last election on—amongst other things—a clear understanding that, if returned, we should reverse the policy of our predecessors and restore diplomatic relations. That was made abundantly clear, and the millions of voters, who voted for my hon. Friends, and the somewhat smaller hut still substantial number of millions who voted for the Liberal candidates, voted with a clear knowledge that this would be done. In due course it was done and approved by a substantial majority of this House. Nor, if a straight vote could be taken now, is there any reason to suppose that this House would vote differently? [Interruption.] I would like to develop for a moment or two this point of view. We have had brought up this afternoon very familiar 1677 quotations from the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. We know many of these now by heart, because hon. Members opposite are continually introducing them into these Debates. It has been repeatedly stated by the Prime Minister, both this afternoon and on previous occasions, that to these statements we adhere.
§ Mr. DALTON
But, between laying down a general proposition and deciding how to apply it in a practical and common sense fashion, there may be on occasions a wide difference. During the three years that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was Foreign Secretary and exercising his most exemplary patience—as he has described it—in the face of the most intolerable provocations—as he has described them—which he received during all this period, it might have been argued that Communism was a force which must be reckoned with in thi6 country. During all the period since then, the decline of the Communist party in this country has been notable. There was a time when Communist candidates habitually forfeited their deposits at elections; we are now reaching an era when Communist candidates merely protest against having to make a deposit, and do not deposit it. In the last Parliament we had the spectacle of a single Communist Member in this House, but at the General Election he was defeated by a supporter of His Majesty's Government, who is now one of its Members. If we are to seek now for the solitary eccentrics of the House of Commons, we have to look for them in the United Empire party or in the so-called "New Party," two of whose members to our great surprise entered the House for a few moments this afternoon, but soon disappeared. One could multiply examples of the complete failure and decline of the Communist party in this country. This is not irrelevant to this discussion because there is an ancient legal tag De minimus non curat lex, which being translated means, "Do not trouble about trifles." Very evidently there is much less ground now for taking seriously these lucubrations either in the Moscow Press or in the "Daily Worker," which seems to be widely read by Conservative Members 1678 and to have its chief circulation in Conservative circles. There is less need to take heed of these attacks to-day because Communism in this country has now gone into a galloping consumption.
Nor, if we turn our eyes to other parts of the Empire, is there any ground for supposing that Communism is other than a negligible force. The last speech to which we have listened indicated the extremes of fantasy to which it is necessary to proceed in order to argue that Communism is a force in our Empire to-day. The hon. and gallant Member argued that Mr. Gandhi was a tool of Moscow. I am surprised that one who is such a remarkably close student of the outpourings of the Profintern and those other grotesque bodies—particularly as portrayed through Riga spectacles—has not become acquainted with the gross abuse heaped on the head of Mr. Gandhi by some of these Communist pundits. He shares, in equal part with the representatives of the British Government in India, the hatred and scorn of the obscure Communist clique which still pours out these manifestos. Consequently, it appears to me that we waste our energies and the time of this Committee in any argument which is designed to show that Communism seriously matters in the form of propaganda here or in other parts of the Empire. In those European countries bordering on Russia it may, perhaps, be different, but I do not desire to speak of them to-day.
The plain desire of this Parliament was in favour of a restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia. They have been restored, but since that time, it is perfectly right to admit, we have suffered certain disappointments. We had hoped that the restoration of diplomatic relations would have led to a greater increase in trade than has, in fact, taken place. None the less, in order that these things may be viewed in true perspective, let me quote a figure or two for the information of the Committee in addition to those given by the Prime Minister this afternoon. In 1928, when the full results of the breaking off of relations were making themselves felt, our exports to the Soviet Union fell to the record low figure of less than £2,750,000 of British produce sold to Russia. In 1930, on the 1679 other hand, the figures had risen to more than £6,750,000. In other words, they had more than doubled.
In order to understand the significance of this, it is important to remember that during this period prices had fallen, and consequently the increase in trade was larger than would be supposed by merely looking at the plain figures expressed in sterling. This is an increase which is traceable, in large measure, to the steps taken by the present Government to resume relations and judiciously to extend export credits to British producers engaged in Russian trade. [Interruption.] I am not talking about imports at all, because, as I understand it, imports are regarded by hon. Members opposite as an unqualified disaster. I am dealing only with the question of exports of British produce, employing British labour. There the fact is very noticeable that we have more than doubled this trade, without allowing for the decline in prices. None the less, we shall be gravely disappointed unless in the near future we get a considerable increase of orders from Soviet Russia. The vast orders that have been promised from the Soviet Union still remain in large measure to seek. They would remain even further away if hon. Gentlemen opposite had had their way. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have so far misunderstood the position as to talk of export credits being used to furnish munitions of war, but I do not think that that is really intended.
§ Mr. DALTON
No export of munitions of war has been covered by the export credits scheme. As a historian of the Great War, the right hon. Gentleman knows that indirectly almost everything is munitions of war—food and almost everything else—but it is not of that that I am speaking. I say that no munitions of war in the strict sense of the term have been exported, under the export credits scheme, to the Soviet Union.
To take the attitude that has been taken by the Prime Minister this afternoon and by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on previous occasions, and the attitude that I am taking now, namely, that we do not intend to make 1680 ourselves ridiculous by continually addressing pompous and futile protests to the Soviet Ambassador here, or through our Ambassador to the Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs, whenever the "Pravda," publishes some offensive or imbecile article—that is the true measure of realism and common sense. Those who desire to bring about a state of affairs in which a breaking off of diplomatic relations would become inevitable, desire that every few weeks some such pompous protest should be made, but we do not intend to play into their hands by any such procedure. We intend, on the other hand, to continue to do our best to persuade even the incredulous Soviet world to believe that we desire with them, as with other nations, friendly relations and co-operation, both political and economic. It may be difficult to persuade them. There are certain fixed doctrines held in Communist circles which are in flat contradiction with truth as most of us see it. For example, it is held that a war is inevitable in which all the Powers of Western Europe will unite in launching an offensive against the Soviet Union, and it is stated, if not believed, by some Soviet spokesmen, that this country, even under this Government, is engaged in planning with its neighbours an offensive of that kind.
Such a belief is grotesque and ridiculous, and would be unbelievable to any mind which looked at the outer world through clear eyes. But I must add this. The kind of speeches that are made from the benches opposite, and the kind of articles which are published in certain organs of the Press which give general support to the party opposite, encourage the simpletons in the Soviet world to believe this ridiculous story. For that reason, I hope that, in the interests of appeasement and the education of the Soviet mind in these matters, we may perhaps, after today's Debate, have a cessation for awhile of these discussions. We are, I repeat, disappointed at the small progress which has been made and disappointed that we have not succeeded in obtaining closer and more effective touch with the representatives of the Soviet Union; but, although disappointed, we are not prepared to give up working for a better understanding and for an elucidation in their minds of our intentions and of the 1681 policy for which we stand. In connection with the Disarmament Conference, and in many other ways, opportunities are opening out in the next few months for a fruitful collaboration between them and us.
§ Mr. DALTON
Our latest information is that they intend to be there. It will be tremendously important to secure their helpful co-operation in that direction, and if by some mischance a Motion were carried to-day that relations should be broken off, apart from its other effects, such a breaking off of relations now would render quite futile the prospects of that Disarmament Conference. For that and many other reasons, I have no hesitation in asserting that the Government intend to continue the course they have followed in the past, the adoption of a realistic attitude to Anglo-Soviet relations, of a constant watchfulness, but a constant sense of proportion, and seeking to secure from the possibilities that open up before us the maximum advantage in both the political and economic spheres.
§ Sir A. KNOX
The speeches that we have had from the Front Government Bench on this subject have given no answer to the case which has been put on this side. The origin of this Debate was this. Last week, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) put a definite case of Soviet propaganda, and asked the Prime Minister about it, but got a most unsatisfactory answer. It was therefore decided to raise the question to-day in the House of Commons. We have learned nothing on that subject. I gather that the Prime Minister's defence is that this is a mere report from Riga. Because I anticipated that reply, I have brought with me the original reports on the subject. I have here the draft "Platform of Action of the Communist Party in India" published in Berlin on the 18th December last. It consists of five pages of close script. To say that that was drafted in India is an absolute fallacy. It was drafted in Moscow, and then published in Berlin. It was before the 11th Plenum of the Third International at the beginning of April, and on the 9th May extracts were published in the Communist paper "Pravda," which is the official organ of the Communist party, which rules 1682 Soviet Russia. Then the Riga correspondent telegraphed extracts, every one of which is perfectly accurate, to the "Times."
In order to get a reply on that matter, we asked the Prime Minister questions last week, but we got no reply. We have not received a reply yet. We would like to know definitely what the Prime Minister meant by a declaration about not permitting Communist propaganda by the Third International. He definitely said that in 1924, and the Foreign Secretary said it again in 1929. Have they eaten their words absolutely, or are we to lie down and turn the other cheek to every word of Soviet propaganda? This Government is the most evasive and elusive Government that has ever sat on the Front Bench. Day by day we put questions about Communist propaganda in India, but we never get a straight reply to any question. If the number of supplementary questions increases day by day, it is because we can never get a straight answer to a straight question. It is our duty to our constituents and to the country at large to go on striving and attacking the Government until we get a straight answer from them.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) said that it was impossible to understand what the Government are driving at. There are none so blind as those who will not see. It is perfectly obvious that the party opposite are looking on this Russian question, as they have for years, simply as a political weapon to use against this party. On economic questions they have no policy on which they can agree, and on fiscal policy they are in complete disagreement, and they have to unite their shattered ranks by raising this bogy of a hollow turnip. It is pathetic is see a once great party reduced to these straits. The party opposite have two obsessions—one is Mr. Gandhi and the other is Mr. Stalin. At Question Time every Monday, we divide the time between the awful bogey of what Mr. Gandhi may do to the British Empire, and the terrible threats of Mr. Stalin and his cohorts in Russia. On Wednesdays, we begin with Mr. Stalin and end with Mr. Gandhi.
I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are not raising the prestige of this 1683 country—I do not say the prestige of their party; that is their affair—in the eyes of the world and of our own Dominions, by continually making out that we are threatened by some terrible power from Russia, and that Russia is at the bottom of all our troubles. To hear some hon. Gentlemen opposite, one would think that the troubles in Spain were due to Moscow, and the troubles in India, China, Peru, Mexico and everywhere else were due to Communist propaganda. I dare say some hon. Gentlemen believe it, and that is the pathetic part of it. Hearing of what is said about them, the Third International and the Bureau of the Commintern in Moscow say, "Look at the wonderful
§ things we are doing; look how we are frightening the bourgeoisie of the once proud aristocracy; look how the British Empire is trembling." And then they get their estimates through and are able to extract more money from a hard driven treasury. I was in Russia a few years ago since the Revolution—
§ Question put accordingly, "That a sum, not exceeding £118,843, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 223;. Noes, 243.1687
|Division No. 247.]||AYES.||[7.39 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Colfox, Major William Philip||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Colman, N. C. D.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Albery, Irving James||Colville, Major D. J.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cranborne, Viscount||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Atkinson, C.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hudson, Capt, A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H, (I. of Thanet)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Balniel, Lord||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Inksip, Sir Thomas|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Cavies, Dr. Vernon||Jones, Sir G. w. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Eden, Captain Anthony||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Bracken, B.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s, M.)||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Everard, W. Lindsay||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Ferguson, Sir John||Lockwood, Captain J. H.|
|Buchan, John||Fermoy, Lord||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fielden, E. B.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Ford, Sir P. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Butler, R. A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Meller, R. J.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Ganzoni. Sir John||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison, w. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grace, John||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nicholson, Col Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Greene, W. P. Crawford||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gunston, Captain O. W.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Penny, Sir George|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Simms, Major-General J.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Purbrick, R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Smithers, Waldron||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Remer, John R.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chts'y)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Salmon, Major L.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Thomson, Sir F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Commander Sir B. Eyres Monsell and Major Sir George Hennessy.|
|Savery, S. S.||Thompson, Luke|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Longden, F.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)||Lunn, William|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Gill, T. H.||Macdonald, Gordon (Inse)|
|Allen, w. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Glassey, A. E.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Gossling, A. G.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gould, F.||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)|
|Arnott, John||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||McElwee, A.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Granville, E.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Coine)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)|
|Ayles, Walter||Groves, Thomas E.||McKinlay, A.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mac Laren, Andrew|
|Barr, James||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon Wedgwood||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||McShane, John James|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Harris, Percy A.||Malone, C. L'Estrangs (N'thampton)|
|Benson, G.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Haycock, A. W.||Mansfield, W.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hayday, Arthur||March, S.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, s.)||Marcus, M.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Markham, S. F.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Herriotts. J.||Marley, J.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hicks, Ernest George||Marshall, Fred|
|Bromfield, William||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Mathers, George|
|Bromley, J,||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Matters, L. W.|
|Brooke, W.||Hoffman, P. C.||Maxton, James|
|Brothers, M.||Hollins, A.||Messer, Fred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Hopkin, Daniel||Middleton, G.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Horrabin, J. F.||Mills, J. E.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Millner, Major J.|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Montague, Frederick|
|Cameron, A. G.||Isaacs, George||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morley, Ralph|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Chater, Daniel||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Mort, D. L.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Muff, G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Murnin, Hugh|
|Cove, William G.||Kelly, W. T.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Daggar, George||Kinley, J.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Dallas, George||Knight, Holford||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lang, Gordon||Palln, John Henry|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Day, Harry||Law, A. (Rosendale)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lawrence, Susan||Perry, S. F.|
|Duncan, Charles||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Leach, W.||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Potts, John S.|
|Foot, Isaac||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Price, M. P.|
|Freeman, Peter||Lindley, Fred W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Logan, David Gilbert||Raynes, W. R.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Longbottom, A. W.||Richards, R.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Sinkinson, George||Viant, S. P.|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Ritson, J.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwish)||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Romeril, H. G.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Rowson, Guy||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sorensen, R.||West, F. R.|
|Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Stamford, Thomas W.||White, H. G.|
|Sanders, W. S.||Stephen, Campbell||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Sandham, E.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Strauss, G. R.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Scrymgeour. E.||Sullivan, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Scurr, John||Sutton, J. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sherwood, G. H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thurtle, Ernest||Wise, E. F.|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Tillett, Ben||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Shinwell, E.||Tinker, John Joseph||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Townend, A. E.|
|Simmons, C. J.||Turner, B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Vaughan, David||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.
§ It being half-past Seven of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.