Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 9th October 1924.
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in the Press that, when the AngloRussian Conference had practically broken down, the Russian Delegation announced that unless settlement was reached they would have some public disclosures to make which would be detrimental to the British Socialist Party in general, and some of its leaders in particular, in connection with certain intrigues and dealings with Moscow, an exposure of which would possibly involve the resignation of several members of the British Government, and that, in consequence, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs was instructed to come to an agreement of some kind with the Russian Delegation forthwith; whether there was anything which occurred in the course of the negotiations to justify the above serious allegations; and whether he is prepared to lay Papers giving an account of the concluding stages of the Russian Agreement?
I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir; my attention has been called to the statement referred to by the hon. and gallant Member. It emanated originally from an article appearing in a newspaper—"Le Temps du Soir"—pubished in Paris by Russian Whites, and has been copied in several organs of the Continental Press. This article gives what purports to be the official explanation of why the agreement was signed by His Majesty's Government. I will give a verbatim translation of the facts as related:
Through the intermediary of a young woman who had recently gone to Russia ostensibly as an artiste, a large number of exceedingly beautiful Russian jewels had reached England. These jewels, emeralds, diamonds, precious stones, pearls whose beauty and weight were quite remarkable, were sent to six members of Mr. MacDonald's Cabinet, who, all six of them, are part of the managing committee of the 'Daily Herald.' These remarkable consignments were delivered in the form of chocolate boxes, and each jewel was concealed inside a chocolate. Further, care had been taken to warn the recipients to take no risks with their teeth. And not one of the hon. Gentlemen refused the present returning it to the sender! Therefore, when Moscow said, Sign, or we shall give the names of your six comrades who received and kept our chocolates,' what could MacDonald do but sign!
This story, like many others which have appeared with regard to these negotiations, needs no comment.
I desire to say that the quotation which I sent to the Prime Minister from a newspaper bears no resemblance whatever to what the hon. Gentleman has quoted from a Paris paper.
I do not want to treat this matter lightly at all, but may I not ask my hon. Friend, arising out of this matter, whether this story is not very typical of many others which have been put about in connection with the signing of this agreement?
I think it suggests that Members should be rather careful about accepting what they see in the Press.