Anglo-Russian Trade Agreement.

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport. – in the House of Commons on 26th February 1934.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

37.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made between the British Government and the representatives of the Russian Soviet Government to continue negotiations for the formal Treaty of Commerce and Navigation referred to in the Preamble of the temporary Commercial Agreement [Cmd. Paper 4513]?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

No such arrangements have been made.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the most definite assurances were given by the Foreign Office to the claimants whose property in Russia has been taken that, pending a definite settlement of their claims, any agreement arrived at must be considered as only of a temporary or transitional character; and does he not think therefore that it is desirable that some steps should be taken to deal with this matter?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

There is nothing in the Preamble which conflicts with my answer.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

But nothing has been done.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the interest taken by all parties in the House and having regard to the pledge given by the Government that the House would be given an opportunity of discussing the Russian temporary commercial agreement before ratification, he will give a day for the discussion of the agreement in such a way that this House may be able to express its opinion by voting directly on the matter?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

As my hon. Friend knows, the choice of subjects to be raised on Alloted Supply Days rests, by custom, with the Opposition. The Opposition intimated their desire to Debate the Russian Trade Agreement on the item relating to the Board of Trade, contained in the Civil and Revenue Departments Vote on Account.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Surely there are other Members of the House besides the Opposition, and does the Prime Minister think it is a fair fulfilment of the pledge given that this very important trade agreement should be debated on a Vote of Account for £153,000,000 dealing with practically all the Government Departments, upon which any item may be raised?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

As those acquainted with the procedure of the House know, on the occasion which I have in my mind it is the most common of all practices to select a subject for debate and to debate that subject.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

How can the question of the Russian Trade Agreement be dealt with on a Vote of this magnitude so that the opinion of the House can be taken thereon?

Photo of Mr David Mason Mr David Mason , Edinburgh East

As this is a Vote of Supply, will there be an opportunity to discuss the Board of Trade Returns after the Debate on the Russian Agreement is over?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

There will be all sorts of opportunities during the Session to discuss other items, but when the Opposition selects one item for special consideration that item is discussed.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Was there not a promise given on behalf of the Government that an opportunity would be provided by the Government to discuss the Russian Trade Agreement, and may I ask if the present opportunity is provided, not by the Government, but by the Opposition?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

The wording of the Lord President's statement was: The House was told some time ago that before the agreement was ratified it should be brought before the House for discussion."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 22nd February, 1934; col. 512, Vol. 286.] That is being done now.

Photo of Mr David Mason Mr David Mason , Edinburgh East

Would it not be in order to discuss the Board of Trade on Supply, and will there be an opportunity of discussing it after the Russian Debate is over?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Was not the whole object of the assurance given on behalf of the Government that the House would have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on this matter, and is it not a fact that it will not have such an opportunity?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

As a matter of fact, the House would have such an opportunity, if it cared to avail itself of it, by some Member moving that the Vote be reduced by £5.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I am at cross purposes with the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), but does the right hon. Gentleman not recognise that this does give the House an opportunity of rejecting the Russian Trade Agreement?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

In fact it would be so.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

And that, according to practice, an agreement with a foreign State is not capable of being rejected by the House.