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Russian-Born British Wives

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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asked the Prime Minister if it was with Government sanction or in keeping with Government policy that the Minister of State wrote to Mr. Kuznetsov regarding internal affairs in the Soviet Union while Mr. Kuznetsov was in this country as an invited guest.

I quite agree, and April the Minister of State invited the attention of Monsieur Kuznetsov to the comment in the British Press on the Soviet-born wives of British subjects who have not yet been given permission to leave the Soviet Union in order to rejoin their husbands. Although these women have not been released from Soviet citizenship they have become British subjects by marriage, and the British husbands have a very legitimate desire that their wives should be permitted to join them. I, therefore, cannot agree with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) that a request for the removal of the obstacles placed in the way of their rejoining their British husbands is an interference with the internal affairs of the U.S.S.R. I associate myself warmly with the hope expressed by the Minister of State in his letter to Monsieur Kuznetsov that he will do what he can, on his return to the Soviet Union, to permit these women to rejoin their husbands.

On a point of Order. I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, quite irrespective of the issue involved, whether it is not treating you and this House with a measure of contempt that your and our guests should be approached by a Minister on such a matter, and in such a manner; and is it not your desire that working-class guests from the Soviet Union should receive the same courtesy and consideration from Ministers as any other guests from any other country?

I do not think there is any point of Order in what the hon. Member has said. After all, a Minister is entitled to write to a high Soviet official, if he so pleases. I do not mind telling the hon. Member—I do not think I am saying anything I should not—that at the farewell luncheon I sat next to Mr. Kuznetsov, and I spoke to him myself about this matter.

Is not the Minister of State to be congratulated on having utilised the good relations now being created as a result of this visit to remove one of those causes of friction between ourselves and the Soviet Union, which the Communist Party always try to magnify and exploit?

Further to that point of Order. I wish, as I say, quite irrespective of the issue, to ask if it is not your duty, Sir, and our duty, in this House, to protect a guest—I am speaking about a guest of this House and a guest of yours—from any interference of this kind while he is a guest?

Would it not be more in keeping with public opinion in this country if the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would add any influence he has in trying to get a solution of this problem? Is not the real reason why these people are not being released because they would tell the truth of what is actually happening?