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Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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German Assets


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what agreement exists between the Allies by which the U.S.S.R. may take German assets in Hungary as reparations; and whether any satisfactory definition of German assets has been reached.

It was agreed between the Allies at Potsdam that the Soviet Union might take German assets in Hungary as reparations. This agreement has now been incorporated in Article 28 of the Treaty of Peace with Hungary, whereby Hungary also recognises this obligation. No satisfactory definition of German assets has yet been reached.

Is it not unwise to incorporate in this Treaty a phrase which no one is able to define?

There will be no difficulty in defining 'the phrase. The difficulty has been in defining the assets.

Political Situation


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any evidence from the Soviet authorities in Hungary as to the alleged plot of M. Nagy to overthrow his own Government; and whether he proposes to take any further action in the matter.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received further information about the recent political changes in Hungary; and what steps he proposes to take to indicate the principles of the United Nations Charter which have been violated there.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in a position to state the reply received by the British Ambassador from the Russian People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs with regard to his demand for information relating to the situation in Hungary.

As I informed the House on 12th June, we are continuing to press the Soviet Government for full information on developments in Hungary, and we are awaiting a report on further representations which are being made by His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow. The House will, therefore, appreciate that we are not meantime in a position to add to the statement made on 12th June.

In view of the fact that M. Molotov has now added insult to injury by his treatment of our Ambassador, will the Minister indicate to the Soviet Union that a continuance of this policy on their part will lead us to collaborate with America and other peace-loving nations in order to halt the advance of the police State across Europe?

His Majesty's Government have repeatedly made it plain that with or without collaboration we will oppose political police forces in Europe or elsewhere.

Is it not unusual, and contrary to diplomatic practice to publish a private conversation between a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and a Foreign Minister, especially when these published conversations reflect upon the Minister by accusing him of underground methods?

In view of the categorical terms of the Yalta Agreement, whereby all such documents should be made clearly available between the Powers, will not the Minister agree that it is quite impossible for us to reach any measure of international understanding if any of the Powers refuse to adhere to the terms of that Agreement?

We have already made it plain that we are anxious that there should be international collaboration, particularly when such collaboration has been precisely and specifically defined and provided for.

Is it not the case that M. Molotov did not insult the British Ambassador, but informed him that all the facts he wanted would be available at the open and public trial that is to take place in Hungary, and is it not the case that the British Ambassador or any other representative can attend that trial and get all the facts?

I believe that is so, but His Majesty's Ambassador was not sent to discuss that matter with M. Molotov. He was sent to ask why documents which should have been made available according to an agreement bearing the signatures of Britain, America and the Soviet Government have not been made available under the terms of those signatures.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the very salutory effect which reference to U.N.O. would have at this stage, particularly in view of the varied kind of supplementary questions we are getting?

His Majesty's Government have been and will continue to be the foremost supporters of the United Nations, but it is not plain that that would be the most appropriate action; indeed, everything is obscure until we have the facts.

This matter will be debated tomorrow, and we had better leave it until then.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if he will consider sending a fact-finding mission, representative of all political parties, to Hungary and South-East Europe to investigate the present position there.

My right hon. Friend has considered such a suggestion but does not think it feasible.

Is it not desirable that, while all the facts are not known about Hungary and South-East Europe, and while there is still a considerable amount of somewhat reckless speculation, the right hon. Gentleman should attempt to establish the facts by whatever means are possible, particularly along the lines suggested and would this not have the effect of improving relations between this country and South-East Europe?

His Majesty's Government are, as I have said, well served by their representatives in this area. However, I do not pretend that we are in possession of all the facts, but if this House is to concern itself with that job, I do not think it will have time to meet as a House.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether instructions will be given to the British representative in Hungary to request that no elections should take place except under international control and after the withdrawal of the Russian troops in order that Article II of the Treaty may be carried out.

Is it not very essential that we should take steps to see that if an election is held it should be carried out fairly, and that there should be no previous elimination of members of parties which are hostile to the Government, and further, why should there be an election at all considering that they had one two years ago which was free, unfettered and fair?

The second question seems to me to be one for the Hungarian Government, and it is precisely because I think so that I am not anxious to try and superimpose control upon a Government which should be free.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what part, if any, the British element in the Control Commission will have in the arrangements for this election—will it be equal to that of all other members of the Control Commission, and not more or less?

Is it not particularly unfortunate to presuppose that an election will be held?

Trial, Budapest


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a British representative will be present as observer at the trial of Mr. Misteth, formerly Hungarian Minister of Reconstruction, and the remaining 43 accused members of the Smallholders and other parties.

Since the trial is likely to be long, it will not be practicable for a member of the British Political Mission in Budapest to attend throughout the proceedings. They will, however, be most carefully followed and reported to His Majesty's Government. The trial is open, and British newspapers and news agencies represented in Budapest will doubtless report the proceedings to the British public.

Is not the presence of an experienced observer, a man who is able to tell whether the witnesses have been drugged or not, essential?

Is it not a fact that in the People's Court where this trial will take place the presiding judge is a professional jurist, and that he is supported by representatives of all the political parties? Is it not also a fact that the whole Hungarian population regards this Court as fair and just?

Before my right hon. Friend answers that may I ask is it not highly undesirable that a judge should be supported by representatives of political parties?