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Friday, 17 July 1931

The Soviet's Supreme Economic Council has appointed a special commission to devise urgent measures, including the mechanization and increase of the timber export trade.

An official report on timber operations at Archangel says that barracks and public feeding places are unhealthy, and are often filthy. The workers could not bc expected to respond to the now plans to fulfil the export programme unless the conditions are improved. "Whether the information contained iri that cable is correct or not, there is evidence of an intention on the part of the Soviet Government of Russia to export wheat, oil, and timber to other countries, including Australia, and to sell them at almost any price. In marketing that timber peasant labour, indentured labour, the labour of imprisoned and unimprisoned convicts, of women and children, and political prisoners of the Soviet worked as slaves, is employed. We have official information to hand indicating that the death rate among those workers is exceedingly high, and that, owing to the inhuman treatment that is meted out, only a small percentage survive the rigours of slave service. Information has come to hand from officers and sailors of various nationalities as to the harrowing conditions of slavery that obtain on the wharfs of Russia. But, bad as are those conditions, the state of affairs in the lumber camps is infinitely worse. In six of the camps, the names of which are unpronounceable, employees numbering respectively, 30,000; 25,000; 30,000, 10,000; 20,000 and 20,000 are engaged in hewing and loading timber, and the hardships to which they are subjected are almost indescribable. It is time that we took notice of what is going on in Russia, and determined how we shall act in connexion with the importation of this timber.

Mr Lazzarini - When the honorable member was in Canada he shut his eyes to the labour conditions obtaining in that dominion.

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