HC Deb 09 February 1897 vol 46 cc22-4

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the Turkish Government has granted to Crete all the concessions asked by the Powers, Great Britain and the other Powers will take efficient steps to protect the Mussulman inhabitants, especially in the interior, from pillage and massacre?


Her Majesty's Government, in concert with the other Towers, are using their best efforts through their Consuls to re-establish public order and tranquility in Crete, without reference to party or creed. The migration of Mussulmans from the villages in the interior is due to the alarm arising from their being in a minority there. There is a corresponding movement of Christians from the towns, where the Mussulmans are in a majority. There is nothing, however, to show that the Mussulmans have so far been the chief sufferers.

MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman has any official information from the naval authorities to the effect that the attack was begun by the Christians upon the Mussulman population?


No; I have no information as to that.

MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)

Is it a fact, as the Question seems to imply, that the Turkish Government have carried into execution all the reforms demanded by the Powers?


Obviously that is not so, there has not been time. As I have said, and the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, two Commissions, the Gendarmerie Commission and the Judicial Commission, are continuing their labours to carry out the reforms, and we hope later on all will be executed.


Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the telegram published in the newspapers, and purporting to come from the naval Commander-in-Chief is not correct—that the attack was begun by Christians?


I do not know what telegram the hon. Member refers to. These attacks take place every day. On one day the attack will, perhaps, be commenced by Christians, and on another day by Mahomedans.


When the right hon. Gentleman states the Powers are taking steps to protect the inhabitants, can he inform the House whether any arrangements have been made for the provision of a sufficient force to maintain order in Crete by the Great Powers?


That is the exact object of the Gendarmerie Commission which has been sitting in the island, and it is with pleasure I inform the House that the Gendarmerie have been constituted, and that Colonel Bor, the temporary commander, took up his functions yesterday. ["Hear, hear!"]


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Foreign Office has received any confirmation of the statement that a provisional government has been formed at or near Halepa, and that its members have proclaimed a union with Greece and have hoisted the Greek flag. ["Hear, hear!"]


No, Sir, we have heard nothing of such a provisional government. The only information bearing upon the point that has been received is to the effect that the Greek flag was said three days ago to have been hoisted by a party of the insurgents at Akrotiri, who were also reported to have proclaimed the annexation of the island to Greece. This remains unconfirmed. The latest news from Canca is that order is being rapidly re-established, and that business has recommenced.