HC Deb 12 March 1897 vol 47 cc576-8

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Greek Vice Consul and all the Greek residents have been ordered to leave Canea; and, if so, for what reason, and under whose authority has this been done?


I am sorry to say that we have no reply to our telegram of inquiry sent yesterday.


I will repeat the Question on Monday.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

I beg to ask my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a question of which I will give him notice if he prefers. It is, what steps were taken to make known to the Cretan insurgents that the autonomy of the island was assured by the Great Powers, and whether it is the case that the information in question was withheld by the intermediary to whom it was entrusted? I will also ask my right hon. Friend without notice whether he has, since making a statement on the subject, received any explanation respecting the failure of the Greek Commodore to communicate to the insurgents round Canea the message of the Admirals of the Great Powers forbidding any advance, and also a communication from the same source offering assistance to the wounded?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, I should like to ask him to state at the same time why the Admirals before Canea threw upon the Greek Commodore the responsibility of conveying this warning, and why they did not take the proper steps to see on their own responsibility and to their own knowledge that the warning was conveyed?


It is very easy to answer the last Question. The Admirals understood—I believe with good reason—that communications were passing between the Greek Commodore and the insurgents, and it was in the interests of peace and with a desire to avoid any unfortunate results that they very properly and naturally, as it seems to me, made the Greek Commodore the vehicle of their communication. In answer to my right hon. Friend, I shall be obliged if he will put his first Question on the Paper for Monday, when I shall be better able to answer him. In regard to his second Question, we have no information beyond that which I communicated yesterday.


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary a question of which I have given him private notice. It is in reference to a notice which appears in the newspapers to-day, that a meeting has been called in Trafalgar Square for Sunday—[Nationalist cheers]—with a view to putting pressure on Her Majesty's Government with respect to their policy in Crete. [Nationalist cheers.] I wish to ask whether that meeting has received the right hon. Gentleman's permission. [Opposition, cries of "Oh!" and Nationalist cries of "Coercion!"]


I have not seen the notice to which my right hon. Friend alludes; but since I got his private notice I have made inquiries; and I have ascertained that in accordance with the regulations governing Trafalgar Square in regard to the holding of meetings, the Secretary of the Liberal Forward Movement—[Ministerial laughter]—gave notice to the Commissioner of Police that it was desired to hold a meeting in Trafalgar Square on the 14th inst. with reference to the Cretan question. His notice was perfectly in order, and permission was accordingly given—[Opposition cheers]—by the Commissioner.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in the absence of the Leader of the House, whether it is the intention of the Government to make any statement on Monday as to the communications passing between the Powers. A full statement was asked for a day or two ago, and I understood that it was promised, although not at a fixed date. In the Parliament of a foreign Power such a statement has been promised for Monday, and I want to know whether the Government will make a similar statement here on Monday?


I am not at the present moment aware of any such intention, but of course, I will communicate to the Leader of the House the Question of the right hon. Gentleman.