HC Deb 25 March 1898 vol 55 cc924-5
MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been directed to the reports of destitution in the interior of the island of Crete, recently published; and whether the information in the possession of the Foreign Office is of such a character as to cause him to adhere to the view that the people in the interior of the island are not suffering from want of food?


I have very carefully read through the whole of our recent reports from Crete on this subject. I cannot speak for other parts of the interior of the island than those which are in the neighbourhood of, and in touch with, the ports occupied by the International Forces. On 8th February Her Majesty's Consul reported that there was a certain amount of distress in the districts of Rethmyn, Candia, and Canea, from the partial failure of crops, but that the produce of the interior, derived both from the plantations of the Christians and from the lands belonging to the Mussulmans, was being daily embarked from every creek around the island by the Christians; and that the alleged extreme general distress was either very greatly exaggerated or was due to the action of speculators in buying up the entire agricultural produce of the interior. A little later stress of weather drove a large number of the Christian inhabitants of certain inland villages to seek shelter at Paleocastro and Roggia on the coast. There they were visited and relieved by British and other officers, and by the end of February the whole of them had returned to their villages, where the distribution was in future to be conducted through their headmen and priests. The last information that we have received is dated 4th March, and is from the senior British naval officer, who reports that the distress is of a far more serious nature amidst the crowded population of Candia, where 50,000 Moslems are congregated in a small area, with little or no money and scarcely any opportunity of making any.


I should like to ask what Power is now in charge of the territory evacuated by Germany?


I do not think that any territory has been evacuated by Germany. It was only a portion of the fort occupied by the European forces.


Who has got it?


That hardly arises out of the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman.


Put it down for Monday.