HC Deb 21 July 1913 vol 55 cc1825-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Wedgwood Benn.]


I rise to ask a question of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and that is whether he has received information, official or otherwise, of the occupation of Adrianople by the Turkish Army? Such reports appeared in the morning papers. It would greatly relieve the anxiety that is felt if some statement could be made. I should like also to ask whether the Under-Secretary has any information respecting the state of the civil population of Adrianople, and whether any fighting took place before the Turks re-entered.


I am sorry to say that we have no official information. Unofficial information has, of course, appeared in the Press, as the hon. Gentleman has said. The House is adjourning at an earlier hour to-night than usual, and if it had adjourned at the ordinary hour I might have been able to confirm or otherwise the reports which have appeared in the Press. Similar con- ditions exist as to the information about the civil population in parts of Thrace. We have had no official information with regard to that. Of course, as has appeared in the Press, the Government of Turkey has announced its intention of occupying territory up to the bank of the Maritza River, and therefore it is possible, as reported, that the Turks may have occupied Adrianople.


I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether ho can tell us if our military attaches and those of the Powers have been sent, and are now with the Turks. I venture to suggest that, in view of the horrible events which have notoriously occurred in that part of the world, expedition may be used in sending to the front the military attaches at Constantinople at the earliest possible moment. The presence of foreigners would have a very remarkable effect in mitigating events which might otherwise occur. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can also tell us whether the Red Cross Society are in communication with the Foreign Office as to sending out Red Cross units. Apart from the immediate work of relief, it has a great moral value, and we have not yet heard whether the Red Cross Society has sent contingents. As it is naturally in communication with the Foreign Office in regard to foreign (work, I think I am in order in asking whether the Foreign Office will make representations to the Red Cross Society as to the extreme urgency of sending contingents, even small and incomplete ones, particularly to the war in Thrace, where it is most acute.


If my hon. Friend had given me half an hour's notice of the questions he intended to ask—I have been here all the evening—I perhaps could have got information, but in the absence of notice, I think it would have been fair if he had put the questions on the Paper. I am not able to answer them without any notice.

Adjourned accordingly at Fourteen minutes after Ten o'clock.