HC Deb 22 November 1917 vol 99 cc1327-8

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether an arrangement was made early in 1916 by which a subsidy of 400,000 francs a month should be paid by the British and French Governments in equal moieties to the exiled King and Government of Montenegro to enable them to minister to the needs of their people who had been overwhelmed by invasion in consequence of their adherence to the cause of the Allies; if he is aware that no payment was made by the British Government in pursuance of this arrangement from May, 1916, until April, 1917, while throughout that period the French Government fulfilled their obligation; that in April, May, and June, 1917, the subsidy was reduced to one-half of the amount previously arranged, the sum of 100,000 francs a month being paid by each of the said Governments, and that since the last-mentioned date the French Government has ceased paying any part of the agreed subsidy while the British Government has paid no more than 100,000 francs a month; if he is aware that, in consequence of the failure of the Allied Governments to fulfil their engagements in this matter, the Montenegrin Government is unable any longer to give assistance to many thousands of Montenegrins who are prisoners or refugees and are reduced to extremities of starvation and misery; and whether, in order to enable the Montenegrin Government to carry on the relief it has hitherto been able to give to its people in distress, he will take immediate steps to concert with the French Government to restore the subsidy to the amount arranged in 1916, and to see that it is regularly and punctually paid?

The MINISTER of BLOCKADE (Lord Robert Cecil)

The answer to the first branch of the question is in the affirmative.

The suspension of certain monthly payments referred to in the second branch was due to the necessity of equalising the advances made by the two lending Governments, having regard to the cost of supplies in kind provided by each Government, and this adjustment is still subject to revision.

As regards the third and fourth branches, the reduction referred to was only made after a careful and expert investigation, and due regard was, and is, given to the question of Montenegrin refugees.

As regards the last branch of the question, His Majesty's Government are not of opinion that any return to the previous rate of subsidy is necessary.

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