HC Deb 01 July 1919 vol 117 cc742-4

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can now state whether the recognition by His Majesty's Government of the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes has safeguarded the right of the Montenegrin people to determine for themselves whether or not they shall be included in. such kingdom and under what conditions as to the retention or otherwise of their own monarchy in the event of their desiring to be so included; and, if not, will he explain why the independence of one of the small nations in alliance with His Majesty has been compromised by the-action of the British Government?


The recognition of the new Yugo-Slav State was accorded to the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The question whether the Mon- tenegrin people desire to enter the new union, and, if so, under what conditions, remains unaffected by the above recognition. The last sentence of the hon. and learned Member's question does not, therefore, arise.

8. Mr. McNEILL

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Montenegrin Government addressed any protest to the delegates of the Powers at the Peace Conference as to the Mission which was recently sent to Montenegro to obtain information in regard to the conditions prevailing there; whether, in view of the fact that Montenegro is a sovereign State in alliance with this country, it was in accordance with international usage to send a political mission there without consultation with the Government of the country; whether the Mission has made any Report; and, if so, will he communicate the Report to this House?


It is evident from the hon. and learned Member's questions that he is labouring under a misapprehension in regard to the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards Montenegro. Since the time of King Nicolas' departure from Montenegro, a movement has spread among important and numerous sections of the population which favours the union of their country with the new State in a form which would be incompatible with the maintenance of the present Montenegrin dynasty. In the eyes of this party King Nicolas and those Ministers whom he has himself nominated from among his personal adherents do not represent the wishes and feelings of the Montenegrin people. His Majesty's Government have for some time past had grounds for thinking that this is the case, and It was in order to arrive at a clear understanding of the situation that they dispatched a Special Commissioner to Montenegro in the hope that he would be able to ascertain the real desire of the Montenegrin people as to their own future. His Majesty's Government have the most sincere sympathy for and confidence in the Montenegrin people, and their action in sending Count de Salis to Cettinje was dictated solely by the desire to obtain a popular rather than a merely dynastic appreciation of the Montenegrin desiderata.

Up to the present only telegraphic summaries of his conclusions have been re- ceived from Count de Salis, but I shall be prepared to consider the hon. and learned Member's suggestion that the final Report, when received, should be laid before the House.


Is it possible to arrive at knowledge of the wishes of the people except by a popular vote of some sort; and, if so, what is the value of the inquiry by a Commission?


I cannot add anything to what I have said in the reply.