HC Deb 02 December 1920 vol 135 cc1598-600

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."


May I ask the Leader of the House whether he can give the House any information with regard to the position in Greece?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

I am glad at the earliest possible opportunity to give the House a decision which was arrived at to-day by the representatives of the Governments of France, of Italy, and of Great Britain. It was decided to send a communication, which has now been forwarded, to the Greek Government in the following terms: The British, French, and Italian Governments have constantly in the past given proof of their good will towards the Greek people, and have favoured the attainment of their secular aspirations. They have therefore been all the more keenly surprised by the events which have just occurred in Greece. They have no wish to interfere in the internal affairs of Greece, but they feel bound to declare publicly that the restoration to the Throne of Greece of a king whose disloyal attitude and conduct towards the Allies during the War caused them great embarrassment and loss could only be regarded by them as a ratification by Greece of his hostile acts. This step would create a new and unfavourable situation in the relations between Greece and the Allies, and in that case the three Governments reserve to themselves complete liberty in dealing with the situation thus created.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman will make some explanation of this message at a later date, and give this House an opportunity of discussing this matter, which is of first-rate importance? I heard it stated in one of the Committees upstairs that there is some talk of adjourning for a few days while waiting for Bills to come down from another place, and I think, rather than do that, we ought to give at least a day for the discussion of this situation.


The hon. and gallant Member need not, I think, be under any excessive anxiety as to the probability of an adjournment. I think he can rest in moderate comfort with regard to that particular. As regards the general question, I think this message is quite plain. "We begin by saying that we have no intention of interfering with the in- ternal affairs of Greece, but it is obvious, I think, to every member of the House that what has happened, on the assumption that King Constantine should return, has created a new situation, which, if the event arises, will then be considered by the Governments concerned in the light of events.


I would, with the permission of the House, ask my right hon. Friend this question. The statement he has made is one of first-class importance, as the House realises, and after a day or two, when it is possible to see the situation more in perspective than is at the present possible, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not refuse an opportunity for a discussion, if that is thought advisable, on the general situation thus created.


Most certainly. I do not think the announcement which I have made is in itself a reason for discussion, but obviously, as the situation develops, if there is any desire in the House for a discussion, we shall certainly arrange it. I wish at once to remove what may be a misunderstanding in the minds of hon. Members. This declaration begins by the statement that we do not intend to interfere with the internal affairs of Greece. That obviously means that if the Greek people choose to take a step which this country would deplore, we and the Allies would have no intention whatever to resort to hostile action in the sense of force to prevent them carrying out their object.