HC Deb 12 March 1923 vol 161 cc1021-4
31. Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that, in Constantinople, there are already over 23,000 Greek refugees from Anatolia and thousands more expected, many of whom are sick and dying of small-pox, typhus, and other maladies, and unable to gain admission to hospital, the Greek hospital being already full and the Turks refusing admission to the Turkish hospital; and whether the Government will at once take steps to alleviate the desperate condition of these people by helping to supply the means for providing hospitals and other necessaries for the sufferers?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the last part of the question, His Majesty's Government have already done their utmost for the refugees in the Near East, and consider that, in view of the financial stringency in this country, it is impossible for them at this moment further to extend their commitments in this direction. It is not in the power of His Majesty's .Government to provide hospitals in Constantinople, but efforts are being made to send out further supplies of Government vaccine to the Near East. The continued arrival of these refugees, for whom there is no accommodation and whose condition is deplorable, is clue in great measure to the premature evacuation of the Christian population of Anatolia in conditions entirely contrary to the spirit of the agreement reached at Lausanne for the orderly exchange of Greek and Turkish minorities. His Majesty's High Commissioner at Constantinople has been instructed to make strong representations to the Turkish Government with a view to check the continued influx into Constantinople and Greece of refugees for whom it is impossible to provide.


Did not Lord Balfour announce that a sum of £50,000 would be available of which only£1 9,000 has been given?


The promise of that money was subject to the condition that there would be like contributions from other Powers, and as that Condition was not complied with by the other Powers, we were obliged to give notice at the end of last year that our offer in that respect was at an end.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Hellenic Government has been compelled temporarily to suspend the transport of refugees from Turkish Black Sea ports; whether such refugees are now being landed in Constantinople without adequate provision for housing, feeding, or medical attention in spite of the prevalence of smallpox and typhus; and whether His Majesty's Government is taking steps towards making immediate provision for these refugees?


In regard to the first part of the question, I have no official information regarding any arrangements made by the Greek Government for the evacuation of refugees from the Turkish Black Sea ports; but I would point out that the matter does not primarily concern that Government, since the refugees are not Greek subjects, and the Greco-Turkish agreement for the exchange of minorities which was concluded at Lausanne has not yet come into force. With regard to the second and third parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I have to-day given to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor).


Will the Foreign Office call the attention of the League of Nations to the epidemics that prevail and to the danger of disease spreading if the refugees are not properly cared for?


I think that the League of Nations is fully seized of the facts in that regard and do not require to have them brought to their notice.

45. Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY

asked the Prime Minister whether, prior to the introduction of the Supplementary Estimate for moneys expended in connection with the despatch of naval and military reinforcements to the Near East in the autumn of last year, he will cause to be laid before Parliament the Papers relative to the events leading up to the Greek defeat in Asia Minor and the fall of Smyrna and to the negotiations with the Turkish Nationalist authorities in September?


I must adhere to the opinion expressed in my answer to the supplementary question by the hon. and gallant Member on the 5th March.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that before the Supplementary Estimate is introduced we shall see these Papers?


No, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman can give me an assurance that there will he peace with Turkey I might consider the matter.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that if and as soon as peace with Turkey is concluded these Papers will be laid before the House?


I will consider that proposal.


If peace is never con - eluded with Turkey are we never to see the Papers?