HC Deb 12 December 1934 vol 296 cc357-9

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement with regard to the manner in which the League of Nations proposes to deal with the Yugoslav-Hungarian dispute; and whether he can say whether any further protest has been received by the League from Hungary with regard to the treatment of the Hungarian minority in Yugoslavia by the Yugoslav Government?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, as this country was a party to the post-War treaty which guaranteed certain rights to racial minorities in the Little Entente States, he has any statement to make regarding the recent wholesale expulsions of Hungarian nationals from those parts of Yugoslavia which were formerly Hungarian, and the manner in which the expulsions were carried out?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the treatment accorded to Hungarian subjects in Yugoslavia who have been expelled from their homes and country contrary to the principles of humanity; and what action His Majesty's Government proposes to take at the pending meeting of the League of Nations regarding this matter?

7. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in a position to state what His Majesty's Government have done to stop the expulsion of Hungarians from Yugoslavia; and whether those expelled will now be allowed to return?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the treatment of Hungarian minority subjects by Yugoslavia, particularly during the past few days, he has made or proposes to make any representations to the Yugoslav Government with regard to their obligations for the protection of racial minorities under the treaty to which Great Britain was a party?


With regard to the general question of the Yugoslav-Hungarian dispute, I would refer to the statement which I made in the House yesterday. It is a fact that during the past two or three weeks a considerable number of Hungarians—between 2,000 and 3,000 in all—have been expelled by certain Yugoslav authorities from Yugoslavia. According to my information, the persons concerned were of Hungarian, or at any rate not of Yugoslav, nationality, and the provisions of the treaty with Yugoslavia for the protection of minorities would not, therefore, apply to them. Nevertheless, His Majesty's Government were impressed both by the hardship to those concerned and by the importance of avoiding anything which might further embitter the dispute which had been referred to the Council of the League of Nations; and they accordingly made representations to the Yugoslav Government to bring these expulsions to an end. The Prince Regent—that is Prince Paul of Yugoslavia—on his return to Yugoslavia on the 8th December, at once ordered that the expulsions should cease, and I am informed that they have ceased. I do not know whether any of those expelled have yet returned or whether they desire to do so.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, without respect to the merits of the expulsions, the manner in which they have been carried out is against all canons of British justice and fair play; and will he represent to the Yugoslav authorities the intense indignation that is felt through this country?


I think the answer I have given will show to the House, in rather more moderate terms, the advice that we thought it proper to tender to a friendly nation. It is true, as I have already said, that hardships are involved in some cases. In so far as the matter rests with me, I am sure that hon. Members will agree that the best course in the interests of peace and good relations is to be very well satisfied that the matter is ended.


In view of the excellent results which have followed the intervention of His Majesty's Government in stopping the expulsions, would it be too much to ask that His Majesty's Government should make arrangements to see that these people may return to their homes in Yugoslavia?


I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for the question. That matter has not escaped our attention. Indeed, I observed in my first answer that, whether any of those who were expelled have yet returned, or whether any of them desire to do so, it is obviously undesirable that we should press those who are willing to make other arrangements. The matter has not been overlooked.


Would the right hon. Gentleman add to his service to humanity by obtaining permission for those who have been deported to return if they wish to do so?


That is what I meant when I said that this matter had not escaped our attention.