HC Deb 09 May 1944 vol 399 cc1708-9
45. Mr. Parker

asked the Prime Minister why British Forces were used to disarm Greek ships in a British port after 95 per cent. of their officers and men had signed a memorandum urging the creation of a comprehensive National Greek Government of Resistance.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

I presume the hon. Member is referring to the recent removal of a number of Greek seamen from one of H.M. destroyers in a United Kingdom port. This ship had seen active service in the Royal Navy, but after being refitted was to have been transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy. In view, however, of recent disturbances in the Mediterranean, and of unrest among the officers and men detailed to take over the ship, the Admiralty were unable to allow her to be commissioned with a Greek crew. The Greek parties on board were accordingly withdrawn and it is quite incorrect to speak of a Greek ship having been disarmed in a British Port.

It was with regret that the Admiralty decided to withhold this ship from the Greek Navy. It is out of the question, however, for so valuable a ship to be commissioned, particularly at this critical juncture, with a crew whose trustworthiness cannot be assured.

Mr. Parker

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House why we continue to intervene in Greek affairs, and support people who have no backing in Greece itself?

The Prime Minister

That raises, in very short compass, three highly disputable issues.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that these seamen can be fully trusted to defend Greece if they get the opportunity? What they object to is defending King George.

The Prime Minister

I think that is a very improper and reckless question, when there is so much difficulty in different parts of the world, and we are all doing our best to concentrate our forces on the common enemy.

Mr. Parker

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment at the first available opportunity.