§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
I wish to raise the question of the conditions prevailing in Poland, with particular reference to the return of the Poles to Poland, the Provisional Govern- 1100 ment, and the forthcoming elections in that country. Everyone must be in absolute agreement as to the urgent necessity of the Poles returning to Poland as soon as possible. I would preface my remarks by stating emphatically that all Poles are most anxious to return to their country. There is no nation which is so nationally-minded as the Poles; but they are most reluctant to return so long as the prevailing conditions in Poland continue. We must be realists in this matter, and view the conditions in Poland from the point of view of the Poles themselves. They have firmly fixed in their minds, and for a very good reason, that those who were in political disagreement with the Lublin Committee, almost entirely Communistic, in the setting up of which the Polish nation had no say at all, and which was imposed on Poland by Russia, and also those who are in political disagreement with the present Government, would if they returned to Poland put their liberty in jeopardy.
In regard to the question of their liberty being in jeopardy, may I draw the attention of the House to the fact that in the first public speech which was made by Mr. Mikolajczyk in Warsaw at the end of June of this year he appealed to the Poles who were still hiding in large numbers in the forests of Poland to come out of hiding? The mere fact that that appeal had to be made to Poles hiding in the forests of Poland is, in my opinion, a positive indication of the fear which the Poles in Poland have to-day for their personal liberty from arrest. Also there is the fact that in the minds of Poles there is no freedom of speech in Poland, no freedom of the Press, the whole of the radio is under Government control. They also feel that it is impossible under existing conditions in Poland for the free, untramelled and democratic elections with a secret ballot which have been promised and which we are pledged to see carried out. The Russian Army and the N.K.V.D. are all over Poland to-day, the latter with their well-known method of operation. They have not been withdrawn. Every hon. Member will have heard with great satisfaction the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary in the Debate on foreign affairs, when he told the House of the assurance which had been given to him at Potsdam that the Russian Army would be withdrawn—the withdrawal of the N.K.V.D. had not 1101 yet been decided upon—that there would be freedom for the Press of the world to go to Poland and issue uncensored news, freedom of election, etc.
These assurances were all very much to the good. One can only hope that the assurances, by word of mouth will be carried out by the Polish Provisional Government by action. The withdrawal of the N.K.V.D., the Russian secret police, is of imperative importance. That has not yet been decided. Can any date be given as to when the withdrawal of the Russian armies and the N.K.V.D., with the exception, of course, of the Russian forces necessary to safeguard their communications with their armies of occupation, will be complete? I repeat, it is imperative for the Poles to return to Poland, but surely it is equally imperative that the action of the Provisional Government shall be such as will remove from the minds of the Poles these fears they have as regards their personal liberty if they do return, that there will be real freedom for the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, etc., the absence of which makes them so very reluctant to return to Poland at the present time.
The Lublin Committee, as is well known, was set up by Russia in order that agreement should be given by a presumably Polish body to the Western frontier of Russia and the Eastern frontier of Poland being the Curzon Line. This Committee was not recognised by us because it was not representative of the Polish nation, as was so clearly stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), who was then Foreign Secretary, during the Debate on the Crimea Conference. He said:We have in no sense recognised the Lublin Committee, and, may I add, we have no intention of recognising the Lublin Committee. We do not regard it as representative of Poland at all. When my right hon. Friend and I met the representatives of this Committee in Moscow, I must say they did not make a. favourable impression upon us."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1945; Vol. 408, c. 1669.]I would draw attention to the fact that all those members of the Lublin Committee who were condemned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington are all members of the Provisional Government to-day and they all hold the highest offices of State in that Government, including the present presi- 1102 dent of Poland, Mr. Bierut, and the present Prime Minister, Mr. Mokawski. It is well known, it cannot possibly be disputed, and that under the Lublin Committee there was in Poland a reign of terror and oppression against those who did not agree with their Communist views. Many of the officers and men of the underground movement, prominent members of the Polish political parties, were either arrested, deported to Russia, or disappeared without trial. Some were shot.
The Crimea Conference laid down on 12th February this year that a Polish Government was to be set up which would be representative of political parties in Poland, by adding additional members to the existing Lublin Committee. It was not, however, until June that four new members were added, one of whom was Mr. Mikolajczyk. I submit that the composition of this Provisional Government, by the addition of four new members to the Lublin Committee, which was entirely Communist, is not and cannot materially affect the Communist policy and power of the Lublin Committee, whose members to-day hold all the principal offices in the Provisional Government, and by their majority of 16 to four can continue the policy they carried out in the Lublin Committee. I would especially draw the attention of the House to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, who was then Foreign Secretary, during the Debate on 28th February, when he said that we would not recognise a Government which we did not think representative, and that the addition of one or two Ministers would not meet our views. But only four Ministers have been added to the Lublin Committee, so that is exactly what has been done.
However on that fateful day of 6th July this year, both our Government and that of the United States of America recognised the Provisional Government of Poland, consisting as it did of the old Lublin Committee with the addition of only four new members. The parties represented in this Government are, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, the Polish Workers' Party, the Communist Party, the Peasant Party, the Socialist Party and the Christian Workers' Party. It will be noticed that the National Party, a right wing Party, and one of the main parties in the country, whose members 1103 formed part of that memorable underground movement who by their devastating activities against the Germans did so much to assist the Russian armies in defeating Germany in the face of great difficulties, peril and sacrifice—that party is now not represented at all. In fact, it is no longer recognised or allowed to exist—a most significant omission, as it is one of the main political parties in Poland. The leaders of the parties which are now represented in the National Government are not the real leaders of the political parties in Poland. Not at all; they are either Communists or are under Communist control. Nobody can deny that. They are little known in Poland; they have not got the confidence of the people of Poland, they are not in sympathy with the political views of the parties they are supposed to represent, but are pure camouflage and a fraud, with the exception, of course, of the Polish Workers' Party, which is the Communist Party.
The real leaders of the four main political parties in Poland—the Peasant Party, the Socialist Party, the National Party and the Christian Workers'Party—all formed the underground movement. Their leaders, 16 of them, were induced to go to Warsaw under a safe conduct granted by the Russian authorities. They went to Warsaw in March, 1945, in order to come to some agreement with regard to their taking part in the Provisional Government of that country, but it will be remembered what their fate was. For a long time, nobody knew what had happened, and it was not until some six weeks later that Mr. Molotov, the Russian Foreign Secretary, blurted out at San Francisco the fact that the 16 leaders of the main political parties in Poland had been arrested and were to be put on trial for diversionary activities against the Red Army. That was after a safe conduct which had been guaranteed to them by the Russian authorities.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
Has the hon. and gallant Member any criticism to offer of the conduct of that trial?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I am coming to the conduct of the trial. These leaders were brought to Moscow. The trial lasted three days, and not one single witness was called for the defence. They were all condemned to terms of imprisonment, and 1104 are still in prison. These are the leaders of the main political parties in Poland—still in prison in Russia. They have, in consequence, been most efficiently and most effectively liquidated from the political arena in Poland and cannot possibly, unless they are released, take part in the forthcoming election in that country. It is not difficult to realise the deplorable effect which this information has had on the minds of the Poles.
§ Mr. Tiffany (Peterborough)
At the trial, did not the prisoners plead guilty to the charges made against them?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
They were charged with all sorts of heinous crimes—sabotage, murder and so on—which they all emphatically denied. The charges which they admitted—they were all taken in the Western part of Poland—were that, when the Germans were driven back, they did not declare themselves, and they also admitted that they had maintained wireless communication with the Government in this country. The reason why they did not come out into the open and declare themselves was that, when the Russians occupied the Eastern part of Poland, the leaders of the underground movement in that part of the country declared themselves, much to their detriment, because they were dealt with by being sent into concentration camps or being deported and so on. They were persecuted, and, with that example in their minds, these people decided that, when the Russian Armies overran the part of Poland where they were, it would not be safe for them to declare themselves, or they also would have been arrested, deported and so on.
At a Press Conference in San Francisco on 10th May, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, who was then Foreign Secretary, said this:I must emphasise that the list of 16 Poles reported as having disappeared, and about whom we inquired of the Soviet Government more than a month ago, included nearly all the leading figures of the Polish underground movement. These men maintained an excellent record of resistance against the Germans throughout the wax. Four of them are Ministers of the Polish Governments of Sikorski and Mikolajczyk, as well as of the present Government. One of them was President of the Underground National Council and the rest were prominent leaders of the principal democratic parties in Poland. Most of these men were just the type who should, in our view, have been consulted about the new 1105 National Government in Poland if such a Government was to be truly representative of Polish democratic life in accordance with the Crimea decision.These men accepted the Russian invitation with that purpose in mind, and yet were arrested while under a safe conduct and are now in prison in Russia. After this declaration by the then Foreign Secretary, I do not consider that I have in any way exaggerated the seriousness of their elimination from the political arena in Poland, and I will also say that, if these men, the real leaders of the main political parties in Poland, are not released and able to take their part in the forthcoming election, then that election will be disastrous for Poland and for the future of that country. The so-called leaders of the political parties now in this Provisional Government, who have replaced the real and genuine leaders, are not in sympathy with the policies of the parties they are supposed to represent. They are Communists, or are under Communist control. They have not got the confidence of the parties or of the people whom they are supposed to represent.
It may reasonably be assumed that these pseudo leaders of these political parties will, in addition to deciding the policy and the programme of those parties, also choose the candidates to stand for election. I am informed that the policies and programmes which had been issued are all almost identical. What else can you expect? I ask, in all seriousness, under the conditions which I have mentioned, what are the chances of a free, untrammelled election as we understand it? What are the chances of these people opposing the Communist régime at this forthcoming election? Is is not more than probable that the election which will take place under these conditions will resolve itself into becoming a one-party election, camouflaged under the different party names—a pure farce and a fraud?
The Foreign Secretary, in his speech during the Debate on foreign affairs, referred to the situation in Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. He stated that the Governments which had been set up do not in our opinion represent the majority of the people, and the impression we get from recent developments is that one kind of totalitarianism is being replaced by another. Speaking of Bulgaria, he stated that the electoral law in accordance with 1106 which the elections will take place is not consistent with the principles of liberty. He went on to say that we shall not, therefore, be able to regard as representative any Government resulting from such elections. In all seriousness I would ask the Under-Secretary whether he will take the same attitude to the prevailing conditions in Poland, and whether he will warn the Provisional Government in the same clear, unequivocal and definite terms as he used towards Bulgaria? I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary on his speech throughout, with which we on this side of the House were so much in agreement. I ask him in all fairness to apply the same principles to Poland as he has done to those other countries in the Balkans.
There is the question of, I think, 2,000,000 Poles outside Poland, both Service men and civilians, and with regard to their return the assurance was given to the Foreign Secretary when he was at Potsdam that they will be acccorded personal rights and rights of property on the same basis as Polish citizens in Poland. I would remind the Under-Secretary of the statement I made with regard to the Poles who were hiding in Poland. It is not a reassuring statement in view of the actual situation of those Poles in Poland, who until recently have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, deportation, requisitioning of property, etc. It is true that there is less actual political persecution to-day than there was in the days of the Lublin Committee, but in view of what has happened before the Poles abroad are anxious to know whether this change is a definite change for the better or whether it is a temporary lull to lure the Poles returning to Poland into a trap.
We must view this from the Polish point of view. It is not in the least likely that the Poles can eradicate from their minds the fate of the 16 leaders of their main political parties who had a safe conduct at the time the Lublin Committee was supposed to be governing Poland, and are now in prison. They also want to be assured as to their safety bearing in mind their political views and their past activities; and especially I would mention the members of the home Army, the underground movement and the staff of the Polish Government in London. Would it be safe for General Bor, as the Com- 1107 mander-in-Chief of the Polish Home Army and leader of the Warsaw rising, to return to Poland? Will it be safe for Mr. Arciszewski, that great Socialist leader, to return to Poland? What I have said to the House—and the facts cannot be disputed—is the background against which the Poles view and weigh up the advisability of their return to Poland with safety and the chances of a free, untramelled election on democratic lines, which is the only foundation for their future liberty and the prosperity of their country.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South)
There are two points that worry me about what has been said. The first concerns the figures which have been mentioned. Could I ask what authority the hon. and gallant Gentleman has for his figures, particularly the figure of 2,000,000 Poles? The second point is: Would he be kind enough to tell the House the last occasion on which Poland had a free and untramelled election?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
With regard to the first question, I do not mind at all as to the actual numbers. There is a great number. I may be wrong in the number of 2,000,000. I do not mind. What does it matter? There are over 500,000 in Field-Marshal Montgomery's Army zone. There is a great number in this country and in other parts. The point is not whether 2,000,000 is the right figure or not. That is not really material. It is well known that there is a great number of Poles outside Poland who want to return. The question of what free elections they have had has nothing to do with it. Does the hon. Gentleman not support the policy of free elections in all these countries under democratic conditions? Will he answer me?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Yes, of course. We in this House are all in favour of that, but you cannot suddenly introduce in a State like Poland free, untrammelled elections on the lines which we have enjoyed in this country for so long.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
That is our aim and object in all these countries, and we shall do our best to see it is carried out. That is my point, and I am glad the hon. Gentleman agrees. It is not much good the Foreign Secretary urging the Poles outside Poland to return there under pre- 1108 sent conditions merely on assurances which are given by the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government must by definite action on its part gain the confidence of the Poles outside Poland before they will return. I apologise to the House for being so long, but I feel very keenly on this matter.
In addition to the withdrawal of the Russian Army and of the secret police it would be of immense help in the new elections in shaping the future destiny of Poland if certain conditions were fulfilled. The Foreign Secretary, in his excellent speech on foreign affairs, said that the Government would welcome an amnesty in Greece at the earliest possible moment. I ask the Under-Secretary of State whether that does not apply also to Poland, and if not, why not? Why only Greece; why not Poland as well? In applying it to Poland the object would be, of course, that all those who have been imprisoned or denied the right to political activities in Poland because of their political views would be set free, and allowed to resume their role and place in the political life of the nation in their respective parties, in the forthcoming election. I also ask that the leaders of the political parties at present imprisoned in Russia should be set free and allowed to play their part. How are you to have real elections when the leaders of the parties are imprisoned in another country? I ask that all Poles deported for their political views should also be set free and allowed to return to Poland to take their part in its life.
There must be freedom of association, speech, meeting, etc., which are absolutely essential before the election takes place, in order that the leaders of the political parties may expound their views. We found it most necessary in this country. One of their chief objections to the General Election here put forward by 'the Socialist Party was that it was being rushed upon them. If this freedom of speech, meetings and so on are not allowed in Poland there will be no preparation at all for the election and the whole thing will be a farce. I ask the Under-Secretary whether he can tell us when these elections will take place. I would also ask that they should take place, as in the case of Greece, under international supervision. Why should there be international supervision only in Greece? Why not in Poland? I know 1109 that Russia has refused to take part in the international supervision in Greece, bat I ask that they should take part in it in Poland, together with representatives of other countries.
§ Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)
Would the hon. and gallant Member apply the same principle of international supervision of elections to Spain?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I am not dealing with Spain at all, but with Poland. During the war we have not had a more faithful ally than the Polish people, and among her immense population not one Quisling was to be found to assist the enemy. That is a marvellous record. They have fought side by side with us on the land, the sea and in the air, and have shown Unfailing courage and tenacity throughout the war. Poland has done much to bring about the defeat of Germany. We have won the war, but the Poles say that they have lost it. We owe Poland a great debt. Surely it is our obligation to Poland to see to it that the sovereignty, independence and freedom of Poland are assured by democratic means in that country, in fulfilment of our pledges and our principles and as an earnest of our gratitude to her heroic people. Therefore, I ask, in conclusion and with confidence, that our Government will take all the steps at their disposal to bring about the urgently-needed and most necessary changes in the conditions prevailing in Poland at the present time.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)
I propose to do little more than dot the i's and cross the t's of the speech to which we have just listened. I would especially stress the importance of the return of Poles outside Poland to their country, and I would repeat what my hon. and gallant Friend has said about there being a strong desire in all sections of Poles that that should happen. There is an old proverb that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory, and what are the theory and the practice of the attitude towards Poland of the Lublin Committee? The composition of the Lublin Committee has been described in detail. There are now 21 as against 16 original members, and the additions are perfectly insignificant, with one exception, that of M. Mikolajczyk, who is the only really representative leader among 1110 the 21 members. What has been the action of the Lublin Committee, not many years ago but in this year? The Lublin Committee issued an official announcement, given in the "Daily Telegraph" of 20th January, 1945, declaring the necessity for extirpating thetraitors, bandits, incorrigible malefactors and brawlers of the Home Army,and followed this with a decree calling for theround up of irreconcilable members of the Polish Home Army and followers of the London Government.With that pronouncement it was obvious that no members or supporters of the Polish Government recognised by the Western Allies could return to their country without grave risk to their lives and liberty. I have come across an interesting article in the "Daily Herald" by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Foot). This paper is not exactly regarded as being prejudiced for Poland, but it is a fair and, indeed, generous article. I should like to read an extract because hon. Members opposite will naturally pay more attention to a Member of their own party than to any one on this side. Writing in the "Daily Herald" on 16th February, 1945, three weeks after the decree I have quoted, the hon. Member, speaking of the Lublin Government, said:Will they be prepared to call off the threats against members of the Polish Home Army who were resisting the Germans long before they appeared on the scene? Will the subsequent elections really be free, or will the Lublin representatives seek to maintain unanimity of view hitherto prevailing under their auspices?He sums up the position as follows:It appears to mean that all the Poles in London, and some of them have supported the war against Nazi Germany long before the 'Daily Worker' and risked death for their, faith, are to be excluded.He goes on with this pregnant sentence:If we are not prepared to ensure that the Lublin Government genuinely seeks the partnership of other Poles and organises genuine elections, the Yalta agreement will appear as one of the grossest fakes in history.
§ Mr. Neil Maclean (Glasgow, Govan)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the custom in the House that if he quotes from something written or spoken outside the House by a Member, the Member should 1111 be notified so that he can foe here to reply to any criticism that may be made?
§ Sir E. Graham-Little
I wrote to the hon. Member last night, and he must have had the letter this morning. The article goes on:It would have been better if all these territorial issues had been postponed until they could have been settled sanely and quietly by the free vote of the people. That is the true Socialist way to peace.It is interesting to observe that Field-Marshal Alexander, in a recent public statement, made some similar suggestions with regard to the position of Yugoslavia. He referred to the attempt by the Yugoslavia Government to make irresponsible annexations during the war, and he said:Our policy, as has been publicly proclaimed, is that territorial changes should be made only after thorough study and full consultation and deliberation by the various governments concerned.No such consultation has been afforded the Polish Government at any time.It is to prevent such actions that we have been fighting this war. We have agreed to work together to seek an orderly and just solution of the territorial problems. This is just one of the cardinal principles for which the peoples of the United Nations have made their tremendous sacrifices for which we have all fought.That territorial adjustment is another aspect of the Polish question in which unfair discrimination has been made.
The next point I want to stress is what is necessary before the Poles can have any confidence in returning to Poland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has laid down two requirements—to remove the secret police and to reduce the Red Army to proportions which make it impossible for them to interfere with elections, as they have been accustomed to do.
I have it on good authority that the way in which elections have been conducted in Poland is as follows. There is a great army of Commissars distributed in proportion of one to 18 voters, and the Commissars are very eager and efficient in making the voters vote as they would wish them to do. If a voter does not vote, he is liquidated or otherwise disposed of, and the result of the arrangement is that it is usual to report that the candidates have been elected by 100 per cent. of the votes. The treatment of the delegation that went to Poland is surely a very salient 1112 and incontestable obstacle. It is an instance of a breach of international law and order. When a delegation has received a safe conduct and is imprisoned on arrival in the country, it is something of which to take notice. What was the attitude of the Labour Party? An interesting article appeared in the "Tribune," which, I understand, is edited by two distinguished members of the Government. Writing on 11th May, some little time after the delegation left, the "Tribune" considered the position of the Polish delegation which went to Poland with the full approval and, indeed, with the prompting of the British Government, who revealed the names of the chief leaders of the Polish resistance movement to the Russian Government, and so allowed them to make a selection which subsequently enabled them to destroy the resistance movement. It said:By transmitting the names of the Polish leaders to the Soviet authorities the British and American Governments have assumed co-responsibility for their personal safety. Moreover, the British Labour Party, too, advised the Poles to come into the open with the purpose of establishing contact and starting negotiations with the Russians. British Labour is also, therefore, co-responsible for what happens to some at least of the arrested Polish Leaders.Comment has been made on the fact that the defendants, if you can call them such in the trials in Moscow, if you can call them trials, admitted their guilt. Hon. Members must remember the series of State trials which took place in Moscow from 1931 to 1936. They all followed a similar pattern. They are obviously not trials in the sense in which we have trials, but State functions carefully arranged; and the fact that every accused person admits the crimes of which he is accused, and invents some for himself, surely shows up the travesty of justice which these trials really are. With regard to the reality of the opposition to the return to Poland of the Polish communities outside that country, I have details here of a Congress of Polish emigrants in France. Something like 600,000 members were concerned in. the matter, composed of factory workers and the general middle and working classes. They passed a unanimous resolution that they would have nothing whatever to do with the Lublin Government, that they would never be ruled by the Lublin Government, and expressing their complete loyalty to the Polish Government in London.
1113 Another very large section of Poles abroad—200,000—is the Polish army, which has made the same protestations of loyalty. I have here a list of Polish communities abroad, including those of the United States, France, Australia, Iran, Argentina and several others, and from all those communities of Poles outside Poland just the same story comes of mistrust of the Lublin Government. May I again point out what has been allotted to Poland in the way of a final settlement? I quote from the publication of a celebrated American author:Poland, our ally, has been treated worse than our enemy, Germany. Germany is to be administered by the four great Powers, Poland is to be administered solely by Soviet Russia.That is the final fate of Poland, which I think we should all regard as being wholly undesirable. I do not propose to detain the House any longer, but I hope these additions to my hon. and gallant Friend's speech will reinforce its argument.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
I should like to comment on a few of the points raised by the two previous speakers. First of all, if I may assist the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, South (Vice-Admiral Taylor) the name of the former Polish Premier is Mikolajczyk.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman's information about Poland is not much better than his pronunciation. When he speaks in the terms he did speak about the present leaders of Poland, I wonder why he overlooked the fact that one of those leaders is precisely Mr. Mikolajczyk.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
What office does he hold, and what powers, in the Provisional Government of Poland?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
He could have been Premier of Poland, and the Lublin Committee were anxious that he should be Premier when they offered him the job on his first visit to Moscow with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The reason why he could not accept was because the London régime, encouraged in its foolish intransigeance by 1114 certain sections in this country, refused to accept the Curzon Line and therefore made it impossible for him to accept.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
My question was, what post does he occupy in the Provisional Government in Poland to-day?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
He is, for all practical purposes, Deputy-Premier, for he represents one of the largest parties, the Peasant Party, and he occupies that position in a way which commands-respect.
The underground movement was divided into two parts. The smaller part, a quite small part, was almost purely Fascist, and we need say no more about it because it was admittedly a Fascist movement. The greater part of the underground movement, however, on orders from the London Government in exile, treated the Russians as the enemy as much as the Germans. When Bor-Komokowski, for instance, led the revolt in Poland, his wireless stations gave out that they were not only fighting for Warsaw but for Lwow and Vilno, two towns in the part of Eastern Poland already passed over to the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Speaker
I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that he was heard in silence for 44 minutes, and that he might now allow other hon. Members to speak.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I have no objection, Sir, to the hon. and gallant Member's question. The evidence came out in the trial in Moscow of the general who was the leader of the underground movement. I am sorry I have forgotten his name at the moment. He was arrested at the same time as the 16, although he was not one of the 16. The evidence which came out then made it quite clear that the instructions he had had from the Polish Government in London were instructions which practically compelled him to treat the Russians invading those parts of Poland occupied by Germany as enemies, and it showed also that there had been 1115 acts of sabotage, the blowing-up of trains and shooting of Russian soldiers on the lines of communication. The Russians, needless to say, got extremely tough when that happened, as anybody would have done in similar circumstances. As for the National Democrats, who are described as one of the great parties of Poland, they used to be one of the great parties, but they were the party of big business and extreme reaction, with a semi-Fascist section who had been thoroughly mixed up with the pre-war dictatorship in Poland—the Colonel Beck régime.
What has happened in Poland has been a revolution, as well as a war. The Poles have settled accounts with the members of the old régime and with the party that was closely associated with it. The idea of trying to restore those parties and groups simply ignores the fact of the revolution. It is as if, after the Russian revolution, when the Bolsheviks were in charge, the suggestion had been made that the White generals and troops who had fought on our side should be returned to Russia to take part in the elections there. What has happened in Poland is something which is absolutely different from a general election in this country and from the conduct of a war in this country. There has been a revolution in Poland and the Poles who do not desire to return to Poland—I am very glad to know that they have been offered the chance of British citizenship, or will be helped in some other way—happen to be adherents of the old régime, the régime of the landowners and big business. They do not want to go back because there is no room for them in the Poland of the revolution.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
May I ask the hon. Member whether it is not curious that out of 100,000 Poles who fought on the Allied side in Italy, some of whom went through the siege of Tobruk, 90,000—that is 90 per cent.—will not return to Poland?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I question the hon. and gallant Member's figures. I believe the position is that at the present moment the representatives of the Provisional Polish Government are ascertaining which Poles wish to go back. No figure is at present available for the number of those who refuse to go back; the position is being 1116 investigated. It is by no means true to say that there are any figures which bring out that a large proportion of the Poles abroad have made up their minds not to return. Some have and some have not. In conclusion, I believe that the touching solicitude for democracy displayed by some of the hon. Members on the other side is not unconnected with their desire to stir up trouble between us and the Soviet Union.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Professor Savory (Queen's University, Belfast)
I should like to take this opportunity, as did my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor), to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the very brilliant speech that he made the other night. It was a very fair, moderate, impartial statement which has received the approval of the whole world. If I have eventually to comment upon that statement it will be with due deference and only because I wish to elicit further information on a very important subject.
I cannot help thinking that the justification for the representation of universities in this House is that the university Members are not tied to party. They are not "Yes-men." They try to form an independent and objective opinion on the subjects which come before the House. I hope that this evening I shall say nothing which would in any way embarrass the Government. On the contrary, I shall try to treat the subject in a very uncontroversial fashion, just as if I were lecturing to students in my own university. The important point on which I wish to have elucidation is the question of the Western frontier of Poland which has been proposed at the Potsdam Conference. I am sorry to say that no White Paper giving the statement of that Conference has yet appeared, but I have here the full report given in "The Times" of 3rd August. This is the point:The three heads of Government agree that, pending the final determination of Poland's western frontier, the former German territories east of a line running from the Baltic Sea immediately west of Swinemünde, and thence along the Oder River to the confluence of the western Neisse River and along the western Neisse to the Czechoslovak frontier, including that portion of East Prussia not placed under the administration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.1117 The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs devoted a large portion of his speech to dealing with the territory between the Western Neisse, which I prefer to call by the name with which I am most familiar, the Lusatian Neisse, and the Eastern Neisse, which we call the Silesian Neisse. If I want enlightenment on any question, I take up the "Daily Herald"; and in the "Daily Herald" of to-day there is a very interesting—I do not know whether it is inspired or not—note upon this question:A misunderstanding about two rivers of the same name led to an additional 10,000 square miles of former German territory, with 3,000,000 inhabitants, being handed over to Polish administration. In his speech on 20th August, where he dealt with Germany's eastern frontiers, Mr. Bevin said there had been agreement at least by inference that the Poles should go to the Oder and the eastern Neisse. The inference to which Mr. Bevin referred apparently goes back to a misunderstanding between Stalin on the one hand and Churchill and the late President Rooseveit on the other at Teheran. There it was agreed that the Poles should have the former German territory up to the Oder and the Neisse. But there are two rivers Neisse. Churchill and Roosevelt understood the arrangement to mean the eastern Neisse; Stalin the western Neisse. The Russian view prevailed, with the result shown on the accompanying map.That is the very interesting commentary given by the "Daily Herald" on this most important question. I must apologise if at this late hour I make a very dull speech, but I have gone very carefully into this question and I am sorry to say that I am impelled, if I want to elucidate the matter, to give the House some figures. The question of the statistics of the population is an extremely difficult one, because all the recent German censuses are not to be relied upon in the very least. If we want to go back to a really impartial census when we are dealing with the population of Germany, we must go back to the last census before the Great War, the census of 1910.
The question of the Polish Western frontier resolves itself into three distinct parts. According to the Warsaw radio, the area now taken over by Poland in the West has 8,600,000 inhabitants, but I feel that those figures are an exaggeration. In making my calculations I can only find that the population amounts to rather less probably than 8,000,000. These three sections are as follow: There is East Prussia, with a population of 2,200,000. The district which has been provisionally 1118 allocated to Russia, including Koenigsberg, contains 700,000 people, and the area allotted to Poland, the Polish-speaking districts, the Masurian districts—the districts which we have known so long in history as the Allenstein and Ermeland districts—which are to be handed over to Poland, contain a population of 1,500,000. Of those it can be stated that the actual Polish-speaking population is somewhere between 400,000 and 700,000. It is impossible to give precise figures.
The second great division of this territory is obviously the province of Silesia. Under the provisional agreement the whole of Silesia is being handed over to Poland. We find that in Upper Silesia the population is 1,700,000, and this includes at least 700,000 or 800,000 Poles. Lastly, there is the third great division, Pomerania, of which it is proposed to hand over to the Poles the whole country as far as Swinemünde and the mouth of the Oder, which embraces a population of 1,500,000. If we take this immense district, we find that the Polish-speaking population is, in East Prussia, between 400,000 and 700,000, and in Silesia between 700,000 and 800,000; whereas with regard to Pomerania all the claim that has ever been made by the Poles is for the Eastern district. No Pole that I have ever heard of, no Polish historian, no Polish statesman, has ever claimed a line West of the town of Kolberg on the Baltic. If you strike a line between Kolberg and Kreutz you find roughly on the East of that line the population claimed by Poland.
All that the Poles in 1919 and now have ever claimed is that the genuine Poles in these districts should be incorporated in Poland. This would mean, then, the Southern half of East Prussia, the Eastern part of Eastern Pomerania, which I have just described, and the whole of the Upper Silesia district. The right hon. Gentleman the former Secretary of State said that the Poles were going too far to the West. It is not the Poles who have put forward any such claim whatsoever. The Poles have never: asked that they should be given the frontier of the Oder, much less the frontier of the Western or Lusatian Neisse. It looks no doubt on the map a very clear frontier. You follow the line of the Oder from the mouth at Swinemünde up to Frankfurt and you come to a sudden turn of the Oder to the East, 1119 and then you follow its confluent the so-called Lusatian Neisse until it joins the Czechoslovakian frontier. It seems on the map to be a very definite frontier, but it is infinitely in excess of any claim made by the Poles. All that the Poles are demanding is that the purely Polish population should be returned to them in these Polish districts which I have enumerated. They are asking for the return to Poland of 1,500,000 Poles.
What has been put forward as the reason for this change of border towards the West? It is that the Poles should be given compensation for the large genuine Polish population amounting, in my calculation, to 5,000,000, which it is proposed that they should lose on the Eastern side of the Curzon line. You are, therefore, only proposing to give them compensation—I am not speaking of territory but of human souls—of 1,500,000 for the 5,000,000 which you are determined to take away from them. Therefore, I would submit to the House that this question of compensation is not one that can be treated in this fashion. It is really a totally inadequate compensation, and it is one that the Poles feel is unjust to them. You cannot transfer populations in the way that you transfer cattle. I was talking at tea-time to my hon. Friend the hon. Baronet the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) and I was explaining to him the situation, and he used a very apt comparison. He said, "It is just as if you are: asked to sacrifice Northern Ireland, and receive Eire in compensation." I feel strongly that the whole matter requires the most careful consideration and it is a mistake to allow it to be thought in this country that the Poles have made any such claim for the extension of territory such as has been mentioned in the report here of the Potsdam Conference. The claim has not come from the Poles and the Poles should not be reproached with megalomania or with the desire to munch what they cannot chew. It is nothing of the kind. If you look through all the Polish historians no such claim has ever been made.
But the Poles feel very strongly the loss of those 5,000,000 to the East of the so-called Curzon line. "The Times," when this question was being debated, had a leading article in which they stated, with regard to Galicia, that 1120 it was very right and proper that this territory should be restored to Russia. I immediately wrote a letter in reply and I will pay tribute to "The Times"—they had the fairness to insert my letter. I pointed out that you cannot restore territory to Russia which Russia has never had. From 1340 onwards this territory has never been in Russian possession. It was Polish down to the first partition of 1772, when part of it was transferred in that very cruel division of Poland to Austria and the rest of it was transferred at the time of the third partition of 1795. It remained Austrian right down to the reconstitution of the ancient Polish State after the last war.
You therefore cannot talk about restoring to Russia territory which has never in all history belonged to her. In the same way it is proposed in this Agreement to transfer KÖnigsberg to Russia. I put a question last Session to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and: asked on what ethnological and historical grounds were they proposing to hand over KÖnigsberg to Russia. Russia has never in all history possessed it. The Russian population in KÖnigsberg is infinitesimally small and I can only assume—and it is a pure assumption on my part—that the real reason is thatKÖnigsberg strategically commands the whole of the bay of Danzig and that if you are going to hand over KÖnigsberg to Russia it means that you are also going to hand over to her the three independent Baltic States of Latvia, Esthonia, and Lithuania. I have a personal interest in this question. During the last war I was sent out by His Majesty's Government to become the Secretary to His Majesty's Minister in Stockholm and it was through Stockholm that passed all the negotiations with regard to the independence of these countries. As the physician who presided at the birth of these three Baltic States I may perhaps be allowed to take an interest in the growth of these children and I have followed them up to manhood. I want to know, Are you going to allow those three independent States to be absorbed in Russia?
Let me remind the House of the history of this question. During the whole of the early months of 1939 the question of these three independent States was being constantly raised in the negotiations between this country and Russia. You had given 1121 a guarantee to Poland. The Prime Minister came to this House on 31st March and suddenly announced that a guarantee had been granted to Poland. No attempt had been made apparently up to that time to find whether that guarantee would also be ratified by Russia. A whole series of contentious negotiations were entered into and it is quite certain historically that we could have had a Russian alliance at any time if we had been prepared to hand over to Russia those three independent Baltic States of Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But be it said to the honour of the Government of Mr. Neville Chamberlain that he refuted to be a party to such a dishonourable bargain, with the result that Stalin negotiated with Ribbentrop and found Ribbentrop a good deal more complacent. While conducting negotiations with us, he was also secretly conducting negotiations with Germany which led to the famous Treaty of Alliance of August, 1939. I am very sorry to have detained the House so long but I have been waiting here for hours, and this is the first time I have ventured to open my mouth in this new Parliament.
I should like to deal with another extremely important question touched on by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington. That is the question of this provisional Government which has been recognised by His Majesty's Ministers. This Government consists of 21 members. There is one vacancy—Mr. Thugutt seems, as far as I can make out to have refused. Officially there are no Communists in this Government but in fact the Polish Workers Party is really, I do not think it will be denied, the Communist Party. Officially there are only six members of the Polish Workers Party in the Cabinet but the fact is that at least two others belong to this Party—Mr. Rabanowski, the Minister of Communications, and Marshal Rola-zymierski, the Minister of Defence. The Field Marshal claims now to be a non-party man, but it is well known that he was the holder of a membership card of the Polish Workers Party and the number of his membership card was 21, showing that he was a very prominent and early member of this Party. The Prime Minister, Monsieur Osobka-Morawski, has changed his party allegiance so often that it is difficult to see to what party he belongs. Since 1944 he has been called a member 1122 of the Polish Workers' Party, the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party.
The penetration of all parties and groups by Communists, who deny that they are Communists, is very marked and it has been the system applied everywhere in all countries under Russian occupation—"You A, are a Socialist representing the Socialists; you B, represent the National Democrats; you C, represent the Peasant Party"—but the point is that very few of these people are known at all. The so-called Provisional President of this new Polish Provisional Government, Mr. Bierut, is a Communist. It cannot be denied that he is a prominent member of the Komintern, and of the 20 members of his Provisional Government the majority are entirely unknown people who never took part in the five years underground movement against Germany. Only two—Messieurs Mikolajczyk and Stanczyk, have come from this country, have been employed herein London as part of the London Government, and only four can certainly be said to be non-Communists. They are Monsieur Mikolajczyk, Monsieur Kiernik and Monsieur Wycech, who belong to the Peasant Party, and Monsieur Stanczyk, who belongs to the Socialist Party. To submit the whole question to a fair analysis, these are the only four members of the Provisional Government who can be described honestly as non-Communists.
Now under the prevailing conditions it is very doubtful whether these four people can really exercise any influence. This has been shown in this case of the Western frontier. They certainly have not represented Polish opinion on this question nor, apparently, did they protest against the trial of the 16 heroes who have been condemned. I got up here week after week, Wednesday after Wednesday, to ask His Majesty's Government, "What news have you of these 16 Polish heroes, these men who have fought for five years against the Germans in the underground movement?" The answer came regularly every week "We have no news." They had no news of those men who were given by General Ivan off a safe conduct in order that they might carry on negotiations with the Lublin Committee. It was only in San Francisco that finally M. Molotov confessed to the right hon. Gentleman the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that they had been arrested, in spite of the safe conduct, in spite of the 1123 assurance that had been given by the Russian Government to the British Government here and which had been conveyed to the Poles in London.
I admire the courage of our former Foreign Secretary who refused, backed up by Mr. Stettinius, to carry on any further negotiations. Then we had the trial in Moscow and we have been told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that these men confessed. We know how these confessions are brought about; we have not forgotten the trial of the British engineers for sabotage. They were forced to confess by methods on which I shall not dwell, but, as our White Paper shows, immediately after having made these confessions, when they were released, they went to the British Legation in Moscow and retracted the whole of their statements, which they said had been extorted from them by methods which had worn them out, and which had compelled them to confess.
Now what were the confessions of the 16 to which the hon. Gentleman referred? What do they amount to? They confessed that they were using a wireless set, that they were communicating, as they had been communicating for the last five years, with the Government here in London, the legitimate Government with whom they were perfectly entitled to communicate. What did they send in their despatches? Let me ask the hon. Gentleman to consult the copies of these despatches. Every single despatch that was sent here from London was submitted to the censorship here. The Government here were given the code. They had expert Polish linguists who translated every one of these despatches. If the hon. Gentleman will consult his archives he will see these despatches, all of which were sent with the approval of the British Government in London, and every despatch that came from Warsaw was also submitted, as soon as it arrived here, to the British Government. The British Government are fully cognizant of these despatches. The British Government can testify that there was not a single despatch inciting any opposition to Russia. They were advocating collaboration with Russia, and everything was done to help Russia in every possible way.
When the Poles recovered the city of Vilna—it was reconquered by the Poles and not by the Russians—they welcomed 1124 the Russians, they did everything they possibly could to fraternise with the Russians, and for three or four days circumstances were idyllic. The Polish officers then gave a banquet to the Russian officers and what happened at the close of the banquet? These Russian officers seized the Polish officers, who were deported at the conclusion of the banquet which they had offered to the Russians. They have been carried away to concentration camps and have never been heard of since.
I challenge the hon. Gentleman to deny the facts which I give him on this question. Can you expect to find confidence in the existing administration? On 24th July Reuter's despatch, published in this country, reported that 300 people were condemned by a special court in Warsaw for "treason against the Polish nation," and that 6,000 more cases were pending. On 18th August Warsaw radio gave another item which developed this information by saying that1,692 new cases of treason against the Polish nation were opened before a special tribunal in Warsaw last month.If the hon. Gentleman will look up the archives, he will find that there are full copies of these despatches. The British Government are extremely well informed of these facts, because British prisoners were in Poland—men who had to make forced landings from aeroplanes—and others, who have been repatriated and have come back to this country. Their depositions have been made; what they have witnessed has been recorded. At the same time, most stringent orders have been given to these men that they should not say anything about their stay in Poland. It has not been thought desirable that they should reveal facts of which they are cognisant. But some of them have a most intimate knowledge of the circumstances in Poland today. Some were sheltered and taken care of by noble and gallant Poles, and from them learned the Polish language. They were thus in a position to talk to the Polish people, and they have related what they have seen of the way the Polish population was treated when the Russian troops arrived. All this was taken down when they arrived in this country. It is all on record, and I hope the War Office will now withdraw the ban and allow these men to give evidence, so that the people of this country can know what is 1125 the truth, what are the circumstances at present existing in Poland.
I endorse the demand of the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington that if you are to have a supervisory committee of the elections which are to take place in Greece, you should have a similar international supervisory committee to give guarantees that the elections which are about to take place in Poland are bona fide and that they do not resemble the so-called elections which were held in 1939 in the Ukraine, in White Russia, and in those districts to the East of the Curzon Line, when only one candidate was allowed to be proposed—very often it was Mr. Molotov himself—and the electors had the option of either voting for him or not at all. Those who sent in blank ballot papers were traced, because the papers in this so-called election were fully numbered and they were then accused of being anti-Russian, and were deported. Those were the so-called elections as a result of which it is stated that those Eastern Provinces, the Eastern Marches, desired to become incorporated in the Soviet Union.
I ask that these elections should not be a precedent for the elections which are about to take place in Poland, but that they should be as free and unfettered as was the recent General Election in this country. Nobody could deny that our people were allowed to vote according to their conscience, and as they saw fit. If such elections take place in Poland I have little doubt that the so-called Provisional Government I have described will be swept from office and that a real Government, representing the wishes and aspirations of the Polish people, will be restored to power.
§ 7.20 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. McNeil)
There is one point on which I should like to congratulate the three hon. Gentlemen opposite who initiated this Debate. I am deeply impressed by the great importance which they now attach to the "Daily Herald" and I am very moved by the importance which the hon. Gentleman the Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) attaches to the writings of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). If I may say so, they should all have studied his work before the Election and they would not have 1126 sought re-election, at any rate under the colours they fly. This week the House has with great moderation and responsibility devoted a great proportion of its time to discussing our foreign policy. I am sure that any discussion at present upon the conditions of Europe, or any part of Europe, is of great value if the same sense of responsibility and moderation is brought to these discussions as we have seen this week. But for one who, as it were, is newly-born to this dispatch-box I feel I must say that that moderation has not been very evident in this discussion. I do suggest that it is hardly responsible to talk about the Foreign Secretary of one of our Allies and a great Power "blurting out" what was undoubtedly an important statement. I think it most irresponsible, and not in accordance with the traditions of this House to talk of the activity of a friendly Power with a great deal of inaccuracy.
For example, it is departing from the facts to insist that members of the delegation who were arrested are all still in prison as my hon. and gallant Friend insisted three times. It is not proper that he should infer that they were all sternly dealt with. I do not want to be drawn into a discussion on this matter, and I would be dishonest if I pretended that all aspects of the affair were very acceptable. It is true that following representations by His Majesty's previous Government comparatively lenient treatment was meted out to these men. Some of them had sentences of four to six months and at least four of them are now at large and have a right to pursue their normal occupations. I say at least four because I had no knowledge that this subject is going to be discussed to-day. I thought that responsible people would be prepared to leave that in the middle position which was evidently reached, and proceed to a reasonable discussion of a very complex problem which His Majesty's Government freely admit this is.
May I say, too, that I am, and I am sure the House is, in debt to my hon. Friend the Member for the Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory), for his discussion about the Polish frontier, but I cannot add to what the Foreign Secretary has already said because this is not a matter for this country or any other one country. It was decided at Potsdam that these areas should, provisionally, be 1127 administered by the Polish Provisional Government, and the definition of the boundaries will be held over to the peace conference. Let me see if I can put some of the points raised in the context of the policy of His Majesty's Government. I think my hon. Friend raised an important point when he: asked what were the possibilities of an amnesty. I cannot give a firm reply, but I can say that this has been engaging the attention of His Majesty's Government, and that they will continue discussion of that point through the normal channels. They will do so because His Majesty's Government clearly recognise the great services which Poland has rendered to the whole Allied cause, in particular, of course, those Poles who fought under our command. It has been, and will continue to be, the policy particularly of this Government, that we shall do all in our power to create for these people a worthy home in which they will enjoy normal democratic conditions. That is not a diplomatic phrase. It is the devout and persistent intention of this particular Government and the determination of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Let me see if I can point to some things which the Government have done to implement that intention. My right hon. Friend indicated in his speech on Monday the exhaustive nature of the discussions regarding the situation in Poland which took place at Potsdam. He announced the assurances he had received from the representatives of the Polish Provisional Government concerning civic rights for Poles returning home. May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend who raised this point, from whom can we receive assurances on this if not from the Provisional Government? Even if His Majesty's Government entertained great suspicions, which they do not, about the Provisional Government, as a matter of practical negotiations they are the only people who could be approached for assurances. These assurances have been given in relation to civic rights, to property, to reporting, to newspapers and—a precise question put to me—upon the withdrawal of the Russian Forces, except for those which are necessary to maintain communications. In addition, as my hon. Friends know, we now have an Ambassador in Warsaw. There is newly arrived in London, an 1128 Ambassador from Warsaw. We have established a courier service, and mean to extend it. We are doing everything we physically can do at this time, to restore normal life and usages in that country. We shall continue to assure all people interested of our intention to do what we can, and what we properly have the right to do, to restore democratic institutions and property in that country.
The work of restoration will, inevitably, be a slow process, but some progress should be reported now. I wish to say most emphatically that it is a sharp and unjustifiable departure from the facts to argue that the present Provisional Government is the same in composition or proportion as the Lublin Government. It is not so. The Government has been substantially broadened, despite assertions from the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, by the inclusion in other posts, not only of Poles from within Poland, but also, as I am indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) for pointing out, by the inclusion of such people as Mikolajczyk and Stanczyk, and it does not end there.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Will my hon. Friend allow me? It is very important. He says it has been substantially altered from the Lublin Committee. Will he give facts about it and say what the additions have been?
I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend did not intentionally misquote me. I hope I am displaying the care for my language which I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend shows on such a subject. I said the Government had been broadened and I pointed to the inclusion of M. Mikolajczyk and M. Stanczyk, and I should also point to the facilities which have been offered to the leader of the Christian Labour Party, M. Popiel, who has returned Ito Poland from London, and, if my information is correct, has been given more than reasonable facilities for organising and restoring his party. The Polish Provisional Government have stated that it is their intention that no section of political opinion should be excluded from political life, except for a few extremist groups who have irretrievably compromised themselves by actual collaboration with fee Germans either before or during the war.
Certainly. Again, I do not want to bore the House, but my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead pointed to them. The only party which had a substantial existence before the war and is not now directly represented is the National Democratic Party. [Interruption.] My hon. and gallant Friend says "Exactly," but he knows, or, if he does not, he has no right to address the House, that the National Party was a party of many dimensions and sections, a party which, to put it at its lowest and kindliest, had a most curious history, and the Provisional Government have already pointed out that those sections of the old National Party which did not compromise themselves will be given facilities for offering and running candidates affiliated to the other parties whose record is clear and beyond doubt.
I do argue that, when you have an offer for three of the four main parties and a qualification for the fourth, it cannot be denied that a sincere and systematic effort is being made to restore the political life of Poland, and, of course, I think that, in our assessment of the situation, it is proper that we should remember that democratic life, or, at any rate, democratic politics as we normally think of them, have been suspended in this tragic country for substantially longer than the duration of this war. That conditions in Poland are far from ideal, no one in the Government is going to pretend otherwise. It is not to the expected that they could be ideal after six years of war and after the previous history of that country. Life is hard, much remains to be done, but that is no reason for standing aside. All Poles are needed in Poland to play their part in developing the large territories which have now been placed under Polish administration, and I am indebted to my hon. and gallant Friend for that admission in his speech. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech of 20th August,: asked all Poles abroad to return and take their share in that responsibility and in that way. We hope that, very shortly, we will have started the flow of Poles from this country back to their own.
We are optimistic that with the consent of the parties interested we may, within a very few weeks, have started the return of Poles who wish to return from Field-Marshal Montgomery's zone, and I 1130 very much dislike what I thought were rather irresponsible figures quoted by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. These Poles are going to take their share in running their country, and there is a great urgency for them. We hope very shortly the Provisional Government will give us facilities for sending observers into the territory which they now administer. We know a little about it already. This House, which has always listened this week gravely and not without emotion to Members pointing to what may happen in Europe from hunger and disease during this oncoming winter, will be impressed if I tell them that in Western Poland just now we know there are crops which cannot be garnered unless we get the man power back there quickly. We are going to do what we can. We are being backed by the Provisional Government, which is displaying great energy and imagination in the re-start of the economic life which lies in their control. I do plead earnestly with every one who is truly a friend of the Poles—and I would be impertinent if I suggested otherwise than that the three hon. Members to whom we are indebted for this discussion are not real friends of the Poles—and all who think of themselves in that way that they must band themselves to see that those Polish men and women who want to go back to their homes and their country are given every inducement to do so. We can help in recreating a healthy Poland, and we will, so will every nation in Europe, and so will everyone of the United Nations, but we cannot have a healthy and restored Poland without the Poles themselves to do the job.