HC Deb 22 July 1946 vol 425 cc1663-5
42. Mr. Wilkes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the proposed form of the Greek plebiscite for 1st September will specifically avoid any decision on the constitutional question of monarchy or republic but will allow a decision only on the personal question of whether King George shall or shall not return to Greece; and what representations have been made to the Greek Government regarding the proposed form.

Mr. Noel-Baker

As the result of concessions made by the Greek Government to the Parliamentary opposition, the electoral bill will enable the Greek people to express their will against the institution of monarchy, if they so desire. Each elector will be given three ballot papers; one will be stamped with the name of the King; one will be stamped with any constitutional formula which the opposition may suggest, for example, with the word "Republic"; the third will be left blank to be filled in as each elector may desire. Blank ballot papers on which nothing is written will be counted as votes against the King. The Prime Minister has given assurances that, if the King fails to obtain a majority, the Government will resign and the whole question of the Constitution will then be opened. His Majesty's Government have told the Greek Government with all the emphasis at their command how essential it is that the plebiscite shall be a fair and honest expression of the people's will, carried out in conditions of social and political security. But His Majesty's Ambassador in Athens has made no representations to the Greek Government about the form of the plebiscite.

Mr. Wilkes

The only point which arises is whether there will be any provision in this rather complicated and involved procedure to declare publicly the number of votes which are cast in favour of a republic?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, undoubtedly.

Mr. Warbey

Is it not clear that the Greek Government have declared the present regime as a monarchy, and that there is no provision whatsoever for counting the votes which are recorded against the monarchy? In these circumstances will the Government revise their attitude towards the plebiscite?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Of course, under the present Constitution, Greece is a monarchy, but if large numbers of votes are cast with the word "Republic" on them that will be declared. In that sense the number of votes for a new form of Constitution will, I think, be made public to the world.