HC Deb 03 February 1947 vol 432 cc1375-8
26. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received a report from the British Ambassador in Warsaw with regard to the irregularities that have taken place m the recent Polish elections', and whether he is now in a position to make a statement in the House on the subject.

14. Mr. Thomas Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is satisfied that the recent elections in Poland conformed to the Potsdam Agreement; and what action he proposes to take as the result of those elections.

28. Mr. Pickthorn

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he had any consultations with the U.S. Government before that Government charged the Polish Government with failure to fulfil its pledge about free elections; and whether identical and simultaneous action by His Majesty's Government was considered.

Mr. Mayhew

Our information regarding the conduct of the Polish elections, unfortunately, confirms reports from reliable British Press correspondents, which have already been published. The powers of the Polish Provisional Government were extensively used to reduce to a minimum the vote of those opposed to the Government bloc. Opposition lists of candidates in areas covering 22 per cent. of the electorate were completely suppressed. Candidates and voters' names were removed from the lists; candidates were arrested; Government officials, members of the Armed Forces and many others were made to vote openly, and other forms of intimidation and pressure were used. The count was conducted in conditions entirely controlled by the Government bloc. His Majesty's Government cannot regard these elections as fulfilling the solemn contract which the Polish Provisional Government entered into with them and with the United States Government and Soviet Government that free and unfettered elections would be held. They cannot, therefore, regard the results as a true expression of the will of the.Polish people.

On 9th January, the United States Government addressed notes to His Majesty's Government and to the Soviet Government suggesting joint representations to the Polish Provisional Government, and on nth January His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow had a conversation with Monsieur Molotov in which he expressed the deep concern of His Majesty's Government. The Soviet Government replied both to His Majesty's Government and to the United States Government that they did not agree that there was discrimination, that the arrests were necessary to prevent disorder and terrorism and that the Soviet Government did not consider there was any cause for intervention. My right hon. Friend did not agree with this view, but it was clearly useless to pursue the matter further in Moscow. My right hon. Friend, however, informed the Polish Provisional Government once more of his very grave concern at the situation. Every possible effort was thus made, but without success, to secure the execution of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements. Naturally our sympathy is with the Polish people who have thus been deprived of their democratic rights which we thought had been secured for them by allied agreement, which we honestly believed would be kept.

Professor Savory

Is not the Under-Secretary aware that the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Senate, Mr. Vandenberg, summed up the case by saying that these elections were rigged and terrorised?

Mr. Driberg

Is my hon. Friend aware that the account he has given of these elections sounds exactly like an account of any elections in the State of Georgia, U.S.A.?

Mr. Mayhew

I think that there are millions of people in Europe today who would regard the American degree of personal liberty as a great blessing.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the Under-Secretary give a specific answer to the last part of my Question, namely, "whether identical and simultaneous action" with the United States Government was considered, and if so, can he tell us why such a decision was not carried into effect; secondly, can he tell us why the Press was allowed to give the impression that the United States Government were taking this line, and yet, as far as I know, this is the first public intimation we have had that our Government had the same reaction?

Mr. Mayhew

We have to remember Parliament, and it is not always necessary to march in step like that.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

In view of the fact that repeated protests have been made by the Government, and also by the Government of the United States, with regard to free and unfettered elections, and now it is proved that they have not so taken place, will the Government declare that some other action will be taken in addition to protesting?

Mr. Mayhew

Our future attitude will naturally be determined by the performance of the new Polish Government.

Mr. Cocks

In view of the prospect of improved relations with Eastern Europe and Russia, is there not much to be said for following the excellent example of Lord Nelson at Copenhagen?

Mr. Mayhew

I think that our attitude is the only possible one for a democratic people.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Arising out of the last supplementary question, will the Under-Secretary remember that Lord Nelson's attitude at Copenhagen was to enhance, and not degrade, the honour of Great Britain?

Major Bramall

When my hon. Friend refers to the Polish people being deprived of their democratic rights, will he say when they possessed these democratic rights?

Mr. Mayhew

I think that we are right to press for democratic rights for people, whether or not they have enjoyed them before.

Mr. Driberg;

Including American negroes?

Mr. Eden

Is not the simple position this: That certain undertakings were given to this country and the United States, and since these undertakings have not, in the view of His Majesty's Government, been fulfilled, the opinion of the House will support His Majesty's Government in their declaration?

Mr. Mayhew

The Polish Government gave a solemn pledge that these free and fair elections would be held, and in making these protests we are protesting against the failure to carry out an international obligation. We have no wish whatever to support one or other result of the elections, but our interest is merely to see that the elections are free.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that we must now go on to the next Question.