HC Deb 05 March 1947 vol 434 cc454-6
9. Mrs. Leah Manning

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will assure the House that the Government's plan to withdraw all troops from Greece by the end of June will in no way be changed by the offer of financial aid for Greece made by the U.S.A.

11. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent exchanges between the British and U.S. Governments on the subject of Britain's financial and military obligations in Greece; whether the withdrawal of British troops from Greece is to be delayed as a result of these exchanges; and if he will state the date by which the withdrawal is expected to be complete.

15 and 16. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he is now in a position to announce a date for the final withdrawal of the British Forces from Greece;

(2) what requests he has made to the U.S. Government for economic and financial assistance to Greece; for what purposes this assistance is required; and what reply has been received from the U.S. Government.

Mr. Mayhew

As the House knows, U.N.R.R.A. relief supplies to Greece are about to come to an end and His Majesty's Government's commitment regarding financial assistance to Greece terminates on 31st March. It is evident that Greece will continue to need assistance in meeting her minimum foreign exchange requirements after that date, and His Majesty's Government are therefore discussing this question with the United States Government. I regret I am not in a position to give any further information on these discussions while they are proceeding.

There is no change in the current arrangements for the reduction of British troops in Greece, nor in His Majesty's Government's decision to withdraw the remainder of the troops as soon as practicable. I am not yet in a position to announce the date of final withdrawal.

Mrs. Manning

Does my hon. Friend's reply mean that we shall not be influenced in the direction of allowing our men to stay there, when they are so badly needed at home, by United States money?

Mr. Mayhew

There is no change whatever in our decision to withdraw our troops from Greece, as soon as possible.

Mr. Warbey

Is it not a fact that the British Government recently decided that all British troops should be withdrawn from Greece by the end of June, and will my hon. Friend state whether or not that decision has been changed? Secondly, in view of the revelation of the Greek Government's note to the United States that a part of the financial assistance is required to buy arms in order to prosecute civil war against the Greek Resistance Movement, will my hon. Friend make it clear that His Majesty's Government are unalterably opposed to the use of financial assistance for this purspose?

Mr. Mayhew

In reply to the first question, we have never made a decision about the date of the withdrawal of British troops. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am aware of no decision of the Government on the question of the date for the withdrawal of British troops. On the second question, the discussions are in progress, and the purpose for which assistance is given is under discussion. There is nothing further that I can add to the reply that I have given.

Mr. Driberg

Can my hon. Friend say anything about last Saturday's Foreign Office Press Conference, when very full background information and guidance were given to the Press; and can he explain why it is possible to inform diplomatic correspondents more fully than it is to inform this House?

Mr. Mayhew

Without notice, I cannot answer that question.

Mr. Pickthorn

Will the hon. Gentleman give information, which he foreshadowed last Friday, about the promised delivery of arms to the Greek Government?

Mr. Mayhew

The delivery of arms is a different question. These are financial discussions.

Mr. M. Philips Price

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that no reconciliation between the Left and the Right in Greece is likely, as long as the Greek Government themselves can rely upon American money and support from British Forces?

Mr. Mayhew

Certainly there is much more to the matter of reconciliation than the use of armed forces.