HC Deb 10 March 1947 vol 434 cc933-4
25. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the financial assistance being given to Greece, he will instruct His Majesty's Ambassador in Greece to protest to the Greek Government against the manner in which 500 or more Greeks were arrested by the authority of security committees and deported from Greece on the night of 3rd March and thereafter.

26. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the mass arrests and secret trials of leading members of E.P.O.N. and E.A.M. in Athens on 4th March, 1947, he will instruct the British Ambassador that no further financial or economic assistance will be given to Greece by this country until these men are returned to the mainland for fair and open trial.

Mr. McNeil

The Greek Government have stated that the persons concerned were arrested on charges of arming and supplying the guerillas and that no women or children were included. I understand that the Greek Government have had these persons under observation for some while but refrained from arresting them in the hope that the internal security situation would improve. His Majesty's Ambassador at Athens has already represented to the Greek Government the effect that apparently arbitrary arrests of this kind are likely to have on opinion abroad and has urged that deportations be publicly reviewed, so that justice can be manifestly seen to be done. My right hon. Friend does not, however, consider that this is a matter which can properly be linked with the question of economic and financial assistance to Greece.

Mr. Blackburn

While I thank my right hon. Friend for his conciliatory answer, may I ask him whether His Majesty's Government will either persuade the present Greek Government to bring this incipient reign of terror to an end forthwith or withdraw our troops immediately?

Mr. G. Thomas

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware that the people in this country regard with horror the subsidising of a system which enables people to be exiled after secret trial, without any opportunity of defending themselves?

Mr. McNeil

It is not strictly accurate to say that they have no opportunity of defending themselves. I repeat that His Majesty's Government have already represented to the Greek Government that they disapprove of this policy.

Mr. Vane

In view of the number of British soldiers who became casualties of E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. only two years ago, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to ensure that His Majesty's Government will not waste sympathy on elements so hostile to this country?

Mr. Blackburn

Is it the case that hon. Members opposite do not appear to support the cause of freedom?