HC Deb 17 March 1947 vol 435 cc15-20
22. Mr. Austin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will cause to have published as a White Paper a report of the development and negotiations that have ensued between His Majesty's Government and the U.S. Government leading up to President Truman's recent speech outlining aid for Greece and Turkey.

23. Mr. Sydney Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government was consulted by the U.S. Government before President Truman sent his recent message to Congress about Greece, and, in particular, if they were informed about the political conditions to be attached to the grant of financial assistance to that country.

27 and 28. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he is now in a position to make a full statement on his request to the U.S. Government for the provision of U.S. financial, economic and military assistance to Greece and Turkey;

(2) what steps he has taken to secure that the problems of relief and reconstruction in Greece should be dealt with by the organs and agencies of the United Nations.

30. Major Bruce

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, prior to President Truman's announcement concerning military and financial aid to Greece and Turkey by the U.S. Government, His Majesty's Government were informed or consulted about such intention.

31. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on British policy in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, in the light of President Truman's announcement of U.S. financial and military intervention in Greece and Turkey; and if he will now indicate by what date British troops are to be withdrawn from Greece.

Mr. McNeil

I am not yet in a position to make a full statement on the position of Greece and Turkey consequent upon President Truman's statement, since Congress have not yet endorsed the President's proposals. However, as hon. Members are aware, His Majesty's Government entered into a commitment to give Greece financial assistance, but this commitment will end on 31st March of this year. Although U.N.R.R.A. assistance, which has played a large part in sustaining Greece, was coming to an end about the same period, and although the United Nations had no funds at all to close the consequent gap in the Greek economic system, His Majesty's Government decided, after full and anxious review, that they could not enter into any substantial commitment for Greece after 31st March, and that they would be unable from their own resources to supply the needs of Turkey.

The Government of the United States, which had been, of course, the largest contributor to the U.N.R.R.A. benefits, upon which Greece as well as other devastated countries had been dependent, had been examining the needs of both Turkey and Greece, and had, indeed, as hon. Members are aware, sent the Porter Mission to Greece to make a study of the immediate economic needs. His Majesty's Government, therefore, quite naturally thought it essential to inform the Government of the United States of the conclusions which they had reached. Subsequently President Truman made his substantial and timeous proposals, with which hon. Members are familiar, and which have already been welcomed in Greece by representatives of all Greek Parliamentary parties. I am unaware of any political conditions being attached to the offer of aid.

While, as I have already indicated, we kept the United States Government informed, through normal diplomatic channels, of our decision about Greece and Turkey, and while we knew through similar channels that they were considering what assistance was essential for these countries and how these needs could be met, we were naturally not consulted about President Truman's statement. There would, therefore, seem to be no case for issuing a White Paper. The proposals of the President make no difference to our plans relating to British troops in Greece. They have been steadily reduced. They will be reduced still further. These men will be withdrawn as soon as is practicable.

Mr. Austin

In view of the inflammatory situation that will be created by military aid being rendered to Turkey and Greece by the United States, will my right hon. Friend consider making representations to the United States to think twice about offering such military aid?

Mr. McNeil

No, Sir.

Mr. S. Silverman

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the statement made in Athens by the man who was Foreign Secretary in the Liberal administration which preceded this one, to the effect that such aid as America was now offering, if not accompanied by proper political conditions, would be a catastrophe; and, if he knows of such a statement, will he make the United States Government see that anything that is done there is done by international agreement?

Mr. Gammans

On a point of Order. Is it any concern of this House to consider and comment on the action of the Government of the United States, except in so far as it concerns representations which may have been made by this Government?

Mr. Speaker

That, I think, clearly states the matter. Of course, Government policy may be affected by something the United States may do, and to that extent it is in Order. But to comment on and to discuss what the Government are not responsible for—that is to say, President Truman's statement—is, of course, out of Order.

Mr. Silverman

Can I have an answer to the question I asked?

Mr. McNeil

I am not sure it would be proper for us to try to instruct the American Government what conditions they ought to have placed upon their money. I will look at the statement attributed by my hon. Friend to the ex-Foreign Secretary, of whom there are a great many in Greece.

Major Lloyd

Are the Government aware of the intense satisfaction and relief with which the magnificent gesture of the United States to save civilisation and democracy has been received?

Mr. M. Philips Price

Has any request come from the Turkish Government at any time for assistance such as is foreshadowed under the American agreement?

Mr. McNeil

Request to whom?

Mr. Philips Price

To this Government, to us?

Mr. McNeil

We were aware of certain needs, military and economic, which Turkey had.

Mr. Driberg

When my right hon. Friend says that no political conditions are attached, has he read the full text of President Truman's statement; and can he really view with equanimity this invasion of South Eastern Europe by dollar imperialism? May I have an answer?

Mr. McNeil

Certainly. Does my hon. Friend really think I would have had the impertinence to come to this House without having read the statement?

Mr. Warbey

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will make every effort to restore the use, influence and authority of the United Nations organisation and its specialised agencies, and so repair the damage which has been done by the United States in by-passing the international organizations?

Major Bruce

Would my right hon. Friend say whether any representations were made to him by Turkey? He has already said he was aware of them, but, in fact, were representations made by Turkey?

Mr. McNeil

My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that this is a matter of some delicacy, but I should not think Turkey would have tabled these needs completely without some expectations.

Mr. Thurtle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the great mass of the people of this country strongly welcome this magnificent step on the part of America to defend the causes of freedom and democracy?

Mr. Speaker

These supplementary questions are getting out of Order.

26. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on British financial, economic and military assistance to Turkey since the end of the war with Germany.

Mr. McNeil

No additional financial and economic assistance has been given to Turkey since the end of the war. However, £1,500,000 worth of arms has been supplied to complete deliveries under the 1939 Armaments credit of £25 million, and £1,000,000 worth of goods has been supplied from the 1938 industrial credit of £10 million. As regards military assistance, I will with permission circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the equipment supplied.

Mr. Warbey

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether a British military mission or military technical advisers have been in Turkey during the last few years, or will be during the present year?

Mr. McNeil

I should like notice of that question.

Mr. Michael Foot

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there were any discussions with the Government of the United States of America prior to President Truman's statement on the question of military assistance to Turkey?

Mr. McNeil

As I have already indicated, we did inform the Government of the United States of America that we could give no assistance, military or economic, to Turkey.

Following axe the details:

Turkey has received the following equipment:

For the Navy.

Two destroyers, one submarine, five mine-sweepers, four motor mine-sweepers, two boom defence vessels and eight motor launches.

The total value of these ships is £2,096,000. In addition £563,561 worth of stores, machine tools and submarine engines have been provided.

For the Army.

Small quantities of equipment have been provided. These have mainly been spares for material supplied during the war.

For the Air Force.

400 aircraft.

All these military supplies have been against payment, except in so far as they are covered by the uncompleted portion of the 1939 Armaments credit. His Majesty's Government have also provided a number of Military, Naval and Air Force advisers, both for training and for supply purposes.

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