HC Deb 21 June 1956 vol 554 cc1602-7
11. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence he possesses to prove that Archimandrite Kallinikos Macheriotis was collecting funds for the killing of British soldiers; what evidence he has that money collected at All Saints Church, Camden Town, has left this country; and the nature of the anti-British propaganda carried on at this church.

16. Mrs. L. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence he has that funds collected in this country for relief of distress among the families of detainees in Cyprus are not being used for the purpose stated.

Major Lloyd-George

I have placed in the Library translations of appeals sent out by Mr. Macheriotis and other signatories, on the authority of Archbishop Makarios, among the community attending this church, for funds in connection with "the national struggle in Cyprus". Hon. Members will be able to form their own conclusions as to the significance of this phrase in present circumstances. I have no power to compel the production of accounts relating to the funds so collected, and in any event the question whether or not they have left this country is not the point at issue. As regards the anti-British activities that were carried on from this church, I can only assure the House that I was satisfied that they fully deserved this description and were such as, in my opinion, to justify the action which has been taken against Mr. Macheriotis.

Mr. Robinson

Is not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman being a little disingenuous in his reply? Is he aware that among the documents which he has placed in the Library is a copy of a letter asking for contributions to collections for the victims of the national struggle? That is quoting a Home Office translation of the letter. In these circumstances, is it not quite disgraceful that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should have tried last week to smear this priest with the crime of collecting money to kill British soldiers?

Major Lloyd-George

If the hon. Gentleman will have another look at the document he will find that, in addition to the funds for the relatives and so on, on both occasions there is reference to the "national struggle" which is taking place in Cyprus. I have no doubt at all that all hon. Members in this House know what the results of that "national struggle" are so far as we are concerned.

Mrs. Jeger

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman answer Question No. 16, which he said he was doing? It asks what evidence he has that the funds were not being used for the relief of distress. Is he aware that the assistance afforded to the children of the detainees in Cyprus is most meagre, and that there is very real hardship among the families of hundreds of persons who are detained without trial or without authority, whom he is smearing unfairly in describing as terrorists?

Major Lloyd-George

I am sorry, but I cannot accept that I am smearing unfairly as terrorists people who are daily killing British policemen and troops. I just cannot accept that. I need go no further than to quote from the document itself, which is an appeal for funds for "the national struggle"—

Mr. Robinson

For the victims of it.

Major Lloyd-George

—for "the national struggle". I must appeal to the hon. Gentleman to read the document more carefully. Two appeals have been made. In the second one no mention whatever is made of the families. It is purely a fund for the "national struggle". Might I add something else? What is most astonishing of all is that a special committee will call round to collect the money. Why a whole committee should be going round to collect money when the subscriptions are voluntary I do not know.

Hon. Members

The Tory Party does it.

Mr. Younger

Since the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not claimed that he has given any evidence of so-called anti-British propaganda but has asked us to accept his assurance about it, can we have his assurance that he is distinguishing very clearly between propaganda which is anti-British and propaganda which is merely critical of Her Majesty's Government, as most of us on this side of the House are?

Major Lloyd-George

I should certainly be the last to complain of anybody being critical of either the present Government or the one that preceded it, because that is what we do in this House. Nobody in his senses would ever dream of complaining about that. What I really complain about is that a priest who is a foreigner, and, as such, the guest of this country, uses a church lent to him by the Church of England and utilises from that place, and over his name, a method of getting money to carry on a struggle which is having the effect of killing our people day after day.

Mr. Shinwell

Leaving aside the merits of the case—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Perhaps hon. Members had better wait and hear. Leaving aside the merits of the case as to whether this man was guilty of an offence or not, is it not desirable that, if a person is accused of an offence against British law, he should be placed on trial? Why does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman show such reluctance to deal with the matter in that fashion?

Major Lloyd-George

Because, in the first place, I was acting as had been done before, and as was well in accordance with the law of this country, that an alien who comes here is, as I said last week, welcome so long as he behaves himself, but the law allows us to return him to his own country—a terrible punishment—if he misbehaves himself.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of the comments and observations made by the Opposition about the Government's policy in regard to this matter are very nearly tantamount to being anti-British themselves?

17. Mr, K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from Archbishop Athenagoras following the deportation of Archimandrite Kallinikos Macheriotis; and what reply he has sent.

Major Lloyd-George

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a copy of the letter which I received from Archbishop Athenagoras, together with a copy of my reply to it.

Mr. Robinson

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say why he did not make any complaint to the Archbishop before he took this action? Is it not a fact that in taking the action he not only committed a breach of ecclesiastical custom but also a direct breach of the Anglo-Greek Consular Convention, 1953, which requires that a consular official should have been informed immediately?

Major Lloyd-George

That is a matter which I am not prepared to discuss at the moment; that is under investigation. As regards informing the Archbishop beforehand, I think I made it perfectly clear last week that the very purpose of the exercise would have been completely spoiled if anybody had been informed beforehand.

Following are the letters: 8, Dawson Place, London, W.2. 12th June, 1956. Dear Sir: I have just been informed that the Archimandrite Callinicos Macheriotis, the Provost of my Church "All Saints" in Camden Town, London, was arrested and deported last night without any notice. I am really surprised and must protest against such arbitrary measures taken by the English Police and am at a loss what to think about the polity of England mainly concerning the Greek Orthodox Church. Rev. Callinicos Macheriotis is a Cypriot by birth but a Greek Citizen. As far as I am concerned I never heard that he was participating in any action alien to his religious and social duties, and the Police might easily be misled by wrong information given by any of his personal enemies. But even if the Police had such information about him, it would be prudent and proper if I, as his superior, were informed in time about it. As it is I would be very much obliged if I could be authoritatively informed about the cause of his arrest and deportation. In the meantime I am very sorry to say that police measures, taken repeatedly against Clergymen of the Greek Orthodox Church without any proof of their participation in criminal actions having been established by a regular Law Court might be considered as measures not differing much from measures taken by totalitarian Countries. Yours very sincerely, ARCHBISHOP ATHENAGORAS. The Home Secretary, Home Office, Whitehall, S.W.1. Home Office, Whitehall. 19th June, 1956. Dear Archbishop, You wrote to me on 12th June about the deportation of Mr. Kallinikos Macheriotis. As regards the reasons for this action, I can only refer you to the statement which I made in the House of Commons in this matter on 13th June. This statement has been reported in the Press, but for ease of reference I enclose a copy. I am surprised to observe your description of the deportation of Mr. Macheriotis as an "arbitrary measure by the English Police". The function of the Police in this matter was merely to execute an Order made by myself in pursuance of a decision taken by Her Majesty's Government, for which I, as the responsible Minister, am accountable to Parliament, and I am personally satisfied that there is ample justification for my action. I cannot accept the suggestion that action of this kind should not be taken against a person in Holy Orders without reference to his ecclesiastical superiors. Priests do not enjoy any diplomatic privilege or status and foreign priests like any other foreigner living in this country cannot expect to be allowed to indulge in activities inimical to the country whose hospitality they enjoy. If a foreigner does engage in conduct of this kind, his deportation may be ordered by the Secretary of State on the ground that this is conducive to the public good. A conviction by a court of law of a criminal offence is not a necessary condition precedent to the making of such an order, and as regards the reference in the last paragraph of your letter to "police measures repeatedly taken against clergymen of the Greek Orthodox Church", I can only say that I am not aware of any action taken by the Police other than under the authority of a responsible Minister, but if you have any specific complaints I shall be glad to make any necessary inquiries. Yours sincerely, G. LLOYD-GEORGE. The Most Reverend Archbishop Athenagoras.