HC Deb 21 July 1969 vol 787 cc1209-10
10. Mr. Archer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in view of the action of the Greek Government in dismissing the President of the Council of State for upholding the rule of law, he will now reconsider the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards continued Greek membership of the Council of Europe.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)

No, Sir. While we remain deeply concerned about the situation in Greece, our policy on the question of Greece and the Council of Europe remains as set out in my statement on 7th May.—[Vol. 783, c. 458–64]

Mr. Archer

Are there no common standards of legality entailed in membership of the Council of Europe? If so, what does the Greek Government have to do in order to fall below them?

Mr. Stewart

I think that was made plain in my statement on 7th May, when we expressed very great concern about the situation in Greece and recognised that unless the Greek Government were in a position to conform to what is required of membership of the Council of Europe, it would not be possible for that membership to continue. We must proceed with a certain degree of prudence and patience.

Mr. Molloy

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the present vicious and authoritarian régime in Greece will not last for ever? Democracy will be returned. Will not the part which we are playing at the moment appear to be a little shabby?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think that the House, when I made my statement on 7th May, took the view that our part was shabby. We made it quite clear in the Council of Europe that we believed that membership of the Council imposed certain obligations and that we hoped, whatever the evidence might be, that the Greek Government would be able to fulfil those obligations in time. This is a matter which will have to be considered at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers.