HL Deb 30 October 1956 vol 199 cc1121-3

2.54 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make on the recent events in Hungary.]


My Lords, your Lordships will be aware, from the statement made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday, of the course of events in Hungary. Since yesterday, the Hungarian Government have announced that the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Budapest would begin twenty-four hours after the Nationalists had laid down their arms. This is at variance with the Hungarian Prime Minister's earlier statement that he had already secured an agreement with the Soviet Commander to withdraw his troops from Budapest and that he was negotiating with the Soviet Government their withdrawal from the whole of Hungary. Moreover, the Soviet Minister of Defence and the Soviet Foreign Minister are reported to have said in Moscow that Soviet troops will not leave the country until it has been pacified, whatever "pacified" may mean in that context.

I have no information later than October 28 to show whether Soviet forces continue to enter Hungary. Meanwhile, the Soviet forces in Budapest have brought up heavier weapons than before in order to reduce the strong points still held by Nationalist forces. It appears that local cease-fires have been arranged between Nationalist and Soviet commanders in various parts of Hungary outside Budapest, where according to our information the Nationalist forces are in control of wide areas.

The matter remains on the Agenda of the Security Council, which may be expected to meet again shortly to consider I cannot yet foretell what the result of the Security Council deliberations will be. Meanwhile copies of Sir P. Dixon's speech in the Security Council are being placed in the Printed Paper Office of the House. The House will be glad to know that a large part of the consignment of food and medical supplies which Her Majesty's Government have undertaken to provide has already reached Vienna. The airlift is continuing to-day, and will be completed as soon as possible. I am sure your Lordships will wish to join with Her Majesty's Government in paying tribute to the steadfast courage of the Hungarian people, and in expressing sympathy with those who have suffered in fighting for the freedom of their country.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Marquess for his statement and inquire whether the Government does not agree that the events in Hungary to-day are a direct consequence of the infringement of the Peace Treaty in denying the people of Hungary their true rights of representation? Secondly, is the Government aware how widespread and deep is the sympathy with the gallant Hungarian people, so long held down by Communism, and how fervent is our hope that their courage will prevail?


My Lords, I agree with the noble Viscount that this appears to be a direct infringement of the terms of the Peace Treaty with Hungary which should have prevented the occurrence of such events as we are now discussing. Article 2 of the Treaty laid down that the Hungarian Government guaranteed the human rights and fundamental freedoms for persons under their jurisdiction. As regards the second of the noble 'Viscount's supplementary questions, Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the very widespread feeling on this matter amongst the people of this country—and, indeed, not this country alone.


My Lords, we on this side do not wish to put any specific question, but we should like to be associated with the expressions of goodwill and with the help Her Majesty's Government have given to the Hungarian people.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord.


My Lords, with regard to the proceedings in the Security Council, could the noble Marquess say whether a country which has sent troops into another country is entitled to vote and to veto decisions in the Security Council?


My Lords, I think we had better let the Security Council proceedings take their course and see how matters develop as the proceedings go on. I do not want to anticipate them.