HL Deb 27 April 1967 vol 282 cc609-10

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave 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 all proper steps are being taken to safeguard British citizens and their rights in the situation now prevailing in Greece; and whether Her Majesty's Government will uphold the principle of civil rights in all communications it may have with the de facto Government of Greece.]


My Lords, the answer to the first part of the question is "Yes". Our latest information is that two British subjects are in preventive detention. Otherwise, no British subjects have suffered in the events of the last few days. The British Consul visited the detained men on April 26. They had no complaint to make about their treatment. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in another place on April 24: We shall remain in the closest touch with the situation and take whatever measures are required to ensure the protection of British subjects and their property". As regards the second part of the Question, Her Majesty's Government have not yet had any dealings with members of the new Government in Greece, but this does not, of course, prevent Her Majesty's Embassy from taking all necessary action with officials in the Greek administration to protect British subjects.


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for his Answer. may I ask him whether he and the Government will accept that there is considerable concern in this country about the developments in Greece and about the threat to democracy? Will that be kept in mind?


My Lords, I certainly note what my noble friend says.


My Lords, could my noble friend indicate what Her Majesty's Government consider necessary before they afford recognition to a new Government?


My Lords, the question of a formal act of recognition does not normally arise unless there has been a change in the Head of State or two opposing régimes are each claiming to be the Government of a State. Neither condition currently applies in Greece. As I have said, so far we have had no occasion to have dealings with members of the new Government in Greece.


My Lords, could the noble Lord tell the House on what grounds the two British subjects are being held in preventive detention?


My Lords, the grounds are said to be those of security.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether he could state what is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government's representatives and the British delegation at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on the motion deploring what has happened in Greece? I ask that question particularly in relation to the proposal there: that in view of the detention of large numbers of democrats, including a respected ex-Prime Minister, the Committee of Ministers should pursue the matter through the European Convention of Human Rights, to which the Greek Government is a party.


My Lords, as to what was said at that particular meeting, I shall be obliged if my noble friend would put down a Question. I cannot answer off the cuff. So far as the general question of rights of British subjects, or rights of human beings, is concerned, I am sure that the Greek régime will be fully aware of the strength of feeling in this House and in this country on the subject of civil liberties and justice.

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