Trade Union Leaders (Representations)

Oral Answers to Questions — Greece – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1945.

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Miss Ward:

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any further information on the representations of Greek trades union leaders to His Majesty's Ambassador to Greece.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The trades unionists who visited His Majesty's Ambassador to Greece claimed to be the legitimate and duly elected officials of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece. I cannot at present add anything to this statement.

Miss Ward:

My right hon. Friend does not feel, I am sure, that there was anything lacking in their bona fides?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The House will understand that these questions are difficult for us to assess. [An HON. MEMBER: "Dodging."] I try to be fair. I say they are difficult to assess in a country in which trade unions have been suppressed for many years, but I have not the slightest doubt that His Majesty's Ambassador is doing all he can to check the information, and to give us the truest and fullest report.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If these questions are difficult to assess, as the right hon. Gentleman says, how does he account for the fact that the B.B.C., in their news service, declared that these trade union leaders were bona-fide representatives of 170,000 Greek workers when, in fact, they represented nobody but themselves?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The hon. Gentleman asserts a knowledge and I do not know how he comes to possess it at all. I presume that what the B.B.C. gave was the report which was made available to us, and which was checked, as far as it was possible to check it in the circumstances of the present time.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Did not the right hon. Gentleman use it as propaganda?

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Is it not a fact that the leading trade union signatory was a leading Quisling under the German Government?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The hon. Gentleman asks me about the record of a signatory. I say I do not know the record of all these individual Greeks, and I am moved and surprised at the deep knowledge which hon. Gentlemen have.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Was not the right hon. Gentleman equally surprised about the knowledge I had of German rearmament, when he was on the other side of the House?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I think the hon. Gentleman had better look up his own record.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of us have often been shocked by the little knowledge possessed by the British authorities in Greece, who have sent over information without checking it?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

It is difficult to approach these matters without prejudice, and if I may say so the hon. Gentleman has not been a shining example in that respect.