War Situation and Foreign Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th January 1945.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford 12:00 am, 18th January 1945

—and I think they do matter, on whichever side they are done. They do mean something. If I may be betrayed into a digression and say something that I had intended to say afterwards, I believe the real truth to be that this British people, which we all love, is not so much Left or Right, Conservative, Liberal or Socialist, but profoundly humanist. I believe that it puts the rights and decency of man above any other consideration, and that that explains its long history in the liberation of mankind. It sometimes adheres to views which other nations find inconsistent. It loves law and at the same time extols freedom. When law and order are attacked, it becomes Conservative almost to the point of reaction, and when freedom is attacked it becomes libertarian almost to the point of anarchy. That is the secret of the British people. The gospel which we preach to mankind is clear, that man should love his neighbour as himself and not take hostages, even if we may be in fear of our lives by not doing so. If it be the defence of the hostage system that we are in fear of our lives because some revenge may be taken on ourselves, what more can the Nazis say when they recede from the occupied countries, and what more need they say if it goes forth from this House that we are prepared to condone such action upon that ground?

The next point in assessing the truth or otherwise of the reports we have received is this. What is the consistency of the arguments presented on the other side of the House? There is none. When the House rose in December we had reached the point at which the critics of the Government had, for the first time, committed themselves to a definite policy. That policy was the appointment of a Regency under Archbishop Damaskinos. If I may quote from the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), this is what he said: If King George is as patriotically a Greek as the Foreign Minister pretends he is, he would save his country this agony by agreeing to the establishment of a regency."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1944; Vol. 406, c. 1879.] He went on to say that what he wanted to hear from the Foreign Secretary was a support of the Regency. Two or three days later the Regency was appointed under the very Regent who had been demanded on the opposite side of the House. Even the "Tribune," so hard to please in these matters, was apparently satisfied. It said: The proposal to end the crisis in Greece by the establishment of a Regency Council headed by Archbishop Damaskinos is a compromise solution that …. could have prevented the very crisis it is now proposed to end.