Oral Answers to Questions — Greece (British Military Mission)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th October 1949.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Combined English Universities 12:00 am, 26th October 1949

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he now proposes to take any action with regard to the military mission in Greece, in view of the changed circumstances.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

The future of the Mission is at present under consideration, and I can make no announcement on the subject at the moment.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Combined English Universities

Could my right hon. Friend say—I do not wish to press him at the moment—when he will be able to make a statement? Will he be sure to do nothing to prevent the Greek people from reaping the full reward of their gallant efforts to try to get a period of security for reconstruction?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

There are two separate subjects. One is the subject of the troops, and the other is the subject of the Mission. That of the Mission is under active consideration. I hope to make a statement on the question of the troops at an early date.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

Does not my right hon. Friend think that this is one of the many promising starting points for cutting down military expenditure?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

We are not sacking the soldiers. We need them, and need to use them in other places where they can be better used. I think the use and the moral value of these troops while Greece has been trying to establish her freedom have been very great.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , Dorset Southern

Would it not be advisable to wait until the winter, which may give opportunity for renewed sporadic outbreaks by the bandits, is more advanced before my right hon. Friend decides to withdraw the troops? Will he, in all circumstances, keep there the relatively small British Mission which has served Greece so well?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the statement made in so many of this morning's newspapers that a decision has already been taken to withdraw the British troops from Greece? Could he confirm or deny that?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

No, it has not been taken. It will come before the Cabinet at an early date, and the whole thing will be gone into. I repeat that there are two separate subjects here. One is the matter of the Mission, about which the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) asked me, and the other is the question of the troops. We shall come to our decision in due course, and announce it.