2016 04 – Britain and Greece in World War One

Parliament And World War One

by Dick Barry

On 31 October 1916 Ronald McNeill introduced a debate on the relations between Greece and her Allies. His comments were challenged by Irish Nationalist MP Arthur Lynch. The debate is published below in full.

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushenden PC (30 April 1861-12 October 1934) was a British Conservative politician. He was born in Ulster and educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. Having unsuccessfully contested the seats of West Aberdeenshire (1906), Aberdeen South (1907 and Jan 1910), he was elected for the St Augustine’s division of Kent in 1911. In 1918 he became MP for Canterbury, and in 1922 was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a post he held, with a short interval for the first Labour Government of 1924, until 1925.

Arthur Alfred Lynch (16 October 1861-25 March 1934) was an Irish Australian civil engineer, physician, journalist, author, soldier, anti-imperialist and polymath. As a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party he represented Galway Borough from 1901 to 1902 and West Clare from 1909 to 1918. He fought on the Boer side during the Boer War in South Africa, for which he was sentenced to death but was later pardoned. He supported the British war effort in the First World War, raising his own Irish battalion in Munster (10th Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers) towards the end of the war, although his unit never saw active front line service.

ALLIES AND GREECE.

Mr. R. McNEILL:

At Question Time to-day I addressed a question by private notice to my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with regard to the condition of Greece. My Noble Friend, who, unfortunately, did not get my notice until a late hour, was unable to give any reply, owing to the fact that he had not had any opportunity of consulting the Secretary of State. I then gave notice that I would refer to the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment. In touching upon this subject I want to say that I realise—no one realises more clearly than I do—that at such a time as this the question of our foreign relations is like a very delicate instrument which cannot be touched except with great care and discretion. I think we all feel that in introducing into public debate matters touching upon the conduct of the Foreign Office we are always a little apprehensive lest we may do more harm than good. It is, therefore, my intention, as far as I can, to say nothing which can in any way embarrass my Noble Friend or the Foreign Office, and I hope that I shall say nothing which he would regard as indiscreet.

I am sure that my Noble Friend realises, and the House realises, that at the present moment there is something of a climax, a misgiving in the country with regard to the whole of our position in the Near East—with regard to our position in the Balkans generally, and especially with regard to our position in Greece. Let me recall a few circumstances. We have an Army of undefined size at Salonika. We have been engaged there for many months in defensive and now in offensive operations. We are on the soil of a State which is not a fighting Ally of ours, but a neutral, and we are there under rather peculiar circumstances. We are there, invited by the constitutional Government of Greece, and that invitation affords our justification for being in that place. As all the world knows, that constitutional Government has been replaced, and for some time past M. Venizelos, the statesman who issued the invitation to the Allies to use Greek territory for operations in the Balkans, has been dismissed from office.

In spite of an election which gave him popular support, he has, by circumstances with which the House is familiar, been compelled to relinquish the task of forming a Ministry, and he has been driven into opposition, constitutional or unconstitutional, to his Sovereign. He has formed a provisional Government, and he has formed, at all events, the nucleus of an army, and these civil authorities and military authorities are, to the best of their ability, supporting the cause of the Allies. We are, therefore, confronted with the extraordinary anomalous state of affairs of a de jure Government, presided over by one hostile, and openly hostile, to our cause and the cause of the Allies, and we have at the same time a rival Government presided over by the constitutional statesman who is responsible for our presence there. The question arises, What should be the attitude of our Government towards these rival authorities? If one were to approach the question altogether apart from what the Prime Minister has called juridical niceties, we should support that authority which is on our side rather than that authority which is not on our side. That is what would appeal to the ordinary plain man who is unconcerned with diplomatic niceties. That, up to the present, has not been done. We are taking up an attitude which does not appear to be pronounced on one side or the other.

Certain news has been published to-day—and that is why I venture to bring the matter before the House—which, I think, adds to the disquiet and misgiving with which the attitude of our Government is regarded in the country, and, I believe, in this House. It is stated in the Press to-day that the Foreign Office at Athens has issued an official statement to the Press. I am not going to refer to the precise terms of that statement, because I am not sure that it is accurately reported in this country, but what is of much greater importance than the actual terms is the way in which they are regarded in Greece by the rival parties. That official statement, I understand, is accepted there as an announcement that the Governments of the Allies have definitely refused to extend any official recognition to M. Venizelos, to his Government or to his party.

The news goes on to say that this announcement is regarded, as one would expect it to be, with very great jubilation by the King’s party, the pro-German party, which is hostile to us, and that it is causing corresponding depression and discouragement to those who are our Allies, supporters, and friends. Nor does it stop there, because, apparently under the influence of this idea, right or wrong, that M. Venizelos, if not repudiated is not supported by the Allied Governments, we are told that his supporters have been arrested. There is obviously the danger that if they are arrested, and if the officers who have given their adhesion to his movement are cashiered, he will necessarily lose all the authority he possesses, he will lose the support he hitherto enjoyed, and, consequently, the party in Greece which supports us and our Allies will decline in strength and authority, and those who are hostile to us will correspondingly grow in strength.

If that is the position of affairs, certainly it is not one which we can regard with equanimity and still less with pleasure. I do not want to lay any stress on the fact that it appears to irregularise our position in Greece even more than before. We are there at the invitation of M. Venizelos, and, apart from any other reason, I should have thought that that in itself would have imposed the obligation on us to do everything possible to support him at the expense of his enemies. But I quite realise that there is a number of forces at work on this very complicated problem of Greece and the Balkans with which none of us are familiar. There are, obviously there must be, circumstances which are known to the Foreign Office and which are not known to us. I do not think that they can be known to us. Therefore, I am not going on this occasion to press the point that I have raised in any spirit hostile to the Government or the policy which they are pursuing. I am merely stating the facts, or the alleged facts, as they present themselves to my mind, and as I believe they present themselves to a great number of minds in this country. And my Noble Friend will realise that if those facts do so present themselves to our minds, it is inevitable that there should be much misgiving and much dissatisfaction, resulting perhaps in criticism of the conduct of our foreign relations, which is not finding hostile expression, for the reason which I have already given.

We do not wish to do anything which might prove to be more harmful than useful, but I do hope that my Noble Friend will respond to the invitation extended to him at Question Time by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University. My right hon. Friend suggested that if I mentioned the subject this evening—and I hope that I have done so without any hostility to the Government—as showing what was in our minds, the Foreign Office would find some means of allaying the feeling which is existing by making a statement to the House, it is not for me to suggest in what way that opportunity can be afforded. We have had a secret Session of this House, and I do not know that the precedent has impressed us very favourably. But still it does not at all follow that, because the secret Sessions which we have already had were not quite so successful as we might have hoped, when we have a subject like this, which is definitely acknowledged to be one which cannot be openly treated, but about which there is a great deal of anxiety, that the precedent of the secret Session might not be followed with great success.

Then there is the other precedent which has been referred to several times by Members of this House both at Question Time and I think in debate, the precedent of the French procedure of commissions. I do not know whether my hon. Friend would consider it possible—and I do not know whether it would be favoured by the House—to have a Commission, of some sort, of responsible Members representing different parties in this House, to whom the Foreign Office could feel that they might make communications in safety. This might give a certain amount of confidence to the House and to the country. I do feel very strongly that unless the Foreign Office can devise some way of taking the House, or a portion of the House, more into their confidence than they have done hitherto, this disquiet, which is at present spreading through the country, may grow, and it may become very considerable, and before long it may be impossible to restrain criticism of a type very different from that which I have advanced this evening. The Foreign Office, therefore, in their own interest, in the interest of the Government and in that of the country, which after all ought to be identical, would be well advised, if not now, then at some convenient time, certainly at some very near date, to make a statement which would remove the disquiet which at present troubles the country.

 

Mr. LYNCH:

The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has disappointed me. When he rose like a pillar of strength I thought that he was going to set the axe, like a backwoodsman, at the evil; but he touched on it with a light touch, as he said, the touch of a lady pianist. In the course of his remarks he proposed a secret Session. If that secret Session were promised, I do not know that I would not withhold some of the observations which I may make to-night. That proposition has been already made and rejected by the Foreign Office, in their wisdom.

After all, I do not know that we have not arrived at a crisis when we must speak to the country as well as to this House with the utmost frankness and candour. For the lack of frankness and candour is what is killing the operation of our Front Bench. At this stage, however, I want to take to task the Noble Lord personally. I spoke on a subject relating to this a few nights ago, and in the course of his reply, which contained no argument at all, he concluded by saying that my observations were unworthy of a Member of this House. That was intended to be offensive. There was a time, which I somewhat regret, when for a remark of that kind I would have had a man out on the terrain. To-night I will content myself with saying that these observations of the Noble Lord were worthy of a member of the Government, for they were lacking in courage, in candour, and in truth. For what I said I had grounds for saying. Those grounds I will make patent to this House and this country. I was called to order quite rightly by the Deputy-Speaker, who informed me that some of my remarks were not in order unless they were preceded by a substantive Motion. I declare to this House that if matters proceed in this fashion I will not hesitate to put down that substantive Motion, so that I can speak on that subject also with the utmost freedom.

We have reached a state of affairs in Greece which may be the turning-point of the whole of this campaign. Our handling of the situation in Greece will determine the Eastern Campaign, the campaign in the Balkans. It will determine whether Bulgaria shall be crushed, and Turkey isolated, and Germany hemmed in, or whether Germany will continue months hence, and perhaps years hence, to have free access to the East. So that the question which we are discussing is one of the most vital importance.

On the one hand we have an enemy king. Does any man in this House doubt, does any man apart from the Foreign Office, which always hoodwinks itself, or takes the attitude as if it were hoodwinking itself, doubt for one moment what are the real intimate convictions and the whole attitude of King Constantino of Greece? He is a relative of the Kaiser a relative of all the Royal families of Europe. The Kaiser is a relation to whom he looks, singular as it may seem, with fervid admiration—even adoration. He has adopted in the reality the fulsome expressions which we used to read in the daily Press ten years ago with reference to that august person. King Constantine is an outpost of Germany; that is known to every man in this House who thinks at all. He is a man who has set himself to use all his abilities—limited, I am glad to say—all his obstinacy, all his powers of intrigue, and all his influence, backed up by the prestige which still clings to the Royal office, to defeat the ends of the Allies. No methods are too tortuous, no design too dark for his acceptance, and that man is being propped up on his shaking throne by our Foreign Office.

We have, on the other hand, M. Venizelos, a great Liberal, one of those men who have shown themselves devoted to the purest ideals of progress, a man who has sacrificed his whole career, who has done more—who has placed his very life in the scale in the cause of  the Allies. Are they prepared to desert him? I will tell the Front Bench a story of a great Englishman, Nelson himself. He was being pursued by a Spanish fleet, and one of his ships got behind. It was commanded, I believe, by Captain Hardy, the man in whose arms he died. What did Nelson say? “We cannot desert Hardy,” and, in spite of vast and overwhelming odds, he turned his face to the enemy and put them to flight. The Foreign Office would have said “No; we cannot afford to offend the Spaniards.” They would have sacrificed Captain Hardy, to their shame.

I say that if they persist in this policy of theirs, of propping up the tottering power of this enemy king, and sacrificing the great man who is representative of the people of Greece, they will not save themselves from ultimate defeat, and they will have associated it with eternal disgrace. Even if successful in that policy, they will have saved everything but honour. There is not merely one party in this House concerned in this matter; it is the affair of the whole of the Dominions whom you have asked to flock to your standard. What will the people of Australia, the great, strong, democratic people, with its visions of the future, think if you say to them, either in words or by implication, “No, your sacrifices may count for nothing, the blood of your best men in Australia may count for nothing, your deathless heroism may count for nothing, weighed in the scale against the safety of an enemy King. The tottering Throne in Greece counts for nothing against the democracy of Australia. Your blood may be shed in rivers, but all will not weigh against the preservation of the superstition of royalty.

My words are going to Australia and South Africa; and they will go to America, they will go all over the world, and unless by some means you show them to be misconceived how can you put forward before the world that banner of yours, that banner of ours, the great ideal of Western nations, fighting for civilisation, progress and liberty, against the crushing military despotism of the Germans. I say you are sacrificing Greece for the support of a military despotism. It is a course which I am certain the French Government and the French people do not desire to follow. You wish to preserve in Europe this dying myth of the “divinity which doth hedge a king.” I hope that in Greece itself the men whom you have so treated will give you the lie and that soon the streets of Athens itself, alive once more with all the glorious traditions of the past, may resound with that eagle-cry: “Vive la République!”

Lord R. CECIL:

We have just listened to a speech which, I think, affords perhaps a stronger argument than I could put forward as to the great difficulty and undesirability of having a discussion of foreign relations between this country and other countries in this House. However temperately such questions may be raised, and it was raised with the greatest temperateness and the greatest moderation by the hon. and learned Member, it is possible for an hon. Member to rise and gratify his own feeling by delivering such a speech as that to which we have just listened. The hon. Member for Clare said, and I dare say rightly, that his words would extend far beyond this House, and that would, in most cases, point to the fact that there ought to be a certain sense of responsibility on the speaker.

Mr. LYNCH:

I spoke with full responsibility.

Lord R. CECIL:

But it did not impose the slightest sense of responsibility on the hon. Member here. With regard to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. McNeill) I have no such remarks to make as those which I have just made. The hon. and learned Gentleman told us, and I think it was quite true, that the course of events in Greece has attracted widespread attention and some misgiving in this country, and he told us that they had culminated in the official statement which appeared in the Press this morning, that the official statement had been published in Greece, and that the effect of it was to encourage our enemies and discourage our friends. I am not aware of the terms of that publication made in Athens, to which my hon. and learned Friend referred. I think if he will allow me to say so we shall do well to treat with some caution reports that come from Athens. I am not saying anything offensive about the great Athenian people, but they are undoubtedly somewhat excitable, and the reports that reach us from that capital are not always so moderate as the speech of my hon. and learned Friend. As to the substance of the matter, I desire to protest in the strongest possible way against the allegation made by the hon. Member for Clare that we were propping up King Constantine to assist the German propaganda in Greece or the German party there. I am quite sure that King Constantine would not take that view. That is not at all his view.

I say quite frankly that I believe that the reunion of all the Greeks would be desirable, very desirable. I hold the view very strongly, and we who have a very special position and this nation has a very special position with regard to Greece desire nothing more, and we do desire nothing more, than the greatness and prosperity of Greece. We believe that that greatness and prosperity can be achieved, and can be achieved only, by close association with the Western Powers. We believe that the old phrase of “Benevolent Neutrality” is one which conveyed a great deal of truth as to the proper attitude that Greece should assume, but we believe strongly whatever attitude, whatever the particular version of her attitude towards the Entente Powers should be, anything which separates her from them must end in disaster to Greece, and to a serious state of things which will last far beyond the end of the present War. My hon. Friend suggested that we were under a special obligation to M. Venizelos because we went there at his invitation. I suppose everybody who has followed the career of M. Venizelos has a profound admiration for that statesman. We all know his great capacity, his great courage, his unerring sagacity, and his fine public spirit and the single-mindedness which he has shown not only on this occasion, but on previous occasions. But I do not think that it is a true statement or a useful statement to say that we went there on the invitation of M. Venizelos. We were there on the invitation of the Greek Government, of which he was the head; but it was the Greek Government that invited us, and not an individual. The Government itself invited us, and we are there because they invited us.

There is another observation which I should like to make. The hon. Member for Clare expressed the view that the French people and the French Government thoroughly disagreed with our policy. I am in a position to assert in the strongest way that that is utterly untrue. We have acted throughout in the closest concert with all our Allies, and with the French among them. At the Boulogne Conference, held only the other day, I was assured by those who were there that there was absolute complete unanimity of opinion between the French Government and the English Government as to the policy that should be pursued in Greece. There is not a shadow of difference between them, and there is not at the present day. Therefore any statement which is made, a statement which can do nothing but harm, that we in this respect are diverging from the policy of our Allies, is absolutely without the slightest foundation or basis, and is one which ought never to have been made. As to our attitude towards M. Venizelos, the House will recognise the extreme delicacy of saying anything about it. I only say this, that wherever we find a part of Greek Dominion, which is, in fact, under the Government of M. Venizelos or his Provisional Government, where the great majority of the people recognise him as their Government, we recognise him as the de facto ruler of that portion. More than that I do not think it will be right for me to say now, and I am sure my hon. Friend would not desire me to go beyond that.

Mr. McNEILL:

Has that been officially conveyed to M. Venizelos?

Lord R. CECIL:

I should not like to answer that without looking up the actual facts. I have said all I think that I can usefully say at the present time about M. Venizelos. I recognise the great desirability, in a democracy such as we have in this country, of the Government working in close union with the democracy, particularly at a time of great stress like the present. I think nothing is more difficult than to settle exactly how that union is to be brought about in the domain of foreign affairs. We have not only this Government to consider, but the Governments of our Allies, our French, our Russian, our Italian Allies, and the others. We cannot do anything, we cannot say anything, without considering the way in which that will appear to our Allies, and their peoples in foreign countries, and to our enemies and to neutrals, and to ask the Government to carry on negotiations, or to make a clean breast of it, and to take the House and the country fully into their confidence, is, I am satisfied, to ask what is really not in the public interest. I would gladly consider whether there is anything else we would do in order to increase the confidence of the country in the Government.

I must say, speaking off hand and speaking without any consultation with anyone else as to some of the suggestions made by my hon. and learned Friend, that I think they will have to be looked at very closely and very carefully. I do not think it would be a desirable thing to establish without very mature consideration a new form of directing foreign affairs in this country. I have, I confess, some doubt whether it would be desirable in the public interest to share the responsibility of the Government in these matters with any Commission, however constituted. That does not mean that information should not be given, I quite agree; but any advice of a specially constituted Commission of this House would, I think, be one which ought to be very, very closely, and very carefully, considered before it was accepted. As to the question of a Secret Session, if my hon. Friend thinks, after listening to the speech of the Member for Clare, it really would be an illuminating process to have a discussion on foreign affairs, I will certainly convey his views to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. But I would venture very respectfully to appeal to the House in this matter and in all others.

No one is more conscious of the defects of the present Government than every member of it. We all know that to undertake to govern a country at a time like this is to undertake a task which is really beyond human powers. We all recognise that. We are perfectly conscious of the many mistakes we make, of the many deficiencies of which we are guilty, but I cannot believe that anything which waters down the responsibility of the Government is likely to improve it. We must do what we think right. We must carry on the Government of the country, badly I agree, but as well as we can do it; and we cannot share that responsibility with the House of Commons or with anybody else—not during the War. That seems to me the only position we can take up. If the House of Commons arrives at the conclusion that we are so bad that really we must be turned out and somebody else put in our places, be it so. That is a perfectly reasonable policy, and one which we shall be delighted to facilitate if the House of Commons has arrived at that conclusion. But until it arrives at that decision, though I am a very junior member of the Government, I appeal to the House to give us confidence and support, and not to try to take upon itself duties which, with all the respect I have for the House, I am satisfied it is incapable of discharging, namely, the administration of the affairs of this country in a time of great stress and strain, such as that through which we are now passing.

Mr Ellis Griffith:

I do not wish to say anything about the concluding and somewhat pessimistic remarks of the Noble Lord. I do not see why he should take such a pessimistic view of the Government, because we know they are indispensable. But if they are indispensable and so bad as he says—

Lord R. CECIL made an observation which was inaudible in the Reporters’ Gallery.

Mr. GRIFFITH:

It is very difficult to compare what has been and what might be. At any rate, the subject of the discussion to-night is far too serious for any personal considerations or any personal points. We shall all agree that the Debate has answered one very useful purpose. The Noble Lord told us, I think for the first time, that where as a matter of fact Venizelos exercises the functions of government the British Government so far recognise his authority.

Lord R. CECIL:

De facto.

Mr. GRIFFITH:

I am not sure what I understand by de facto. Do I understand by de facto that where Venizelos is in supreme command, where his forces are in control, where the King exercises no functions and has been deprived of them—as in the island of Crete—the position of the British Government is that Constantine is de jure king and Venizelos is de facto ruler? It is an extraordinary position. It really means, if anybody can hold these two inconsistent views simultaneously, that you recognise the authority of King Constantine and at the same time you recognise the authority of a traitor to King Constantine. That really is the position. It is a very serious one. What does throw a good deal of light upon this subject, and, I think, justifies the feeling of great anxiety and misgiving which there is in this country, is that the Noble Lord—he is no ordinary Under-Secretary; he not only answers in the House of Commons, but we know is in the confidence of his Chief—after some hours’ notice of this Debate comes here and tells us upon the authority of the Foreign Office that, although that is the fact, he does not even not know whether Venizelos has been made cognisant of that fact. That appears a very serious admission. I hope, if it be so, that the Noble Lord will take the very earliest opportunity of conveying to Venezelos the fact that we do recognise his authority in places under his control.

The Noble Lord has, in words beyond praise, as far as I am concerned, passed an eulogy on the character and achievements of Venizelos. I really think that what Venizelos wants is not praise but recognition. Is it not a curious thing—it is common knowledge; it has been published in the Press, and the Press is subject to the Press Bureau—that the Allies have made a grant of money to Venizelos. The Bum was mentioned, £400,000. We give him our praise, we give him our money, but we do not give him our recognition. A man who deserves the epithets which the Noble Lord applied to Venizelos to-night will, I think, come to the conclusion that, far better than our praise, far better than our money, is our recognition of him in the great step he has taken. He has not only sacrificed his reputation and his career—that is nothing; he has sacrificed his life—at any rate, he has risked his life—in order to prove his bona fides and his allegiance to the cause of the Allies.

We are the champion of small nations. We have not been exceedingly fortunate or successful up to now in our championship of small nations. Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro—their record shows—I do not say that it is blameworthy—a lack of success which we all deplore. Roumania is now in peril. Greece also is a small nation. She is struggling against her King. I know perfectly well that in a Debate of this kind one has to speak with considerable reticence; one cannot say what one would like to say. But just as there is a tradition of secrecy in the Foreign Office, so also there is really a support for a particular form of government for kings. It is idle to shut our eyes to it. There is a cameraderie amongst the ruling families of Europe.

It is a difficult thing to speak about, but when you have a Debate, either you say what is really in your mind or you do not take part in it at all. What I say is this—that you must choose between King Constantine and Venizelos, not because one is King and the other is statesman, but regarding them as two men, each of whom says that he represents Greece. That is all. The kingship of the one and the statesmanship of the other must not be taken for an advantage or otherwise. You must consider this question only: Which of these two men, the King or the statesman, represents the real opinion and feeling of the Greek people? If you come to the opinion that King Constantine represents the Greek people, have nothing to do with Venizelos. On the other hand, if you think that Venizelos represents the Greek people, I do not think you ought to negotiate longer with King Constantine, who has turned out to be a very poor friend to the Allies, and who has done all he could to support our enemies. In conclusion, I am concerned about public opinion in this country. That is a matter to be taken into account. There is a feeling of great disquietude that the Government are not doing the right thing by their friend Venizelos. That is a very serious feeling to get abroad. Even tonight, when the Noble Lord has told us what he thinks it right to tell us, I hope that after this short Debate the country will be reassured, at any rate, to this extent, that the Government will give not only money and eulogy, but also actual and definite recognition to Venizelos. I do not think that anything else is worthy of us. First of all, it is only ordinary common gratitude to do so; and secondly, not only is it gratitude but it is policy as well.

Sir H. DALZIEL:

My right hon. Friend has stated ably and temperately the views which I am sure are entertained by a vast majority of Members of the House, and by a vast majority of the public outside. We all recognise the very difficult task of the Noble Lord, who had to state the views of the Government and at the same time to deal with what is still a very difficult situation. But he must not really make too big a claim upon the patience of the House in regard to this matter. This is no new subject. Month after month we have seen the prestige of the British Government severely damaged in these negotiations. You cannot get away from that. We as Members of this House have a responsibility as well as the Government. I must enter my caveat against the doctrine laid down by the Noble Lord that in matters of this kind, in foreign affairs, the Government must do as they please, independently of the House; that they will deny to the House any share of responsibility. That is a new doctrine which I suppose is one of the products of the Coalition Government. But I should like some of our once Liberal statesmen to get up in this House and say that they thoroughly endorse the statement of the Noble Lord that the House of Commons has no responsibility whatever for the action of its Government in regard to important foreign affairs. No, Sir; it will not do!

We have got to share the blunders of the Government, and for their few successes we deserve some credit. We have to judge what will be the result of this policy-this policy of secrecy, this policy of keeping to yourselves all that is going on in this important arena of the War. What is the result? We have seen hundreds of thousands—I suppose I am correct in that figure—fighting men held up. We have seen King Constantine holding us all at bay month after month. We have seen the whole foreign situation absolutely governed, as it were, from Athens, and all our efforts paralysed. Do you think the British public is going to stand that for ever? To look on, day after day, and see our Ambassadors going hat in hand to this King who has defied you at every point; who is, as my right hon. Friend truly said, an agent of the German Government? Is there to be no end to this? What do we see to-day? To what position has this policy brought us? That to-night we see that the two opposing forces, the forces of the King and the forces of M. Venizelos, are actually firing shots at each other. That is the message of peace and good will that King Constantine has assisted us in bringing to Greece.

I say the situation is serious, and I say we have got a responsibility. We cannot go on day after day seeing British diplomacy slapped in the face, and the whole position of this country, in my opinion—and I am only speaking for myself—damaged throughout the world. There is a growing feeling that there is some secret explanation of all this, and that it has not been forthcoming. We cannot understand why we are suffering all this damage just because of the act of one man! I say that it is a good thing in diplomacy and international action to support your friends and very often to defy your enemies. There is a feeling that we are not supporting M. Venizelos as we ought to do. I do appeal to the Government to make the situation clear—that we are going to stand by him in the difficult situation in which he has been placed, and after he has shown his loyalty to this country. If we do not do that we will make the position intolerable, and we will not deserve to have any friends, and it will be a lasting disgrace to this country. I hope before it is not too late we will support our best friends in that arena of warfare.

Question put, and agreed to.