§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in the case of the plebiscites held in Slesvig-Holstein, Dantzig, and elsewhere, troops of the Allied Powers were, present in the plebiscite areas to protect freedom of voting; and whether this precedent will be followed in Montenegro during the voting for the constituent assembly, in view of the fact that the country is occupied and administered by foreigners interested in the result of the elections and in a position to coerce and intimidate the voters?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative: that to the second is in the negative. There is no analogy between the plebiscites held under the auspices of the Allied Governments in virtue of powers specially conferred upon them by the Treaties of Peace and the elections in Montenegro for a Constituent Assembly.
§ Mr. McNEILL
asked the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will say, in view of the fact that Montenegro is full of Serbian officials 1911W and soldiers, many of them in Montenegrin uniforms, what precautions are being taken that only bonâ fide Montenegrins shall vote in the elections for a Constituent Assembly; what are the qualifications required of those entitled to vote; will the voting be by ballot; and, in view of the fact that many prominent Montenegrins have been executed for refusing an oath of allegiance to the King of Serbia and that many others are imprisoned on various pretexts, what steps are being taken to ensure that the elections shall be a true expression of uncoerced Montenegrin opinion?
As regards the first three parts of the question, the electoral law provides that only such persons as were resident in Montenegro up to 1st December, 1918, may vote in that country. Subject to this condition, the voting is open to all males of over twenty-one years of age, and will be secret and by ballot. As regards the last part of the question, His Majesty's Government are obviously not in a position to conduct or control elections in a foreign country. All they can do is to obtain independent evidence as to the reliability of the electoral results, and base their future decisions on the evidence so received.
§ Mr. McNEILL
asked the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is necessary that there should be concealment as to the steps being taken by the Government to obtain independent and reliable evidence regarding the conduct of the elections to a Constituent Assembly in Montenegro, and the identity of the agents employed for that purpose; if not, will he say who are being employed for the purpose; what are their qualifications for the task; and what means are at their disposal for ascertaining the extent to which the electors will be free from coercion or intimidation by the Serbian soldiery and officials occupying Montenegro?
His Majesty's Government had originally intended that the British Military Attaché in Jugo Slavia should have been present in Montenegro during these elections. This officer has, however, been incapacitated by illness, and an endeavour is being made to find an adequate substitute.