HC Deb 24 May 1881 vol 261 cc1212-3

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the recent events in the Mediterranean, and of the great distance between Malta, and the Suez Canal, he will take into his consideration the desirability of improving and protecting the harbour of Famagusta, so as to convert it into a first class naval station; whether, in view of the growing importance of the Island of Cyprus, and of its steadily increasing revenue, and of the fact that it is desirable that the island should be administered in the interest of its inhabitants rather than in the interest of a foreign State, ho will consider the question of purchasing the freehold of the island in the event of the Porte being willing to part with it upon favourable terms?


Sir, the substance of my answer will be, that although I am not quite certain as to the fact and as to the time—the hon. Member speaks of the steadily increasing Revenues of Cyprus—I am afraid the time is near at hand when it will be our duty to apply to the British Exchequer for a Vote of money to meet the deficiencies in the Revenue of the Island of Cyprus. It would be vastly better that the discussion on the general question should be postponed, especially as the hon. Gentleman will see that the question is of very great importance. The question of creating, a harbour and arsenal at Famagusta is a very important one, politically and financially, and the conversion of the present peculiar occupation and administration of Cyprus into a Sovereignty is also an important one in many views, and, amongst others, in its bearing on the Law of Europe. If Her Majesty's Government have any proposition to make it will be their duty to make substantive propositions, and not by way of answers to inquiries.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell the House, Whether any Papers in reference to Cyprus will be presented this Session? If we are t o vote any money, we should know the exact position in which Cyprus stands at present.


I have not ascertained from the Colonial Office; but I shall make inquiry.