HC Deb 21 June 1950 vol 476 cc1281-2
39. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the events leading to the imprisonment for an indefinite period of the Municipal Council of Limassol, Cyprus.

Mr. Dugdale

The Cyprus Municipal Corporations Law provides that the approval of a Commissioner is required for the naming of municipal streets and that it is an offence to put up a name-plate not so approved. The Limassol Town Council disregarded this provision and substituted for two existing names new names which had not been approved. In February, a local Order-in-Gouncil was made ordering the Town Council to reaffix the old name-plates. This Order was ignored. On 29th April the Supreme Court ordered the members of the Council to comply with the original Order. The Supreme Court Order was also ignored, and on 3rd June six out of the eight Councillors present in Cyprus were committed for contempt.

Mr. Driberg

If it is found necessary to imprison for an indefinite period the elected mayor and most of the councillors of a town merely because they want the name of a street to be changed from "Sir Richmond Palmer Street" to "28th October Street," is it not going to be a little difficult to persuade them that it is essential to the maintenance of their civil liberties that they should remain within the British Empire?

Mr. Dugdale

No one likes a law of this kind, but the law about street naming being there, and the councillors having deliberately defied the court, there was no option but to imprison them.

Mr. Ellis Smith

They said that sort of thing at Peterloo.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can my hon. Friend say whether these events were contemporaneous with the holding of the plebescite referred to in an earlier question?

Mr. Dugdale

I should say that the law was contemporaneous.

Mr. Driberg

If the law is so foolish, why not change it?

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