§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
The Government think that it would meet the general convenience of the House if I were to initiate this debate by some references to the political and diplomatic aspects of the Cyprus problem. It seems important that some account should be given of the position taken by Her Majesty's Government on these political and diplomatic aspects during recent months.
Unfortunately—or, perhaps, I should say fortunately—since the position is still fluid, I shall not be able to give the House a precise indication of the point which we have reached. Negotiations—or, if hon. Members like, discussions—have been going on in a number of ways since the end of the London conference with a view to bridging the gap between the positions of the different Governments and of the different peoples concerned, and I am sure that the House would not wish me to say anything which would prejudice the outcome of these discussions. Nevertheless, it is right and proper that this debate should be held and that the broad positions taken by the different parties should be made clear.
At the end of the debate my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will deal with all the questions which have been raised, and particularly economic questions, questions of security, and other matters connected with the situation of the island itself. I shall confine myself to the problem which the island and its future presents to the outside world.
However, before passing to that, I am sure the House would like me to take the opportunity of paying a tribute to the high sense of duty which has impelled the present Governor, Field Marshal Sir John Harding, to undertake this task. At a moment when he had every right to look forward to the enjoyment of a period of leisure after a military career of singular distinction, he has been willing once more to give his service to the Crown and to the nation. When 33 the call of duty came, he did not hesitate. This, of course, is no surprise to those who have known him well, but it is, nevertheless, right that public expression should be made of our gratitude.
As the British Government have always made clear, the only good settlement of the Cyprus problem will be a political settlement, and by that I mean a settlement that commends itself as fair and as honourable to all the Governments and peoples concerned. It is that settlement that we still hope to achieve. In this hope we shall no doubt have—we have already had—disappointments, but we are not prepared to accept defeat. Meanwhile, we shall carry out our duty to ensure law and order, but we must continue to strive earnestly for a settlement.
If a political settlement is to be sought and reached, it is important that we should understand the complex character of the problem with which we are faced. Ever since the start of this controversy, there has been a certain amount of confusion in many people's minds as to just what the Cyprus problem really is. Is it a colonial problem, an international problem, a political problem, or a strategical problem? I think that everyone who has honestly tried to understand our difficulties has realised that it partakes of all those problems, although, of course, different people would attach different weight to different aspects and consideration.
Of course, there will always be the critics abroad, and some, alas, at home, who will blame as guilty of reactionary or "Blimpish" obstinacy any British Government which does not immediately accede to any demand made upon it. There are some people who seem to think that this is merely a question of Great Britain being in what I might describe as the position of an ageing parent with an adolescent son—"The boy is of age; give him his freedom and have done with it." If that was all it was, it would be very simple. Indeed, it would be so simple that it would not now be a trouble to my colleague and I because it would no doubt have been done before now.
We all know that the broad colonial policy which we have followed in successive Governments for many years has been to develop institutions of self-government with a view to the organised opinion of a 34 territory being in a position to play its full part in determining its political future.
§ Mr. Macmillan
It is true that this principle has been largely applicable to Colonial Territories which have only recently begun to share the blessings, if we may still call them such, of civilised life. There have been countries which were, two or three generations ago, primitive, but have gradually been brought to responsibility by British tutelage. However, in this case it is, of course, just the other way round. The inhabitants of Cyprus were civilised when the inhabitants of Britain were primitive.
§ Mr. Macmillan
That should appeal to the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.
Here, therefore, is a problem which is very different from the more normal problem of colonial development. It is, in a sense, the history of the situation of Cyprus which makes the difficulty. Strange and romantic indeed has been the history of the Island of Cyprus which, through nearly 3,000 years, has passed through a number of different conquests, transfers, occupations and régimes. I do not want to go all over those again.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Hon. Members opposite have asked for this debate and they should listen to what I have to say. I do not want to go over this again, except to say—it is a warning against anyone taking too dogmatic a view of what the future is likely to bring—that I have no doubt that the island, its people and its problems will outlive us all.
At the same time, we recognise—and it is part of the claim advanced by one of the main countries concerned—that our possession has been very short compared with many other periods in this long story. Our position is dependent on the special responsibility from which it sprang, and upon which our rights and our duties—it can be put either way—are, in fact, based. Although a full account 35 has been published, I ought to recall—I have a duty to recall—to the House what was the position taken by the three countries in the abortive, but by no means useless conference which we called into being in August of this year.
The Greek Government's position had the merit of being very simple. They actually said, "The majority of the inhabitants of this island are Greek and they ought to have the right of joining Greece, should they so desire." They said that that right was absolute and should be exercisable, if not forthwith, at least within a short period of, say, three years. They appealed to the principle which is broadly the accepted working rule today, the principle of self-determination. Of course, the world has been governed by a large number of principles in the past; the right of conquest, the right of succession, the right of acquisition by marriage, the right of purchase and, indeed, after the Treaty of Vienna, the great principle which was to establish peace and order throughout the world was, of course, the principle of legitimacy, and all the leading statesmen all over the world accepted that.
Now we have a new principle, self-determination. It is a good principle and we have accepted it in the Charter of the United Nations. No one can say that we have not practised it honestly and honourably as a nation throughout a very wide area, throughout the Commonwealth and Empire. Nevertheless, as I said at the conference and I repeat today, difficulties do arise over its application. Exceptions must be made in view of geographical, traditional, historic or strategic considerations. It is just by those considerations that we must, to some extent at any rate, be guided when we are dealing with the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean.
However, other considerations do apply and must apply. I will give a very recent instance which must be in the minds of all hon. Members. It was my duty, some months ago to move the Second Reading of the Austria State Treaty Bill, which was received with universal assent in every part of the House and supported by every shade of public opinion. But, of course, the Austrian Treaty takes away in perpetuity the right of self-determination of 36 6 million people by making it a condition, not for a time, but throughout all time that they shall not be allowed, however strong may be their desire, to join a state with their German brethren.
That was an example where the greater interests of peace and settlement were thought to over-ride this principle in its application. Indeed, the Greek Foreign Minister of the day himself observed during the conference that self-determination could be applied only according to the circumstances. The Greeks themselves have found this to be so. Possibly he had Thrace in mind. He thought, and I agree, that the principle per se should be universally recognised. But that is not the question which has come between us. It is not whether this principle should be recognised, but whether it should be applied without regard to other considerations. This is the narrow but important point which we have not so far agreed; yet the gap is narrow. The Greek Foreign Minister himself said that circumstances must have some bearing. The gap is narrow and with good will it should be bridged.
Perhaps I might be allowed a personal word. I had the honour, eleven years ago, of seeing something of the courage, patriotism and devotion of the Greek people and to share some of the thrill of liberation from their German oppressors, only to fall, a few weeks later, into the turmoil caused by Communist traitors and invaders. I remember the weeks of the seige of Athens and the second liberation by British troops. Nor can I ever forget the reception given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) when he came into the great Constitution Square just after the seige and when the whole population of Athens and the surrounding districts appeared to have collected to give him a welcome. I am sure that the memories of all that we and the Greeks have done together will outlive the temporary disagreements that separate us today.
To resume: the Greek Government says, "Self-determination now, or almost immediately." At the conference the Turks, of course, took a very different view. They based themselves on two 37 major arguments. The first is somewhat theoretical, but the second is severely practical and it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the strength of Turkish feeling or the tenacity of their purpose. That is one of the mistakes into which many people have fallen, but it is a mistake which might well prove fatal to Greece, to Turkey, to the N.A.T.O. Alliance as well as to ourselves and to the peace of the world.
Juridically, the Turks say that Great Britain was given Cyprus—and it is true—not in fee simple, that it was not ceded in 1878, but given as a sort of tenancy and that the new occupiers' object was to use the property as a base to defend both the island and the whole neighbouring area from the Russian aggressor. That was in 1878 and I am afraid that we cannot claim that the job has been wholly completed. It is true that in 1914 we assumed full sovereignty of Cyprus and that this was internationally recognised in 1924 by the Treaty of Lausanne. However, the duties attached to the property still remain and, indeed, they are much more important and perhaps much more difficult than they were seventy years ago.
The Turks, therefore, argue that if we British choose to abandon the sovereignty it should revert to them. All the more do they defend this position because in the Treaty of Lausanne other arrangements were made affecting Turkish subjects on the mainland of Greece and elsewhere and the Treaty must—this is their view—be considered as a whole. That, then, is their juridical argument.
But then their practical argument must also be reckoned with. It is simply this. They say, "Look at the map. This island is 500 miles from Athens, but only 40 miles from the Turkish coast. See how it affects the whole control of Turkey's two main southern ports of Mersin and Alexandretta." In other hands, in hands other than those of their choice or agreement, it might be a pistol pointed at their heart. "It is," they say, "in form an island, in fact an extension of the Anatolian PIain." There are the two extremes.
The tragic events which took place round about the time of the conference—the riots in Istanbul—equally deplored by Turkish and Greek Governments, to some extent, I fear, obscure the progress that was made at the conference. I do not say "progress to a final agreement," 38 but I think that a great deal of progress was made towards a clearer understanding of the different points of view.
What, then, was the attitude of the British, faced with this problem of strong divergence of view between two Allies, both friends, both partners in the N.A.T.O. alliance—and Turkey, of course, now a party in the great defensive system which we are building up in the Middle East? The British point of view, as one would expect, was to try to find a compromise. On the question of sovereignty I said:We are very empirical people. We try to deal with facts as we see them. Nothing is permanent in the world. No one knows it better than the races and countries bordering the Mediterranean. There are many changes taking place. We face facts as they are.Then we took, I think, a very practical view by going on to say this. In effect,-we said, that everyone agrees that whatever may be the final answer about the future of the island, whatever may be the decision which the elected representatives may reach about their future—and it is, after all, only to the elected representatives that we should look as having the right to put forward their views—the first step is surely to get the elected representatives into being.
In other words, we said, "Since we all agree about one thing—self-government—let us get on with self-government. The British are anxious, the whole British Government are sincerely anxious, to bring about self-government in the island. We are not happy, of course, about direct government; it does not suit our present policies; it is out of tune with the dominant theme today and we should like to see genuine self-government of a liberal kind exercising the maximum possible authority. That is what we want."
To the Greeks we said, "You surely cannot be against self-government. You yourselves admit that it is the essential preliminary to exercising the right of self-determination which you claim." To the Turks we said, "Well, we recognise that you are worried about self-government in view of the large Turkish minority, but we can look after that; we can make sure that proper safeguards are arranged. After all, this problem is not one peculiar to Cyprus. It has emerged and been dealt with in other parts of the world."
Our appeal was, and I think it was the right appeal, to say, "Let us get on with 39 self-government, but as an essential preliminary and a practical preliminary to everything else we must have this: it must come first." Then we had the question upon which there was disagreement, so we said, "To safeguard fully the position of all three Governments let us agree, for the moment at any rate, to differ upon the other point. Let us agree to postpone our final decision on the question of the future of the island." We said, "Let us agree to work together for self-government," for I added on behalf of Her Majesty's Government what I think was a generous offer that in this task of bringing about self-government in a British Colony, for that is what it is, all three Governments might participate. I further proposed that we should keep this tripartite committee in being and discuss other possibilities including cultural and legal arrangements and perhaps even that of a common citizenship. All these ideas and all these offers are still open.
Then we said, "When self-government is working, when there are elected representatives of the Cypriot people who can join in our discussions, then let us sit down again, with the experience of working together, to see whether we can settle by agreement the future status of the island." I think that that was both a practical and a generous offer. I deeply regret that these proposals were not at that time found acceptable. I say again that I think that the tragic story of the Istanbul riots came at a moment which made it more difficult to discuss them calmly. There is a lesson to be learned from that. We are here dealing with very dangerous things. We cannot argue them as if they were purely debating society matters. There are passionate feelings on both sides of the question. That is why I search, and I am still searching, for a compromise that will be acceptable.
We went on to suggest that in working together for self-government we should also agree that we should, none of us, prejudice or invalidate our respective attitudes on the position of sovereignty. Hon. Members will find all this clearly set out in the record of the conference.
That, then, is where we stood at the end of the conference. We all agreed with self-government—the Turks with some reservations, but still we all agreed. On self-determination, to adapt the old 40 doggerel, the Greeks said "This year" or, at any rate, "in a year or two," the Turks said "Never" and we said "Some time."
§ Mr. Macmillan
No. Since self-government is common to all these decisions, we said, "Let us get on with self-government and then perhaps, as we go along, we shall be able to work out something more acceptable." We are still hopeful that, as the practical character of our plan begins to be understood and the generosity and sincerity of what we have been trying to do and are still trying to do becomes known, the basis for an honourable settlement may be found. We are ready to take any step which may assist practical co-operation between all those who have the interest of Cyprus at heart.
It is for this reason that, all this time, we have tried to find that co-operation not merely between Governments but with such representative figures as we have been able to find in Cyprus itself. As the House knows, the Governor has had long conversations with Archbishop Makarios. These discussions have not yet proved fruitful, but we are by no means without hope, and we shall persevere. We certainly shall not be the people to move the closure on discussions which might lead to co-operation instead of to strife. Our offers have been made honourably and honestly and we are ready to discuss them, together with any elucidations or explanations which may make them better understood or more acceptable, in the hope that real progress may be made upon these lines. I hope that I shall be excused from going further into the details of these discussions today.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
In view of this, and I think it important for these discussions, may I refer to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has now used the words "some time" in regard to self-determination. In the Tripartite Conference I think his exact words were, "Not in the foreseeable future." Is he now making it clear that he is using the words "some time" and means "some time," as I think that will have a great effect on Greece?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I mean "some time, and in certain conditions," as there are, of course, quite clearly conditions which would have to be worked out and acceptable.
I should like to repeat, because I think it of some importance that we are ready to discuss our offers, not only as they stood at the conference, but, as the result of discussions between the Archbishop and the Governor, as they stand as it were in the form of today. We are ready to discuss them, together with any elucidations or explanations which will make them better understood or more acceptable. I would sincerely ask the House not to press the Government further than that, because I think that it would be not in the interests of making further progress.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he does not want to be pressed further about the conditions? Are we simply to accept this afternoon that there are some conditions and not know what they are?
§ Mr. Macmillan
The whole tenor of what I have been trying to say is that, very obviously, there must be conditions in a problem which involves three nations, the whole strategic situation and the whole basis. There must be conditions if there is to be an acceptable arrangement, and the whole purpose of our offer is to see that we bring in an arrangement which is acceptable and which will be put into force in good and peaceful conditions. But we still say that, whatever may be the final destiny of the Cypriot people, or even the final expression of their preference— which is by no means certain—the first essential is to create the structure by which and within which Cypriot opinion can be legally and constitutionally exercised, and that is by a measure of self-government.
I repeat that it is obvious that under any view of self-determination the first thing is to set up self-government. This indeed was recognised by the Greek delegation at the conference, and I am sure that Archbishop Makarios is too clever a man not to recognise it also. Therefore, I say, why cannot we all agree to work together for self-government, while refraining from pressing, at this anxious moment in world history, too precise a definition of every word and phrase of 42 our different approaches to the problem of the final stages of the argument?
I would make this appeal to the Greek and the Turkish Governments as well as to the leaders of Cypriot opinion. There are, of course, national opinions, but there are very sinister forces at work who are opposing that settlement, and who are trying to make everything worse and not better. Those are the forces which are using all the methods of terrorism to make sure that the moderates do not get support, but that the extremists win the day; and by a strange paradox the Communist agitators have taken advantage of that liberty of speech and action which would not be allowed them had Cyprus been part of Greece today.
Although some of his coadjutors have allowed themselves to use dangerous and reckless language, I cannot believe that the Archbishop looks without misgiving at this strange and unholy alliance. Great responsibility lies on him and I trust and believe that he will rise to it. At any rate, he has an opportunity to join with us and help us to create a new situation which will allow Cyprus to find her own legally elected representatives from her own people. I would venture equally to appeal to the Governments and peoples of both our allies. In this controversy the Greek people are, naturally, moved by feelings of patriotism and emotion. On the other hand, our Turkish friends must command our sympathy in some of their claims and apprehensions; and perhaps we, the British Government and people, are entitled to some consideration.
It would be very easy to win the sympathy and even the support of unthinking people, were we to make a gesture of abdication in conformity with a vague feeling of sentiment. But I must warn the House that were we to do so the consequences would be grave and even disastrous. We should be abdicating our duty not only to ourselves, but to the Greek as well as to the Turkish people. I am sure that we should be bringing about not peace in the Eastern Mediterranean, but bitter war and strife. We should be failing in our obligation to all other peoples who depend on us as one of the main buttresses in the defence of freedom and democracy, both in N.A.T.O. and the Middle East, and we should, in this sense, be abandoning our task instead of, as we intend, striving to fulfil it.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said last Monday when the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a statement about Cyprus, our over-riding consideration and earnest desire was not to say anything or do anything then that would hinder the chances of a settlement of the Cyprus question. That is still our concern and anxiety.
I do not desire to go over the past history of Cyprus this afternoon. I do not propose to deal at length with what we feel very strongly, that in its present phase, from the middle of 1954, the Government's handling of this situation leaves very much to be desired and much to be condemned. I mention that now for the purpose of recalling—I hope I may be allowed to do so—a suggestion which I made in 1954, not without consideration, which, had it been adopted, could, I think, have saved this sad situation in Cyprus.
On 28th July, 1954, the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs made a statement about Cyprus. Two things were said about it by myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends. First, we said that there was at that time no particular reason for making a statement about Cyprus at all. Indeed, it was ill-timed, it was a great psychological blunder to have made a statement about Cyprus on the same day as we made the kind of statement that we did about Egypt. It was calculated to put the worst kind of interpretation on the statement that was made.
At that time I asked the Minister of State some questions. One of them is important, because it is relevant to the reasons why I think that in the middle of 1954 the Government had a great opportunity of making a new approach to this problem. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, before the statement was made, there had been discussions with the leaders of the Cypriot peoples. I was told that no such discussions had taken place. The reason why I asked that question was because I had reason to believe that at that time it was possible to get the leaders of the Cypriot people to make a new approach to the political solution of the problem.
From the experience of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), who will be speaking later 44 in the debate if he catches Mr. Speaker's eye, we believed that for some years this had been a political deadlock. The people of Cyprus, through their leaders, the Archbishop and those who support him, have always put forward the demand for Enosis only, by plebiscite only. On the other hand, we had more than once offered discussions with a view to framing an agreed Constitution, and at certain times we had put forward proposals for a Constitution, not as final and definitive, but as a basis for discussion. We had been in that deadlock all the time.
It was because I believed in 1954 that the situation had changed that I then made the suggestion which I want to recall to the House. I then said that I firmly believed that there was a chance of a settlement if we offered not a Constitution, but discussions on a Constitution, with the undertaking that that Constitution would be a beginning towards democratic independence, and that when that stage was reached it would be for the people of Cyprus themselves to decide their own future. I added that that would be the wisest and best course to pursue at that stage.
I still hold that view which, I think, has been justified by events. For the first time, we then had a disposition on the part of the people of Cyprus, and, in particular, on the part of the Archbishop and of those who work with him and for him, to sit down and to frame a Constitution, to co-operate in the working of such a Constitution. It is my view that had that then been done we should not now be discussing the tragedy of Cyprus today.
We on this side of the house have exercised a great deal of restraint on this subject for the reason that we are anxious not to prejudice a settlement, but I think it is important for the House that we should bring out quite clearly in this debate what are now the points at issue, because the House ought to have the opportunity of declaring itself and of saying what it thinks we as a country and the Government should now be doing to bring about a settlement of this difficult problem.
In the course of discussions that have taken place since the conference—I want to bring this right up to date—certain proposals have been put forward by the Archbishop to which the right hon. Gentleman made no reference at all this 45 afternoon. I think it very important, therefore, that these proposals should be mentioned. The right hon. Gentleman told us of the varying propositions that have been put forward by the Government at different times. I do not want to cover that field, but I think it very important to bring out the proposals for a settlement made by the Archbishop and by those for whom he speaks.
Hon. Members will find these set out in a Written Answer to a Question which I asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 16th November, 1955. I then asked:What proposals for the future Constitution of Cyprus were put forward by Archbishop Makarios in the recent discussions with the Governor.The Secretary of State replied:The discussions with the Governor were informal and confidential, but the Archbishop summarised his proposals as follows in a statement to the Press:The Secretary of State did not say—and I do not think he would now say—that these proposals were only made in a statement by the Archbishop to the Press. They were also put forward to the Governor and conveyed by him to Her Majesty's Government. I take it, therefore, that these proposals are still before the Government, and it is for that reason that I think it important for the House to know what they are.
According to the Answer of the Secretary of State, they are:
I believed in 1954 that some such proposals as these would have come from the Archbishop had the Government contented themselves, not with making that statement in 1954, but with having discussions with the Cyprus people at that time. It must have been known to the Government that there was then a change from the old deadlock and a readiness to discuss the problem.
- "(1) Recognition by the British Government of the right of the Cyprus people to self-determination constitutes the indispensable basis for the solution of the Cyprus question.
- (2) After this official recognition, the Archbishop would be willing to co-operate with the British Government in framing a Constitution of self-government and putting it into immediate operation.
- (3) The time of the application of the principle of self-determination should constitute a subject for discussion between the British Government and the representatives of the Cyprus people, who will be elected on the basis of the Constitution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 41–42.]
46 I want to put to the Secretary of State for the Colonies a question with which the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt. It is whether these proposals are acceptable, and, if they are not and are rejected, why they are rejected. I want to go through each proposal in turn. First, we have still not got it clear whether the Government now accept and recognise the principle of self-determination as applied to Cyprus. I do not think that a settlement of the Cyprus situation is possible unless that principle is accepted. We are faced with the recognition of the principle before we can begin to hope for a settlement. Let us be perfectly clear, therefore, that, unless we accept the principle as applying to the people of Cyprus, there can be no settlement. And if there is no settlement, we must realise what will follow from that, not only in Cyprus, but in the whole Middle East.
Quite frankly, in my view, the failure to settle discussions about strategic conditions in the Middle East is irrelevant. If the principle of self-determination is accepted, then I think that there is a chance of a settlement. I join with the right hon. Gentleman and with everyone else in saying that I believe it is a great pity that the people of Cyprus and the leaders of Cyprus did not accept the invitation extended by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield to attend the conference way back in 1947.
I think it is indeed a very great pity that they did not accept as a basis for discussion the proposals put forward in 1948 and others. It is the fact, and we had better face it, that successive Governments have so far refused to discuss a Constitution until the principle of self-determination is accepted, and that is the situation now. Surely we must learn from history. I believe that we ought now to accept and recognise that the principle of self-determination is applicable to Cyprus, because without the acceptance of that principle and its application to Cyprus, I do not think that a settlement is possible, though I believe that a settlement is now in the interests of everybody concerned.
If that principle is accepted, then a Constitution can be worked out. I have taken the view from the beginning that, in the circumstances in Cyprus, particularly with the problem of the communities, the best way in which we could deal with that problem is to work out an agreed Constitution, in which—and I believe only 47 through which—the rights of the minorities can be safeguarded. These rights we must safeguard, and they can be written into the Constitution. Therefore, following the acceptance of the principle, the second task will be the working out of a Constitution for the Cyprus people into which there will be written safeguards for the rights of minorities.
Thirdly, we come to the time of application of the right to self-determination. If we accept the principle of self-determination, and work out a Constitution, the third proposal laid down is that the question when self-determination shall be effective and operative is to be left to the British Government and the new Government elected in Cyprus. This is a very important matter, and I therefore want to put some questions, because very important matters are raised. We did not raise them when the proposal was first made for a Tripartite Conference, although we had some anxieties about them, but it is important that we should raise them at this stage, because the Secretary of State has said—the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that the position now is that the Government accept the principle of self-determination at some time and under conditions. I understand that is what the right hon. Gentleman said, and I want to raise two points about that.
First, the right hon. Gentleman has been asked whether he could now indicate what those conditions are. That is one question to which I hope we shall have a reply, but I want to raise another matter of great importance. Who is to lay down the conditions? This question raises very important issues. It has been affirmed by successive Governments that the granting of responsible self-government to British Colonies and Dependencies is a matter for Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the peoples in those territories and for them alone. Do the Government stand by that principle? It is very important that this should be made clear.
On this subject, I wish to quote a statement by the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill)—and it is rather important on this problem as applying to 48 a Colony or a Dependency, and Cyprus is a Dependency—in reply to a Question asked by Sir Richard Acland. It was a question in relation to Africa, but it is important indeed, not only in its relation to Africa, but in those relations between Her Majesty's Government, this Parliament and all the Dependencies.
The Question asked was who was responsible for deciding whether or not to grant responsible Government—and I take responsible government to be equivalent to self-determination—to Dependent Territories. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course, it is; what is self-determination but giving people responsible government?
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
This is very important. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the granting of responsible self-government is tantamount to granting self-determination?
§ Mr. Griffiths
Once a people and a country are granted responsible self-government, what they do then is a matter for them and them alone. Does the hon. Gentleman want to rewrite the Statute of Westminster?
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is not what we are debating now.
The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was:We must make quite clear the distinction between the grant of responsible self-government within the Commonwealth, which is a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the Territory concerned, and for them alone. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 7th June, 1951; Vol. 488, c. 1199.]The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford added that Her Majesty's present Government endorsed that.
Let us get this clear. The question whether we shall grant self-determination to Cyprus, when we shall grant it and under what conditions we shall grant it and under what conditions we shall grant it is a matter for Her Majesty's Government and this Parliament and the people concerned, and for no one else. Unless we reaffirm that principle, we should consider where it will get us all over the world. Then there is the question of timing. Let me offer a few observations on this question. Having granted the principle of self-determination, we proceed to 49 work out a Constitution. I believe that there is everything to be gained by an agreement between this country and the people who will have to work the Constitution on a target date for self-determination. I believe that quite firmly, and it is one of the things that experience has brought upon me, not only in the case of Cyprus, but in others. Indeed, the party to which I have the privilege to belong affirmed this in a statement of policy some time ago.
If the principle of self-determination is accepted and if all that is known about its coming into effect is the word "sometime," if it is left indefinite, we shall go a long way to wreck that Constitution. We shall have bargaining and competition between the political parties in Cyprus, with one taking the word "sometime" as meaning sooner and the other meaning later, and the problem will become a matter of conflict between the parties in Cyprus, the people in Cyprus and Her Majesty's Government, whereas if there is a settlement as to the time in which self-determination will become operative—and, for the moment, I am not committing myself to any term—I believe that there is a good opportunity of a settlement within a quite reasonable time.
If that is done, I believe that there is a chance that, from the knowledge that in a certain time, in a certain year, the Cypriots will have self-determination, because it will become operative, we shall have from the Cypriot people their full co-operation in working the Constitution, so that the energies of all the people will be harnessed and channelled into the constructive task of working the constitution. Who knows what effect that might have when the actual date of bringing it into operation comes? I therefore strongly urge upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies that, in my view, everything is to be gained and nothing to be lost by agreeing upon a date.
§ Mr. Griffiths
It does not matter; an agreed date. Let me put it this way. I understand that Archbishop Makarios has put forward a proposal that he would be willing to accept five years. If we can make a settlement on the basis of five years, I would accept it. I would rather have a settlement from which we should have five years to work together so that, 50 when the time comes when we do confer the actual right of self-determination upon them, we do it on friendly terms as between the Cypriots and ourselves. It is the right thing to do for the sake of our future relationship with the whole of the Middle East.
Not for one moment do I wish to ignore the fact that there are some vital strategic considerations in this area of Cyprus and the Middle East. That is recognised; indeed, the Foreign Secretary knows that that has been recognised by the Greek Government and by Archbishop Makarios. I now want to quote what was said by the Greek Foreign Minister at the Tripartite Conference, upon the question of the maintenance of a base in Cyprus. He said:Greece also fully recognises the fact that Great Britain, having assumed contractual obligations for the defence of certain countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Iraq and Jordan, must have a base in Cyprus. We go even further, and consider that, in view of the withdrawal of British forces from Suez, the necessity for such a base is more evident today than ever before. Not only has Greece never had any intention of weakening Britain's defensive position in these regions but, quite the contrary, my country is fully conscious of the ties which bind us to Great Britain, and is fully aware of the requirements on which depend not only our own safety but that of out friend and ally Turkey. In sponsoring the Cypriot people's demand for self-determination, Greece has never—and I emphasise 'never,' for a single moment entertained the idea of a withdrawal from Cyprus of British forces. Bearing the foregoing in mind, the Greek view is that the defence of Cyprus and of the Eastern Mediterranean (thanks to the maintenance of British bases and installations in Cyprus) have everything to gain from satisfying the legitimate aspirations of the people of Cyprus. A friendly population devoted to the common cause would strengthen the defensive value of these military bases and would enhance the strategic importance of the Island of Cyprus.That is what was said by the Greek Foreign Minister at the conference. Do we or do we not accept it as being a sincere statement of his Government's desire and intention?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I gather that the noble Lord would reject that offer. Does he now suggest that we can build a Middle Eastern strategic base, and all the rest, and push Greece on one side? Are we really, in 1955, to reject this suggestion and this offer? I speak as a layman in 51 these matters, but is it not better from every standpoint for us to have in Cyprus a people which is contented and which will work with us rather than a people which is bitter and hostile?
In the Sunday Times of yesterday, Archbishop Makarios is quoted as saying that once Britain had conceded the right of the Cypriot people to self-determination it would be easy to find a solution to Western defence needs. I am not going to say whether it would be easy or not, but when we have, first, an affirmation by the Greek Foreign Minister and, secondly, an affirmation by Archbishop Makarios, who is the undoubted leader of the Greek Cypriot people, that they themselves are not only agreeable but are ready to ensure that the strategic considerations of everybody, including our friend and ally, Turkey, are protected whenever any change takes place, it seems to me that we have to make up our minds whether we accept those assurances or whether we do not. In my views we should do so.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Foreign Minister who made that statement has since fallen from office? The anxiety of many people arises from the fear that anybody else who gives such an assurance in the future may fall from office and, possibly, be replaced by a Communist.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I thought that we were discussing the relationship between ourselves and a country which is joined with us in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Her Majesty's Government thought Greece good enough to bring into N.A.T.O. Are we now to say that we do not think it is good enough to accept her word and assurance? Are not the hon. Member and others who take his view destroying any moral basis for N.A.T.O. in the Eastern Mediterranean? Surely we are now speaking of a country which is joined with us, and allied to us. That is an added reason why we should accept this assurance.
I have not had the privilege of visiting Cyprus, but I believe that all those who have been there—and that includes hon. Members on both sides of the House—will agree that in putting forward the proposals to which I have referred Archbishop Makarios took very great risks. 52 He departed from his first slogan and his first position. He is being attacked for putting forward these proposals, and has risked his position as a leader by doing so. If no settlement takes place, and Archbishop Makarios is discredited because of his proposals, with whom shall we discuss the matter? What will then take place?
I believe that we have now reached the stage in Cyprus where we must either settle now with Archbishop Makarios or allow the situation to drift. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Turkish minority?"] I have spoken about that. I have said that within a Constitution the rights of the Turkish minority can be safeguarded. If the hon. Member does not believe that, I would point out, quite frankly, that we are facing the problem of safeguarding minority rights all over the world, in our Colonial Territories, and if we cannot safeguard them in Cyprus, what chance have we of doing so anywhere in our Colonies? Anyhow, minority rights are better safeguarded in a country which is at peace than in one which is at war. I believe that our best chance is to settle now. I hope that it will be taken. If it is not, the conflict will go on.
In that case, who knows when the conflict will end, or where? Who, in 1948, would have thought that in 1955 we should still be at war in Malaya; who would have thought that the Kenya emergency would have lasted for three years? Once a situation like this is allowed to drift it becomes a running sore, and we pour out money afterwards. Now is our chance, before the matter has gone too far; before the conflict has gone too deep and become too bitter, and while these discussions are going on. I urge the Government to settle now.
I would like to see Archbishop Makarios joining with the Governor, to whom I pay tribute, in making an appeal to all the people in Cyprus to refrain from all violent acts now. I make that appeal: let us have peace and quiet, let us have an end to violence. If that is secured I would hope that we would do the big, bold thing: suspend the emergency and suspend the fine which has been imposed. If we are to do this thing, do not let us do it reluctantly, but generously and in a big way.
53 I believe that is the only way to establish friendly relations between us and the people of Cyprus and of Greece. I will say to our friends in Turkey, "It is only in that atmosphere that your security will be ensured as well." We have a chance now. I say to the Government, "Take that chance, while there is still time." That is our desire. I believe that in saying that we speak not only for ourselves but for this nation.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
I listened with the very greatest interest and expectation to the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). The gist of his appeal was that we should settle the problem of Cyprus, and settle now, but he did not make clear at all upon what terms he was prepared to settle.
He quoted at great length a declaration made by the previous Prime Minister of Greece and he said, "Surely we can afford to take this man's word." My hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland) pointed out that the author of the quotation had fallen from office. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the progress of affairs in Egypt, which we were discussing only eighteen months ago. In 1936, the Egyptians entered into an agreement very similar to the one now suggested by the right hon. Member for Llanelly. I am certain they did it in absolutely good faith, yet within ten or twelve years they wanted to get out of that agreement and eventually they went back upon it altogether.
The position in Cyprus is extremely serious, not only for Great Britain and the N.A.T.O. countries but for the whole of the Middle East. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary traced the history of the matter back to 1878, when we first took Cyprus over from the Turks. I happened to have made a note of the phraseology of the convention which was then entered into. It shows that Cyprus was assigned to us to beoccupied and administered by Great Britain.It was in a way a part of the Treaty of Berlin. I want to emphasise this point. At that time Russia was at the gates of Constantinople. The Russian menace of 1878 was very similar to the Russian menace today. I believe I am right in 54 saying that we went into Cyprus with the idea of making it a base and a fortress.
Why did we not do it? Because, in 1882, we went into Egypt, and after that had in Alexandria and on the Suez Canal far better positions than we could ever hope to have had in Cyprus. Therefore, Cyprus was never developed. That is the answer to the question asked by the right hon. Member the Member for Llanelly at the beginning of his speech, when he said that my right hon. Friends made a mistake eighteen months ago in coupling Cyprus with Egypt. Cyprus and Egypt must be coupled as alternatives if the security of that part of the world is to be defended. My right hon. Friends then decided, wisely or unwisely—I think unwisely—to come out of Egypt. They were absolutely right to go back to the Treaty of Berlin position and to say, "Having cleared out of Egypt we have to get into Cyprus and be secure in Cyprus." That was the wise and proper course for them to take.
Nothing of an unexpected nature has happened during the last eighteen months. What has happened in Cyprus was the natural outcome of the decision to leave Egypt. Cyprus saw that violence had driven us off the Canal, and realised, just as we and my right hon. Friends realise, the increased strategic importance of Cyprus. Quite naturally, they decided that that was the wise and sensible moment for them to turn on the heat with us. They turned it on, by the usual methods. The right hon. Member for Llanelly spoke of the movement in Cyprus as a spontaneous movement. I do not believe that it was a spontaneous movement at all. I will deal with that point in more detail later on.
These affairs are what they have been for the last 130 or 140 years, plots in bishops' palaces. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not Communist plots."] Not Communist then, but possibly Communist in the future. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but it is a fact that the enemies of Britain and of England change from time to time in the world. Because we did not have the same enemy a hundred years ago as we have today does not make the enemy of today any less real than in historical times. Burnings, shootings, school children stirred up, are old symptoms. Has the House forgotten—
§ Captain Waterhouse
I do not see the relevance of that interruption. We are discussing a serious matter. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) has, I know, a very small opinion of the value of this country, but I have a great opinion of it.
§ Mr. Mikardo
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be sorry, in a calmer moment, that he made that observation. My intervention was not irrelevant. I was saying, by inference, that the very same argument that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was using was used by Lord North. It was not very successful at the time.
§ Captain Waterhouse
The position in Cyprus has no relevance to the Boston Tea Party, which was an economic quarrel. The trouble in Cyprus comes down to a strategic matter for Great Britain and for N.A.T.O. I repeat that I would like to think that the hon. Member for Reading had a greater regard for the importance of this subject—to me, all important—than I believe he has.
Let any hon. Member who may think these troubles are new remember than in 1931 Government House in Cyprus was burned down. There were a series of riots in which six rioters were killed, 30 or 40 people were wounded and between 30 and 40 police were wounded. In those days the garrison of Cyprus consisted of four officers and 170 other ranks. I do not know precisely what the force is now, but I believe it is eight or nine battalions.
The operation of being in Cyprus is costly. What is worse, we are apparently not sure of ourselves. I was startled to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he had decided to give self-determination to Cyprus "some time." That seemed a very material advance on anything that had yet been said. I do not know what his conditions are, but I pray that they may be strong conditions which will secure the position, if that "some time" comes.
I submit that we are not certainly right in standing for self-determination as a general principle. I believe that the proper and ultimate objective, at least in anything like the immediate future, by which I mean the lifetime of anybody in this House, of any part of our Empire should be, not self-determination, but self-government, as widely based as possible but within the fabric of our Empire.
56 How far is this self-determination principle to go? Where is it to stop, where it is to begin? What number of people, what sort of geographical area, is chosen for self-determination? Suppose that the people of Quebec wanted to go back to France. Suppose that the Italian population of New York—it may be a wild thought—wanted to go back to Italy. Supposing the coloured population of Virgina wanted to become a colony of Liberia. It is far-fetched, but it is not so very far-fetched when one thinks of what has happened already about self-determination in our own Empire.
The Indian sub-continent is divided against itself, and now, more recently and even more painfully, there is the question of the Sudan, which, to my mind, has been given too-early self-determination. I am not suggesting that we should go back on it—we have said that the Sudanese have got to have it—but it is a terrible thing that, possibly this morning, Southern Sudanese, who loyally looked on Britain for protection, may have been shot by an order properly countersigned by a British Governor-General. That is an outcome of self-determination.
What I want hon. Members opposite to ask themselves, and the Americans to ask themselves, is, how far is this principle to be over-riding? If, by giving self-determination, a country or a part of the world is being handed over to Communism, do they still believe in self-determination? Some hon. Members may not; I am quite sure that not all do. I do not believe that the American people believe in that. Those are the questions we have to answer.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The Americans might remind themselves that they fought a civil war about self-determination.
§ Captain Waterhouse
The hon. and learned Member has raised something which I have often quoted, and to Americans, but I am not using it in this House. It is perfectly true that the Americans fought a long and bloody war to prevent the very thing that many of their people are claiming today as a principle of general application.
I urge Her Majesty's Government not rashly to move their position. I do not believe that to do so is likely to resolve present difficulties, and I believe that it might prove to be a long-term blunder.
57 I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies this question. If we do agree that Cyprus is some time to have the right of self-determination, how can we conceivably deny it to Gibraltar? [An HON. MEMBER: "Or Malta?"] If Gibraltar and Cyprus and Suez have gone, why are we making such a fuss about Malta? Why are we trying to work out the constitution for that island if, at the same time, we say to the occupants of the two gates at either end of this great highway, "We are prepared for you to have your self-determination. You may go out of the British Empire, you may go out of N.A.T.O. Do what you like and go where you will."? I hope that my right hon. Friend will mention this in his reply, because it seems to me to be a very relevant point. I am afraid that to give self-determination will solve nothing.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
Did the right hon. and gallant Member support Central African Federation?
§ Captain Waterhouse
Most certainly I did, and I supported the Statute of Westminster, but I could not support Cyprus being made a Dominion in the Commonwealth.
May I make this point, which was made also by the right hon. Member for Llanelly in a rather different context? He said that the words "some time" are too vague, that we must give a definite period, and he suggested five years. But what will happen in five years? For how long is the Archbishop to be satisfied with five years? Make it four, make it three years, make it six months! We are going to have that pressure the whole time, and once self-determination comes how long can we hope that the sort of conditions that the right hon. Gentleman read out as the Greek Prime Minister's offer will hold? What a disgrace, what a running sore it will be to the great Greek people to have British troops in their country, a British base on their island! Every one of the arguments that we have heard about Suez will be at least as applicable, if not more applicable, about Cyprus. I am perfectly certain that there is another way out.
When Sir Ronald Storrs was Governor, only thirty years ago, which is not a long time back, he said he was told after he had been there for a while, and 58 he came to believe it, that if there were a really free and secret vote of Greeks and Turks throughout the island, 90 per cent. of the population would then have voted for a continuation of the link with Britain. I was told that one of the wisest of our administrators there, somebody whom I do not know myself but whom I believe to be a man greatly to be trusted and with a very long knowledge, said only five years ago that he thought 75 per cent. at least would vote for the British link.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in favour of a plebiscite being taken?
§ Captain Waterhouse
I do not know what the position may be now, but before we make a change of this great and irrevocable nature we ought for a period of years to try a new approach in Cyprus. We ought definitely to curb violence, whether it comes from bishops or anybody else. Free speech is one thing, but the right to stir up backward, uneducated boys and girls—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—to riot, to burn and to bomb our soldiers is a right which I for one think is a disgraceful right for anybody either to claim or to be given.
I believe that we must have a rather new approach to the education system. We have taken far too much of the line, "These are a Greek people, give them their Greek books and approach, and keep the British view in abeyance." I do not believe that our information services are as good as they should be. I was horrified to read, and perhaps my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will say a word or two about this, that the Governor had not even been told of our debate, which shows, if true—it was reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning—that there is something very short in information arrangements even at the very highest point.
Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that he has proper broadcasting arrangements, that there are means of putting our view over, not occasionally, but puttting it over and repeating it and driving it home? Have we done enough in explaining to Cypriots outside Cyprus just what would happen if they ceased to be members of the British Empire? I remember all those ladies and gentlemen who came into the 59 Lobby the other day. None of them came to see me; I assume they hoped to get some rather softer clay to mould to their wishes. What happens to them if they all suddenly became foreigners? Many of them would be sent home, and those who remained would not be able to transmit their earnings here to their people at home.
My last point in this category is: do we take as much trouble as we might in the selection of our governors? In our present Governor we have a man who is outstanding in the whole of the Empire. I am not disparaging in any way his predecessors when I ask, are they chosen because they are likely to be men who will be of best value in Cyprus? Are they chosen because of their past experience? Have they, in fact, been the best representatives that we can possibly choose from the whole of this country in order to see that the British view is maintained?
In conclusion I want to urge Her Majesty's Government, with all the force that I can, to go cautiously on this all-important matter. These are irrevocable steps and they should be taken only after the most mature thought. I would urge the Government to go no further than they have done; to leave it for some time—because "for some time" can be a very long way ahead—and, for the time being, to see that law and order is maintained, and our régime once more honoured in that island.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of following the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Capt. Waterhouse), because in his speech we heard the real Tory case, and we now know quite definitely what the Foreign Secretary has not dared to tell us. We know that there will be conditions, and we know why there are to be conditions. There are to be conditions in order to satisfy people like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in the Conservative Party. The Government know that unless there were conditions like that, they would not get the support of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. If they do get his support then, quite frankly, I am deeply suspicious of the conditions.
60 What are we facing today? We are facing a people who are sensitive and friendly, or who would be friendly if they were allowed to be, and if they had not been stirred up to a state in which they are at bitter enmity with the Commonwealth and with this country, and Her Majesty's Government have no small share of the responsibility for having brought about this state of affairs.
It is not the Government alone who have done it. Of course, there are others. We all know that there are Communists there. We all know that wherever there are Communists they are fishing in troubled waters. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman and the policy of the Government is not the way to make these waters calm and to bring about peace in Cyprus. They will never do it in that way.
What is the Government's policy? Their policy, or so we understand—I took down what I could of the right hon. Gentleman's speech—is that there should be self-determination. "Self-determination" he says, "is a good principle and no one can say that we have not carried it out in the Commonwealth." When has the Conservative Party carried out self-determination in the Commonwealth? India was not given self-determination by a Conservative Government. It never would have been given self-determination if the Conservative Party had remained in power. The Conservative party has never yet given full self-determination to any country in the Commonwealth, and it does not want to do so if it can possibly avoid it.
What is the case made by the Foreign Secretary and the Government against self-determination? They say, in the first place, that they have to look after the Turks. When I was in Cyprus, about two months ago, I took the opportunity of seeing the Turkish leaders, because, like anyone on either side of the House, I was naturally concerned that the rights of minorities should be protected. We are just as concerned about that on this side of the House as are hon. Members on the other side.
The Turks in Cyprus are not, I believe, nearly so worried as the Turks in Turkey. I find that, for instance, Turkish trade union leaders in Cyprus only a week or so before I went there, had had a joint deputation with Greek trade union leaders 61 to discuss wage negotiations with employers. They were in fact getting on as well as they could do. It is not in Cyprus that the difficulty comes. It is the fomentation of difficulty from outside, both from Turkey and indeed from Greece. I would urge that the Government at the moment in any negotiations have to rely more and more on negotiations with the Cypriot people, with the Greeks and Turks in Cyprus, and less and less on negotiations with the two foreign countries outside whom it will be much more difficult to bring to any kind of agreement than the Cypriot people.
What is the safeguard possessed by the Turks in Cyprus? I think that they have one supreme safeguard, and that is that there is a very much larger number of Greeks on Turkish soil than of Turks on Cypriot soil. Why should the Greeks go out of their way to bring events to pass which might make the Turks retaliate now upon the Greeks who are in Turkey. Of course, they would not do that. There are many Turks living on territory that is controlled by Greece. Have we heard any protests about their treatment recently? There has certainly been a protest about the treatment of Greeks in Constantinople. We have indeed no reason to suppose that Turks living in Cyprus are likely to suffer all these things which Her Majesty's Government apparently fear that they will suffer in the event of Enosis.
I believe these safeguards can go a long way to seeing that the Turks in Cyprus are safe and preventing their being subjected to the treatment which the Government apparently fear they might be subjected to if Cyprus were to be given her freedom.
But the main motive actuating the Government at the moment, however—at any rate the main reason which they have given for their action—is the question of the military base. I took the opportunity, when in Cyprus, of seeing as many soldiers as I could—there are many from my own constituency serving there at the moment—and also of seeing what are the military plans proposed for Cyprus.
Let us be clear about one thing. The proposals are not to have a base similar to the base that was in Egypt. The proposal, in fact, is to have a very small base there. So far as I can understand 62 the position, when the emergency is over and the troops who have been sent there for this emergency are withdrawn, all that will remain of the base, at least so far as the Army is concerned, will be one brigade of troops.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Has not my right hon. Friend heard that the Secretary of State for War has said that this is going to cost £25 million?
§ Mr. Dugdale
Far be it from me to say whether the Government can run the Army efficiently and economically or not. I do not know. It may be that the Secretary of State for War cannot run the British Army as economically as he thinks he can. At any rate, the number of troops that he means two have there eventually is apparently one brigade, together with 300 staff officers, and, of course, the people who will be attached to them in Middle East headquarters.
That is what the Government want to do, and it is in order that they may do that that we are having to keep Cyprus without any date set for her freedom. We have to undergo all that is being undergone so that we may keep 300 officers, and the people with them—the clerks, messengers, batmen and all the rest, who are naturally attached to a staff, and who may amount to a few thousands—plus one brigade in Cyprus.
§ Mr. Dugdale
My hon. and learned Friend is abundantly right. Why is it not intended to make Cyprus such a big base? It is because Cyprus is not a suitable place to have as a base.
§ Mr. Dugdale
There is a difference of opinion about this between the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East and his hon. Friends.
We on this side of the House and many other people think that Cyprus is not the best place in which to have a base. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will, I think, agree that even in these days the Navy has a great part to play in any war, and the Navy cannot 63 use any of the ports in Cyprus. Not only that; what is the good of having troops locked up in Cyprus if ships cannot be brought in to take them away? I know that they can be flown, but it seems to be a very odd proceeding to depend entirely on air transport instead of going, for a base, to a place where it is possible to get people out by sea.
I said that only one brigade is being kept in Cyprus. The other brigade is in Libya. Apparently Cyprus is not enough, and we have to have Libya as well. Would it not be possible to have both brigades in Libya instead of keeping one brigade in Cyprus? If we could get, in Cyprus, even with all its disadvantages—and it has many disadvantages—a military base on friendly soil, where the people were friendly with us, there might be a great deal to be said for it, in spite of all the difficulties and disadvantages. But if we are to have a base on the soil of a people who are constantly doing everything they can to make it difficult for those in charge of the base, that is surely not the most suitable arrangement, even from a military point of view, quite apart from what is ethically right or wrong.
§ Mr. R. Brooman-White (Rutherglen)
There seems to be a certain difference, which I hope the right hon. Gentleman can clear up, between the statement that he is making now and the statement of his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). As I understand the argument of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), he says that the base in Cyprus is useless. The right hon. Member for Llanelly quoted most emphatically the Greek Foreign Secretary, whom he asked us to believe as saying that the base there was most necessary and would be maintained by the Greeks. I find it difficult to reconcile those two statements.
§ Mr. Dugdale
We do not always on this side of the House have literal agreement on every single point.
§ Mr. Dugdale
On the main basis, I agree fundamentally with my right hon. Friend's argument. I agree with him on the general thesis that he has put forward, that in fact the Government do not 64 apparently intend to grant self-determination, except under conditions which are unspecified, at a time which is unspecified; and we think that, in fact, the Government do not intend to grant self-determination at all because these conditions will interfere constantly with any attempt that may be made to secure self-determination.
The real reason is not because of the Turks. It is not because of the military situation. It is because the Government do not dare come out against their own supporters such as the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East, and they do not dare do so particularly after what happened in Egypt. They have said over and over again that they are not going to give up one small bit of the Commonwealth, as the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) said, they are not going to do anything to "liquidate" the British Empire. They are obstinately determined to do nothing whatever to satisfy the rights of self-determination of people who they themselves say have those rights.
Ten weeks ago it would have been true to say that in spite of all the talks of disturbance in Cyprus, the position was relatively calm. I think there had been very gross exaggeration about the disturbances that were going on in the country. For instance, on the day when a general strike was declared, when one might suppose that there would be the maximum amount of disturbance, I was able to drive out in the evening into the main streets and up into the main square, and I saw no sign of disturbance at all.
§ Captain Waterhouse
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the killing of British troops is a matter of importance?
§ Mr. Dugdale
Of course it is a matter of importance, but I would ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman this: does he think it is a good thing to spread alarm and despondency among the relatives of troops out there by exaggerating the conditions in Cyprus? That was a bad thing to do, and a thing to which I would not be a party.
§ Mr. Dugdale
It is possible to exaggerate the number of people who are dead.
About ten weeks ago the Government decided that they would change Governors, and they sent away Sir Robert Armitage with rather less notice than most people today would give to a cook. I think that in doing so they took a very grave step. They have not yet explained why they dismissed him so unceremoniously at a moment's notice.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. As there has been no debate on Cyprus since 4th May, and as the change in Governors has taken place since then, I hope the right hon. Gentleman, who once served in an office in my Department, will say nothing which will give currency to some of the absurd stories which have been spread. I will deal, I hope adequately, when I wind up the debate, with the splendid record of public service of Sir Robert Armitage, who I was delighted to hear Her Majesty has made the prospective Governor of Nyasaland.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, but it really does not fit in with what he did, and I do not think that Sir Robert Armitage, for all that he has been given the Governorship of Nyasaland, is a very happy man. I think that he feels that he has been very badly treated indeed.
The right hon. Gentleman is responsible today for the Colonial Service. Does he think it is a good thing that whenever any difficulty arises, people in the Colonial Service are immediately deprived of their positions and that generals and people outside the Service are sent in? That is what the present Government are doing in one Colony after another, and they have done it in Cyprus. I think it is a very unfortunate thing to have done.
I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman thinks he is going to do by these new Regulations? Does he think that he is going to bring about peace in Cyprus? I feel very doubtful about it. In fact, since the new Regulations were issued the conditions have become worse. I cannot remember the exact date when the men to whom the 66 right hon. Gentleman referred were killed, but I would not be surprised if they were killed after the Regulations were issued rather than before. Certainly the casualty rate has not diminished since the Regulations were issued.
§ Sir Ian Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
One of my constituents was killed before the Regulations were issued—a dastardly outrage.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not think that the Regulations have done anything so far to quieten conditions in Cyprus. In fact, they are quite clearly a confession of failure to carry out the democratic principles to which hon. Members on both sides of the House are pledged.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
In order that some of these rather wild charges should be instantly laid, I should like to make it quite clear that the gallant British soldiers to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred were all killed before the Regulations.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Withdraw what? I have nothing to withdraw at all. I said that I was not certain whether they were killed before the issue of the Regulations or not.
I shall be very happy if the Regulations do in fact bring about a state of peace in Cyprus and if, in consequence, British troops are no longer killed, but I have very grave doubts indeed whether they will do anything of the kind. I know that they are a confession of the failure of the democratic principle in Cyprus, because the ordinary rights that the people of Cyprus have had in common with other people in the Commonwealth are now being taken from them.
The British Government have decided on a course which is driving them gradually to the use of more and more force. I think it is time we had a new policy—a policy which, instead of trusting in force, trusts, for a change, in the free determination of people. We should have a policy in which we trust the people of Cyprus. If we did that, we might find that the results were much different from those which the right hon. Gentleman seems to expect.
I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite sometimes have quite as much faith in the Commonwealth as they say they have. The people of India had a much greater and longer struggle than the people of 67 Cyprus have had to gain their freedom, and they endured much greater suffering, but when they were given freedom of choice they decided to remain within the British Commonwealth. I believe that if the Government were to say to the people of Cyprus that at a definite date, to be fixed in agreement, they would let them have the right of choice whether they stayed in the Commonwealth or went out, like the people of India, they might well stay in it.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Lord Balniel (Hertford)
It is with great diffidence that I address the House for the first time. In doing so, I should like to ask for the indulgence which I have learned the House usually gives to a newcomer who, either through inadvertence or ignorance, transgresses some of its customs. I ask for this indulgence with special sincerity, because on this subject of Cyprus it is very difficult not to touch upon controversial matters.
Like many other hon. Members, I have spent some years of my life in the Middle East. I recently revisited the area, at the time of the tripartite talks, and spent some time not only in the island of Cyprus itself, but also in Turkey and Greece, two countries which have a great concern in the future destiny of the island.
The fact which strikes me most forcibly about the difference between the problems which we have in Cyprus and those which perplex the remainder of the Middle East is that in Cyprus we are not witnessing a widespread, emergent nationalism. Instead, we are witnessing a demand by one section of the Community for the transfer of sovereignty from one country to another. At the moment the magic word "self-determination" is synonomous with union with Greece. On the other hand, we witness the demand by the Turkish community for the retention of the status quo.
In the remainder of the Middle East we have become used to hearing the chanting of the slogans of nationalism—"Morocco for the Moroccans," "Sudan for the Sudanese," "Egypt for the Egyptians" and "Israel for the Jews"—and so on in other Middle East countries. The one cry which we do not hear in the Eastern Mediterranean is the cry 68 of "Cyprus for the Cypriots." Indeed, in Turkey the association which, I think, commands widespread support throughout the country has taken as its slogan the rather unreal and perhaps wishful thinking words of "Cyprus is Turkish." In Greece and Cyprus itself, the demand is of course for Enosis, or union with Greece.
I cannot help feeling that this failure to develop what is in other British colonial administrations often a source of considerable embarrassment to us, because of its strength—the failure to develop a sense of national pride and of national consciousness, as opposed to racial pride—is unfortunate, both in our own interests and in the interests of the Cypriot people.
It results from a failure by a whole series of British Governments to establish successfully national institutions to which the Cypriot people as a whole can look with interest or which can absorb the attention of the Cypriots as a nation. It results partly from the fact that the heads of most of the great administrative Departments in the island are Englishmen, or perhaps more normally Scotsmen, and are very rarely Cypriots. It results partly from the fact that we have not been very successful in establishing firmly-rooted, independent and strong local government. And it results mainly, of course, from the fact that, through no fault of the British Government, there is no constitution allowing of democratic self-expression or democratic self-government. I think I am right in saying that this failure to establish national institutions is not confined to the political arena. For instance, in the cultural field there is. I believe, no national orchestra and no national theatre.
If I might be permitted to take a concrete, though I agree perhaps a rather small, example of the kind of institution and development which I feel should have been encouraged, I would remind the House of the Cypriot military unit which did such valuable work during the war and which was a source of considerable pride to the Cypriot people. After the war, for reasons of military reorganisation, which I am quite sure were perfectly valid military reasons. this military unit was disbanded. The result is that today the guard which does all the formal duties in the island is composed of young 69 English National Service men, most of whom have no wish to be in Cyprus at all, and all of whom are a constant temptation to the stone-throwing inclinations of the Cypriot children. If we had retained the military unit it would have been a most wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of pride and affection amongst the Cypriot people. That is an example of the kind of thing I have in mind, which could have been repeated in many other walks of Cypriot life.
I mention this matter of national pride and national consciousness because I am afraid that at this time of emergency there might be a tendency for the Government, in their urgent search for a political solution, to forget or push aside some of the less dramatic but none the less important steps which could be taken to foster a sense of national pride.
By far and away the most important advance must be made in the constitutional field, but equally in other important spheres other steps could be taken. Here I should like to refer to the comments of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) about education, because here, I feel certain, lies the key to much of the future happiness of Cyprus.
The scope for improvement in education is simply immense. At the moment only one in every four Cypriot child receives any secondary education at all, and he receives it in schools which, in the moderate language of the Official Report of the Department of Education for Cyprus, are described as follows:In the towns especially, many of these schools which have been unable to add to their present accommodation are very seriously overcrowded and are rapidly approaching the absolute minimum in physical conditions desirable or even practicable in secondary schools.I believe that in these circumstances, where the existing racial schools in the island are failing to provide any secondary education at all for the majority of the children, the Government should not hesitate to step in, by the provision of national schools, much more vigorously than they are doing at present.
I welcome the Colonial Secretary's recent announcement that we are to devote £38 million to the island of Cyprus and that some of this money is to go to technical education. I should, however, like to ask how much of it is to go to technical 70 education, because the leeway which has to be made up is considerable. In fact, as far as I am aware, technical education in the island at the moment is almost nonexistent. I mention this matter of technical education because not only does it have an intrinsic value of its own but it also enables us to put education on a national basis instead of a racial basis. At the moment neither of the racial groups could possibly afford the expense of technical education.
I would also support those who urge that the Government in the reasonably close future should cap the educational system by establishing a university in the island. I realise very well that it is impracticable to create a university out of nothing, that much of its value depends upon the slow growth of traditions, of intellectual effort both by teachers and by pupils. But the basis for a university is at this very moment being laid in Cyprus. A Teachers' Training College is at this moment being built at Nicosia, and I would suggest that the Government should set as an objective to be reached in the reasonably close future the expansion of that Teachers' Training College into a university.
It may be said that the demand in Cyprus is not adequate to support a university; that it could not compete effectively with the attractions of the universities of Beirut, Istanbul, and Athens. But I think we should rather regard such a university, placed right in the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean, as being there to provide the intellectual leadership and advanced technical training for all the rapidly advancing Middle Eastern countries, for they will certainly be seeking it somewhere during the next ten years.
The implications of a university are very far ranging in the Middle East, which is the crucial area where Africa and Asia and Europe come together and where we are now engaged in what is frankly admitted to be a state of competitive coexistence between the Democracies and Communism. We must not forget that Cyprus at this moment the trade unions and the towns of Lanarca, Limassol and Famagusta are already dominated by Communism, and that this competitive coexistence is not solely confined to the economic field. We must also compete effectively in the field of the intellect, and if we lose this battle for the moral 71 and intellectual leadership of the area, then surely we also lose the vast sums of money that we have already expended in the area and are about to expend during the next few years. By establishing a university in Cyprus, which is, after all, now our sole foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, we should be striking in the intellectual field a blow against Communist infiltration which would be quite compatible with the blow which has been struck in the economic field by the establishment of the Baghdad Pact.
In conclusion, I would only advance one further reason for establishing a university there, and would at the same time return to what I was saying previously about fostering a sense of national unity in the island. At the moment the curricula of the Greek-speaking schools are orientated outwards to the University of Athens, and the curricula of the Turkish-speaking schools are orientated outwards towards the University of Istanbul, and the result is that the educational system does little to foster the sense of unity between the Greeks and the Turks living in Cyprus. Indeed, many people contend that it does much to destroy that sense of unity. If we can orientate the curricula inwards and focus them upon a university of Cyprus, I feel sure we shall be doing much to stimulate the sense of nationhood and of national unity which is of such importance to the island.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
It is a particularly great pleasure to me to find myself following the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) who has just made to the House a well-informed, fluent and extremely attractive and persuasive speech. I found myself wishing that he had been here some years ago to put his points to earlier Governments, for if some of the things he has now suggested had earlier been carried out the situation in Cyprus might have been very different. I hope that on many occasions in the future I shall find myself in the same measure of agreement as I find myself today with the noble Lord.
I hope the noble Lord will not think it provocative of me if I say that we on this side of the House are happy to see people like him taking the places on those benches of people with a very different point of view. I am encouraged in saying 72 this to him by the knowledge that not only on this question are we able to find points of agreement, but on another at least, which is that neither of us can altogether condemn heredity as an element in politics in this country. I have no doubt that if the noble Lord's father had been able to hear his speech today it would have done his heart a great deal of good.
If this debate could consist entirely of maiden speeches of the kind we have just heard, I suspect it might do a great deal less damage to the delicate negotiations that are now in progress in Athens and Nicosia than may, perhaps, be the case if subsequent speakers talk with less discretion and less unprovocatively than the noble Lord.
I find myself very puzzled to understand why this debate is taking place at this moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is perfectly true that the other day the Leader of the Opposition put some questions to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but he made it perfectly plain that we had been exercising great forbearance and restraint, not because we agreed with many aspects of the Government's policy, but precisely because we did not want to upset negotiations we hope are taking place at the present time. But it is equally perfectly true, I suspect, that if an approach had been made to my right hon. Friends indicating that, perhaps, it would have been more suitable in three or four days' time, or in a week's time, to discuss this subject than now, that request would have been acceded to, and I am puzzled why it was never made. In saying that, I do not overlook the fact that the restraint and patience on which we have been congratulated by the Colonial Secretary have imposed an immense strain on a large number of my hon. and right hon. Friends.
This is not the moment for a full inquest into the Government's handling of the Cyprus question, and we do not want to turn this debate into one, but the time will certainly come when we shall want to ask a great number of very awkward questions and to go very much more fully into the series of blunders which have been committed one after another by the Government. I hope that the fact that we are leaning over backwards on this occasion not to make more difficult what is going on in Nicosia and Athens and, perhaps, in other places, will not be 73 interpreted as meaning that we do not feel very violently indeed about the Government's policy during the last two years.
There certainly may have been occasions, even before the present Government took office, when, if we had been able to look a little further into the future, if there had not been a whole series of other Commonwealth and Colonial problems, we on this side might have taken steps that would have prevented the situation from arising in the way it has. But, whatever may have happened in the past, there is no doubt that in the last two years things have gone wrong in a way they should never have been allowed. Some people attribute the beginning of this unhappy dispute to certain things which took place when the Prime Minister was in Athens during his convalescence. I do not know what the ins and outs of that incident are, and, if I did, I do not suppose it would be right to talk about them in the House, but at all events, since that time the Government have constantly been putting themselves into impossible situations, out of which with immense difficulty they have tried to extricate themselves since.
If we were not trying to be helpful to the right hon. Gentleman, we could point to a whole lot of things said by his right hon. Friends, some of them during the course of the Tripartite Conference, which has made the right hon. Gentleman's task and that of the Governor in Cyprus indefinitely more difficult than they need have been. We can think with some sympathy and sorrow of Ministers having to call repeatedly on harassed officials to produce new draft proposals to get out of difficult positions in which they had put themselves. New draft proposals come up from the Colonial Office, or the Foreign Office, the Cabinet has a look at them and then sends them back and asks for more.
We feel particularly sympathetic towards the Colonial Secretary. This may sound surprising, coming from this side of the House. Many of my hon. Friends took very fierce exception to some of his views in days gone by, but some of us are bound to admit that we think with some respect of the initiative and goodwill which he has shown in tackling similar problems in other parts of the world. We feel sorry for the right hon. Gentleman finding himself in a position 74 of having to defend a policy and a handling of the situation for which he is only partly responsible and which has been astonishingly badly bungled by many of his right hon. Friends in the past.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) referred to the policy of my party in relation to Cyprus. I am sorry that the right hon. and gallant Member is not in his place. It should be made perfectly plain that, in contrast with the dithering and acrobatics which we have seen from the other side of the House, we have a perfectly simple, practical and coherent line which, as far as I know, is accepted with unanimity on this side of the House.
It was redefined on the 20th September this year by the National Executive Committee. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) did not quote this passage, I think that it is worth doing so now. It said:The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party still believes that the Cyprus problem can be settled by negotiation. It calls upon the British Government to give a firm guarantee of democratic self-determination within an agreed period with safeguards for minority rights …That represents the policy for which we on this side of the House stand.
If it appeared to us after hearing the Secretary of State for the Colonies that the principle of self-determination was not being accepted during the discussions which are now taking place, very many of my hon. and right hon. Friends might even feel inclined to take the unusual step of voting against the Motion which theoretically we are debating today. We assume that not only are new proposals being made and discussions going on at present, but that the proposals contain a specific recognition of the right of self-determination for the Cypriot people.
In all this talk that there has been of formulae and finding the right combination of words, the Government would put themselves in a far better position if they said, "We recognise that this is a complicated situation and that a great many people have strong views on it. Nevertheless, we are going to say what we mean. If we are to apply self-determination we shall call it self-determination and not try to find some rigmarole which neither satisfies nor deceives anybody else." We on this side of the House, at any rate, are assuming that 75 negotiations in Nicosia are taking place on the basis of self-determination. That is our understanding of the not very helpful statement which the Foreign Secretary made today. If anything were said towards the end of the debate which led us to believe that that was not so, many of us would begin to think hard again.
Two fundamental principles must be recognised in relation to Cyprus. The first applies to all that part of the world over which we have any control or in which we have any influence. If a people decides in the twentieth century that it does not want to be ruled by an alien Power there is no acceptable way of refusing that wish. We cannot massacre them as we used to do in the nineteenth century, and as the Soviet Government do—
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
Would the hon. Member say that the Sudeten Germans had a perfect right to self-determination and that we should have supported them in their claim? In other words, would he say that Hitler was perfectly right in invading Czechoslovakia?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The hon. Member is rather scraping the barrel if he has to go back to that. In the twentieth century when a people decides that it will not accept alien rule one cannot apply nineteenth century colonial measures against it. Nor can one use the methods which the Soviet Government use in dealing with minorities over which they have control.
In passing, may I say that although one Foreign Office official was ticked off in a rather brutal way the other day for making some comments about something said by Mr. Khruschev, many of us feel that Mr. Khruschev has reached the full limits of hypocrisy and insult in some of the things which he has been saying in Burma about this country.
The second fundamental principle which the Government have to accept in dealing with Cyprus, and this is a local rather than a world-wide matter, is that Hellenism is something so deeply implanted in the heart and mind of anybody who speaks the Greek language or believes himself to belong to the Greek race that one can never get rid of it by any kind of pressure or oppression. Various obstacles have been raised during 76 the debate which hon. Members opposite hope to use to persuade the Government that they cannot make any realistic concession at present. I was very sorry to hear the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland) threatening the House with the ghastly consequences of a Communist régime in Greece. That is not only utterly unrealistic but it is a most insulting thing to say. I hope that when the hon. Member comes to speak he may find some way of qualifying his suggestion.
The whole basis of our system of alliances in Europe is built on the principle of mutual trust, and if we cannot trust the Greeks who among our allies can we trust? If the hon. Member speaks in terms of the Communist menace, we might as well cut adrift from the Italians, the French, and a whole lot of other allies.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland
To assume that the Communist menace is the only one to which we must have regard in that context was perhaps exaggerated, but surely the hon. Member will agree that one of the coming issues in the elections in Greece may well be whether Greece should remain in N.A.T.O. or not.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
On merits, it would be difficult to find a Government and a people less likely, whatever the provocation, to be drawn behind the Iron Curtain than the Government and people of Greece. I say that realising very well the point which the hon. Member may try to make about the results of the Greek elections in April. I hope that the hon. Member will not try to make that point.
We have heard a good deal about the position of the Turks. I was a little saddened by the emphasis which the Foreign Secretary appeared to put on the Turkish point of view. After all, we have to remember that only 18 per cent. of the population of Cyprus is Turkish, the remainder being almost entirely Greek. To treat the Greek and Turkish sections of the population of Cyprus on a basis of parity as though they were equals seems to me to be unrealistic.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, and I am glad to think that this was not the impression he 77 intended to give, though he gave it to me, because he went to such pains to explain to the House the point of view of the Turks and the various problems they were facing.
On the question of the Turkish minority in Cyprus, it is worth recording that a large number of Turks have been living in Greece since the end of the First World War in Western Thrace in conditions of complete security, with their own religious institutions, which have been interfered with less than those in Turkey itself. They have their own educational institutions: in fact, a new Turkish secondary school was formally opened by the President of Turkey only a few years ago. There are two Turkish-speaking Members of the Greek Parliament. At no time has there been a complaint, since Nansen presided over the exchange of populations at the end of the First World War, of the treatment of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace.
One ought to pay tribute to the remarkably tolerant and generous attitude of the Greeks in dealing with minorities of this kind. It is worth recalling that Greece was the only country which had the generosity to give a home to some thousands of Armenians left stranded at the end of the first war. And there are large Jewish communities there, including some Sephardic Jews in Salonika.
I do not need to enlarge on the attitude of the Greeks to the minorities, when in spite of the terrible events at Istanbul and Izmir to which the Foreign Secretary referred—the deplorable riots which certainly did not take place without the prior knowledge of the Turkish Government—not one case has come to my notice, or so far as I know to the notice of anybody else, of counter-reprisals against Turks in Greece or, indeed, in Cyprus.
At no time since the beginning of this dispute has any violence been offered to a single member of the Turkish community by a Greek Cypriot or anybody else concerned with the campaign for self-determination. Therefore, I think that the fears of the Turkish minority are grossly exaggerated. Yet it is perfectly plain that the Turkish Government have a legitimate interest in that minority and, of course, in any settlement that is made 78 this must be provided for, perhaps under international guarantee.
In the same way the Turkish Government have a legitimate interest in the uses to which the existing bases or other bases in Cyprus might be put. It has been claimed, I think unrealistically, that the Turks are afraid that they might one day be attacked from the island of Cyprus. If they really fear that, it is a legitimate point of view, and in any settlement which is negotiated we ought to make certain that those bases are never put into a position where they could be used for any attack against Turkey.
In point of fact, this is not a difficult problem because the Turks, the Greeks and ourselves are all members of N.A.T.O. and it should not be beyond the wit of diplomats and Foreign Ministers to work out a system whereby the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation guarantees the situation in the base. Indeed, one day it might be possible, though not in the immediate future, to have Turkish participation in the base at Cyprus. At all events, I can see no difficulty in making certain that it is not used in any hostile way by Greece against Turkey, and the Greeks have put forward a series of proposals designed to meet legitimate Turkish objections from that point of view, so I think one can exaggerate greatly the difficulties standing in the way of reaching a settlement because of the objections of the Turks.
It may be that because of an awkward domestic political and economic situation in Turkey the Turkish Government will be more intransigent than a happy and stable Government would be. It happens over and over again that when a Government get into difficulties inside their own country they try to turn attention on what is happening outside, and that has been happening in Turkey recently. Without putting my point too crudely, however, I am sure that advice and guidance could be given to the Turks on this problem which they would be prepared to accept.
Unfortunately, the restraint shown in many quarters about this problem has not been shown by the Greek Press and radio. Perhaps it would be better for somebody who has sometimes been associated with the Greek point of view on the problem to put the point rather than anyone else. When I was last in Athens I said to my Greek friends, 79 "There are many people in England—indeed all of us in the House of Commons—who want to see this problem settled. There are many of us who would like to help you. One of the great obstacles to our doing so is the violent, childish tone of many of your newspapers."
No aspect of the problem has been helped, either, by the lamentable propaganda which has been coming from Athens radio, and which has been only moderately toned down during the lifetime of the present Greek Government. The worst aspects of this propaganda campaign were manifested when a particularly degraded newspaper started a series of violent personal attacks on our Ambassador in Athens. That was not only extremely insulting and ill-mannered, it was also very foolish, because if there is a man who, within the limitations of his official instructions, has tried to be helpful and sympathetic, it is the present Ambassador. Not only he, but nearly all his Embassy staff have been working in conditions of great difficulty. I am sure that those of my hon. Friends who have been there would like to associate themselves with me in a tribute to them, going down to people in relatively humble positions.
I call to mind one man who has for many years been travelling around with a mobile cinema unit belonging to the British Embassy. He has travelled thousands of miles through remote villages showing films. The astonishing thing is that wherever he has been, with only one exception, he has never met with hostility but has always been received in a friendly and courteous manner and allowed to get on with his work. That illustrates the remarkable level-headedness and generosity of the bulk of the Greek people, despite the violent propaganda campaign against us which has been conducted for so many months.
There are some exceptions. The Communists have been given a wonderful situation to exploit. There is a small minority of people, originally pro-German, who found themselves a little in the shade at the end of the war when it was not fashionable to be anti-British, who have now an opportunity to shout insults at us. With those exceptions, the bulk of the Greek people have been remarkably little affected by the anti- 80 British propaganda campaign. They have strong feelings about the problem of Cyprus but they are able to distinguish between that and the traditional friendship with ourselves. All of us will be glad when we can get this problem dealt with quickly so that we can resume the old and happy relationship which we have enjoyed for so many years.
Before dealing with the situation in Cyprus, I want to say something about the new Greek Government which naturally is as interested in getting a fair and honourable solution of the Cyprus problem as any of its predecessors. It feels strongly on this matter and it will not be able to make what it would consider to be unreasonable concessions. On the other hand, all of us in this House will be gratified by the fact that the Greek Government decided a few days ago not to take this dispute to the United Nations. Apart from anything else, that was a sensible decision, because another wild and uninhibited discussion there in present conditions would get nobody anywhere. Of course we are all hoping that in the negotiations taking place, principally in Nicosia, a satisfactory result will be reached.
Naturally all of us on both sides of the House have been saddened by the lamentable events which have been taking place in Cyprus in recent weeks. A tribute ought to be paid from this side of the House to the very courageous and tactful way in which the British Forces have carried out the vile job that has been imposed upon them by present con ditions. It is not their fault that they are in Cyprus and I have no doubt that they are doing their best to keep on as friendly terms with the local population as possible.
I say quite frankly, and I hope it will not be considered impertinent, that when the present Governor was sent out to Cyprus, many of us who did not happen to know the former Chief of the Imperial General Staff viewed that appointment with some misgiving. We said, "Where the colonial administrators and the Ministers have failed, are we to send out a tough brasshat to apply old-fashioned methods?" We were entirely wrong. The fact is that by all accounts the present Governor has been doing a most difficult task with exceptional tact. He 81 has been able to establish friendly relations, not only with the Archbishop—on a personal basis, of course—but with great numbers of the ordinary people in Cyprus. It is quite clear that nobody other than Field Marshal Harding could have tackled that job better within the limitations of the situation in which he finds himself.
On the other hand, some of us find ourselves wondering whether the Governor is being kept sufficiently well briefed from this end, whether the instructions come at sufficiently frequent intervals—whether, to put it in military terms, he is sufficiently "in the picture"—about what is going on. Some of us are also wondering whether he would not be helped in his task by the assistance of an official qualifield in diplomatic negotiations.
As far as I know, the Governor has nobody to whom to turn except colonial officials, though parts of the problem are being dealt with in Athens, in Ankara and in various other places. Perhaps it would be easier if someone in direct touch with the Foreign Office and with our ambassadors in those various countries were available to the Governor at Nicosia.
We on this side hope that the assurances given by the Foreign Secretary, and the assurances to be given, we hope, by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, will allow us not to vote against the Government at the end of this debate and will allow us to postpone the bitter criticisms that we would otherwise want to have made about Government policy. Whatever the mistakes may have been in the past, we have perhaps reached the last moment at which an honourable settlement can be found.
If the present situation persists very much longer, there is no knowing to what extent it may get out of control. The Archbishop may lose control of his followers in Cyprus; the Communists there may get more influence than they have at present; the situation might get more difficult in Athens. For that matter, it might become more difficult in Turkey also.
It seems at the moment as if there is a real prospect of getting an honourable settlement in the near future. Therefore, we beg the Government to have the courage of their convictions and to do the right thing, not to be too preoccupied with 82 questions of formulae and trying to find words that will not upset anybody, but to say frankly and definitely that they accept the principle of self-determination. Then, I am sure, they will find that Cyprus will move very quickly indeed to orderly self-government, which on all sides of the House we are anxiously awaiting.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Major Patrick Wall (Hull, Haltemprice)
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) will not think me impertinent if I congratulate him on a well-thought-out and remarkably moderate speech. I feel that he underestimated the strength of the Turkish feeling and I should like to draw his attention to the statement made by the Turkish Foreign Minister at the Tripartite Conference. I quote from Cmd. 9594, page 38:Turkey considers that the question of Cyprus is of such importance to her that it is extremely difficult to maintain and to safeguard the friendship and the alliance with Turkey while seeking at the same time in one way or another to arrive either at the union of Cyprus with Greece or the giving of self-determination to the Island of Cyprus.
§ Mr. F. Noel-Baker
The hon. and gallant Member has drawn attention to an extremely unfortunate statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister, which did a great deal to complicate the situation and nothing to help it. He would be a little innocent if he tended to assume that Foreign Ministers—I say this without offence in the presence of the Foreign Secretary—always put forward their most modest point of view 'at the beginning of complicated negotiations.
§ Major Wall
I agree. Nevertheless, the quotation shows that the feeling of Turkey on the question of self-determination of Cyprus is deep and strong.
This is the third debate we have had on Cyprus this year, and I shall endeavour not to repeat too many of the arguments that have been made already. We all know that Turkey has governed the island for 300 years. We know that Cyprus has never been directly governed by Greece, and yet I believe hon. Members on both sides of this House feel that if a free plebiscite were carried out now, the large majority of Greek-speaking Cypriots would vote for Enosis and for union with Greece.
When one looks at the comparative prosperity of this British Colony under 83 British rule and compares it with the conditions in Mother Greece herself, and certainly in the Greek islands and in the Dodecanese, one wonders why this is so. It is not, however, really surprising that there is this feeling for Enosis. The reason is clear.
Every Greek Cypriot schoolboy, on reaching the age of adolescence, is taught by his Greek Cypriot teacher that Enosis is synonymous with patriotism and is part of the education in the Greek gymnasia. In these Greek gymnasia or secondary schools in Cyprus, the teachers are pensioned by the Greek Ministry of Education, and so, naturally, they have a vested interest, besides their normal feelings of teaching, in encouraging the feelings for Enosis among their young pupils.
When the adolescent leaves school, he goes to church, where Enosis is thundered at him from the pulpit. He turns on the radio and hears the diatribes of Athens Radio comparing this country's rule with the actions of the Nazis and the Gestapo. He reads the Press, and all the Greek vernacular Press in the island is controlled by Greek Cypriots who advocate Enosis. Is it surprising that after all this propaganda, the adolescent, when he is told to do so, goes out and shouts for Enosis?
There is yet another point on this subject. A few months ago I had a letter from a British officer serving in Cyprus. I should like to read one of the paragraphs to the House. It should be remembered that this was three or four months ago. He said:The feeling among officers I have spoken to is that Cyprus will follow the pattern of Palestine and Egypt. That is, the Army will be left as sitting birds with their hands tied by the politicians (you and your pals) forbidden to take effective action, and after a period of indecision we will leave with terms far worse than we might have got originally.The feeling expressed in subsequent letters from that officer has changed very much, because the Government have taken firm action. My point in quoting the letter is that if that was the feeling amongst responsible British opinion in the island, how can we expect responsible Cypriot opinion to advocate the continuation of British rule?
Cypriots are subject to terrorism if they adopt this line. They know very well that if they come out in favour of any form of British connection, they will 84 probably have a bomb thrown through their windows or will have their wives and children molested in the streets. How can we expect those people to support us in those conditions? Can we expect reasonable or fair expression of opinion? I suggest that it is quite impossible.
When one is talking to Cypriots of all types and classes, one finds that what they will say in private is quite different from what they will say in public. A businessman will compare his firm with a comparable firm in Greece. If he is in the Civil Service, he compares his rates of pay and standard of living with those of a civil servant in Greece; if he is a farmer, he compares the fertility of his farm in the island with that of some of the hinterland of the Greek motherland. In private conversation he is not nearly so sold on Enosis as he would appear to be in public. Indeed, it is fair to say that many of the less-educated people in Cyprus are not at all clear what Enosis, or union with Greece, would mean.
Certainly, many of the constituents of the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger) who come from Cyprus do not realise that if the island is united with Greece, they will have to relinquish their British passports. Their compatriots in Cyprus have never been told that by the Government radio or by propaganda in the island. Indeed, the position of many of the less intelligent Cypriots is akin to that of many people in this country who in 1945 voted for hon. Gentlemen opposite and still expected to have my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) as their Prime Minister.
That the feeling in Cyprus towards this country, in spite of terrorism, is friendly is I think agreed by both sides of the House. I can illustrate this fact by an occurrence that happened some six weeks ago. A friend of mine staying in a hotel in Cyprus and discussing the problem in the island with one of the hotel staff was later invited to go to the wedding of his sister. He took my friend to his mountain village where he was seated at the right hand of the bride and toasted and feasted for the whole day. That was happening at the same time as British soldiers were being shot in the back, or having bombs put in the carriers of their bicycles.
At the moment the feeling of the average Cypriot towards the British people 85 and, indeed, the British troops is still one of friendliness, but I agree with many people who have made the point that now may come the parting of the ways. The Cypriots may come out against this terrorism, against Eoka and all that it means—because the Cypriots enjoy having political discussions over a glass of wine in the evening; they cannot do it now because it is dangerous—they will soon and firmly decide on which side of the fence they will come down, against the terrorists or against the British forces. Shall we, therefore, accept the arguments of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and decide that it would be better unconditionally and relatively immediately to grant self-determination to these people?
I suggest that there are three very good reasons why that is impossible. The first has been touched on by many hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is that Cyprus is 40 miles from the Turkish coast and 640 from the Greek coast.
§ Major Wall
We know how very strong Turkish feeling is. One of the quotations which I have given underlines that, not only because there is a Turkish minority in the island, but because, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, Cyprus is the projection of the mainland of Turkey.
§ Major Wall
I believe that the Turks have as much right as the Greeks to enter into discussions about the future constitutional set-up of the island. I believe that in their heart of hearts all hon. Members believe that to be true.
The second reason why it is impossible to give immediate and unconditional self-determination is that the Akel Party, the Communist Party of Cyprus, controls the votes of about 60 per cent. of the Greek-speaking population of the island. The Akel Party line has switched many times, just as it has switched all over the world, because the object is to undermine this country, N.A.T.O., and the whole set-up of Western Powers in the Middle East.
I had a conversation with a leading citizen in one of the coastal ports. He was a Communist and I asked him, "Do you realise that if you get Enosis and join 86 with Greece, the Communist Party will be proscribed and you will be in prison?" His answer was quite clear. He said: "A very large number of people in this island vote for my party and if this island is joined to Greece, we will then get a democratic Government in Greece." That is a matter for serious consideration, not only by ourselves and the N.A.T.O. Powers, but for the Government in Greece itself.
The third reason why we cannot give immediate self-determination is that if we do so, it will create a precedent which would make it very difficult to resist the claims for other British Colonies—Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, spring to mind immediately—and it would prove that force brings concessions from the British Government and the British people. I suggest that a compromise is the only solution, a compromise giving some form of what we know as Dominion status to the island. However, this whole matter is a Commonwealth and not only a British problem.
The biggest problem that faces the Commonwealth today is what political future we can offer to the smaller Colonies who, by virtue of their strategic position, economic viability, or small population cannot attain, or hope to attain, to what in the past we termed full Dominion status; in other words, areas which obviously cannot be classed as equals to Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. Until we have a solution to that problem, the compromise enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary this afternoon is the only possible solution to the problem of the Island of Cyprus.
In the tripartite discussions, we undertook to associate Turkey and Greece, in an advisory capacity, in determining the future of the island. Let us by all means recognise the right of British Colonies to self-determination, but let us also recognise that in certain cases this self-determination must be limited by conditions, or by time. May I repeat the words of my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel)? He said that we must build up Cypriot nationalism and that we should not let the island people think we were trying to turn them into Englishmen, Greeks or Turks. We should try to build up a 87 patriotism and nationalism of their own and the first way to do this is for them to make a Constitution work.
Let us allow a free passage between Cyprus and Greece and encourage tourists to go from Cyprus to Greece so that they will perhaps realise the contrast between their standard of living and that of the motherland. Above all, let us defeat terrorism which is attacking all types and communities in the island. We have this afternoon heard many expressions of the country's gratitude to the British forces who are today undertaking such a difficult task. May I also remind the House of the families of those British troops living on the island and living most unpleasant and uncomfortable lives? We owe a great debt of gratitude to them as well as to their menfolk.
One of the first ways of overcoming terrorism is to build up the police force. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will give us more information about how this is being done. I have in my hand a letter from a friend of mine who was a witness of the burning of the British Institute, in the Metaxas Square. I will not read it all but I should like to quote the concluding paragraph, which says:It seems incredible that nothing was done between 9 o'clock and 11.45 by the civil authorities as it all started off quite innocently and only built up as people found no one around to stop them. It made me feel so furious that this sort of thing could happen. I felt I was in a South American State, not in a British Colony.I should also like to echo the words of my noble Friend the Member for Hertford about the importance of education. I will not repeat what he said. Suffice it to say that we should encourage technical education as far as possible. Here again. I ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies to tell us what hope there is of building a university in Cyprus which could cater for students throughout the Middle East.
Let us encourage local government and see that as far as possible the "mukdar," or headmen, of the villages are elected. This is the practice in some areas, but it is not universal. Let us take heart from the success of the Development Councils which the Ethnarchy told its followers they must not join. Some of the followers did not join but others did, and these 88 councils are now a success. Many Greeks are associated with the work, and the Ethnarchy has realised that its prohibition is ineffective and it has withdrawn from its original position. Let us not offend local susceptibilities. If, for economic reasons, it is better to build a large port at Famagusta, let us not forget that, unless something is done about the port of Larnaca, this town and the hinterland may perish economically.
In conclusion, I would sum up by saying that we should do all we can to encourage Cypriot patriotism. We must not exclude the right of self-determination, but for the reasons I have given I am convinced that this must be limited as to time, and conditional on the proved self-governing capabilities of the people of Cyprus, and also on the international situation at the time. Let us realise the consequences of following the advice given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly. I believe that if we gave self-determination, which means Enosis, to the Cypriot people within the next five years, it would mean that at the best we should be exchanging sharp shooting on the part of the Greek population against our troops for sharp shooting by the Turkish population, and at the worst we should be encouraging civil war. Even more important than that, we should have made it clear to everybody else in the world that all they need do is to throw bombs at the British to obtain all that the most vociferous of extremists desires.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
To me the most attractive speech made this afternoon was that of the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel). It was a remarkable maiden speech which was thoughtful, helpful and constructive. I prophesy that if the noble Lord continues along that line he will not only add to the strength of our deliberations, but will take a prominent part in the affairs and the counsels of the nation.
Unfortunately, all his suggestions came too late. It is a pity that they were not made at least a generation, or even more, ago. Much has been done by way of education and the provision of wider rights, and so on, but today even the new proposals made by Her Majesty's Government for the spending of further 89 millions of pounds will not meet the situation which now confronts us. This has been allowed to grow over a series of years. Unfortunately, the one factor above all others that was ignored was the sentiment of these people. That is the most important feature of all.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse), in his usual attractive way, called attention to the strategic importance of Cyprus. He would be the first to admit that, instead of being a strength, it could be a real weakness, unless the people are prepared to co-operate with us. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to have forgotten that the day has gone when absolute sovereignty by any Power, however strong—other than an imperial one or, today, a Communist one—can be exercised over an area against the wishes of the people. It is dead—finished; and certainly the people of this country would not be party to the imposition of sovereignty over any people today.
I should like to comment on the criticism made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who derided the views expressed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East. He has a very short memory. The very views expressed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester. South-East were expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich as being the settled definite opinion of His Majesty's Government, as recently as June. 1950. Then he told the House that the Government had considered all that had been said, all the cry there had been for a plebiscite, and that they did not contemplate—a strong word—any change of sovereignty in Cyprus. It ill becomes anyone to throw stones at anybody else unless he is quite sure that his own windows will not be broken.
I come to the position as I see it. Frankly, I am disappointed, and I am sure that, equally, the Secretary of State for the Colonies is disappointed, that he has not been able to say to the House today that a definite final agreement has been made. Since the right hon. Gentleman has occupied his present office I have learned not only to admire but to respect him. I realise the great efforts 90 that he is making to try to meet the wishes of the peoples of the various countries that come under his office. I am sure that he has endeavoured to try to attain agreement.
A great step forward has been taken. As I understand, for the first time there is now a definite promise to the people of Cyprus, a promise that "there shall be a popular assembly, selected by you the people of Cyprus on a universal vote, which will have complete freedom to choose its own Government and, secondly, you will have complete control over all internal matters relating to Cyprus."
The only matters which are being reserved are those which are reserved at the moment because of the obvious difficulties existing in the Middle East. As the British Government, we are reserving to ourselves complete control over defence, foreign affairs and whatever it may mean—public security. But it is a very great step forward from any which have yet been taken. Moreover, in the offer which has been made, there is provision for recognition of the Moslem minority. They are to have a proportion of members in the Assembly and representation in the Government. I think that the right way to proceed. I have said so all along. When I received a visit from the Archbishop, I told him plainly that we, as Liberals, did not believe in policy by plebiscite. That is not the way to carry out democratic rule. That is the way to mob rule.
A question is put to the people, and they are asked to vote "Aye" or "No," without much of an explanation about it, and, what is more obvious, with no provision to establish any kind of authority to treat anyone with whom they might desire to join—whether they desire to remain in conjunction with this country as part of the Commonwealth, or to join with Greece—or on what terms regarding conscription or taxation, They are not today in a position to discuss those matters. Unfortunately, it is not their fault. They should have been trained in that way at least a generation ago, and then the present position would never have arisen.
Unfortunately, too, the whole history of these people in this very lovely island has, throughout all these generations, been a sad one. They have always been 91 under the domination of some Power or other. Having been under the domination of the Ottoman Empire until 1875, they saw others, who also were under the domination of the Ottoman Empire, each one of them in turn without a single exception, obtain the right to appoint their own Government and the right of self-determination. There were those in Europe. One could begin all the way from Montenegro—Roumania, Serbia, and those places which now form Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece itself—and into Asia Minor and North Africa. Thanks largely to the people and Governments of this country, they are today independent States.
§ Mr. Davies
Having been under our aegis since 1878, the people of Cyprus are the only ones who are still left not only without a Government of their own, but untaught and untutored in the way in which government should be carried on. It is a sad story.
Now a new offer has been made. What is there which stands between us and agreement? It is the one matter of when, if at all, will these people take the responsibility of saying where they want to go? Having formed their Government; having now, by experience, taught themselves how to govern and—what is more—taught themselves how best to ascertain the views of their own people, when will they take the responsibility of saying where they want to go—whether they wish to remain with us, or join Greece, or become independent or join with anyone else? The question is whether they will themselves be allowed to determine which way they wish to go and what shall be their fate.
As I understand the Foreign Secretary, they have been told that that may be, but we cannot tell them yet. Surely, therefore, the point has become a very narrow one. Cannot Her Majesty's Government be more definite? One further move over the barrier, and the thing will be settled; either a definite time now or a definite time from the establishment of their own Government. Her Majesty's Government could say, "We will help you. We will guide you. In the meantime, we will carry out the promise we have made to 92 help you economically. We will do all we can and, at the end of that time, if you so desire, the power shall be in your hands to choose your own fate, knowing full well what is the position of your own people and putting the matter clearly before them." I should have thought that Her Majesty's Government could well afford to take that step.
It has been said that we have to consider not Greece, but Turkey. I do not follow that argument. Certainly, ever since the Turks established their great tradition under that amazing man, Ataturk, one has had great admiration for these people. But I cannot see why, at this moment, the Turks should interfere, in this matter. Suppose that previous Governments had followed the good advice given by the noble Lord in his extraordinary maiden speech and done so twenty-five or thirty years ago. Suppose that local administration had been set up. Could anyone then have denied these people the right to speak on behalf of their own people about where they would desire to go? Could anyone then have tolerated any interference from Turkey or anyone else? I think that that question anwers itself.
There is only one other matter. The Turks claim that, juridically, they have a right to interfere. But what right? They lost Cyprus, not in 1878, but in 1914, and we then annexed Cyprus, which is now part of the British Empire. That was confirmed by the Treaty of Lausanne, and Turkey was a party to it. Therefore, juridically, she can claim nothing. On the other hand, Turkey claims that this is of vital importance to her strategically. That I am ready to admit. But, instead of being an advantage, it could be a real danger to Turkey if the people were antagonistic and felt embittered, and were prepared to welcome anyone who was against the freedom of Turkey or anybody else. If Turkey desires assistance, it can only come, so far as Cyprus is concerned, from a people who are satisfied that they themselves are in control of their own affairs and are ready to co-operate with the rest of us in maintaining their own freedom.
I agree with what has already been said in this debate. We sincerely hope that a peaceful solution will be found. But every member of the Government knows that repression will never settle 93 anything. Much has been said about keeping law and order. That brings to my mind memories of another bitter dispute, when acts similar to those in Cyprus were being perpetrated nearer home and left a bitterness which has not been wiped out even after a generation. It was no good trying at that time to repress the people of Southern Ireland in the name of law and order. The only way in which we could ultimately meet their wishes was by granting the independence for which they asked. I ask the Government to bear that in mind. By taking this one last step we should probably have a united Cyprus, working, together with Turkey and Greece, to help us to maintain the freedom of all.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson (Folkestone and Hythe)
I wish to thank the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) for what he said about the less fortunate remarks of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), and to leave it at that. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) is not in his place, because I thought that it was brave and generous of him to speak about the Greek Press knowing, as I do, his great interest in that country. There, again, I think there is no need to say more.
I wish to start by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on what he has achieved. We all know that there is a great deal more to be achieved, but the fact that the Greek Government have not on this occasion referred the dispute about Cyprus to the United Nations is a tribute not only to my right hon. Friend but also to our Ambassador at Athens. I hope that this augurs well for the future.
I well remember Cyprus before the war, how happy it was and how one could sit in a restaurant and chat irrespective of whether one was in a Turkish or Greek-speaking café. We have done something, but not enough. Successive British Governments have solved the problem of the mosquito and have dealt with the menace of the goats and the devastation which they created in agriculture. We are very proud of these things, but we still have a lot more to do for the island's economy.
I want to turn from the international aspects to matters that concern my right 94 hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies could give us some idea how this £39 million is to be spent. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), whose speech I, too, enjoyed, was right about education. But when I was last in the island it seemed to me that the development of water resources and of roads was of equal importance. Any colonial governor or Government is invariably short of all the finances that they would like to have, but this £39 million will certainly help. Of course, I could have wished that it had been voted earlier.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in his remarks about Sir John Harding. It was typical of the man to go straight at a difficult and what might have been a thankless task just when, as a soldier, he must have been looking forward to some leave. He has already shown himself to be a statesman and he will, I know, have the support of the House. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has indeed made a wise choice. That is all I want to say on that aspect, but there are one or two questions which I wish to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War.
It is repugnant to every hon. Member to see our troops used as they are now being used in the Colonies, though I am equally certain that it is absolutely unavoidable. We have now gone a long way from the old days and from the state of affairs such as existed in India. Then the police in India dealt with any troubles that arose and British or Indian troops were only brought in to deal with desperate emergencies. Now, however, we have National Service boys fully deployed on police duties for which they have not been fully trained and which are not jobs for soldiers.
I have a constructive proposal to make which, I hope, will be of some assistance to my right hon. Friend, not only in this desperately difficult situation of Cyprus, but because we may, and probably will, have disturbances during the next decade or two in our Colonial Empire, though, 95 we hope, nothing so serious as this. I suggest that my right hon. Friend should have a really good look into our intelligence services in the Colonies, if necessary by independent officials. I am not criticising any Ministers or officials, but we do seem, during the last ten years, to have had to make ad hoc arrangements far too often. Of course, that was due in part to the war and to shifting personnel, but every Government must know where there is going to be trouble and the reasons for that trouble.
It is really rather worrying that we should have to keep on sending out senior policemen to look into the affairs of the police forces in various parts of the Commonwealth. That is a matter that wants looking into. The first duty of which Governments and Governors should be reminded is to see that they have a proper local police reserve. The police get thoroughly tired and overworked, and when that happens they either do stupid things or get lax. Of course, no Government or Governor could maintain in quieter times a police force sufficient to deal with the situation that exists in Cyprus today.
We are trying to scrape up 150 policemen. We have about 30 already. I think it would be desirable to have a small strategic police force available in this country to be sent to any trouble spot in the Colonial Empire. We shall not get such a police force unless we give fairly generous incentives. I would suggest a starting figure of, perhaps, 250 men a year, rising to 1,000 a year. The men concerned should be told that if they pass the course at a police training college they will receive a gratuity of £50, plus 10s. a week extra for the next five years and be relieved of three months of their National Service and reserve training in the Territorial Army. In return for this not ungenerous offer, the men involved would take on the liability to serve abroad for one year under the local police. My view is that they should serve under the local police because, if they did not, we might be accused of setting up a Black and Tan force. It is vital to my proposal that they should be volunteers.
I am not putting this forward as a complete solution to the problem, but if we had had 1,000 men who could be dropped into Nicosia, Famagusta, Larnica, 96 or Georgetown, it might obviate the necessity of using troops for purposes for which they are not trained. At the same time, I do not see how we could avoid using troops in the present difficulty. I hope that my right hon. Friend is taking steps to see that there is a proper reserve of armoured vehicles available to be sent out. Our men should not travel in open trucks with no protection against brickbats. Why are we not using coloured fluid? If the police sergeant involved in the raid in Ulster the other day had been supplied with coloured fluids he could have flung them at the gangsters and thereby made their identification possible. I suspect that people like myself, who have been through the Army Staff College, might object to that sort of thing because they might be suspected of using mustard gas. But they will be accused of doing wrong whatever happens. I think it would be well worth considering, and I know that there is a school of thought which thinks it is a good idea. When we find these Cypriot lads chucking hand grenades about, we ought to throw something back which would have the effect of marking them, and make it easier to catch them, but we should have to change the colours frequently.
§ Brigadier Sir H. Mackeson
I believe that in this sort of riots—in my experience of them, and I have seen some of them—in front we find youths and women and one or two of the brave chaps, while the real trouble makers are at the back—the older chaps—who are really getting down to things, stirring others up to violent action.
The real duty which we face now is that of finding a political and diplomatic answer to this problem, desperately difficult though it is. I was rather impressed—though I did not like some of his remarks—with the speech of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich. There is a great deal to be said for having Libya as a permanent base for our Armed Forces, but that does not mean that we should give up a touching-down ground for our aircraft and a base for our troops in Cyprus. There is always something to be said for this nation, which has not a large Army, but relies mainly on the Navy and the Air Force, operating from the desert or naval 97 base, because we understand the desert and the sea, and Libya is a very good base. Certainly, we must have a supplementary base in Cyprus.
What we are faced with is a difficult problem, but there is no doubt about one thing. What we must aim at and always think about is the preservation of law and order, so that people can live their lives, wherever Her Majesty is recognised as Sovereign, in freedom, free from want, and, above all, free from fear, and it is fear that is the great danger, not only in Cyprus but across the face of the world. It is our duty to remain calm, and this House ought not to rush into decisions which may prejudice the peace of those for whom we are responsible.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Reading)
The hon. and gallant Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Sir H. Mackeson) devoted his speech, as he said he was going to do, to a number of matters of detailed colonial administration, and if I do not follow him in that it is because I have no claim to be as expert as he in the matters with which he dealt. I can only observe, speaking solely as a layman and without any expertise in the matter, that it seems to me that there may be serious objections to the hon. Gentleman's idea of what may be called flying squads of colonial police to be moved from one Colony to another; because the ability of a police force to control populations depends very largely upon the extent to which they know and understand those populations and are trusted by them.
If we look around at our own police in London, who walk about unarmed in the most leisurely fashion and with virtually no display of authority at all, yet exercising as much authority as—or more than—many police forces which have a whole apparatus of terror attached to them, I think we shall find that it is because the London policeman knows his London, that Londoners are understood by him and that he is trusted by them. If we fancy that we could try, in 24 hours, to establish the same sort of climate in Nicosia, and, three weeks later in Georgetown, I think we should be asking a great deal too much.
§ Mr. Osborne
Surely it is due to the fact that the Londoner is a law-abiding subject, which cannot be said of some people in other parts of the world.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am not sure that we should give ourselves too many airs in that connection.
With one exception, it seems to me that all the speeches made in this debate have been overhung and restrained, I think rightly, by the knowledge that some negotiations are going on at present, and by the feeling on the part of hon. Members in all parts if the House that we must make our observations in such a form as will cause no difficulty to those who are engaged in the course of those negotiations. For my part, I shall try to follow in that same spirit, but it would be doing no service to those who are negotiating, nor to this House, if we attempt to blink some of the hard facts of this situation.
When dealing with colonial matters, the House is always so very anxious to give credit for a good job well done, and to support the prestige and influence of those who represent us throughout the Commonwealth, that we are sometimes in danger of being just a little mealymouthed about our activities and not subjecting our own actions and the actions of those who speak and act for us to the same searchlight of criticism which we ought to apply to everything that is done by a great people when sometimes dealing with a smaller people. In that spirit, we are not likely to help a solution of this problem, or to help the right hon. Gentleman who carries the main responsibility for this task, and we are not likely to help our hardworking officials in Cyprus, if we try to blink the really difficult facts of this situation.
The Foreign Secretary, in opening the debate, stated, among other things, the background of the attitudes that were revealed by the various parties to the Tripartite Conference, and he and some hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken since having referred to the strong feelings of the Turkish Government, the Turkish people and the Turks in Cyprus about their position. Let us not overlook the fact that these strong feelings are of very recent origin indeed. I was in Cyprus only a few weeks ago; indeed, I rather fancy that I am the last hon. Member to return from Cyprus. I spent a good deal of the time I had there with the Turks and I am bound to say that a nicer bunch of people one could not wish to find anywhere in the world. I 99 have only one objection to them. I was very sorry to find this nation—the best coffee-making people in the world—taking their "elevenses" in the form of Coca-Cola. Apart from that, they were charming, intelligent and fine people, but I believe that they feel their minority position very keenly and that they have felt it very keenly for quite a long time. I do not think, however, that they have been very burned up about it. They put forward the same sort of views and arguments as are put forward by minority communities living in the midst of people more numerous than themselves.
I did not get the impression at all that they were frightened by their minority position. I asked them what their complaints were, and, to answer the question, they produced a Turkish member of the City Council of Nicosia, on which there are eight Greeks and four Turks, so that the Turkish people are certainly not under-represented there. The only evidence he could bring of oppression of the minority by the majority was that the majority of Greeks on the Nicosia City Council had once voted against the Turkish community having an adequate amount—as they thought—of funds for some welfare project which they had in hand.
Doubtless, it was a very reprehensible thing, but not the sort of thing to suggest a picture of a minority community insecure, terrified out of existence about its future and ready to call in the help of the Turkish Army in order to save it from a fate worse than death. There is no justification for that sort of picture at all, and the Turks in Cyprus quite openly admitted that they themselves were bitterly disappointed by what they called the total indifference of the Turkish Government as to their position until a or two year ago.
It is quite true that in recent months the Turkish Government have expressed themselves strongly, as the Foreign Secretary told us this afternoon and as the hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice (Major Wall) quoted to us in a passage in his speech, about the position of their people in Cyprus. It is also true, as I was assured in Cyprus—and I was assured by so many different people of so many different types that I am prepared to accept it—that the Turkish Government have given the 100 leaders of the Turkish Community in Cyprus an unqualified assurance that if the British leave the island the Turks will land an army there. If they have said that, it seems to me to be a somewhat unhelpful thing to say at the present time.
But the point which I make is that all this is very new-found. The Foreign Secretary knows better than anyone how comparatively recently it is since the Turkish Foreign Minister said, "We dissociate ourselves from the problem of Cyprus. It is no problem for us." Although, of course, I reject at once the suggestion made in Greek newspapers and on the Greek radio that the British Government deliberately brought the Turks into this situation in order to deadlock it, I nevertheless believe that a good deal of the present Turkish intransigence is entirely new-found, is artificial and is introduced purely for political reasons.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The hon. Gentleman tells us that he thinks that this sentiment of the Turks in Cyprus and on the mainland is new and to some extent artificial. Is not the real reason that they did not express themselves strongly before that it is only in the last eighteen months that the movement for Enosis, which I agree is very old, has become practical politics and has taken a violent form? Before that the Turks felt quite safe and secure under what was undisputed British sovereignty. It is only since that has been practically disputed that they have had cause for alarm.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that that is not what the Turks in Cyprus believe to be the explanation of the new-found attitude of the Turkish Government. If I tried to show in detail what they believe to be the explanation I should go off into such a wide range that I should take too much time and should depart from the subject of the debate, but the Turks in Cyprus believe that the interest of the Turkish Government in Cyprus does not date from the resurgence of Enosis as a militant force in recent years but from the initiation of what is called the Crescent Pact—Turkey-Iran-IraqPakistan—the Baghdad Pact.
The hon. Member shakes his head, but I am quoting what they say—and what they say is not stupid when we follow 101 the argument. It sounds a little complicated and abstruse, but when we follow it, it is a very sensible argument from their point of view. They say that Turkey has always had to face a potentially hostile Russia to the north and that her policy has always been conditioned by this fear of a potentially, if not actually, hostile Russia to the north. The Turks have always had the feeling that behind them are the succession countries of the old Ottoman Empire, who would leave them an open door for assistance arriving to them from their N.A.T.O. and other allies in the west.
Now we have the present Pact, and they say, "We anticipated, although apparently Great Britain and the United States did not, that the Russians, seeing this encirclement on their south-western frontier, would try to hop over the encircling line and make some alliances with the Arab Powers to the south of Turkey." That is, in fact, what the Russians have done. The Turks therefore say, "We now have our back door shut as well as our front door, and we must keep the side door open, and we therefore want to keep Cyprus in British hands."
I think that if the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and I were Turks, we might both see the situation from that point of view, bearing in mind that the Turk always starts his thinking with the fear of a hostile Russia—and, indeed, he has all-too-good cause to do so when he looks back over his history.
I think a good deal of the strength of feeling which, as the Foreign Secretary said, was revealed in the Istanbul riots comes about in that way, and I am afraid that by bringing the Turkish Government into this matter we may have created a Frankenstein—and I do not use the term with any sense of offence—which the right hon. Gentleman may not be able to control. One of the consequences of the present situation is that it will now be much more difficult than it would have been a year or two ago to give the Turkish community in Cyprus any assurances about their safeguards under a Constitution which they will find satisfactory and acceptable.
Because of what was said in the Tripartite Conference and the strong language then used, which was quoted by 102 the hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice, I believe the task of getting the acceptance of self-government institutions, never mind self-determination institutions, is a great deal more difficult than it would have been if we had gone about the job a little while ago and before the tripartite talks.
I came away from Cyprus with one most strong impression—the short time which is left to us to find a solution in peace. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) was absolutely right about this. One cannot be in the island for more than a day or two without having the horrible and frightening feeling that the sands are running out very fast indeed. I had the impression—no more than an impression, and I will not pretend that I have any justification for more—when I talked to the Governor about this that he, too, has the feeling that we have to do something quickly because the longer it is delayed the more difficult it will be to reach any sort of reasonable settlement.
If one is to judge from his speech today, the Foreign Secretary has not the same sense of urgency as his officials in Cyprus have about the situation. I am sure that his desire to reach a proper settlement is as great as theirs, but I do not think he has the consciousness which they have that time is not on our side. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about having put proposals to Archbishop Makarios and said—I took down what he said: "We shall persevere in this matter." But if we were to dissociate ourselves from the direct and immediate interest which we in this House all feel in this matter; if we tried to look at it as if we were South Americans, for example, not concerned with the problem at all, and to take an absolutely outside view of it; and if we looked at the discussions between the Governor and the Archbishop and said to ourselves, "Which of these two men has more to gain by delay and which of them, therefore, ought to be more in a hurry to press on to a final conclusion; conversely, which of them would we expect to sit back and let the other fellow make the running?", then we could come to only one answer—that the position of the Governor weakens and the position of the Archbishop strengthens as time goes on.
103 The Governor is handicapped all the time by responsibilities much greater than the responsibilities simply of negotiation. He is Commander-in-Chief as well as Governor-General. He has to run the Government of the island day by day as well as negotiate about its future status. He therefore cannot be as leisurely about this as the man sitting opposite him.
beg the House not to be deceived by the idea, which I have heard expressed so much and which, in my view, is purely wishful thinking, that the position of Archbishop Makarios is weakening. It is not weakening at all. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, the fact that the Archbishop was able, deliberately and consciously, to go well outside his brief, felt able to do it and stuck his neck out, as we say, satisfied that he could get away with it, whatever the result, shows that he does not believe—and I think he is right in not believing—that his position is weakening the whole time. It may be that he was a bit optimistic in thinkng that if he were to fail the terrorists would not take the position out of his hands.
It is not right to assume, as some people may, that the terrorists are taking the game out of the Archbishop's hands. The Archbishop has one very powerful weapon against the terrorists which he not yet used. He has not denounced them, much to the disappointment of many people in many parts of the world. His denunciation would count for something. His power of excommunication in that Church is quite terrifying, if he really sets out to use it. Clearly, he is not worried about the terrorists usurping his position.
I wish to say a word or two about terrorism and violence in that island. Some hon. Members who have preceded me in the debate have pointed out implicitly, if not explicitly, that we are going through the same process in Cyprus through which we went in other countries. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery referred to Ireland. We have recollections of Palestine and Egypt. I call to mind going in the spring of this year to the little fishing village of Paphos to see the trial of a number of terrorists who had been caught with explosives and seditious literature. During the luncheon interval I talked to the father of one of the accused men, who subsequently became one of the condemned men. This old 104 gentleman said, "I hate what my children are doing, I hate what my son has done; but I understand it, when they say that when you look at the history of Britain you find that, in the end, the British have always conceded to force what they have refused to moderation." The hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice said, "One thing we must not do is to give the impression that they have only to throw a few bombs to be able to get away with anything." I am sorry to have to say that it is too late to talk like that. We have given that impression in Ireland, in Palestine, and in Suez.
If, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly said, we set out to discourage the Archbishop by refusing everything to moderation, we may once again find ourselves in the position of having to make concessions to violence. It is not only the Cypriots in Cyprus who look to a solution in terms of violence. The hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice spoke about that the idea of terrorism attacking all parts of the community in the island. I am sorry to say that there are some British in the island who believe that to solve this problem we must be tough and talk in terms of imprisoning the bishops and perhaps imprisoning the Archbishop as well.
I followed the events in Palestine in those last sad years of the British Mandate. If I had to put a date from which the British cause in Palestine was lost it would be the day when we imprisoned the moderate leaders and left the way open for the gangsters of the Stern Gang and of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. There are people here and in Cyprus who want us to make the same mistake twice, and want to ensure that we shall be out of Cyprus in exactly the same way as we were out of those other countries.
I have only one other matter to raise in this field, and that is collective punishment. On my recent visit to Cyprus I had my first experience of the operation of a collective punishment. Other hon. Members may have had many such experiences. In This case it was the mildest of all collective punishments, a curfew. No collective punishment could be milder. I watched its effect upon the population. What is the situation in Cyprus? There is a small number—I am convinced it is small—of overt terrorists and a comparatively small number of British and Cypriot 105 personnel trying to maintain the peace. Between is a large area of uncommitted people. They are uncommitted to terrorism and violence, and they include tens of thousands of people who hate violence.
The struggle for Cyprus is the struggle between ourselves and the terrorists for the loyalty and support of these people. We shall win only if we get the uncommitted people on our side against the terrorists. We shall lose if we throw the uncommitted people into the arms of the terrorists. I say, with grievous regret, that there was abundant evidence that even so mild a collective punishment as a curfew was a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists.
I spoke to many businessmen in Cyprus. Some were suffering severe losses as the result of the curfew because their ships could not be unloaded in time and they were paying a penalty for falling behind with the delivery of their products. I spoke to three of them who, normally, did not know anything about the political struggle and were not interested in it, one way or the other. One of them said, "If British rule in this island means that we cannot conduct our business and get the goods off our ships maybe we shall be better without British rule." I spoke to many workers who were taking very slim pay packets home in those weeks because they had to knock off earlier so as to get home before the curfew. "I did not throw any bombs," said one of them to me as we sat in a trade union office. "I have never shown any violence in my life. If I am to be punished, I can quite understand the people who say that we might as well do something to get punished for."
I am sure that collective punishments are throwing hitherto uncommitted people on to the side of violence. I do not envy the people in Cyprus who have the task of maintaining law and order, and goodness knows, I do not pretend for one minute to be able to advise them about what they are to do; but I regret to say that I think collective punishments intensify their problem.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of the conditions attaching to the grant of self-determination, but he declined to tell the House what those conditions are. It has been made abundantly clear that the House is not to be told, at any rate today, what those conditions are. I will ask the 106 right hon. Gentleman to convey a question to the Minister who is to wind up the debate. Have Archbishop Makarios or the Greek Government been told what the conditions are? If the right hon. Gentleman has told them, there is no reason why he should not tell the House of Commons. If, on the other hand, he has not told his counterparts in these negotiations what the conditions are, he is saying to them, "You have to buy a pig in a poke." If he thinks that the Archbishop or the Greeks will buy this pig in a poke, he is very much mistaken. The plain fact is that the sincerity of Her Majesty's Government in this matter is gravely doubted.
When they read the report of a speech like that of the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse)—I am required to apply the adjective "honourable" even to one who makes dishonourable and unfounded allegations against a fellow Member—in which he fairly well said, in terms, "Let us tell the Cypriots they can have self-determination sometime, but let us interpret the word 'sometime' to mean never-never," they will still more doubt the sincerity in this matter of Her Majesty's Government.
Therefore, I repeat my question. If these conditions are real and genuine, they must have been told to the Greek negotiators, in which case they can be told to us. If they are "phoney," I beg the right hon. Gentleman to believe that he will not convince anybody in Cyprus with them. The Cypriots will not buy a pig in a poke, especially when they know that they can lean back and let time play on their side. I beg the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to believe that they have got to go much further than they have gone up to now if they are to make use of the very few weeks that are left before all hope of a decent, honourable solution to this problem disappears into thin air.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
One of the hardest decisions which can confront an imperial Power like ours is when to give way and when to stand firm. Unlike the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo), I have no personal experience of recent conditions in the Island of Cyprus. but I was the eye-witness of the transfer of British imperial power in the Indian sub-continent.
107 I supported then, and I support today, as the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) has done in this debate, the transfer of power from British hands to India and Pakistan. I accept the principle of sovereign independence as the foundation of the Commonwealth and as the general objective of British colonial policy. I also believe that this Commonwealth, of many races, is an institution of priceless value not only to ourselves but the whole world, and that if it were to break up, then would mankind be in mortal danger of the ultimate catastrophe. Therefore, not having the burdens and responsibilities of my right hon. Friends, I feel that I should crudely state that in certain circumstances the sentiments of individuals and even of ethnic communities must be subordinate to high considerations of Commonwealth strategy.
When we divested ourselves of the Indian Empire and of direct control of the Indian Army, from which and with which we used to exercise great influence in the region of the Middle East, there were still British forces in Palestine; but the Government of the day abandoned Palestine and our position there to anarchy and war.
British forces, however, remained in the Suez Canal Zone base, at that vital meeting place of the continents. That base we are now evacuating. I would say no more about that except that as a general rule, every withdrawal from a vital redoubt weakens the line of defence elsewhere. We were told at the time of the Suez Agreement that the hostility of the Egyptian population and the new realities of nuclear war tended to make our base untenable and even unnecessary.
It was also said at that time that Cyprus would provide us with a base and a Middle East headquarters. It was argued plausibly that it was better to base one's military position on sovereignty than upon a treaty. That argument has some force. It tells against those who, like the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), assert or suggest that it does not matter very much who has sovereignty over Cyprus provided that we have a base or bases in the island.
I agree with much of what was said by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker). I believe that the British people have feelings of sympathy both 108 with the Greeks of the mainland and with the Cypriot Greeks. All of us who have enjoyed—perhaps I should say suffered—a classical education can understand those feelings, and we all want our fellow subjects in Cyprus, of both communities, to enjoy a greater measure of economic prosperity and a fuller measure of self-government.
But meanwhile, even at the cost of blood and treasure, even at the cost of surmounting those difficulties which were referred to by the hon. Member for Reading, Britain must defend her position in a region of the world which is vital both to the home economy and to the whole Commonwealth. Nor does the advent of nuclear weapons mean that the Cyprus base is now unnecessary. Perhaps it is not a good base or the best base, but it happens to be the base we now have.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
We certainly have, and I maintain that we must hold on to that base in Cyprus which is now being developed.
I am a little doubtful when I hear hon. Members saying that some kind of solution can be found in relation to N.A.T.O., for N.A.T.O. is an alliance called forth to meet a particular threat. We have to consider the enduring and abiding interests of Britain and the Commonwealth. I believe that ultimately a solution to this very difficult problem can be found, partly along the lines set forth by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in the course of the Tripartite Conference held in London, and partly within the wider framework of an association between the countries of Europe and the nations of the Commonwealth, which is, in my view, the hope of the world today and which it is the duty of Britain to build.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) has probably rendered a service to the House in that he has set out quite clearly the immorality of the traditional case that we have heard so often from the other side of the House and which some of us had hoped was changing. I am sorry that the restraint which has characterised many of the speeches today—many of my hon. 109 Friends are suffering self-denying ordinances in a genuine effort to help the situation—has not been followed by the hon. Member.
On the other hand, if what the hon. Member has just told the House is the real Tory policy on Cyprus, the country and the Cypriots should know it. They should know that there is a lot of double-talk going on, and that the hon. Member tells the House that it does not matter what the people of the country think, that if we want to stay there—and strategically it is important for us to remain—we will do so, whatever that may mean in terms of human suffering both to the British troops who must be there and to the people of Cyprus themselves. In a difficult situation like this, one can try to help by approaching it in a moderate manner. It is in that spirit I wish to speak tonight. I began as I did only because I felt I could not let the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chigwell pass without comment.
I do not think that the Foreign Secretary conveyed to the House sufficient information. He did not convey any available information of what is going on in Cyprus at the present time. It seems as though any newspaper correspondent in Cyprus is better informed about the state of the negotiations than the right hon. Gentleman would have Members of Parliament be. It is most unfortunate that while such important talks are going on we should have to rely more on the Press than on what the right hon. Gentleman tells the House. From what we gather from the Press, it seems that the proposals of Archbishop Makarios, referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), have been turned down. The least the House should be told is whether they have been turned down or not, and if they have, what the counter-proposals are.
I took a careful note of what the right hon. Gentleman said, and he said that at some time the principle of self-determination might be applicable. Surely the House should be told whether the right hon. Gentleman means by "some time" more than "the not foreseeable future." It is understandable that there is lack of confidence in Cyprus when one and the same Secretary of State makes such conflicting statements. The right hon. Gentleman is on record, in page 37 of the White 110 Paper entitled "The Tripartite Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus," as saying:… we cannot look into the future at a very great distance, we cannot foresee conditions enabling us to abandon in one direction or another the trust we undertook and which we must still carry out … Nothing has … occurred in any way to modify that view and I am bound to say that there is no prospect of any change in the foreseeable future … We do not accept the principle of self-determination, as one of universal application. We think that exceptions must be made in view of geographical, traditional, historical, strategical and other considerations.Is that still the right hon. Gentleman's case? Are those sentences the basis of the negotiations going on at the moment? Or has there been some move, as we hope there has been, away from that attitude? If so, cannot we know what it is?
The Governor, in a broadcast to the people of Cyprus, seemed to be getting much nearer to the possibility of a solution. He advised them to accept the idea of self-government. That was one door, he said, through which they could go. He said:The second stage looks forward to the time when self-government having been effectively established, the elected representatives of Cyprus will be in a position to express their views on the future of the Island with Her Majesty's Government. Beyond that, the future is left open. It will be up to you to consider to what destination your steps should be directed after you pass through the door of self-government. Men and women of Cyprus, your future is already in your own hands.That does not match with what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chigwell said, but, perhaps, his was not a very significant contribution.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I said that I believed that we should support the development of self-government in Cyprus.
§ Mrs. Jeger
It is all very well to say we should support the principle of self-government, but there are so many contradictions.
The right hon. Gentleman—I hope I am quoting him correctly—said, "The important thing is not whether the principle should be recognised but whether it should be applied." That seemed to me to be the ultimate in sophistry. Certainly it is not calculated to encourage confidence in people—to 111 suggest that we should say, "Yes, we agree, so long as you do not worry about the application of this rather tiresome principle to which we are unfortunately committed by virtue of the United Nations declaration which we have signed."
We are in a confusion of terminology. People seem to be developing a subjective analysis of words. The term "self-government" is used, apparently by at least one hon. Member opposite, to mean anything but the reality of self-government. It seems to have become, in the minds of some people, a cliché of colonialism that self-government is the government of a country whose people are allowed some say in their internal affairs but are certainly not permitted to take any real decisions about their own international status or about their own future. If self-government means anything it means giving the nation concerned the power to decide with which, if any, other countries it wishes to associate itself the power to make decisions about its international status, about its allies.
The term "self-government" has no reality if we deny the logical conclusion, and that is why it is so unfair and so unreal to say to the Cypriot people, "We will give you self-government but do not let us look any further than that." That seemed to be the gist of what the right hon. Gentleman said today. I hope that I am not being unfair to him. He said, "We hope that, in this difficult situation, the second stage will not be pressed." People, when going through a door, want to know—
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I think the second stage is now being negotiated, and that that is why it was not desired to dilate on that today.
§ Mrs. Jeger
It would be helpful if we knew that the negotiations are concerned with the second stage. That is one of the things I want to know—about which I am asking. I hope it is not asking too much to ask the Colonial Secretary, when he replies to the debate, to say definitely and clearly that the Government are, in their negotiations, supporting the application of the principle of self-determination in Cyprus. We have heard the word "application" used today as though it were different from the "acceptance" of the principle.
112 As reported in the Press, the third point in Markarios plan was that the time for the application of self-determination could be discussed between the British Government and the elected representatives of the Cypriot people. I should have thought that that would have been very fair and acceptable. It provides a hopeful basis for the negotiations. I wonder if the House appreciates what a great step has been taken in order to get to this point. The credit for this step is shared by many people, but most of all, I think, it must go to the Archbishop himself, who is in an extremely difficult situation. I think the Archbishop has shown great courage in coming forward with his proposals.
I can remember that when I was in Cyprus only a year ago the walls were covered with slogans saying, "Down with the Constitution," "No discussion on any Constitution," "Enosis or nothing," and people were feeling very stubborn about that. It is the rock on which British intentions have been broken before. Now we are in a fluid, more hopeful, situation, and it seems to many of us that it needs only such a small step to reach an agreement. It is a very great pity that that small step cannot be taken. If the Archbishop is discredited by the failure of these negotiations, this country will face a terrible situation in Cyprus.
Many hon. Members opposite have spoken of the danger of Communism in Cyprus. Do they realise that the Communist Party is gaining strength every day in Cyprus under the present dispensation? The present policy is strengthening no party so much as the Communist Party there, because that party is able to exploit the fact that the other representatives of the Cypriot community do not seem to be getting very far anyhow. If hon. Members opposite are really concerned about the growth of Communism in Cyprus, they should be glad if we can show, through our negotiations with the Archbishop, that a successful issue has been reached.
I do not think that we can blame the people of that island for asking for a fairly tight tying down of terms. After all, we have had a succession of very unfortunate statements. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have said "never," "may be," "perhaps," "not yet" and "There must be exceptions" 113 and there has been reference to the "unforeseeable future." We must understand the reality of this problem to the Cypriots.
Reference was made from the benches opposite to the economic contribution which we have made to Cyprus. It is really impossible to expect any progress to be made with the political problem in Cyprus by talking about the economic situation. It is like broadcasting on the wrong wavelength. These people come to one with a Byronic eloquence and talk about their ideas of liberty and national independence, and then hon. Members opposite say that there are fewer goats on the island than there were and more drains and more taps. Those things do not register.
The new announcement of £38 million being devoted to Cyprus could not have been worse timed in view of the negotiations. The reaction of most Cypriots is, "The British cannot have any intention of clearing out if they are putting in a further £38 million." Others are saying, "This is a kind of bribe to ensure that we are nicer to the British." Other cynics will say "What a long time the British have taken to realise the economic needs of Cyprus." I do not think that anything we do in the economic sphere will meet the reality of the political situation.
I want to refer to the present Regulations in Cyprus, and to the violence that is spoiling that beautiful island, which I very deeply deplore and regret. Whilst we do' not condone the violence, we must understand it. We must, for example, understand the view of a Cypriot who came to see me the other night. He said, "The bitterness of this situation to me is that I was a sergeant in the British Army, one of 15,000 volunteers from Cyprus who fought with the British. I was in Greece and I was glad that we were your Allies. But we are not going to put up any longer with our country being occupied. Why do you not leave as friends?"
That may be described as an oversimplification of the situation. That Cypriot was a simple man, a simple soldier and a patriot. When people are placed in a position in which non-violent methods are discredited because they are ineffective, we should not be surprised. Though we may deeply deplore 114 it, we have to expect violence in that situation.
Representatives of the Cypriot people have been stating their case for years, ever since the British landed in Cyprus in 1878. They have put this Enosis point of view with varying degrees of force and clarity. Each time they have got nowhere. It was a very high personage, a Government representative, who said to me in Cyprus last year, "These people do not really mean anything about Enosis. If they did, they would do something about it." It may be that there are people in Cyprus who have been forced to think that they had better do something about it.
It is a lamentable state of affairs, but I hope that between us we can put an end to this situation. This is not one of those intractable situations which we have to face in the world today. We are being bitterly unfair to the soldier who has to carry out duties in Cyprus. The extreme severity of the present situation, the news yesterday of the heavy fine imposed on a small village, are things that will increase the bitterness and tension rather than help people to adopt a more co-operative frame of mind.
I wish that the Colonial Secretary could tell us that there is some chance of having the schools opened. What is the use of closing them because the children are unruly? My experience is that they are much more unruly out of school than in school. By depriving these children of their schools we are not contributing anything towards solving this problem. It is also difficult to see why the Foreign Secretary, in opening the debate, seemed so convinced that Cyprus, as a part of Greece, could not play as full a part in strategic considerations as it could play under Britain. The suggestion that Governments change seems to me one that must apply to any N.A.T.O. country, to all our treaties, to all the arrangements under N.A.T.O. and to any other pact or organisation.
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot tell our people that we have built the great system of N.A.T.O. and have to contribute heavily out of revenues and manpower to co-operate with N.A.T.O. and then turn round and say, "N.A.T.O. is not the important thing. We must keep our troops in Cyprus." It seems to the man in the street extraordinary that 115 we are talking in this way about Cyprus when the value of Cyprus is entirely negatived by the situation there. When 15,000 soldiers are tied down in Cyprus, keeping 500,000 Cypriots quiet, how can they be sent off to deal with a strategic situation, whatever that may be? All these old-fashioned logistics are being deployed in a very unreal manner. These outworn strategic notions are not applicable to the form which any future war will take.
The Constitution which we are to offer to Cyprus must clearly be one in which there is an elected majority. It must avoid the crippling mistake of the pre-1931 Constitution, which gave the Turkish representatives and the official non-elected representatives a majority when they were combined. They often combined against the Greeks, and we had a long period of internal frustration which has had something to do with the present difficulties.
We are trying to build a new world on the ruins of defeated Fascism. It is right that we should do so. The war which we now have to fight and have to contemplate fighting in the future is, above all, a war of ideas. I cannot see that we are fighting that war of ideas with any credit or with any hope of victory so long as we deny to any people the right to decide their own future, the right to decide the way they should go and whether or not they should have foreign people on their soil. It seems to me elementary that we who stand for the values of the free world have to accept the fact that if people do not want alien rulers on their soil, there is no moral justification for those alien rulers staying there.
I could not follow the hon. Gentleman who said that Turkey gave Cyprus to England in order to carry out certain obligations. The Turks were only there as conquerors, as a result of the expansionism of the Ottoman Empire. They had no more justification for it than had Richard Coeur de Lion when he sold Cyprus to the French king of Jerusalem after he had finished looking for a bride, and had got tired of it. The history of the English in Cyprus is strange, and is getting stranger. It seems to me that the only people whose views and rights are not to be considered in this long 116 story are the people of Cyprus themselves, who were not associated in any way with the Tripartite Conference in London last summer. They feel themselves completely brushed aside and ignored, talked about as if they were a bagatelle to be handed around from one great Power to another.
I hope that is not the case, and I hope that, whatever may have been said about the international and strategic problems, the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us that basically and finally the Government have accepted the right of a people living in a country to decide the future of that country. I hope that the Minister will not complicate the issue with contradictory phraseology about what is self-government and what is self-determination. The Greek language has precise terminology for these varied political states, and they will understand quite well what he means. There must reality in the offer which he is making, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot expect the House to accept that the negotiations should go on with anything less than that as the starting point of our accepted principles.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
It gives me great pleasure to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger), who is doubtless extremely well-informed about Cyprus and current events there by a large number of her constituents who come from that island. Undoubtedly, they come here in preference to going to Greece.
Although the hon. Lady somewhat denigrated the history of this country in its relations with Cyprus I think that many of her constituents and their relations will bless the fact that we were there from 1878 until today, thus enabling them to avoid the horrors which fell upon Turks and Greeks during the troubles of the Balkan wars, during the massacres of Smyrna, during the horrors of two world wars. It is ridiculous to say that the benefits we brought to that island have been negligible. Ask the Cypriots. If the hon. Lady would consult her history books she would find some of those facts, which would benefit her reading.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
Is my hon. Friend aware that of 117 the 3,000 Cypriots who left Cyprus in the early months of this year, no fewer than 2,600 came to this country and not one went to Greece?
§ Mr. Fraser
The difference which has emerged this afternoon between the official spokesman of the Labour Party and ourselves is on the question of the strategic and other considerations which have had to be taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, or by the Labour Party when they were in office, about the strategic importance of Cyprus, and the question whether self-determination as a principle can precede the principle of self-government. That is to a large extent what the debate has been about, and it was the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I thought it was clear from what I said, and also throughout this discussion, that self-determination would not precede but would follow self-government within an agreed time.
§ Mr. Fraser
That is the point put over so powerfully by my right hon. Friend this afternoon, that self-government must be achieved first, and that after that we could reach a further conclusion.
§ Mr. Mikardo
If the hon. Gentleman is trying seriously to pin-point the difference between the two sides of the House, surely it lies in this. We are all agreed about self-government and we are all agreed about the principle of self-determination. Her Majesty's Government are saying. "You must adopt self-government without the assurance that you will have self-determination within a measurable time." What we say is, "Tell the Cypriots they can have self-determination within a measurable time and then they will be encouraged to go on with self-government."
§ Mr. Fraser
As I see it, the difference is rather wider than that. The difference which the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) tried to make in his speech was that the Turks were concerned with the question only in recent months, but the point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly was that it would mean that in five years determination should be accepted which, in present circumstances, would automatically mean 118 a chance of Greece becoming the possessor of the island of Cyprus.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must remember what has been the Greek campaign. It started as union with Greece. That was the cry of Papagos, and officials of the Greek Foreign Ministry at one time used that phrase. Self-determination was brought in later. Let us be clear about that.
This afternoon my right hon. Friend described in his speech some of the difficulties which were arising in the international sphere. Those hon. and right hon. Members who were in Cyprus and Greece this summer, and who have followed the news in the Press, have seen what are the difficulties. There are two. First, we have seen self-determination for Cyprus raised as an international issue by the Greek Government at U.N.O. Thereby it was brought into the international sphere. That explains to some extent the point raised by the hon. Member for Reading, when he said that it was of recent origin. That has brought into clear perspective the underlying problem of that part of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and myself had interviews with the Archbishop and others. It was useless to pretend, and we did not try to pretend to His Beatitude on that occasion, that there was a real threat to the Turkish Government unless this island remained British or under international control. The same thing applies to the Greek Government. I do not believe that the Greek Government, under any circumstances, wish to take over Cyprus. I believe that neither the Greek nor the Turkish Governments wish fundamentally to see a change in the present situation, namely, that we should be there.
Suggestions have been put forward for a change of sovereignty, of who should control this area. There have been suggestions that it should be controlled by U.N.O., by tripartite agreements, as in the case of Crete. Hon. Members will remember that before the 1914 war there was a dual control of that island by ourselves and the Greeks. All these suggestions fall to the ground for the simple reason that the importance of this area to ourselves is threefold. The first is that by being there we prevent the conditions for another Balkan war arising between 119 Greece and Turkey. So our first duty is to remain there. Secondly and thirdly we remain there by right of the 1878 Treaty and also of the 1924 Treaty.
I disagree with those hon. Members who say that the importance of the island as a base is negligible, because I think it is extremely important to N.A.T.O. and to the Baghdad Pact. But to talk of it merely as a N.A.T.O. base to support the maintenance of law and order simply in N.A.T.O. countries is not correct, because it is also a base of great importance for the support of the Baghdad Powers and of our policy of the rule of law and order in the Middle East in general.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
Is it not also a base for carrying out our duties under the Tripartite Declaration to Israel?
§ Mr. Fraser
I was coming to that, but I am happy that my hon. Friend has been able to make that intervention. It is clearly the only area from which the Tripartite Declaration could be enforced.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly said that the promise of self-determination should be given first and that there would then be a Greek base which we should be permitted to use—or, rather, a British base in a Greek island; but that is not a sufficient guarantee in view of our great commitments in that part of the world.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Are there not N.A.T.O. bases in British territory, including Gibraltar and Malta? Would the hon. Gentleman regard them as of no value?
§ Mr. Fraser
I have raised the point of the tripartite guarantee to Israel. This is not a N.A.T.O. guarantee but a British-American-French guarantee, and, therefore, the question of N.A.T.O. commitments would in no way arise. It might be impossible for the Greeks to agree to the use of troops from that area for the maintenance of law and order in the Middle East. The N.A.T.O. argument falls completely to the ground; this base must essentially be founded on our various commitments, not merely under N.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact, but also under the Tripartite Declaration.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke in the debate on 1st July and if he speaks today I think he will eat many of the words which he said then, for he then said that this area was quite useless as a base. What is becoming absolutely clear more and more and day by day is that we need in the cold war what Liddell Hart called a fire brigade base—and that is precisely what this base would be.
Many hon. Members and I have met both Turks and Greeks, and it is quite clear that a large number of them believe that for the benefit of peace in the area we should remain as the sovereign power in Cyprus. They bel.eve that that would be for the benefit of Greeks and Turks and that there are a considerable number of people in the Island of Cyprus who would also be benefited. Because I have seen so many people who have nothing to gain from our leaving Cyprus and a great deal to gain from our remaining there, I personally am fairly optimistic about a settlement.
Unfortunately, a settlement has been delayed. I agree with the hon. Member for Reading that it is important that the settlement should be effected as soon as possible. The quicker the delays which naturally arise can be circumvented, the better. The whole House agrees that we want to see a political settlement reached by agreement between the various parties, but I think we have also to consider what would happen if no settlement could be reached—and that is a point which has not been stressed this afternoon. It must also be raised because in a way it strengthens the position of this country as a negotiating power. There is too much a tendency, certainly among hon. Members opposite, to suggest that this country is always wrong and that whoever wants to make the change is always right.
We must consider what should be done if these negotiations break down. Hon. Members opposite have said that force cannot prevail, and I hope that force of a brutal sort will not have to be used. Certainly, it is not being used today, for the British reaction to the terrorism has been extraordinarily mild and the use which the Governor has made of his powers has been extraordinarily wise and moderate. But to say at this stage that there is no question of our staying in the island under duress is to take a view of 121 the situation which is not realistic. It is a small island and if need he we can remain there by force.
I trust that the negotiations will be successful, but, should they fail, and especially if they should fail on the question of self-determination, we must consider the position. This is a most difficult problem of the definition of words—so close and yet so far—and a question of the time-table. Hon. Members will remember that Pyramus and Thisbe were separated only by a brick wall, but never did they meet. We may have a problem over the formula.
The Colonial Secretary and the Foreign Secretary might well feel that if there were a breakdown on this question of the discovery of a formula, or incantation as some people have called it—the question of the words of self-determination—then they might consider the imposition of a Constitution on Cyprus. I know that at this stage that might sound difficult and it might well have to be prefaced by a phrase on self-determination thought acceptable by the British Government to those States and interests around the coast of Cyprus.
Beyond that, it might not be impossible to say to the Cypriots and to people like the Archbishop and the leaders of Enosis that there must be a Constitution. The tragedy of Cyprus has been the fact that some of the leaders, both on the right and on the left, have prevented the individual in Cyprus from finding his self-expression through democratic institutions. These individuals have been denied this right over the years by the Archbishop and by the Left-wing leaders who have said: "No move towards self-government until we have the acceptance of the principle of self-determination as the first priority."
We must say to the people in Cyprus, as I have said to the Archbishop, that they must regard this as a question of what is to precede the ultimate objective. Democracy must be the means used in the island and it must be available to the large number of people who are on the side of law and order but who, at the moment, are terrified to speak because of the terrorists, because of the power of such Left-Wing organisations as the Communists and of the Nationalists such as Eoka. These people are our best friends in Cyprus—those who want law and order 122 and who want democratic institutions and an end to strife and terrorism.
There is a danger when negotiations go on too long that the power shifts and negotiators tend to become more and more dominated by their extremists. There is a grave danger that we are not getting at the people who will support us for the simple reason that the extremists and the Archbishop—who is a moderate extremist as opposed to the Eoka—put the principle of self-determination ahead of the question of self-government. It is, therefore, not impossible to advance, even if we cannot get agreement on this incantation or phrase regarding the final place that Cyprus should have in the community of nations.
It is possible to advance at several levels. The right hon. Member for Llanelly has had unfortunate experiences with the Constitution for Cyprus, as has had my right hon. Friend, by the refusals of the leaders of the Cypriots, the heads of the Communist-dominated trade unions and the Church to discuss the situation in 1947 and 1948. Today, we have the same problem. We have to appeal over the heads of those leaders to the people themselves. As hon. Members will know, initially that might well mean a Communist election victory.
It has been the fault of the Colonial Office under the right hon. Member for Llanelly, under Lord Chandos and under my right hon. Friend that in Cyprus it has been far too paternal in its administration. One has to be rather rough to bring democracy to a place. We have imposed it in some townships and done something to impose it in the development councils, but one must leave people to work it out for themselves. One of the troubles with colonial government is that it always comes along and says, "That filthy man, the mayor of so-and-so, has stopped these people having their water pipes." Because they are not having their water pipes, the colonial administration steps in to see that they get the water pipes and removes from the mayor the power to stop them getting water pipes. But who gets stoned? Not the mayor, but our people.
This is a small but important point. To make democratic those areas which are ripe for democracy we must give the people a chance of fighting for their rights against each other. In Cyprus the Communist Party gets the best of both worlds.
123 It is able to say, "We will produce a Communist programme, but you must not impose more taxes." If that party came to this country, as a capitalist I should be delighted to have the best of both worlds. The Communists would put up a genuine front of genuine reform, but do nothing about it, except go on strike for more money from Russia and yet impose no more taxes. No wonder people like that win elections; no taxation, no representation, but things as they are and put the blame on Her Majesty's Government. That is what is happening.
There is a great chance here. Even if these talks on this delicate balance of what self-determination means and whom it will upset and whom it will not upset end in failure, it should be possible to go on with local self-government. We should begin at the lowest level. There is far too much talk about the problem at the centre. The problem throughout these territories which have been backward—and it is surprising that with the intelligence of its people Cyprus has been backward—is to get the people involved at every level of self-government.
Town councils and the development of county councils through development councils under the late Governor, Sir Robert Armitage, with the money to spend which is now available, will be a step forward. It is said that no one will co-operate. If money is available to spend, people will come forward, if not the Right-wing, the Communists and if neither of those, the Turks. After all, Cyprus is only the size of a British county.
In Nicosia, we should have a truly liberal constitution in the full sense of the word, with a second chamber in which various interests can be represented. Cypriots are as European or as Levantine as we are and it is vitally important that there should be a proper European Constitution. I am not an expert on contemporary constitutional law, but in Bavaria and other places there are perfectly good bicameral systems and with such a system it would be possible to look after Turkish interests. We have our own example in the Central African Federation where the Affairs Board looks after minority interests.
One of the troubles is that we are dealing with an island which is inhabited not by people, but by races, Greeks and 124 Turks. We have to bring them together, and with a Constitution like that something could be done. In pushing ahead and hoping that the present negotiations will succeed—pray heaven they will—we must also turn to other thoughts and other possibilities. It is fundamentally true and essential that the island must achieve self-government first in the same way that it is essential for a Christian to be baptised before he is confirmed.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
This has been a tragic story. Throughout these years our attitude has varied from being tough—and, then proving our impotence to perform that which we have threatened—to the giving of concessions which, given earlier, would have been solutions, but which, given late, were not solutions. As the Foreign Secretary was speaking this afternoon, I felt that if only "some time" instead of "not in the foreseeable future" could have been said two months ago, that would have been the key to this problem. Two months ago the Archbishop did not require a date for implementation, provided that the principle was admitted. Here my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) is quite wrong.
With every day that passes the Archbishop's hand is weakened by the emergence and the establishment of the thesis of the terrorists, that only violence works. But the only person with whom we can deal, if we are to come to terms at all, must be the Archbishop. Therefore, for us to weaken his position is the craziest thing we can do, and at each point as we delay we put him in a position of conceding less. What we are prepared to give today was acceptable to him when the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) and I were in Cyprus. It will become more and more difficult to settle this situation the longer it continues.
In relation to this process—the tough talk about something which we have not the power to impose—I want to say a word or two about two of the latest things we have done. First there is the £38 million. I believe that we have neglected Cyprus and that we ought to spend money, but to have Sir John Harding making the announcement when he did was wrong. I am a great respecter of Sir John. He is one of the great men of this or any other age, but he is a 125 soldier and he ought to have political advice. Who advised him to go back, while Makarios was in Athens, and announce, "I have £38 million of English money to spend here"? That was a lunatic way to do it. Instead of doing good, it gave every Cypriot the impression that he was being bribed. That money is required for insertion into the economy of Cyprus, through the Governments which we seek to create, and, by making that money available, thus make government attractive. But to hold it out in the early stage, as a bribe, destroyed all the value of it.
The second thing which is folly is the form of the Emergency Regulations. I do not say that we do not require Emergency Regulations in these circumstances. I think that we ought to have had them a good deal earlier. I do not agree with the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Reading about collective punishments. Where there is a community which is coalescing to defy the law, one can work only by collective punishment, remembering always that the collective punishments must be so moderate that they drive nobody to desperation. If we drive people to desperation we only add to the power of the aggressor.
The sort of collective punishment which involves a curfew, which is an inconvenience, makes people who suffer that inconvenience and shopkeepers who lose the money, object to the silly hooligan acts that bring that inconvenience upon them. Equally, I think that where any village—and in Cyprus the villages are very much communities which have always run their own show—allows its schoolchildren to burn down the post office, it is not in the least unreasonable to require the village to rebuild that post office. That is what the fine amounts to.
§ Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)
Would my hon. and learned Friend say that in his view it is reasonable that the secondary school should be closed down, too?
§ Mr. Paget
Yes, entirely, in the present circumstances. The position is that the secondary school brings in a lot of children from the country villages who then lodge in the towns where there is nobody to control them. They have been the principal factor in the riots, and in those circumstances the closing of that school is in fact a reasonable thing to do.
126 The second power, which I regard as both reasonable and necessary, is deportation, especially if we come to terms with the Archbishop, as I hope we shall. Then the Government will have to be pretty quick about deporting the people who will want to shoot the Archbishop, and the Communists, who will want to destroy his agreement. The Government will not be able to make their agreement work unless they are quick.
There are other provisions which are quite insane. In circumstances like this, the existence of any death penalty is a grave embarrassment, for the simple reason that when a capital offence is committed one has either to demonstrate that one is unwilling to enforce the law—which is a sign of weakness—or one has to provide one's enemy with a martyr. In either event, there will be a period, while the man remains in the death cell, which is a highy emotive period and which builds up excitement and emotion, which is what one's opponents want and what one does not want.
Therefore, any capital punishments are embarrassing in these sort of circumstances. Why, therefore, gratuitously proceed to enlarge the number of offences for which capital punishment is provided? After all, the present outburst of trouble has arisen precisely because there is a man in the condemned cell. We say that he is a foul murderer who killed a policeman. To the other side he is the hero who slew the Turk. It is true that the Turk happened to be a Greek policeman, but that form of logic does not matter in this emotional situation.
The same people who say that he is the hero who slew the enemy, say equally, that he is an innocent man convicted on perjured Turkish evidence. They believe both things at once. That is the emotional circumstance in which we are. Do we want to put more people in death cells in this sort of situation? Does anybody seriously imagine that it is a deterrent? Even in Kenya, where we have almost had mass executions, the executions have been quite a small part of the casualties inflicted upon Mau Mau.
Anybody who carries arms knows that he is running an infinitely greater risk of being shot than he is of being hanged. We do not even make it substantially more dangerous. I remind the Secretary of State for the Colonies of words used by 127 that profound, if cynical, judge of human nature, Francis Bacon, who said:There is no appetite in man so weak but that it hath met, yea, and mastered, the fear of death.This appetite for nationalism in Cyprus is no weak appetite.
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered what he will do when he catches a girl carrying arms? Does he remember what happened when the Germans shot Nurse Cavell? That produced the highest level of recruitment I believe we have ever had, and if the right hon. Gentleman hangs a Greek girl for carrying arms then to them she will be the Nurse Cavell of that moment. Again, I remind the right hon. Gentleman of another thing. Even so tough a general as Field Marshal von Manstein, the German, when he was commanding in an ex-Turkish province, refused, in defiance of Hitler's order, to allow hangings to be carried out in the area of his command. He did so because, within an area where the Turk has been, hanging is a Turkish barbarity, and in von Manstein's experience hangings so disturbed the population that they endangered his army and so he refused to allow them. Yet we are proceeding to do that in an ex-Turkish province. The Greek Government abolished hanging over 30 years ago. Surely, it was great political ineptitude which allowed these things to be included.
The other provision here which is surely mad is to provide for whipping by judicial sentence. If young lads were caught in mischief—throwing stones at soldiers—I would not have the slightest objection if the policemen and troops were told, "If you catch these little lads, put them across your knee and give them half-a-dozen with your swagger cane and then let them go." In the course of the riot and fun such a thing would cause no harm whatever. But it is crazy, if we are proposing solemnly to take these children into custody; to judge them and condemn them to be whipped; with the children howling inside and the mothers howling outside, and an already demoralised police force being asked to carry out those whippings, knowing that in the process they are inflicting mortal insult on the family, which will certainly start a vendetta against them—and remember that in most of those areas the vendetta has been effective law for a long time. I 128 hope that sort of folly will not be indulged in much longer.
I wish to say something to my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). It seems to me very unwise, and indeed in honesty impossible, to state a time for the implementation of self-determination, because that implementation is not conditioned by time, but by events. One has to consider the events which must precede it and the most we can do is to say that we will do our utmost to hasten those events. I will deal with the events in the opposite order and subsequently deal with the constitutional question.
The first limitation, I think a very natural and obvious limitation, on the right of self-determination is the power to defend what one determines. No power of self-determination is real, if one cannot defend that which one decides to be. The present situation, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, is that if we go, the Turks have pledged themselves to come. It is said that they have forty miles to come, in fact, it is thirty miles, and the Greeks have about six hundred miles to come. What is more, the Turks are much stronger, as well as being closer, and so it is not an available solution for Cyprus to decide to join Greece, because the effect of that choice would be that she would be forcibly added to Turkey.
§ Mr. Mikardo
Does my hon. and learned Friend think that in the event of the British deciding to grant self-determination, and if Great Britain and the United States said to their N.A.T.O. Ally, Turkey, "We do not want you to invade Cyprus," the Turks would disregard such advice?
§ Mr. Mikardo
It would be, were I asking it, but I am not. I am merely asking that we should make a peaceful suggestion to an Ally who I am sure would not ignore it.
§ Mr. Paget
I think that has already been dealt with by the United States, because that happened the second time 129 this matter was brought before U.N.O. America then saw that this Cypriot question affected her defence system in the Middle East which she had been building up for ten years. The moment that became clear, she made it perfectly clear that she was not prepared to defend Cyprus, if the Cypriots rejected our defence; and so we have the existing circumstances, that the right of self-determination is limited by the fact that the Turks would go there, unless we and the Americans were prepared to use our force to prevent them.
I would say that, while that situation remains as it is, we are, in fact, condemned to remain in Cyprus. I do not regard the argument about the base as being in the least important. Even in the conditions of the cold war, I should have thought that we might have been much more conveniently based elsewhere, where we should be more effective. But I feel that the whole of our defence organisation depends on being able to keep some sort of unity between the Balkans and Turkey. The one thing that we cannot afford is a Turco-Greek war, and the alternative to that at this moment is our being in Cyprus. Therefore, the first thing that we have to decide is how we can mend that situation, because, goodness knows, the mismanagement of Cyprus by this Government has broken up the defence situation and it has got to be mended. We have got to reach a settlement about which both Greek and Turk are happy, and we have got to talk fairly roughly to the Turks whose behaviour in Ismia and Istanbul is something of which they have no reason to be proud. We must talk to them very firmly indeed; and we must honestly work for a settlement which will be acceptable to both countries. Any settlement which is acceptable to both Greece and Turkey ought to be acceptable to us.
It has also been enunciated that this is a matter for British decision—entirely within our power. Of course, it is a matter within our sovereignty, but among civilised communities sovereignty is always limited by treaty obligations. Our treaty obligations within the Balkan Pact and within the Bagdad Pact are based upon our being in Cyprus. Therefore, I think that my Cypriot friends should realise and that it should be made clear to both sides that this problem is something which Britain is not in a position 130 to settle without bringing her Allies into consultation and getting their consent.
There is one thing about which we should be quite clear on this point. We do not want any "funny business" of trying to hide behind our Allies. It is in our interests that this matter should be settled to the satisfaction of the population of Cyprus and of their parent population in Greece. We must do our utmost to bring in our Turkish Ally and our other Allies, to persuade them to be sensible about this matter, and to strive for an agreement that will work. But that agreement depends upon getting a satisfactory Constitution.
There is, as has been said, one great problem in getting a satisfactory Constitution for Cyprus. At the moment, there are no Cypriots; there are merely Greeks and Turks who live in Cyprus. As was said by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), in a very remarkable maiden speech, we have got to get our educational system working, to have local government, town government and higher government in which to bring the two communities together and work them together, and to have a Constitution which works sufficiently effectively for both communities, Turkish and Greek, to have confidence in it.
Until we get that, we shall not get the consent of the parent countries, Turkey and Greece, which are, in fact, limitations on our sovereignty in dealing with this question. Therefore, the required conditions are, first, a satisfactory Constitution under which alone can be negotiated and operated the choice of self-determination; and, secondly, agreement on what is required for the defence of both Greece and Turkey, and of Cyprus itself.
Those things have to be done, but the principle must first be recognised. For goodness sake, do not let us quibble about words and try to find other words. The magic words here are "self-determination," not "master of her own destiny," or anything else. Let us recognise that principle which has been the principle of our Empire, and let us recognise the practical difficulties in the way, both within and outside Cyprus. Let us state that fairly, and let that be our position.
Finally, what are we to do if we cannot get terms here? I would say that, if we cannot get terms, ultimately we should withdraw government. We can have our 131 enclaves where we require them, and withdraw our people to those enclaves, withdraw government and see how the population gets on without government. It is a very drastic and Draconian method, but in those circumstances, in order to live, they would have to create a government to negotiate with us to get their imports in and deal with questions of that kind. Ultimately, we have the power to take that extreme measure, but if possible we must avoid doing it because it would mean much destruction of society and of lives on the island. There is that ultimate sanction in the background, which is at least a lesser evil than a Turco-Greek civil war in Cyprus, with Turkish intervention.
I would say that that is what we have to bear in mind here—that there is always the alternative of withdrawing government, and that our Cypriot friends should be reminded of that. Subject to that, I hope that this time we shall go all the way to make it clear, to be sincere in our undertaking to try to get this thing to work, but the only person with whom we can work is Makarios, and we must do our utmost to build up his authority, so that he can carry out an agreement if he makes one.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
I am quite sure that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is right when he stresses, as others have done, the fact that we have to get agreement with the Archbishop of Cyprus. The point is what kind of agreement that can be, and how rapidly or how slowly are we to get it. When the hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned that the Government are now reluctantly conceding in regard to self-determination what six weeks ago they were refusing, I think that perhaps he may be right superficially, though I think that in reality he is being unfair.
The very term self-determination needs definition; and I, myself, in studying this matter over the past eighteen months or so, have increasingly felt anxious lest different people should give different meanings to this term. This afternoon the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said—and repeated it after he had been challenged by myself—that responsible self-government, in his view, constituted self-determination. It is worth 132 bearing in mind that, in so saying, the right hon. Gentleman in fact had the authority, though he may not have known it, of the late Prime Minister of Greece, Marshal Papagos. On 7th February this year, the late Marshal told the Greek Parliament that the British Government here, through the mouth of Lord Munster, had, on 22nd February, 1954, told the House of Lords—and I quote the words of Marshal Papagos:… decided to grant the right of self-determination to the natives of Uganda.What was, in fact, offered to Uganda that day was responsible self-government. So it is indeed the very ambiguity of this term "self-determination" which has made some of us most anxious lest it should be conceded in principle before it had been properly defined.
My own feeling is that we should, as it were, go back a litle and try to steep ourselves in the traditions of the Commonwealth in this matter. Here I find myself fundamentally in accord with the attitude adumbrated by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse). The central fact is that it has always been accepted doctrine in the Commonwealth—since Lord Rosebery enunciated it in Adelaide in 1884—that sovereign nationhood is the ideal for all peoples within our multi-national Commonwealth of Nations. But the qualification for this is always understood to be maturity in self-government. Furthermore, I am sure that we have never said in any authoritative fashion that self-determination should be an over-riding right. It surely cannot take precedence over the right of the people to peace. Still less should it be used to bring about a kind of retrograde fragmentation of the world which we know.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary pointed to the Austrian Treaty as a case where the great Powers specifically joined together to deny the exercise of self-determination for which Austrians had clamoured at different times since the Chancellorship of Dr. Seipel, in 1929. What about the Saar? Europe was affronted when Nationalist self-determination there threw aside the idea of Europeanisation. The South Slav Federation, for which the peoples of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria have clamoured in the past, was thwarted by Stalin, to 133 the relief of the Greeks. Here was self-determination being denied once again. Malta has been denied self-determination, apparently with the assent, or at all events the acquiescence, of the benches opposite.
Crudely stated, this self-determination proposal means that one piece of united Europe should be taken from one member of united Europe and transferred to another member of united Europe, against the opposition of a third member of united Europe. It is a mockery of the whole European idea.
Hon. Members have referred to the Sudan. But self-determination in the Sudan would mean that the rebellious South could quit the North and come back to British rule. Nobody advocates that at present. Did the Archbishop find great support for self-determination at the Afro-Asian Bandung conference last April? Did Pandit Nehru encourage him? What about Kashmir, Goa and Hyderabad? Did the Labourites at Singapore encourage him? Not a bit.
What is more extraordinary, neither Greeks nor Cypriots have taken practical positive measures in the sense of Enosis, except to refuse to govern themselves and relapse into terrorist disorder. The figures for migration bear this out. In 1953–54, 195 Cypriots went to America, 892 to the Commonwealth, 4,950 came to these islands and only 10 went to Greece. That was in two years. In the first eight months of this year about 70 Cypriots went to America, 728 went to the Commonwealth, about 2,600 came to this country and none at all went to Greece. That is what Enosis means in practice.
Let us take it the other way round. In the years between September, 1953 and September, 1955, only about 1,400 visas have been given, and indeed asked for, by Greeks wishing to visit Cyprus, and over 500 of them were for teachers and cabaret artists. Are Greek shipowners, no doubt pouring their money into the Enosis campaign, running tourist trips to attract Cypriots to Greece and Greeks to Cyprus? Not a bit.
On the other hand, there is a great sentimental aspiration by people in Cyprus to assert their Hellenic character and their membership of the Hellenic world. But let us also bear in mind what the Hellenic world means. To the world of the Hellenes, Constantinople and 134 Alexandria mean almost as much as Cyprus, Athens and Salonika. I therefore believe that we are up against a very difficult and complex problem here. It is not simple nationalism. It is a kind of vague aspiration in which nationalism never finds practical expression other than in stone throwing and such things.
I believe that the challenge which we have to meet is the challenge to reconcile a nineteenth century kind of nationalism of a very negative sort with the positive multi-national, multi-racial principles of the Commonwealth, of N.A.T.O. and of United Europe. That is why I am surprised that throughout this debate no comment has been made on the second of the Foreign Secretary's most interesting revelations in his opening speech today. He has already said "self-determination some time." He also said something else, in covering the results of the London Conference and his own proposals to it. He has disclosed that there was an idea that there might be some state of common citizenship between the countries concerned.
Here we have the Foreign Secretary confirming in the House of Commons what could half be read into the White Paper, that the British Government are really taking a look into the future, into the new world, and are stepping out on a bold adventure to get the countries which are involved in this nineteenth century concept to think in a twentieth or twenty-first century fashion about it—to share citizenship between themselves as a step towards merging sovereignties.
I have followed with particular interest the reports in the Press in the last few weeks about some kind of formula. To some extent I have sympathy with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton who has just said, "Do not beat about the bush. Come out plainly with what you mean." It is vital that in this context we do not repeat the blind errors of the Balfour Declaration when something was said that was capable of at least two meanings. One does not know whether the Press reports of formulas are accurate. But I am quite sure that we should be right in supporting the British Government in any recognition of the "natural rights of the Cypriot peoples—plural—to decide their own future." We would be quite right in declaring our intention, "through the 135 peaceful development of responsible self-government," to lead Cyprus forward to "the fullest measure of national sovereignty."
Here is the point where the Foreign Secretary gave a warning where other hon. Members have asked questions, and about which we all wait with great interest, if not also with some apprehension. When the negotiations are concluded—and I am convinced that they will be successful—we shall want to be satisfied about the qualifications which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary mentioned would be attached to his recognition of the principles of self-determination. If we say that we intend to bring Cyprus forward to the fullest measure of national sovereignty, it must be subject to some such qualification as this: "that is mutually agreed to be compatible with the safety of Cyprus and with world peace."
The hon. and learned Gentleman for Northampton asked, "What is the good of self-determination and sovereignty unless you are capable of protecting it?" it is a fallacy to think that we can have little units scattered about the world, sovereign in any literal sense, irrespective of the defence circumstances. I do not think we should go beyond some such qualification as I have just suggested. It would not be in the Commonwealth interest to go further. I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will bear seriously in mind the point made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicestet. South-East, that we have something bigger than Cyprus to consider, namely, the safety of the Commonwealth and of the free world. We have to remember all the opportunities that are bound up with this very concept of common citizenship, adumbrated by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon.
While—perhaps in a minor key—one must beg the Government to remember the pros and cons, and, let us add, the heat of the Suez debates, the Greeks have something that they, too, should be reminded of. Let them remember that the bulk of the Cypriots hate violence. Let them bear in mind that they will get no credit if they reject the generous offer that we can publish. The world as a whole does not know that Cyprus has consistently and obstinately rejected self- 136 government year in and year out. If they reject our offer we shall be able to tell the world what the Greeks have lost, with its perspective of a new supra-national world of tomorrow. We shall be able to tell our full story of what we have offered. Perhaps the Greeks will not then look quite so modern, quite so realistic, quite so responsible and, above all, quite so democratic as they sometimes wish the outside world to believe them to be. It is important that the Greeks should realise that the moral, for better for worse, of the Suez Agreement is now well known to the British public and that there is a mood growing up in this country which says, "Be reasonable; be generous; but do not be feeble."
Self-determination is not the abdication of the ruling Power. It is an agreement, solid and well understood, between those who at present are responsible and those who are being led up to full responsibility. Let us, therefore, bear this in mind, and I beg that the Government Front Bench will remember it. A slow agreement in the world of Byzantium is better than a quick one. Agreements reached quickly in the atmosphere of, say, intrigue and of this complexity of Byzantine thinking, may be very quickly broken. An agreement that is the product of long and sincere toil, in which the object is not simply to agree on a form of words but to become absolutely identical in thought, purpose and intention, such a pact will endure. If when it comes such an agreement really points the way to a relation between the Commonwealth and Greece worthy of the twentieth century and of the twenty-first century which is to follow it, this will command the instantaneous support and applause not only of everybody in Cyprus, in Greece and in Turkey, but in this country, too. If it is forward-looking and not just a feeble concession to nineteenth century sentiment, it will command approval.
Nothing I have said should be taken to excuse what has gone on in the past. Once we get agreement—and I believe we shall—our civil servants there have got to learn one or other of the main languages of the island. At present, only 30 per cent. of them do so. Our people there have to forgo the arrogance which is not becoming anywhere, even in a provincial town back home.
The neglect of farmers and of fisheries must stop; the money must be wisely 137 spent. Above all, the attitude that Greeks, that Greekism and Hellenism, do not matter, this must go. Only nine months back I brought home from Cyprus, and showed to my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, some income tax assessments served on Greek peasants in the English language. I was told later that it was a mistake. But it is a mistake which has been repeated. That sort of thing must stop. With this agreement, which I believe and pray we shall get, we must really turn over a new leaf.
On the other hand, if Greece and the Commonwealth can settle this, then one great nation, great in history if small in size, and one great world system will together be opening up new horizons. Indeed, I would say that the fullest self-determination and a nation's final graduation from the very limitations of nationalisation are only possible in free association with ourselves. And with his allusion to common citizenship this afternoon. my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has indeed pointed the way.
I dream that Greece will one day come so close to us that she will want to come into the Commonwealth on the same basis as India, and we shall be glad to have her. That is what I pray for one day. It can come if we are forward-looking. It can come through the very medium of interchangeable citizenship to which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today alluded in a reference that may well prove historic.
Only the other day I heard of a nine-year-old Cypriot boy who asked what had happened at the London Conference. When his mother told him that it had broken down, he said, "Well, Mama, of course we have to be free; but we must stay with the Commonwealth."
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
This debate has been of very great value. Most of us feel that nothing should be said which will hamper the discussions that are proceeding, or which is apt to increase the spate of terrorism already in the island. The debate has been necessary because of the widespread anxiety felt by hon. Members and people in the country generally about the situation in Cyprus. Although an hon. Member suggested that perhaps the debate was 138 premature because no conclusions had been reached in the present negotiations, none the less I think that the ventilation of our anxiety has been of some importance not only to this country but also to Cyprus itself.
I confess to some disappointment at the statement of the Foreign Secretary. I had hope that he would have taken us into his confidence a little more than he did. All he told us was that some delicate negotiations are now proceeding. He left us in considerable doubt as to the lines along which the Government are working. It is good, of course, to know, that the Government now believe that self-determination must be conceded at some time. Hitherto, we have understood that this principle would never be conceded, but the ground which the Government formerly took has now been modified.
However, I believe it is imperative that we should be told what stage the present discussions have reached, and how far the conditions offered by the Archbishop are acceptable. They were set out in a statement made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 16th November, in reply to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), and we should know how far those conditions are acceptable to the Government, and whether the Government are prepared to discuss the way and methods of implementing self-determination. We therefore want a clear and practical line set for future action, but it must, as several hon. Members have pointed out, be a statement which commands the support not only of the British Government, but also of the Greek and Turkish Governments and also of the peoples in the island itself.
It is unfortunate that in the search for a solution of this problem the questions arising cannot be dealt with on a rational plane. These problems are charged with emotion. It is singular that there is little material self-seeking on the part of the Cypriots themselves, otherwise their attitude over a quite long period to the issue of Enosis would have been very different indeed. One or two hon. Members have suggested that we should discount the widespread feeling that exists in Cyprus, that, to a large extent, among the Greek Cypriots the feeling for union with Greece has been artificially cultivated and is not based on reality; but I want to assert, in 139 the light of the experience of our Government in their relations with the Cypriots over the last few years, that there is reality in this feeling for Enosis, and certainly in their feeling that their future international political status should be determined, and determined in a way which is different from that existing at the present time.
Now, because of our past failure, the situation in Cyprus is deteriorating into anarchy and violence. Failure now would mean a very grave condition of anarchy in the island, and the result of violence something infinitely worse than we have at present. It is imperative, therefore, that the Government should do all in their power to reach, as the Foreign Secretary remarked, a fair and honourable political settlement. Unless we strive for that, there is a very real danger that the moderate elements in Cyprus will be swept aside, that the Archbishop will lose his authority, such as it is at present, that much further delay will make reconciliation of the interests virtually impossible, and that we shall have the greatest difficulty in controlling both the Right and the Left wings of the Enosis movement.
I therefore endorse the remark from this side of the House that our policy this time surely must be directed to strengthening the position of the Archbishop. Meantime, we have proclaimed an emergency, we are imposing collective fines, our forces are being placed under war conditions, British soldiers are being killed, and outrages are occurring every day. In addition to the increasing hostility of Cypriots towards the British administration, bad feeling between Greeks and Turks is increasing not only in Cyprus but outside Cyprus as well. Outrages are occurring in Greece and in Turkey. Great damage has been done to the existing Balkan Alliance, and the problem of security and defence in the Eastern Mediterranean has steadily grown worse.
Such is the situation that, in the end, we shall be obliged to settle. We shall be obliged to find a solution which will meet with the satisfaction of the peoples in Cyprus. Therefore, one would say to the Government, "Need we wait? Need we press claims which we know are completely unacceptable when, in the long run, we may be obliged, unless we find 140 a solution, to end in abject retreat before anarchy and violence?"
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I am asking that an effort should be made to secure a constructive solution of the problem and that we should not press claims which are totally unaccepable to the people concerned. The Government's previous position has been modified. It will be within the recollection of the House that Lord Chandos said that political self-determination must be denied to Cyprus throughout the foreseeable future. Now the Government find that the forces of violence are released to compel this country to take a different line. The Government have moved a little during the past year or eighteen months. Hitherto, they have offered Constitutions which in some respects have been less liberal than the Constitution which was offered in 1948.
I recall that in 1947 and 1948 we were very anxious to find some answer to the constitutional problem in Cyprus. Consequently, we attempted to prepare a much more receptive attitude in our relations with the Cypriots. We released the trade union leaders who were imprisoned, we altered the ecclesiastical law, we removed the ban on the exiled bishops, and in a variety of ways, through social and economic programmes and a considerable amount of constructive work, we hoped that the Cypriots would be willing to cooperate with the Government in a consultative assembly for the purpose of determining a constitution.
I said that the Constitution we offered was more liberal than the Constitution which was announced by the Minister of State last year. We offered a majority of elected members in the Legislative Assembly, and although it was offered in the atmosphere I have described, where we were hoping that we might conciliate the Cypriots so that they would discuss with us a new Constitution giving them a real measure of responsible self-government, they refused to play. With that experience in our minds it seemed to me extraordinary that the Government should offer, in 1954, something less liberal than that which the Cypriots could have had at any time in the intervening years from 1948 to 1954.
I was also puzzled by the way in which the Tripartite Conference was handled.
141 It seems that the Government were taken by surprise at the attitude of the Turkish Government. Yet it should have been known from the start that once three Governments were invited to declare publicly their policies in regard to Cyprus, it would be next to impossible for them to withdraw from the stand they took. Each Government took up its own position and the conference broke down largely because, after such public declarations, it was impossible for each to withdraw. Without amplifying in any great detail the course of the Government of the past few years, it seems that the delays, the deviations and sometimes their blimpish attitude, account for the situation we are in at the present time.
Thus Cyprus has been transformed virtually into an armed camp. We have had the resignation of moderate and representative Cypriots from the Governor's counsels, the resignation of Sir Paul Pavlides. We have had a change in the secretariat. Finally, there has been the declaration of emergency and the imposition of collective fines. Now, in the midst of all this trouble, we offer the Cypriots a contribution from our colonial development and welfare moneys for the purpose of a social and economic programme. Surely it should be known that the Cypriots are completely disinterested in material improvement. This emotional claim for self-government is fundamental. The Cypriots cannot be bribed into facing some of the problems of development and welfare in their country until political satisfaction is given to them.
According to the statements which have been made, the policy of the Government has been determined on grounds of strategy. It is true that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has changed in the last year or so and, of course, this country is heavily committed in that part of the world. Moreover, one fully appreciates and understands the difficulties of the Turkish Government, and the strategic problem which faces them should an unsympathetic Government reign in Cyprus.
Whatever strength there may be in the strategic arguments, it must be remembered that in Cyprus we are today facing—the British are, anyway—a hostile population which is making our task all the more difficult. As I said before, we are also witnessing a situation in which 142 not only are our responsibilities under N.A.T.O. made very difficult to perform but the Balkan Alliance itself is beginning to crumble and the relations between the Greeks and the Turks are steadily growing worse.
Could not the problem have been discussed within the framework of N.A.T.O.? It is not a new problem for us. We had a difficulty when Ceylon was demanding her independence. We negotiated with Ceylon a treaty under which all the guarantees that we required, all the facilities for a naval port, and all our requirements about defence, were willingly conceded by the new Government of Ceylon when independence was declared. We have had from the Greek Foreign Minister and the leaders of the Cypriots statements guaranteeing safeguards in regard to any base which it established or may continue to be necessary in Cyprus.
A continuance of our policy would tarnish our good name in colonial administration. In the past there have been vulnerable Dependencies of a strategic character where, as I said a moment ago. we have conceded independence, and where, as in the case of Burma, India and Ceylon, we were able to come to defence arrangements which were completely satisfactory without in any way doing violence to the principle of self-determination.
The House should remember that we may be faced with problems similar to this one in the near future. Something will have to be settled about Singapore and Hong Kong, and there are other vulnerable Dependencies of some importance in any strategic plans where some agreement with the people concerned will have to be reached.
The Foreign Secretary reminded us that the principle of self-determination has been enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, with our agreement and full endorsement. Likewise, we agreed with it in the Atlantic Charter, and it is a principle which has been generally accepted throughout the Commonwealth in the working out of the broad policies of the British Empire.
It can also be said that there need not be difficulties about small territories acquiring self-determination. It has already been pointed out that Malta is making her choice, asking that she shall 143 be integrated with this country. We shall have the problem in respect of Colonies in the West Indies. Will they seek to stand entirely on their own feet? We know it is very probable that they will lean on Great Britain but take their full place in the Commonwealth.
Unless we are prepared to concede this principle, our standing in the United Nations will diminish. We shall not forever be able to take the view that this is a domestic problem entirely within our own control. We shall find our position utterly untenable and we shall not fob off the representatives in the United Nations by talk of peaceful and orderly progress to self-government when the people concerned are demanding their full rights, not only for self-government but for self-determination.
I should like also to emphasise the fact that we are not likely to overcome our problems in Cyprus, by resort to the use of force, by trying to impose more severe penalties, by whipping, deportation, longer sentences, collective fines and by increased use of the death penalty. The Governor himself—and I pay tribute to him as other hon. Members have done— would abhor repression and poisoning of relationships in the island, largely because it represents no policy at all.
We are not happy about the report which we have had from the Government today, but because of the negotiations which are now pending with the hope of a satisfactory result we do not propose to divide the House this evening. However, I do say that the Opposition are impatient with the Government for the manner in which they have been handling this problem. We demand from the Government every effort to bring negotiations to an end and we want the Government to make a firm and bold declaration of policy and a firm guarantee in respect of democratic self-determination.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
I have a difficulty which the right hon. Member can perhaps explain. Supposing self-determination were granted to Cyprus it is obvious that the Greek Cypriots would vote for Enosis, union with Greece. What then would be the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman towards the Turkish Government, who would refuse to accept the situation?
§ Mr. Mikardo
We have been discussing this all day, while the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) was not here.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I was about to say that the first duty of the Government, once they have reached an understanding with representatives of the Cypriots, would be to gather a representative assembly of the people, a consultative assembly, to discuss the form that responsible government in the island might take. Once self-government has been established, it would be the duty of the Cypriot Government to discuss with the British Government ways and means of implementing self-determination.
It seems that such a course must take a certain amount of time, but it is imperative from the outset that we should make our intentions crystal clear and say that we are prepared to concede democratic self-determination, but that the first step towards that self-determination must be the establishment of the constituent assembly and through that a responsible legislative council. The Government should proceed along these lines. At the same time, every effort must be made to meet the criticisms of the Turkish Government and to find a way of conceding complete safeguards for international security in that part of the world. Also, there should be no difficulty in finding the requisite safeguards which are called for for the Turkish population in Cyprus.
I recognise that the Government have a grave and complexed responsibility in all this, but we cannot tolerate much longer in a colonial territory a situation which virtually denies political freedom. We cannot tolerate a situation which is held in terrorism and by repression. Cyprus is a beautiful and ancient country, and it is imperative that we should find the way to peace and security. Therefore, I hope that the present discussions, from which the Foreign Secretary has given hope of a satisfactory result, will lead to a political settlement which will be satisfactory to the three Governments concerned and also to the Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
We have had a very interesting debate which has, on the whole, been very much influenced by a desire, common to all parties in the 145 House, only to help the situation and to say nothing which will add to the difficulties of this very difficult problem. I feel that I must for a moment break the even and calm tenor of agreement by reminding the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) that the whole problem of Cyprus is not a simple colonial problem, as some of his analogies would suggest; it is not even mainly a colonial problem; it is an international problem.
When certain fears from the Turkish side were given expression to in this House, and one hon. Member said—I think it was the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo), whose speech I am sorry to say I missed, but I have had a full account of it—that these Turkish fears were of very recent date, he was quite correctly reminded by another hon. Member shortly afterwards that it was the taking of this great issue to U.N.O. that helped to turn it into an international problem.
I welcome very much indeed the agreement that has been reached in the House on certain of the personalities involved in Cyprus itself, though not the same agreement has been found in regard to the personalities on the Treasury Bench. I join in the praise by the the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) for the troops in Cyprus and what he described as the courageous and tactful way in which they are carrying out a very difficult and distasteful job.
I would also most warmly associate the Government with the tributes that have been paid to Field Marshal Sir John Harding who is, as one hon. Member said, a man who is establishing friendly relations all round. Surely, no Governor can ever have assumed such wide powers in emergency conditions, which, of course, he has assumed with the full support of the Government, and in one week be subject to so little criticism in this House and so little doubt expressed on any side but that he will use those great powers, though firmly, wisely and humanely. There is, I think, also a general recognition of the fact that the Field Marshal will be as glad as anybody else when the need for the powers finally disappears.
In welcoming the support that has been given to the liberal-minded Governor of Cyprus, I should like also to associate with it a welcome from my hon. Friends and myself to Mr. Sinclair, who has gone 146 as Deputy-Governor, and whom some of my old colleagues and associates from the Colonial Office will remember very well for the work that he has done elsewhere. If there is, as I have been told, a certain prejudice against African colonial servants in Cyprus, certainly Mr. Sinclair will be glad to dispel it; as Sir Robert Armitage, the previous Governor, who also served in West Africa, had, as I have said, very largely done.
Though my conversation with the Archbishop—which was I think the first conversation which a Colonial Secretary had ever had with the leader of the Ethnarchy in Cyprus—was confidential, and a conversation in which neither side has ever disclosed what took place, I think that I should not be breaking any confidence if I said that one observation I made to the Archbishop, when he spoke about certain constitutional developments in West Africa, was that I wished very much that Cyprus would take a leaf out of the book of the Gold Coast, and have a constituent assembly or rather a legislature which we would then be able to consult on matters of great concern to the people of Cyprus.
Of Sir Robert Armitage, I hope that the House will allow me to say that the courage and patience which he showed throughout his Governorship was beyond praise. My many friends—and I have a large number of Cypriot friends, both Greek and Turkish speaking, for I have made many visits to Cyprus—have joined in a tribute to what they describe as the amazing accessibility of Sir Robert Armitage to anyone who wished to see him.
One of my hon. Friends asked whether the Governors of Cyprus, and other colonial Governors, were always wisely chosen. That is a sweeping question, or rather, it might involve an embarrassing answer if I attempted to give a detailed reply—and may I say that certain Governors have been appointed by hon. Members opposite. Regarding Sir Robert Armitage, I would say that, in the view of the Government, he discharged his work in Cyprus in an exemplary fashion.
The only reason for the change was the reason which I made clear at the time. It was that the position in Cyprus had reached a point where the interests involved were much wider than those of 147 the administration of an overseas territory. They extended to Her Majesty's Government's whole defence and political interests in the Middle East, and it seemed clear to us that Sir John Harding, with his experience as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and previously in other fields, was uniquely qualified to take the post of Governor at that time. I share the praise which the Foreign Secretary rightly gave to Sir John—who was looking forward and was fully entitled to enjoy a period of relaxation after his arduous work—for the readiness with which he undertook this very difficult task.
In the appointment which I was glad to be able to announce—of his forthcoming arrival in Nyasaland as Governor—Sir Robert Armitage knows that he has the full support of Her Majesty's Ministers. If anybody should ever feel that some vigorous action should have been taken earlier, and that essential security measures should have been engaged in earlier in Cyprus, I think that they would do well to reflect that much of the positive action that now, regretfully, has to be taken, was obviously planned when Sir Robert Armitage was Governor. If in fact there was delay in taking action of this kind, or to put it into effect, these are matters in which the final responsibility rests, not with the Governor, but with Her Majesty's Government, and I, as Colonial Secretary, take full responsibility for any action that was or was not taken.
I said that we have had a very interesting debate, and that there has been a general desire to do nothing which would add to the difficulties of the situation. Of course, a number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have had responsibility for the affairs of Cyprus, and they know perfectly well the immense complexity of this task. As they have not engaged in any party points, I will not go over some of the dogmatic and conclusive statements which they have made, noticeably the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who sometimes fails to look up his previous statements in HANSARD. But I do not think that I will strike that note of controversy at this hour.
I said earlier that I had missed the speech of the hon. Member for Reading, 148 who, from the notes I have been given, dealt with a number of very interesting points, it I may say so, in a very reasonable way. He quite rightly said that the battle of minds in Cyprus—and let us hope that soon this will be the only battle in which we shall be engaged—is between us and the extremists for the support of the moderates. That I fully endorse, and I hope that we shall take no action which will conflict with that aim.
The hon. Member then criticised the imposition of collective punishment. I can assure him that this question of collective punishment was most carefully examined by Her Majesty's Government before the Governor introduced the Emergency Regulations, including this power. When he introduced those Regulations and this power he had, of course, the full support of Her Majesty's Government. But both he and we are fully conscious of the fact that it is for the moderate influence in Cyprus that we must strive. Clearly, therefore, in the use of any powers that he may have, the Governor will bear that fact very much in mind.
As the House knows, the only use of these powers so far in the field of collective punishment has been in the village of Lefkoniko, which and no doubt many other hon. Members, know fairly well. Everyone must regret the need to use this power there or anywhere else, but I think that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made it quite clear to all who heard his stimulating speech that the use of this power in Lefkoniko and the punishment of parents and school teachers who had proved themselves incapable of restraining their children were indeed unavoidable.
To those who say, as some do, that it was unwise also to close down the schools, the hon. and learned Gentleman gave, of course, the proper answer, that in a place like Lefkoniko, and in a number of other places, a large number of youths come in from outlying districts and live in lodgings. When school is over for the day they are subject to no discipline of any kind. The action taken by the Governor in that field has, of course, our full support.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton did not feel the same about certain other provisions. For instance, he did not like the provision in regard 149 to caning and birching. He suggested, in a very vigorous passage in his speech, that it would have been far better to leave the troops to carry out summary justice of this kind on their own. As a private citizen, I might have rather similar views, but I shudder to think what would happen to the Order Paper of the House if British soldiers took justice into their own hands without necessarily acting according to some common rule.
Nobody likes this power, but I think that it would be a great mistake not to recognise the very limited way in which it has been granted, the raising from 14 to 18 years—and for emergency offences alone—the age of boys who can be birched or caned for certain specified offences. This certainly seems to many of us to be a far more appropriate threatened punishment than the individual fine paid by the father, or a term of imprisonment, which would be wholly unsuitable.
The hon. and learned Member also referred to the power to impose the death penalty for certain new offences. I can assure him that we looked at that provision very carefully indeed. He made certain references to the trial of Karaolis. It would be improper for me to make any comment on that trial, for Karaolis has taken the first step in what may turn out to be an appeal to the Privy Council. He has shown proof to the Governor that he has dispatched to London his petition for leave to appeal. It is now up to his solicitors in London to submit the petition to the Privy Council if they wish, and they have until 13th December to do so. It would clearly be altogether improper for me to make any further comment on that case at this time.
I referred to the general increase in capital penalties for certain offences. I know, again, that that is an unwelcome imposition, and one that we shall be very glad to see dropped when the emergency is over.
I shall not go in detail into all the Emergency Regulations, for I carried out my undertaking to the House to lay them as soon as possible in the Library of the House, and should it be necessary to add to those Regulations at any time, I will, of course, lay them in the House as soon as I receive them. I am at all times ready and willing to be examined about them, 150 and share with all hon. Members in the House the desire to see the need for these Regulations disappear as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Will the right hon. Gentleman notify the House, as well as lay them, if he thinks he has reason to introduce them?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I will see what is the best way of bringing them to the attention of hon. Members, unless, of course, a Question is put down. I cannot write to every hon. Member, but I am quite ready to do my best to see that everybody who wishes to sees copies of the Regulations, though I naturally hope that there will not be much need for a sweeping increase in the Regulations already imposed.
In my statement on Monday last week, I made it quite clear that Her Majesty's Government fully recognised that the declaration of a state of emergency was not in itself a solution to the problem that faces us in Cyprus, and I added certain other reflections on the difficulties which face us in keeping the House fully informed with the progress of the thoughts and discussions on the political plane of the issues that are so difficult to solve. I shall, before I sit down, make one or two other comments on those thoughts and discussions, following upon what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said at the start of the debate.
Before I do that—and at that point I shall conclude—there are one or two matters to which reference has been made and which fall in particular within my sphere as Colonial Secretary, and on which I think the hon. Members who raised them and other hon. Members may be interested to hear some news. The development programme in Cyprus came in for some rather hard words from both the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger) and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, and indeed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield, who spoke in a very confident and dogmatic fashion and said that the people of Cyprus were not interested in material benefits.
I do not really know where the right hon. Gentleman got that particular thought from, and, should he be travelling with the Governor round the various 151 rural districts of Cyprus, I think he would quickly be disillusioned. I am told by the Governor that, despite the emergency, there remains a keen and urgent desire to see vital rural improvements in particular carried out all round Cyprus. No one will be so foolish as to imagine that this is a form of bribe in an attempt to divert the people's attention from other matters which might be more inconvenient for Her Majesty's Government to have to face. Certainly, there is no reason whatever why normal political activity should not continue at the same time as material progress continues as well.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Sir H. Mackeson) and others spoke about the material development of Cyprus, and though I will not take too much of the time of the House on that subject. I must point out that there has been the most extraordinary increase in the material prosperity of Cyprus in the last few years, though I recognise that that is not a complete answer to people's emotional needs.
The total trade of the island has gone up from £4¾ million before the war to £38 million, but nevertheless there a tremendous task remains to be done. As soon as I receive from the Governor the full development programme, I will see that it is laid before the House, but it would be a very great mistake to believe that all that money is United Kingdom money, and if the statement made with my full authority by the Governor has given that impression, I had better quickly make it clear that it is not so. On present estimates for the next six years, some 60 per cent. of the cost of the programme envisaged will be borne from local revenue or met from local loans, and only the remainder will be borne by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and by external loans. Clearly, in the present situation in Cyprus, an external loan might be thought to be a risky undertaking by some investors. We have therefore given an undertaking that Her Majesty's Government will give full support in securing loan funds required for development.
My noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balneil) spoke about another form of development. I am sure that the congratulations of all hon. Members who heard him must go to him on a remarkable speech. Dealing, as it did, with 152 education in Cyprus, it was an education for those of us who heard it. I am glad to tell him that the technical trade school at Nicosia will be developed into a technical institute and that technical high schools will be established in the four main towns.
I entirely agree with him on the need to develop a Cypriot loyalty to the fullest possible extent, and I am glad to know that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, both here and in his speech at Strasbourg, made it clear that one of the needs of the situation is the development of this Cypriot loyalty. My noble Friend the Member for Hertford knows that if no Cypriot loyalty has so far developed, it is not entirely, although it is in part, the fault of previous Governments. We have certainly not kept the jobs in Cyprus for ourselves or for our own people. On the last census which I saw, of officials employed, of the 6,700 people employed in the Cyprus Government service only 160 had been recruited from outside the island. We have certainly not made it a work preserve for people from the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, I recognise the need to see that there is a very considerable development of a Cypriot pride, based, as it ought to be. on better schools and better schooling, and it is intended by the Governor, as will emerge in the development plan, that public loan funds will in future be forthcoming to help committees of those schools which maintain a proper standard of efficiency and discipline to improve their buildings and help in other ways.
I was asked a number of questions about the Constitution. May I thank the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) for his generous personal words to me? Turning to the Constitution, which we should like to see considered, there are no impediments whatever on our side to full and early consideration of such a Constitution. We are constantly pressing that we should be glad to start discussions on that particular issue. The path is wide open before all of us to carry on the preliminary discussions for a liberal Constitution, and when I say a liberal Constitution I clearly mean one in which, in the field open to it—and it will be a very wide field indeed—there will be an unofficial majority.
As soon as the chance occurs, the Governor is ready to hold discussions with 153 representative leaders of opinion, either through a constituent assembly or in such other way as seems most suitable, and I very much hope that there will be an early response to this appeal. In that way we shall be in a position to be able to test the feelings of the people of Cyprus as a whole. Problems of minority representation are very important, and I have asked Professor Wheare, whom many hon. Members know well, to give me advice on this matter. I have a Report from him which will shortly be available and when the time comes, and if we are in a position to go ahead on this particular theme, as I hope will be the case, I will see that hon. Members know the form which his advice has taken.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) asked certain questions about broadcasting services in Cyprus, and I am very glad to say that there has been a very considerable improvement in that respect. I hope and believe that that improvement will be maintained.
My right hon. and gallant Friend was a little depressing about the effect of self-determination, and he even asked where it would start, and, for instance, whether it would be applied to Gibraltar. I asked that question in Gibraltar, about a plebiscite in Gibraltar, when I said to a leading non-official there a few weeks ago, "I suppose if there were a vote here to remain as part of the British Commonwealth there would be a 100 per cent. affirmative reply?" He said—and I hope this will not be counted against their election officers—"No, 110 per cent. at least." We need not worry unduly about that particular fear.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe also asked a number of detailed questions about the Intelligence Service and police reinforcements. I shall be glad to deal with them either personally or by correspondence with him. There remain two other issues to which I should like briefly to draw the attention of the House. During the debate the problems and the fears of the Turks have been very much present in everybody's mind. The hon. Member for Reading and my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) dealt with this particular problem. Save for the speeches of the right hon. Member 154 for Wakefield and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, there was on the other side of the House a surprising inability to see what really disturbs the Government and people of Turkey.
Throughout the speeches of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, and even of the hon. Member for Swindon, who knows so much about these matters, proceeded as if the main fear of the Turks was for the security of their minority in Cyprus. Of course, as all who read carefully the White Paper on the Tripartite Conference must know, it turns much more on the geographical position of Cyprus and on the fear of possible Communist authority in neighbouring parts. For example, when I was speaking to certain Communist leaders recently in Cyprus. I asked them why they adopted the creed of union with Greece, which would lead inevitably to their own imprisonment. They were quite candid. They said, "We intend to exercise all our influence after Enosis to change the Government of Athens." If that is their view, and I have no reason to doubt it, we must not allow them to prevent any action which we think desirable, but it is enough to explain all the fears of the Turkish Government and people.
I hope to be able to add a word on what was said by the Foreign Secretary on what I recognise is the main interest of most hon. Members today: that is, on the political plane, the question of the status of the island. This has been a very moderate debate. We are all very glad and grateful that the Greek Government, whose difficulties we know very well, have decided not to refer this question as a matter of urgency to U.N.O. As I said on Monday last in the House, it has not been possible for Her Majesty's Government, from the very nature of these affairs, to keep the House informed of the various efforts being made by Her Majesty's Government to find a constructive solution on the political plane to the tangled problem of Cyprus. These efforts are continuing. If they are to succeed, they have to reconcile many different interests, involving no selfish interest of Great Britain but the safety of the whole Western Alliance.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary showed, on the question of self-determination, that it is not the principle 155 that causes difficulty but the application of that principle. About the principle of self-determination Her Majesty's Government are on record in the Charter of the United Nations, which was reaffirmed last year in the Pacific Charter. It is not our view that the principle of self-determination can never be applied to Cyprus, but there are difficulties of application, and on the timing of the application very considerable difficulties arise, as hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House know very well.
Ever since the conference, we have continued our efforts to find ways and means of moving towards an agreement, if it is at all possible. We have made certain suggestions, and the Archbishop has also made certain suggestions which the right hon. Member for Llanelly quoted in full. Both sets of suggestions have brought us closer together, but our efforts are still continuing, designed to elucidate and explain our position.
In the view of Her Majesty's Government it would not be desirable to say more about it at this stage save to repeat—it is important to repeat them—the words used by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. My right hon. Friend said:I should like to repeat, because I think it of some importance, as I said, that we are ready to discuss our offers, not only as they stood at the conference, but as the result of discussions between the Archbishop and the Governor, as they stand, as it were, in the form of today. We are ready to discuss them together with any elucidations or explanations which will make them better understood or more acceptable.I feel sure that most Members of the House would join with him in his last words:I would sincerely ask the House not to press the Government further than that, because I think that it would be not in the interests of making further progress.I cannot close without repeating the thanks that I, as Colonial Secretary, give to hon. Members on all sides of the House for the extreme moderation they have shown at Question Time and on other occasions. I recognise that it must have been very difficult for some hon. Members to apply this self-denying ordinance to themselves. But this is one of the great issues on the successful conclusion of which the whole civilised world will gain, and it is a problem of great difficulty, whichever Government happens 156 to be in power. This may well explain the reasons for the Parliamentary attitude, but none the less I certainly should thank hon. and right hon. Gentlemen for the attitude that they have taken.