HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 cc361-2
46. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the reasons for reinforcing the Middle East.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

As has already been announced, the despatch of additional troops to Cyprus has been authorised as a precautionary measure in view of the disturbed position in the Middle East, in order to increase the forces at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief for the protection of British subjects in the area, should the need arise.

Mr. Grimond

As, from the answer, it appears that the troops, as the House will be glad to hear, are not needed solely to restore order in Cyprus, can we be told whether there were any consultations with other Powers interested in the Middle East, such as the three parties to the tripartite guarantee, as to the need for these troops?

Mr. Butler

I should want notice of that supplementary question in order to give an accurate reply.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that there is considerable indignation in Scotland at the fact that young National Service men with only three months' service are being sent to Cyprus? Does he not think that something should be done to stop that?

Mr. Butler

I should have to investigate the time factor to which the hon. Member refers—namely, three months. I am aware that certain National Service men who have been a short time so far in the Service have been sent to Cyprus. That is a matter which has been considered and which is inevitable in the circumstances.

Mr. Brooman-White

Is not it obvious that the presence of these troops in this area at this time will be a stabilising element and will be welcome to all people who want to reduce the tension and the danger of an outbreak in the area?

Mr. Butler

The main consideration which must be before the House, as I reflect, is that these troops are in the Middle East for the purpose, should need arise, of protecting British lives, which will be regarded by all hon. Members as a not unworthy object.

Mr. Younger

Is it not to be hoped that the presence of these troops has a bigger stabilising effect than the visit of the C.I.G.S. to Jordan?