HC Deb 11 November 1958 vol 595 cc192-4
49. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister what response was given by Her Majesty's Government to the proposal by M. Spaak on 24th September last that Her Majesty's Government should postpone the implementation of the British plan for Cyprus in order to enable amendments to the plan to be discussed at a conference.

The Prime Minister

Her Majesty's Government have published a White Paper on the recent discussions on Cyprus in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. From this it will be clear to the House that Her Majesty's Government were prepared for amendments to the British plan, including M. Spaak's proposals of 24th September, to be discussed at a conference.

Mrs. Castle

Is not it a fact that The Times, on 29th September, published a report that part of M. Spaak's proposals were that the British plan should be postponed and not implemented on 1st October in order to enable negotiations to take place, and that this assertion was repeated by the Greek Government in a White Paper and never denied by M. Spaak, but that this important statement has been omitted from the British White Paper in order to justify the Government in proceeding with its plan on 1st October with all the tragic results which have followed?

The Prime Minister

I think that is not a fair account of the proceedings. There was a complete agreement in substance as to what papers and what memoranda should be the subject of the conference. There was almost complete agreement —I am sure it could have been reached—as to the composition, as to the chairman and as to who should be there. I say again that I very much regret that at the last moment the Greek Government did not feel themselves able—I see their difficulties—to join in the conference. This was not, therefore, the reason for the failure of the conference to take place. However, I am proposing, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to make a general statement on the Cyprus situation tomorrow, which I hope may be for the convenience of the House.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the statement tomorrow cover the question only of the conference and future conferences of this kind?

The Prime Minister

I have not yet completed the draft, but I thought it might be convenient to say something on the political and international aspects of the problem and to go on to say some- thing about local security and other conditions on the island. I hope to give the House such information as we have.