HC Deb 12 February 1959 vol 599 cc1356-9
Mr. Bevan

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make about his negotiations with the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments regarding the future of Cyprus.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

I had a long meeting last night with the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey to discuss the future of Cyprus.

As the House knows, discussions have been going on for some time between the Greek and Turkish Governments about this matter. The discussions began informally in New York after the last United Nations debate on Cyprus. I was informed, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Paris, last December, by Mr. Averoff and Mr. Zorlu of the wish of their two Governments to continue those discussions. I was told by them of the basis upon which they would be continued, and we have been kept informed throughout of their progress. On 11th February agreement was reached between the two Governments in Zurich.

Her Majesty's Government have always maintained that the only hope for a final solution of the Cyprus problem lay in agreement between the Greek and Turkish Governments and the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. We therefore warmly welcome the fact that this Zurich agreement has been made.

The two Foreign Ministers came to London to tell me its precise terms. There are, of course, in addition to matters affecting the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, vital British interests in the island, responsibility for which rests with us. We are now proceeding to discuss these wider matters. There are numerous points to be considered and upon which agreement must be reached.

I am to have a further meeting this afternoon with Mr. Averoff and Mr. Zorlu. A full statement will, of course, be made to the House as soon as possible. In the meantime, I can say that the talks have begun in a promising manner.

Mr. Bevan

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate, first, that we on this side of the House are also very pleased indeed by the extent of the agreement which appears to have been reached so far and that, with his courtesy and permission, we should like an early statement of what has been agreed between the Turkish and Greek Governments so that we might have an opportunity of studying it, otherwise we shall have garbled and tendentious reports in the Press?

Secondly, will he give consideration to a complication which might arise concerning the status of Cypriot citizens in Great Britain, which appears to be a very complicated matter and which might cause considerable hardship to large numbers of people unless it is reconciled? Thirdly, will he take it that, as distinct from the attitude of the Prime Minister, we on this side will attempt to give him every kind of protection against any insane and uncivilised element on his own side of the House?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly understand the point which the right hon. Gentleman made in his first supplementary question and I will, as I have promised, make a statement as soon as possible. The second matter to which he referred is precisely one of those matters which need a good deal of further consideration.

Hon. Members

What about the third question?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there appeared widely in the Press this morning certain principles which seem to have come from inspired sources and which seem to indicate radical departure from those principles laid down in the so-called Macmillan plan of last June? Could he tell the House whether they emanate directly from sources in his Department, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisa- tion? They include such questions as: does the plan ensure the retention of British bases on the island; does it have safeguards preventing Cyprus from ever falling into Communist hands; and is it administratively workable? Those three principles, taken together, seem to indicate a very large departure from the terms of the Macmillan document. Are they inspired? Do they come from Government sources?

Mr. Lloyd

These accounts are not inspired. I read in the Press this morning quite different statements of principles and quite different statements on what the agreement is between the Greek and Turkish Governments. It is because of those factors that I think it is important that I should try to make a statement to the House as soon as possible.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

In view of the fact that no party to this problem has any longer any objection to the immediate return of Archbishop Makarios to Cyprus, except possibly some of the Foreign Secretary's more reactionary colleagues or friends, will he give an assurance that the Archbishop will be allowed to return at the earliest possible opportunity in order to consult his compatriots on the island before taking part in a conference on the future of Cyprus?

Mr. Lloyd

I would ask the indulgence of the House today upon these matters. We are beginning complicated negotiations in which there are important points of view, and I do not think that today is the time to discuss the possible consequences which might flow from an agreement.

Mr. Turton

Can my right hon. and learned Friend give an assurance that in any agreement sovereignty over British bases will not be surrendered?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly. Sovereignty over British bases will not be surrendered.

Mr. Grimond

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman go a little further? I understand that the Government are now willing to make some abatement of sovereignty over the island if they or N.A.T.O. keep the bases. While welcoming the arrangement, may I ask whether he will ensure that the wishes of the Cypriot people are given full attention?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that it is better that I should not say more today on the general matters which may be covered by an agreement. I think we should wait and see how these negotiations go. Certainly, the Cypriot people must be consulted.

Mr. Bevan

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he hoped the House would await the statement. Do I understand that he does not intend to provide the House with the full text of the agreement reached at Zurich? I think that we should be entitled to see the text itself.

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly consider that point. I am not even certain whether the two Governments concerned have published it in their own countries. I should have to have regard to their views.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Gaitskell.

Dr. D. Johnson

On a point of order. I find on the Order Paper today that my name appears as subscribing to a Motion in the name of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps the hon. Member would wait until the end of business questions before he raises the matter.