HC Deb 20 January 1959 vol 598 cc14-6
14. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the situation in Cyprus.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

There have been no terrorist incidents in Cyprus since 23rd December. This has enabled some security restrictions, such as curfews, to be withdrawn. While this improvement in the situation is most welcome, there is no indication that E.O.K.A. has abandoned violence as an instrument of policy. As the Governor said in his broadcast on 13th January, there can be no bargaining with violence and the security forces must continue to take whatever steps are necessary to keep the peace and to prevent the organisation of terror.

Mr. Robinson

Why cannot security operations be called off so long as the cessation of violence, which we all welcome, continues? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if the Government continue to meet every gesture with the same disingenuousness and lack of imagination that they have shown for so long, they will find it very difficult to shuffle off responsibility if this one-sided truce comes to an end and the killings start again?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that military operations, depending as they do very largely on information, cannot be turned on and off in the way that he appears to suggest. The current operations, which consist mainly of large-scale patrolling, scarcely constitute any interference with the civil population.

Mr. Brockway

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the advantages of carrying out certain military operations can be balanced with the necessity to create a new atmosphere in Cyprus following the offer of a cessation of violence by E.O.K.A.? Will he not ask the Government to respond by ending military activity while the negotiations continue?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Most certainly not. I am sure that is not the way to bring about a solution of the difficulties in Cyprus. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that a number of things have happened recently. Curfews have been lifted, traffic prohibitions and bicycle bans have been removed, and three towns have been put back again in bounds. There have been considerable reliefs owing to the improved situation.

Mr. Bevan

Is it not clear that we are only going—

Mr. Dudley Williams

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There have been several supplementary questions to this Question, but they have all been asked by hon. Members on the other side of the House. Would it not be in order for someone on this side of the House to ask a supplementary question?

Mr. Speaker

In good time.

Mr. Bevan

Is it not a fact that in this island we must eventually look not for a military solution but for a political solution? Is it not a fact that on several occasions we have been brought to precisely the point where we are now? The soldiers' leaders have said every time that E.O.K.A. has established a truce, that it is merely to give it an opportunity to regroup, re-form and recruit, and every time that statement has proved false. Has not E.O.K.A. recently said that despite what is going on, it will still continue the truce in the hope that a peaceful settlement will be reached? Ought we not to respond in a more statesmanlike way?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of previous truces has not been correct. I have nothing to add to the answer that I have given.

Mr. Gower

Have not some of these supplementary questions been quite misleading? Is it not a fact that many of the steps taken recently have shown an ample readiness by the Government to co-operate in creating a better mood in Cyprus?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

That is abundantly true.

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