HC Deb 11 March 1959 vol 601 cc1225-7
2. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and other ranks in the Army have been dismissed from the Service, demoted or sentenced to imprisonment for offences committed during their service in Cyprus.

11. Mr. Mellish

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of British Army personnel who have been subjected to disciplinary action as a result of their activities during operations in Cyprus.

Mr. Soames

No central record is kept of summary convictions. So far as courts-martial are concerned, there have been 57 officers and 1,340 other ranks convicted in Cyprus since the emergency began in November, 1955.

Of these, 22 officers and 353 other ranks received the sentences listed by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). Most of the remainder were sentenced to detention.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the strong feeling which has been expressed on both sides of the House about the continued detention of some of these officers and men? In view of the action of the Governor of Cyprus in referring to Colonel Grivas and his friends and accomplices as if they were heroes, and of Archbishop Makarios in pinning a medal on Colonel Grivas, does the right hon. Gentleman consider it reasonable that our men should be retained in detention?

Mr. Soames

This is an inter-Service problem and the right hon. Gentleman has a later Question on the specific point to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Secretary of State aware that as I was afraid that the Question, being No. 71, would not be reached, I took no chances and had it deferred until next Wednesday? Will the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, give me the Answer which his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence would have given?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister of Defence has asked my permission to answer the right hon. Gentleman's Question, if it is not reached, at the end of Questions. I thought I had better tell the right hon. Gentleman, because he will get an answer whether his Question is reached in the ordinary course or not.

Mr. Shinwell

That is only pouring coals of fire on my head.

Mr. Mellish

While recognising the right hon. Gentleman's desire to retain the disciplinary code in the Army, he will nevertheless understand that this is a matter which surely warrants investigation of each individual case to see what can be done in view of the strong feelings which exist here, although we recognise the difficulties involved. Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on this?

Mr. Soames

This is an inter-Service problem in which not only the Army is involved. This very Question is being answered later.