HC Deb 09 February 1960 vol 617 cc305-66

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

I am confident that when I and my right hon. Friends opened our newspapers this morning and read of the breakdown or the talks in Cyprus none of us had any idea of raising the matter in debate today. We all hoped that negotiations would be resumed as soon as possible, and none of us wished to do anything which might have been even conceived as interfering with such negotiations; but the tone and content of the Foreign Secretary's statement this afternoon—and, even more, his reply to the questions that were put to him—raised doubts in our minds about the Government's conduct and about their intentions which can, I fear, be cleared only in debate, and it is for that reason that we move the Adjournment.

In particular, the long and apparently premeditated account of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman alleged Archbishop Makarios to have said and done in negotiations, which, I assume, were intended to be confidential, must throw doubt on his readiness to continue negotiations in any form at all.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that he was very disappointed at the breakdown of negotiations which have, after all, been going on now for twelve months; indeed, in one sense for many years. Perhaps he was tired. I hope that he will speak this evening and reassure the House on the Government's intentions. In that hope I should like to put some questions to him, partly concerning the political basis on which the Government are negotiating in these discussions and then concerning the actual conduct of the negotiations as they have so far taken place. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will personally take the opportunity to intervene at an early stage in the debate so that we shall have a chance of considering his reply before the end of the evening.

First, I should like to ask him some questions about the basis of the Government's position in the negotiations. As we understand it, on the basis of his statements in this House and of newspaper reports, the critical issue on which the negotiations have broken down is the area of the British bases on the island which are actually to be under British sovereignty. Again, so far as one can find out from newspaper reports, the area of the bases under direct British sovereignty was stated on 31st January in final terms, and there has never been any change in the Government's position since 31st January on this fundamental issue on which the negotiations then broke down and on which they again broke down yesterday in Cyprus.

It seems to me that two questions are involved. There is, first, the question of the physical location of the military facilities required on the island; and, secondly, there is the question of the juridical status of the area in which the facilities are located. It seems to me and to my right hon. Friends that these two issues, which are really quite separate, have too often been confused in the negotiations. Some years ago, General Harding gave it as his opinion, and the Government accepted it, that Britain's military requirements on the island were such as to require control of the whole of the island's territory. In those days, we used to define the difference between the Government and the Opposition in the phrase that the Government wanted Cyprus as a base whereas the Opposition were prepared to be satisfied with a base on Cyprus.

Finally, the Government accepted the Opposition's view of the location and extent of the military facilities on the island. They agreed, by accepting the London and Zurich Agreements last year, that Britain's military needs could be satisfied with facilities which were concentrated in certain areas. It seems to me that, although there is a very strong case for demanding sovereignty over the island if we believe that we need facilities all over the island, that case is enormously weakened once we admit that we can be satisfied with bases which can be confined to small parts of the island, to parts as small as, I think, 3 per cent, which is the proportion of the island accepted in the latest British negotiating position.

After all, this island on which we are requesting bases will be an independent State. The independent State will have its own armed forces and there will indeed be armed forces on the island provided by two other independent States under the Agreement—armed forces provided by Greece and by Turkey. In such a situation, it seems to me quite impossible to imagine that we can operate military facilities in one small part of the island without the full agreement and consent of all the rest of it. We cannot surround an area, even as small as 120 square miles, with a ring of steel, particularly if we hope to use our troops on the island for purposes other than the defence of bases. In fact, the Cypriots living inside the base areas will have the same loyalty to their own communities on other parts of the island and will live in the same places within the bases whatever their theoretical juridical status.

Their behaviour will, in fact, be the same whether they are considered to be citizens of a sovereign British area on the island, or whether they are considered to be ordinary Cypriot citizens. It is quite impossible, once we content ourselves with a base on the island, to operate the facilities we require without co-operation from everybody living on the island and from the individuals living inside the base areas. Quite frankly, it seems to me that, if we cannot get such co-operation from the inhabitants of the island without conceding British sovereignty, we may have to face the concession of British sovereignty in order to get it.

Moreover, according to the accounts of the negotiations, some of the military facilities which are necessary for the operation of the British bases will in any case be outside the area of sovereignty. If that is so, it seems to me that the issue of sovereignty over the bases has acquired an importance in the negotiations which is far from justified by the facts of the situation. After all, in the modern world we have many precedents of countries successfully operating bases in foreign territory over which they do not exercise sovereignty but which they simply lease as tenants from the sovereign power.

America has such bases all over the world, including those in this country. We may argue that the Americans finally found it necessary to leave their leased bases in Morocco because of the opposition of local inhabitants, but we found it equally necessary to leave our sovereign bases in Suez for exactly the same reason, although a completely unnecessary insistence on juridical sovereignty led to a long period of ill-will and even bloodshed in the process of recognising the fact that we could not operate the bases without the good will of the local population.

Now I come to the conduct of the negotiations themselves, on which I must say the statement by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon was far from satisfactory. In the first place, it was surely clear when the London negotiations broke down on 31st January that there could be no further negotiation about the future of the British bases unless there were a readiness to compromise on the British side, as well as on the Cypriot side. Yet, the fact is that the British Government, according to reports—perhaps the Foreign Secretary can throw new light on this—have adamantly refused to discuss any compromise on the demands for a sovereign base area as originally put forward as a final demand on 31st January.

I confess that I cannot see the point, as I said this afternoon, of sending the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to Cyprus to continue the negotiations if he was not empowered to show a little flexibility on this critical issue. Moreover, I must say that if the Government genuinely desired success in these negotiations, the Colonial Under-Secretary was perhaps not the best person to put in charge. His past record on the Cyprus issue is well known, and it is just as well known in Cyprus as it is in this House. Certainly, nothing which has happened in Cyprus in the last ten days has given anyone, either here or on the island, any reason for modifying the estimate of the Colonial Under-Secretary in this respect which was formed as long as several years ago.

The second question I wish to put about the conduct of the negotiations themselves is, why were the Government so determined throughout to operate under a sort of time limit? I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say this afternoon that perhaps this attempt was misconceived and that it will not be repeated, but I wish he would throw some light on the extraordinary way in which the time limit was defined and, from time to time, extended. To an outsider, it seemed that we have been saying to the Cypriots, "Every week you delay in teaching an agreement will mean at least a month's delay in putting the agreement into practice."

The newspapers have said that reasons of Parliamentary procedure make delay of this order inevitable. I can say on behalf of my right hon. Friends in the Opposition that we would give every possible facility in our power to expedite the passage of any agreement that was reached at any time when it was reached. I should like to know why the Foreign Secretary has let it be said, for example, that after the negotiations broke down yesterday the independence of the island would have to be delayed from 19th March possibly into the middle of May.

Here I come to what really is the nub of our complaint. The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon that Her Majesty's Government broke off the negotiations yesterday because unless the negotiations were completed yesterday, it would be impossible to give the island independence by 19th March, although in fact a compromise solution was put forward yesterday by one of the parties to the dispute, the leader of the Turkish community, and he has declared himself most embittered by the Government's failure even to consider it. But the Foreign Secretary also told us this afternoon that, although he broke off the negotiations yesterday because the 19th March time limit could not be reached, he wanted the negotiations to continue. Can he tell the House how, when and under what conditions he wishes the negotiations to continue? Surely, if he is really interested in a settlement, it was his duty to continue the negotiations until a settlement was reached and not to make a purely arbitrary date of 19th March and questions of Parliamentary procedure—which cannot weigh very heavily, certainly among the Cypriots—an argument for breaking off the negotiations entirely on an arbitrary date.

I hope that the Foreign Secretary, now that he has had time to read the telegrams, can tell us a little more than he could this afternoon about the reaction of Dr. Kutchuk, the leader of the Turkish community, because hon. Members on both sides of the House have had an opportunity of reading the account in The Times this morning. I do not think I can do better than repeat it. The Times correspondent, in his report from Nicosia in this morning's newspaper, said: Tonight, Dr. Kutchuk bitterly attacked British handling of the events of the past few days. He also revealed that he had acted as mediator in the talks and had put forward compromise suggestions. Though Archbishop Makarios did not object to them, the British side did not appear to be in favour of them, he said. 'Three hours later. …' This is in direct speech— 'a communique was issued by Government House without first consulting me on its terms and conditions.' One of the things which has most encouraged us to hope for an agreement in this long dispute is the fact that during the recent negotiations in London and in Cyprus, there has been, to put it no higher, a far greater degree of co-operation and understanding between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities on the island than, frankly, one had any right to expect in view of its past history. I must say that I consider it deplorable in the extreme that when the leader of the Turkish community put forward proposals to bridge the gap between the Greek community and the British Government, the British Government should have refused summarily even to consider them.

I cannot say I entirely liked the tone in which the Foreign Secretary uttered grave warnings this afternoon of threats of communal trouble on the island—threats and warnings which were uttered in terms and in a tone such as to amount almost to an incitement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The important fact about the negotiations to which I again draw attention—

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

In fairness to the Foreign Secretary, the hon. Member could not say, nor could any hon. Members say, that his statement was an incitement.

Mr. Healey

What I can say is that all the evidence available to this House from the Press has suggested that the Greek and Turkish communities on the island have been working together with an astonishing degree of understanding in the light of events in recent years and that to raise the question of the possibility of further communal trouble on the island at this stage and in this context was a grave disservice to the success of negotiations in future.

We on our side of the House very much hope that this debate may at least serve the purpose of opening a new chapter in the negotiations, and we would not deny that if no further steps are taken in negotiating a settlement of the issue in the near future, all sorts of dangerous possibilities may emerge. It is no good us thinking in Britain that time is on our side. Almost every party to this dispute is acting under very serious pressure from his own supporters and there may at any moment be a complete breakdown in the existing state of the moderate good will which would make a future solution well nigh impossible. If such a breakdown should occur, quite apart from the appalling human misery and suffering which will be incurred by the inhabitants of the island, it will mean the final end of the Zurich and London Agreements and the final end of any hope of securing any of Britain's legitimate interests on the island and in the area.

I should like to end with this appeal. Since the General Election the Government have shown a remarkable capacity for adapting their colonial policy to the facts of the situation, an adaptation which is no less welcome for being appallingly belated. If the Government can make such an adaptation in the extremely difficult and dangerous problems with which they have to deal in Central and East Africa, has not the time come when they must show an equal flexibility on the no less dangerous problem of Cyprus?

I believe that, following the breakdown of negotiations yesterday, there is desperate need for a new initiative. I hope that at some stage this evening, perhaps in reply to the debate, the Foreign Secretary will offer such a new initiative and will speak not only to the House but also to the people on the island of Cyprus, who are anxiously waiting for some sign in this country of a readiness to resume negotiations.

Moreover, I believe that if the Foreign Secretary and the Government can immediately show the sense of urgency and the spirit of good will which is required, we can see this challenge, which has baffled and tormented us all for so many years, finally met in the next few months.

Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)

Before the hon. Member concludes, would he allow me to put a question to him? I have listened with great care to the case which he has been making in considerable detail. The whole of his case rests upon the assumption that, if the British Government were to make just another concession, an agreement would be possible. On what does he found that assumption?

Mr. Healey

I am sure that I gave no such impression to anyone but the hon. Member. What I said—and I hope that the Minister of Defence will address himself to this point—is that the basic stumbling block to an agreement so far has been a British insistence on sovereignty over the base areas which has far less justification in the facts of the current situation than it might have seemed to have several years ago. I firmly believe—and I challenge anyone to dispute it—that if the Government showed more flexibility on this issue, an agreement could be rapidly concluded.

7.22 p.m.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

I hope it will be for the convenience of the House if I intervene at this stage and quite shortly try to set out the position. After all, defence and the bases form the central issue of these negotiations, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has said. I think the House is grateful to the hon. Member for his care in not imparting any undue controversy into this subject. We are all interested in trying to find a solution to the problem of Cyprus, none more than the Minister of Defence, who wishes to get on with the organisation of his military responsibilities.

Perhaps it will help the House if I set out the issues quite clearly. I took part in all the negotiations and, therefore, I hope it will help the House if I briefly set out the situation in respect of the bases. As the hon. Member rightly surmised, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary will intervene towards the end of the debate.

I hope I may say without any offence that the hon. Member's last remarks show how wide a misconception one can get of these negotiations if one has not taken part in them. The question of sovereignty is not the sole issue at all. It is a stumbling block, but, as my right hon. and learned Friend said this afternoon, the negotiations have fallen for the moment, so to speak, only because of the date of 19th March—a date which was quite agreeable to both delegations and which followed logically when it was found that the first date, in February, could not be met.

I want to set out the position which has been reached from the defence aspect. May I state briefly what are our defence requirements? I have outlined them to Archbishop Makarios, Dr. Kutchuk, Mr. Averoff and Mr. Zorlu, and at various times in the negotiations they professed themselves as satisfied with the position. I will explain the difficulty, and I think it is fair here to quote the Archbishop, who said to me one day, "Everything goes very well when we discuss these matters. It is only when we have to put them in writing that it gets very difficult."

That has been one of the stumbling blocks throughout the negotiations. One hoped that one had reached an agreement and then it slipped out of one's grasp when one tried to reduce it to words. It was then, perhaps, that Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk began to be worried about the political implications and things slipped cut of one's grasp.

I would remind the House of what was stated in Command Paper 679. On page 12, hon. Members will find: that such rights are secured to the United Kingdom Government as are necessary to enable the two areas as aforesaid"— that is, the Akrotiri base area and the Dhekelia base area— to be used effectively as military bases, including among others those rights indicated in the Annex attached"— I will not read it out, because it is very long and sets out the whole list of rights— and that satisfactory guarantees are given by Greece, Turkey, and the Republic of Cyprus for the integrity of the areas retained under British sovereignty and the use and enjoyment by the United Kingdom of the rights referred to above; We therefore stand on a fairly clear position. In his statement at the end of the Conference, the Prime Minister said that the settlement was one which preserves to the United Kingdom the defence facilities which are essential not only for our narrow national purposes but for the greater alliances of which we are members. That, I think, is where a great many people misunderstand the position. The Dhekelia sovereign area and the Akrotiri sovereign area are not colonies, as my right hon. and learned Friend explained this afternoon; they are not a kind of Cyprus colony. They are bases in which a theatre reserve can be held to meet our world responsibilities in N.A.T.O., C.E.N.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. and all the other responsibilities which we bear. In these areas it is conceivable that at times 20,000 men would have to be deployed.

I am saying this because I do not accept the hon. Member's view that the greatest point of difficulty is that of the rights within the sovereign areas. I will come to that in a moment, but we have made so many concessions that I had imagined that it was settled. I think that the problem is the size of the areas. This involves the difficulties which the Greek and Turkish Cypriot delegations find in assessing quite clearly what we want these bases for and how much has to be done within them.

If we take this figure of possibly 20,000 men, we must add provision for wireless stations, barracks, airfields, radar and a limited range in exercise areas, schools, married quarters, and hospitals, because we are pulling into these areas many facilities which at present we have over the entire island. In addition, we must have a strategic stockpile, some room to move about, and some room in which the men can acclimatise themselves. I think that if hon. Members take that view—and I think the hon. Member accepted the point—then the House must be agreed that our requirements in respect of these bases are the minimum which makes any military sense. The hon. Member said that the figure was 3 per cent. He is quite right. In other words, we propose to cede 97 per cent. of the island of Cyprus and to retain 3 per cent. for our military purposes.

I think that the difficulty which the Foreign Secretary and I have faced is explained by the fact that one cannot even begin to understand all these things unless one has a very complicated map in front of one. If the hon. Member for Leeds, East is interested, he can have a copy of the map which I have here. I am sorry that every hon. Member cannot have one. If he will examine it he will see the very odd shape which the areas now assume, and how we have squeezed, pushed and pummelled everywhere in order to make every possible concession.

It is only fair to the Foreign Secretary and to the Government to say this—and I do not say it in any sense against the Archbishop—but in an afternoon one would make yet another concession and feel that it had been well received, but the next day one would find that it was merely a springboard for another demand. I am not complaining about that. The Archbishop, too, has his troubles and responsibilities. However, it should be understood that a most painstaking effort has been made to meet him on the base areas, which is the whole crux of the issue between us.

I will say this to help those who have not maps. We started in April at 170 square miles. On the military advice of the Chiefs of Staff, we came down to 152 square miles. Then I felt that we should try to make a further gesture in the recent negotiations, and at my request the Chiefs of Staff reassessed the whole situation—this is the reason for the very funny line on the map—and we came down to 120 square miles.

At one time I thought that the Archbishop accepted that position, and I thought that the Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers accepted it also. I understand now that the Archbishop says that that area is unacceptable. That was not my understanding during the negotiations. Again, I am not trying to impute blame to anyone else because I think that these negotiations are difficult and I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend that it was probably a mistake to try to conduct them under any kind of time limit. It may be better to go quietly on with great patience to see whether we can solve them. At any rate, we came down to 120 square miles. In other words we asked for only 3 per cent. We realise only too clearly what the hon. Gentleman said, namely, that we must have Cypriot co-operation and good will.

The negotiations, certainly in my experience, could not have taken place in a better atmosphere. There was no sense of anger or quarrel. There was just the difficulty of bringing the Turkish and Greek Cypriot delegations to the sticking point, a thing which perhaps all of us in the House understand when one has to return to one's own country and defend a settlement in one's own House of Commons in front of one's own representatives. That is why I am glad that the hon. Gentleman was very careful not to try to raise the temperature unduly at this moment. I am trying to do the same.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the sites outside the area. We brought them down from one hundred sites to thirty. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, we brought the number of Cypriots down from 16,000 to 1,000. However, we went further and made an offer which I am sure we will stick to, namely, that we would rebuild Akrotiri village—which in any case is at the end of a runway and in a very unattractive position—outside the sovereign area. That would remove all the Cypriots except for a few farmers, and so on. I am not saying that large numbers would not come in to work every day. Of course they would. We have tried to meet what we thought was one of the Archbishop's most difficult points, namely, that we should have sovereignty over a large number of his citizens.

I do not say what I am about to say about the negotiations in order to be polite to a colleague. I say it so that the House may know the facts. My right hon. and learned Friend could not have tried harder to secure an agreement, and I think that without boasting I might say I could not have tried harder either. I certainly bullied my Ministry and my military advisers to make every possible concession which I thought we could make to try to make it agreeable to the Turkish and Greek Cypriot delegations and yet still keep some military sense. After all, if there is no military sense in this, it would be better not to have an agreement at all.

I will now give a list of some of the concessions we made. If the hon. Gentleman or his right hon. Friends like to look at the map it will perhaps make better sense. We offered to shift the training areas to an area which suited the new Government better than the ones we had selected. We offered to give up the control of Nicosia airfield—that was a very major step and, indeed, was written into the London Agreement—as soon as Cypriot trained control officers were available. We made enclaves and tongues which took out all the villages except Akrotiri, which we offered to rebuild. We took out a place called Pissouri, which is in the Episkopi area on the west side of the island. We squeezed the Pergamos area to the very minimum required for the special installations there. We then gave them the Dhekelia power station in an enclave. It supplies the power for all the base areas. I hope that I have slid enough to show that we tried to make every concession which we thought sensible.

As to administration, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, in education, health, agriculture and our pledge about commercial competition we did everything we possibly could. However, I do not leave the House in possession of the full facts unless I say—I want to make it plain again that I am not attacking Dr. Kutchuk or Archbishop Makarios—that it is very disappointing, after trying as hard as my right hon. and learned Friend and I tried, to find that one's concession of yesterday is the springboard of today.

That is why in the end there must surely be an end to this process. If not, obviously there can never be an agreement. My right hon. and learned Friend, in saying this afternoon that there must be a limit to these concessions, is taking the right course to try to effect a settlement. I would not blame the negotiators for going on negotiating as long as they think that there are more concessions to come. I ask the whole House to accept from me that that is the difficulty we are in at the moment. If we show that we are too anxious or too willing to effect a settlement, how can one blame the other side for pressing for more concessions? Therefore, I beg hon. Members to understand that if we are ever to get a settlement—I have outlined some of the extreme lengths to which we have gone to secure one—we must call a halt somewhere.

I could have given many other examples, but I hope that the House will accept that we went as far as we possibly could. This is almost the tragedy of the situation if it fails. If we could start this tomorrow I am convinced that it would work perfectly well. These bases will be an asset to Cyprus. They will bring in a great deal of money. We have now gone so far on administration, training and everything else that I do not believe that they will cause any interference with the life of the island. I believe that there will be no difficulty at all. As the Archbishop said, these things are all right if you talk about them across the table once you start trying to put them into written agreements it becomes very difficult.

In summing up I must say this. It is only fair to my colleagues to say that the military advice now given to me, and my position, is that we cannot make any further major concesions on the bases or on the rights we need. That must be said and understood, otherwise this business can go on for ever. There have been many more concessions of which I could have told the House. I hope that when the full story is told it will be seen that the Archbishop has driven a very hard bargain and obtained a very good result, as he can claim if it is any satisfaction to him. I only wish that he would decide to claim the prize.

I hope that this debate will not make it more difficult. I hope that those in Cyprus who bear this heavy responsibility will realise that I do not think that time is on anyone's side. It may not be on our side. I do not think it is on anybody's side. I pray that the debate will help towards a settlement which will be very much to the advantage of Cyprus and end this terrible sore which has been on our minds for so long.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

The right hon. Gentleman said that sovereignty was not, as he understood it, a stumbling block. What is the British Government's position in relation to sovereignty in view of the fact that the map we have just seen shows that the road from Dhekelia and Famagusta runs almost wholly through territory which will be outside our sovereignty?

Mr. Watkinson

That is another example. I did not want to bore the House by stating every detail, but at one time there was a large slice of territory there. Because we thought that it might help the Archbishop, we said that we would ask for rights over the road only and give the Cypriots all the land, although the Ayros Nikolas area was very important to us. As to sovereignty, the position is this. It was set out in the London Agreement—I know that the Archbishop agreed to this—that these areas should be called British sovereign base areas. The Archbishop does not dispute that. They are, therefore, sovereign areas in which we would wish the Cypriots to do every possible piece of administration that they can, because we do not want to do it ourselves. We do not want to set up a civil administration. We shall be very grateful to them if they will do everything that they possibly can, but I must make it quite clear that they remain British sovereign areas.

7.40 p.m.

Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)

After listening to the first two speeches in this debate, I do not believe that to delay the Scottish business was quite justified. This question was resolved a long time ago. It is not, and never has been, a question of sovereignty and of bases. It has always been one of no sovereignty and no bases. I feel that if the House keeps that in its mind it will have some idea of the prospects of the negotiations that are still to take place on these Cyprus bases.

It is just twelve months since the discussions at Lancaster House concluded, and the statements then made make very nice reading. Events since then have not borne out the high hopes contained in the statements, nor will they—for the obvious reason that even if Archbishop Makarios were able and willing to concede these bases, with or without our sovereignty over them, he would be prevented from so doing. I believe that the power of Colonel Grivas behind the Archbishop will prevent these bases ever being given to this country for its legitimate defences and its interests in the Middle East.

What, therefore, do we do? The Minister of Defence has just spoken of our making one concession after another until we are now left with an area of 120 square miles which, quite frankly, is inadequate for any defence base. It is just a playground. In relation to our defence requirements, it is not the size of a tennis court. What, therefore, does the right hon. Gentleman expect to gain by clinging to an area of 120 square miles when, even if it were granted, it is obvious that our position there would be so untenable that we would be unable to set up or to manage the bases? As I suggested in a supplementary question to the Foreign Secretary last week, would it not be better for us to withdraw from Cyprus and allow the population there to draw the obvious conclusions?

What are the obvious conclusions? Let the Cypriots know them. According to the Lancaster House statements, we are offering them, at least tentatively, citizenship within the Commonwealth. That implies responsibility within the Commonwealth. We are offering them the benefits of Commonwealth associations which, if the best figures I have are correct, will mean a benefit of £28 million per annum. We are offering them one-way flights to London to take up rights of British citizenship here—and 7,000 of them have already done that since the emergency. They have not gone to Greece. They have come here, and they have come here in great numbers.

What kind of a set-up is this, and how long is it to continue? I have searched HANSARD in an attempt to find the original points of dispute. There have been some long and turgid debates here, and unnecessary bloodshed in Cyprus. The earliest reference I can find was on 7th March, 1956, in a debate on the Middle East, when, in reply to an interjection by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), the Leader of the Opposition said: It has always been our view and, so far as I know, the view of the Government that it was perfectly possible to meet the demands of the Cypriots for self-determination while retaining military bases in Cyprus. I should be very surprised indeed if the Colonial Secretary were to tell the House that he had been negotiating with Archbishop Makarios on any other basis."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 2131.] Archbishop Makarios is not the master of this situation, otherwise there would have been a settlement. In view of the Tripartite Declaration and what happened to the Canal, and what happens to Kenya, we have to decide, as a people, not as Opposition or Government, what is best to enable us to meet our commitments. We are responsible to our own citizens.

Promises are contained in these documents. Let us read what the representative—not a Minister—of the Greek-Cypriot community said at the winding up of the Lancaster House proceedings: This is a great day, Mr. Chairman, in that the positiveness of unity and co-operation has prevailed over the negativeness of division and strife. It marks the beginning of a new charter for Cyprus both in the relations of its people with the people of the United Kingdom as well as in those between the Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. He went on to say: It is the spirit in the hearts of men that counts most. Those documents were drafted in that spirit. I say to the Minister that if this is all he can get for the legitimate defence of the country, and to meet our obligations to N.A.T.O., we are better without it. Let the Cypriot people, who are claiming rights of association and privileges within the Commonwealth, draw their own conclusions.

As I began, so I finish. This never was an issue of sovereignty and bases; it is an issue of no bases and no sovereignty.

7.47 p.m.

Mr. Peter Emery (Reading)

It is with great diffidence that I make my maiden speech in a debate of such seriousness, and one that has so suddenly arisen. I do so, Mr. Speaker, because I feel so immensely concerned that we should be able to obtain the right solution in Cyprus. I shall, to the best of my ability, seek to be impartial and uncontroversial, but if I should stray from that path I do not expect the House to give me any indulgence or any protection.

There may well be a great misunderstanding about the statement made to the House today by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. I have looked at it most carefully, and I find that if one analyses it three things emerge. The first is that we stand today, as we have always stood, on the desire to obtain an agreement in line with the London and Zurich Agreements. Thai is what we have always asked for and it is our position at this very moment.

Secondly, how can it possibly be suggested, as it was suggested this afternoon, that the Government's position in these negotiations has been rigid? The illustrations given by both the Foreign Secretary and by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence are ample proof that we have bent over backwards to try to reach an agreement that would be parallel with the agreements of London and Zurich. When one learns that the population in the suggested areas has decreased from 16,000 to about 1,000, I do not see how anyone can talk of rigidity. How could there ever be any suggestion of rigidity in face of the fact that, only in the last few days, we have heard that there has been an increase to £10 million, at £2 million per year, in the grant suggested over a period of five years? Surely this could be regarded by no hon. Member as evidence of a rigid approach. It seems to me that no evidence can be drawn from the statement made by the Foreign Secretary to show that our position has got out of hand. We stand by what we have always stood by in our approach to agreement in Cyprus.

I wish specifically to deal with the problem of negotiation. All right hon. and hon. Members must surely agree that, in any form of negotiation, there is some basic and absolute principle from which one cannot retreat. In all the efforts which we have made, there must be in the negotiations something from which we cannot retreat. I, am concerned—I say this understanding well all I might be implying—lest this debate should do harm in that respect, by which I mean, lest it should be taken by the people of Cyprus as ground for believing that this House of Commons is willing to see further retreat and further breakdown in our position as it stands precisely now in the negotiations. I hope that the speech made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) does not mean that he is suggesting that we should give way yet again. If that is his suggestion—I hope very much that it is not—I believe that it would do a great disservice not only in our negotiations in Cyprus but in any future negotiations we may have in any place in the world.

Any attack which is made on the position of the Foreign Secretary this evening must be an encouragement to Archbishop Makarios to be more intransigent, or, perhaps, not to the Archbishop himself but to some of his most radical and reactionary supporters. None of us can possibly desire that.

There is one other aspect which has not been mentioned so far in the debate, namely, the fact that Cyprus itself is the only base from which we as a nation could give any aid to Turkey. We must be quite definite in realising fully that that is part of our responsibility both in N.A.T.O. and in our world treaties. It seems to me that that form of defence cannot be done away with or ignored.

The position as regards sovereignty was agreed at the London and Zurich Conferences. Surely no hon. Member will suggest that it was not agreed by the Turkish and Greek communities and by the Turkish and Greek Governments. Since it was once agreed by all, can any hon. Member suggest that it is now in disagreement? No one can doubt what, in fact, happened. I feel that we must be definite. We cannot, indeed afford to back down from the position we have taken up on sovereignty. Here, again, I find support for the argument I have been trying to advance, that when one reaches a position of finality it is no more than utter weakness to withdraw from it.

I have not spoken at all of my constituency of Reading or of the constituents I represent as, I realise only too well, it is traditional that I should do in a maiden speech. I believe, however, that there are times in this House when matters of greater importance even than one's constituents are discussed, and there are times when people must speak for what ought to be the British attitude throughout the world. I hope that in what I have said this evening I have done a little to that end.

7.56 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)

I am sure that I speak for all right hon. and hon. Members when I offer congratulations to the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Emery) on triumphantly surmounting that ordeal which we have all experienced and which, I think, few of us forget. The hon. Gentleman showed courage on two counts, first, in choosing a debate for which he can have had only the minimum of time to prepare a speech, and secondly, in choosing a debate on a subject which, at any rate in the past, has been somewhat fraught with party strife. He did advert at the outset to the possibility of his being controversial. I should not like to suggest the extent to which I think he mainaged to overcome the danger he saw in his path. However, I am sure the whole House enjoyed his contribution and looks forward to further contributions from him from time to time.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), I think this debate was essential, because we could not leave the position of the Cyprus negotiations where it was left at the end of the Foreign Secrtary's statement this afternoon. The debate was necessary to clear the air. Although some of the fog has been dispelled by the Minister of Defence, a good deal of fog, at any rate for me, still remains.

I understand—this was not made quite clear by the Minister of Defence—that disagreement between the two sides in the negotiations has focused on two major points, one, the size of the bases, and the other, certain security factors connected therewith which could be interpreted as an aspect of sovereignty. There are, of course, other minor differences, but I gather that none is of such a nature that it is likely to be irreconcilable if agreement can be reached on the two main points. I will take the second of them first.

As regards the administration of the bases, the Foreign Secretary has said, and the Minister of Defence echoed his words this evening, that several concessions have been made from what was, apparently, our original conception of sovereignty over the bases. But in the statement in The Times newspaper this morning, which appears to be very well informed, I see a suggestion that we are insisting that the facilities which we have granted in the normal way over the area of the bases to the Cypriot authorities, national and municipal, will be subject to total withdrawal or, at any rate, suspension in the event of an emergency. The Minister did not mention this at all, and I should be interested to know from the Foreign Secretary whether it is one of the two major stumbling-blocks. If it is, it very much seems to me that the Government are once more falling into the old error of believing that a strategic base in a foreign country can remain viable in the face of the hostility of the local population. I would have thought that if there was one lesson that ought to have been learned by the Government in the post-war period, the lesson of Suez, of Jordan and of Ceylon, it is that the value of a base can only depend upon the extent to which it is there with the willing consent of the indigenous population, and if the Government cannot learn that lesson—

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

Would the hon. Gentleman care to comment on the fact that in the three examples he has given there was no sovereignty? They were all leases.

Mr. Robinson

I am afraid that I have never paid the slightest regard to the feature of sovereignty. I believe that the concept of sovereignty was put in purely as a sop to back benchers like the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. Bennett) and his hon. Friends, and that it never meant anything at all. This is just a strategic base in what will be a foreign country and, as such, it is dependent and will always be dependent for its effectiveness upon the willing consent of the local people.

After all, these bases are to employ 15,000 Cypriots. Are we really suggesting that they could be effective bases in a sudden emergency if all those 15,000 Cypriots decided to withdraw their labour, or were perhaps instructed by the Cyprus Government to withdraw their labour? The fact is that these bases are valuable in co-operation with the Republic of Cyprus and that they are pretty well valueless without it, and the sooner the Government face that situation, the better. This desire to withdraw all local government facilities in the base areas in face of an emergency sounds to me something like a request from the military authorities, and it should be the duty of the Government to inject into them a little political realism.

Passing now to the question of the size of the bases, I want to ask some questions of the Foreign Secretary, and I think they are important questions. Why was the area left so vague at the time of the London Conference? Now that it seems to be the main point of disagreement, why was not something written into the document arising out of the London Conference to indicate what the Government had in mind? The Minister of Defence has told us that the original figure was 170 square miles. That was the first specific demand in area by the Government. Archbishop Makarios has said that he had always understood the requirement to be an area of not more than 36 square miles.

Mr. Watkinson

If the hon. Gentleman reads the London Agreement, he will find that that 170 square miles was the first delimitation of the areas set out in the Agreement.

Mr. Robinson

I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention, but I do not think it has added anything. I said it was the first figure that was mentioned. In the London Agreement, there is simply the mention of two areas, one including the three villages of Akrotiri, Episkopi and Paramali, and the other containing the four villages of Dhekelia. Pergamos, Ayios Nikolaos and Xylophagou. I have not had the advantage of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench of seeing the map which the Minister passed over, but it is quite clear that if we simply mention three villages the area enclosing those villages can be of a very variable size. The Minister of Defence was not in his present office at the time of the London Conference. What is of importance in the absence of any specific area mentioned in the documents is what was said at the London Conference. How did the situation arise in which Her Majesty's Government thought they were talking of 170 square miles and Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk thought they were talking of 36 square miles?

Somebody had second thoughts. That seems to me to be the most obvious and most likely explanation, and I should like to know who had the second thoughts. [Laughter.] The Minister of State may laugh, but I had the advantage of talking to Archbishop Makarios within a day or two of the signing of the Agreement, and of course we talked about the bases. He said that he did not anticipate any trouble over the bases, and he meant it, but he foresaw considerable difficulties on certain points. He said that there were difficult things to negotiate in the next twelve months. The bases, he said, would not be difficult, but here we are finding the bases the one stumbling block and the one cause of the deadlock.

One can only imagine that these second thoughts which I suspect the Government had arise out of the fact that they now want the bases for some purpose other than that envisaged at the time of the agreement twelve months ago.

Mr. Watkinson indicated dissent.

Mr. Robinson

The Minister may shake his head, but I should like evidence about this. We were always told throughout the Cyprus debates by successive spokesmen from the Government Front Bench that we needed these bases on the island of Cyprus in order to discharge our responsibilities in the Middle East—that was what we were told—and in order to safeguard our interests in the Middle East. Now, we are told that we need them for our world responsibilities, our N.A.T.O. responsibilities and our S.E.A.T.O. responsibilities, as the Minister of Defence said. Incidentally, on N.A.T.O., I have had cause before in this House to point out that the island of Cyprus was always excluded from the area of N.A.T.O. at the specific request of the British Government. It is a little odd in these circumstances that we are now claiming that these bases are needed for the discharge of our N.A.T.O. responsibilities. I have never had a satisfactory reply to that question. I know it is the fact, because General Gruenther informed me when he was Supreme Commander.

Now I come finally to the actual conduct of the negotiations, especially in the last phase. I will not repeat all that my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said in opening the debate, when he quoted Dr. Kutchuk's statement. I do not want to reopen any old wounds, and I would only say that, in view of the very considerable assistance that Dr. Kutchuk was to the Government at some very difficult periods in the Cyprus emergency, I think that they have treated him in a very cavalier fashion on this occasion.

The communiqué which was issued yesterday stated: Yesterday, Mr. Amery explained to Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk Her Majesty's Government's final position. Yet the Foreign Secretary said today that he wants the negotiations to continue. What kind of negotiations are these? It is not negotiation to say, "This is my decision; it remains open, and so long as the other side like to come along and say they accept it, we can reach agreement." That is not negotiation; it is an ultimatum.

I should like only to re-echo what other hon. Members have said—that time is not on anybody's side in this matter. It really is urgent that we should get some conclusion to this problem—the problem which has been bedevilled from the very outset by its association with the Suez base. The fact that the famous "never" statement by the Minister of State, then Mr. Hopkinson, was made on the same day as the evacuation of the Suez Canal Zone base was announced has made unnecessary difficulties throughout. I hope we can now turn our backs on the past, and that the Government will not adopt a stiff-necked attitude at these negotiations, but will realise that these bases can only be of value if they carry with them the consent of the independent Republic of Cyprus, and will get down to serious negotiations to reach an agreement.

8.9 p.m.

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

What I want to say to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), who served on the Conciliation Committee with me and with others, is that the attitude of the Opposition has sometimes been too political in dealing with Cyprus. It ought to be above politics, not only at this particular moment, but even during the emergency. It was unfortunate that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) referred to the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary as being one of incitement. That did not do credit to the hon. Member, who is a man of great intelligence, and I am sorry that he said it.

The whole point of this debate tonight is to say nothing whatever that will prejudice any possibility of persuading Her Majesty's Government or Cypriot leaders to resume negotiations. I am talking from three years' work on The Cyprus Conciliation Committee. In addition, I met Archbishop Makarios during his visit to London and talked recently to the Greek Ambassador and the Governor about this most distressing and dangerous subject.

I want to say a few words to the people of Cyprus and especially to those in London who may mistake the tenor of what we say in this House today and also to the British community in Cyprus, who must, indeed, be worried at the sudden breaking off of negotiations. My message is perfectly simple. It is "At all costs the Cyprus situation must be kept calm and the Cypriot people must trust this House and above all the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to put this matter right in the shortest possible time." It must be done not only for the future of our defence but also for the good name and honour for which Britain stands and, indeed, for our international promises to the other countries which signed the London Agreement.

It is tragic, when one thinks that almost a year ago such good will was generated at the London Conference. Reading those documents today one cannot help but feel a pang of deep regret. Therefore, I shall not say anything tonight that will make matters worse, but I shall say a few things which I hope might be helpful.

It is quite clear what the dispute is about. It is about a misunderstanding in the London Agreement of the extent of the base areas which would be needed by Her Majesty's Government to make them fully militarily effective—a misunderstanding between the idea taken up by the Archbishop at the time and the idea of Her Majesty's Government on the area that they would require. I may be wrong. Perhaps time will show whether I am right or wrong in this assumption. I am only trying to be as helpful as I can in this difficult situation.

I have never yet heard either Dr. Rossides, Archbishop Makarios or Dr. Kutchuk ever go back on their statement in the London Agreement that they recognised that Britain was to have two sovereign bases in Cyprus. What has been the trouble is that to make those bases fully effective and to give full effect to the Annexe on page 12 of the White Paper it was found necessary to have additional quasi-sovereign rights. If the Agreement is to fail over a narrow dispute concerning the extra land rights required to make the bases fully effective, I should be horrified.

I made suggestions on this matter both in the Press and to the Government and to be Governor of Cyprus. Surely it is within the wit of the present Govern-me tit and in particular of the Foreign Secretary, who has made so much effort to find a compromise solution that will solve the problem of these extra additional areas now required by Her Majesty's Government. Cannot the areas so required by the Services be made permanent trust areas held in joint sovereignty in perpetuity for the use of the people of Cyprus and for their defence provided by Her Majesty's Government? Cannot some formula be found in this way, if necessary on N.A.T.O. lines? Why cannot Cyprus now be brought fully into N.A.T.O.? Why cannot Cyprus have two seats on the N.A.T.O. Council if that would enable both the Cypriot leaders and Her Majesty's Government to compromise their present difficulties?

I have just telephoned Reuter and have been given the statement mentioned by the hon. Member for Leeds, East and by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney). Last night the Vice-President-elect of Cyprus offered Her Majesty's Government his services to negotiate and to act as a mediator to obtain a settlement. I cannot understand why Her Majesty's Government can have turned down that offer of a friendly Cypriot leader who is only too anxious to find the way to an agreement.

I want to ask my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary only one question. He can answer it now or later. In view of the offer made by Dr. Kutchuk and in view of my right hon. and learned Friend's urgent desire that negotiations should continue, will he tell the House now that he will now authorise Her Majesty's Minister in Cyprus to accept the offer of Dr. Kutchuk and carry on the negotiations with him as a mediator?

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

I will deal with the point when I make my speech.

Mr. Yates

I was not intending in any way to be discourteous. I thought it might be helpful at this moment for the House to know, in view of my right hon. and learned Friend's statement at the Dispatch Box this afternoon, whether he wished the negotiations to commence as soon as possible but I quite appreciate his difficulties in the matter.

We have now come to a situation which can be resolved only by the good will of the Cypriot leaders and the British people. I am convinced that if Her Majesty's Government take sufficient courage and carry on negotiations, they will receive the support, not only of the entire Conservative Party but of this House, and, of course, of my constituents in The Wrekin.

It is important that international undertakings should be observed. I have in mind especially the words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the spirit in which he brought the message from the Cyprus Conference to this House. He said: I myself have always believed that when the future of the world is so uncertain and fraught with so many dangers, we cannot hope to win through except in a spirit of partnership between people and nations of what I call interdependence. This agreement has been made in that spirit, and it is therefore an expression at once of our hope and of our faith. We have that faith and the hope that the Prime Minister's orders will be carried out and none other.

8.18 p.m.

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)

I rise to intervene briefly in this debate deeply conscious of the responsibilities which all of us in this House have, and personally very conscious of the complexities of negotiations of this kind. I speak, I think I am right in saying, as the only back-bench Member of the House of Commons and the only Member on this side of the House who has ever personally been involved in negotiations between the British Government and the Greek Cypriot leaders.

The Foreign Secretary may, perhaps, recall the meeting in the then Prime Minister's room which preceded my departure for Nicosia in February, 1956. Although a great deal has happened since then, and although I have expressed strong views in the House from time to time about the Government's policy, I am still to some extent hampered by the fact that I was a participant who was taken into the confidence of both sides during the short period preceding the breakdown of the 1956 negotiations. Believe me, Mr. Speaker, I understand the complexities of such negotiations very well. I say to the Minister of Defence that those complexities do not arise only from the difference of background and of approach of the participants concerned, as I am very deeply aware, having sat in the same room with Field Marshal Sir John Harding and Archbishop Makarios on many occasions. At this time, the difficulties arise not only because of these factors but also because of the nature of the way in which the Zurich and London settlements were reached.

At this moment, none of us would want to call into question the implementation of those Agreements. Of course, we hope that there will be a peaceful and friendly settlement guaranteeing the future of an independent Cyprus on the basis of those Agreements, but one is bound to recall that many of the difficulties facing the Minister of Defence and the Foreign Secretary are the result of the very curious circumstances in which the original settlement at Zurich was reached between two Foreign Ministers—neither of whom had been there—of Governments which had a very close interest in Cyprus but no responsibility for it, with no representation of the Cypriot people themselves, of the Government of Cyprus or of the Government in this country.

A great many loose ends were left at Zurich and were not finally buttoned up in London. However much the Minister of Defence may be convinced of the difficulty of doing business with Archbishop Makarios, I can assure him that he on many occasions privately and frankly said to me how difficult he found it to understand the tortuous and byzantine way in which the Colonial Office in Whitehall conducted its negotiations. I have heard very similar feelings expressed on both sides of the negotiating table. At all events, he was not present at Zurich, nor was Dr. Kutchuk.

Precisely what transpired at the time of the London Agreement is not publicly known and probably is better not discussed in this House at present, but it would be quite legitimate for Archbishop Makarios to have assumed that the area specified in the London Agreement was very much smaller than that being at present sought by the British Government. He has said that he envisaged an area roughly the size of that now covered by existing military installations, namely, an area of about twelve square miles. The British Government are asking for an area which may be only 3 per cent. of the total area of Cyprus, but it is a very much larger percentage of the useful surface of the island.

The Minister of Defence passed to some of my right hon. Friends a map which I was not able to see, but I have been to the areas concerned, and perhaps that is even better than looking at a map. If the Minister of Defence had been down to the citrus groves surrounding our military installations, having come through some of the more arid areas of the island, he would have seen that there was a very strong emotional reason which makes it quite different when one sees the place and when one talks in terms of 3 per cent. What we are, asking for is incidentally the size of the island of Malta.

One major difficulty at the back of the mind of Archbishop Makarios and perhaps of the Turkish community leaders is whether we are interested only in military facilities and the military use of Cyprus or whether we have other considerations in mind. I am sorry to say that I think that the Foreign Secretary added fuel to the flames of those doubts. I am sorry that it was not the Minister of Defence who dealt with this subject at the end of Question Time. If he had, I am sure that we should not have asked for this debate at all, and I only pray that the Foreign Secretary, if I may say so without impertinence, handles the end of the debate as skilfully as the Minister of Defence handled the beginning of it.

Mr. Watkinson indicated dissent.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Of course, the Minister of Defence has to shake his head, and we quite appreciate that. There is a doubt in the minds of the Cypriots about the real purpose—

Mr. Watkinson

I think that it is fair game to ask this: does the hon. Member entirely accept my argument?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I do not want to stress the points on which I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's arguments, for the reasons which I hope I made plain at the beginning of my speech. But there is a good deal which we on this side do not accept, and I shall have to mention that in a few moments.

There are doubts in the minds of the Cypriot leaders that military considerations are not the only factors which we have in mind. The Foreign Secretary did a very grave disservice to the negotiations—I hope that it was a slip of the tongue and that he will correct it in his speech—in saying that one of the reasons for having British troops in Cyprus was to prevent difficulties between the two communities. If it is to be argued in the House of Commons that an additional reason for having British troops in Cyprus is to police the island in the event of trouble between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, that is a new argument and a very dangerous one. But, of course, we hope that the Foreign Secretary will make it plain that that is not what he meant when he spoke in the House this afternoon.

The Minister of Defence asked whether we accept the whole of his case. Of course, we do not. We accept that in the realities of British politics at the moment the negotiations will be conducted on the basis of sovereign areas in which we have our military installations on Cyprus. Many hon. Members on this side think that that whole conception is nonsense, that the introduction of the element of sovereignty was only a sop to some back-bench Members opposite, that it has no reality and that if the British Government and the military in Cyprus are on good terms with the Cypriot people it does not matter whether or not we have sovereignty.

If we are on bad terms with them and if what the Foreign Secretary described as an emergency arises the bases are untenable. We cannot understand why when the Suez Canal area, with all the troops in it, was untenable in the face of rather mild Egyptian interference, looking back on that, Ministers try to claim that some paper agreement about sovereignty will meet the realities of the situation on Cyprus. Many hon. Members on this side question the need for the bases at all—we have not discussed that matter so far during the debate—but we on this side assume that there are probably three purposes in the minds of the Minister of Defence and his military advisers, none of which we accept.

The first is that the bases should be used as places from which the Caucasus and other areas of the Soviet Union can be attacked conveniently either with bombing aircraft or with rockets. In the first place, we hope that that situation will never arise. In the second place, we cannot understand why rocket bases or airfields for nuclear armed aircraft should be safer or more useful on the island of Cyprus than on the mainland of Turkey.

Secondly, we cannot understand, and I have never understood even when discussing the matter in great detail with Field Marshal Harding, the kind of arguments which the right hon. Gentleman's military advisers are giving him at present about the value of Cyprus as a whole. If we are on good terms with the neighbours of Cyprus, notably Turkey, the facilities of Cyprus compare very badly with those we have in Turkey, and we do not need them. If we are on bad terms with the Turks, Cyprus becomes quickly untenable—and this is talking of the situation in 1956. Today, when Mr. Khrushchev has only to touch a button for Cyprus to disappear, as he vividly told me and the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) when we went to see him a year ago, the situation is very much changed from that. At all events, we do not accept the strategic arguments in favour of maintaining military installations on Cyprus.

Nor do we accept the very old argument that military installations on the island are required to bolster up what is now known as the Cento organisation. The Government were wise to give that no geographical name, after their unfortunate experience with the Bagdad Pact. I remember that I was told by Field Marshal Harding how important it was that we must have sovereignty of all Cyprus until we had consolidated the whole Bagdad Pact area.

The situation has changed since 1956 and we do not accept that argument now. Nor do we accept what we believe is the third reason, which is that we may one day want to have a minor edition of the Suez venture—a British military intervention in the Persian Gulf. We hope that that will never arise and that we shall gradually liquidate our present political and military commitments throughout the Persian Gulf. But even if we had that intervention, how could the Foreign Secretary, with his experience of Suez, maintain that Cyprus would be useful in 1960 to 1961? How would he get his aircraft to the Persian Gulf when he has to fly over foreign territory in whatever direction he goes? We therefore do not accept the basis of the argument behind these negotiations, though we accept that in the realities of political life under a Conservative Government, unfortunately for years to come, that is the basis on which we negotiate.

Finally, we do not accept the fourth and new argument propounded by the Foreign Secretary—that British troops are required on the island to keep peace between Turks and Greeks, because if the granting of independence to Cyprus has any meaning at all it is that they shall be free to conduct their own affairs and that whatever rights we enjoy in the sovereign areas will be used only for military purposes.

I want to ask the Foreign Secretary one specific question on a matter which has very genuinely puzzled other parties to these negotiations, and I beg him to give an explanation which they and also we on this side of the House will appreciate. When the negotiations started, it was hoped that independence day would be on 19th February. The negotiators were told that the deadline for that was 25th January. That was an interval of about twenty-five days. When the negotions were not concluded on 25th January, we were then told that the next target date was 7th February. Negotiations had to be finished by them in order that independence day should be declared on 9th March.

If my calculations are right, that is an interval not of twenty-five days but of forty days. When that target date was not reached, it was put out that there would have to be an interval of two months and that independence day would have to be postponed until 19th May. Now we are told that because of pressure of business in the House and because of the Parliamentary Recess, the interval would have to be longer and that the earliest possible date would be some time in June.

In view of the assurance given by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) at the beginning of the debate that the Foreign Secretary would have every co-operation from the Opposition in the matter of time in the House for passing a Cyprus Independence Bill, what is the situation now, and how does the procedural abjection on the part of the Government arise? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman could clarify that situation, he would be doing a good service to the progress of the negotiations. In that context, we must press him to tell us whether it is his intention that negotiations shall proceed. As a result of what he said earlier this afternoon, we are puzzled as to the exact position of the British Government. Have the negotiations been broken off? Is there to be a lull before talks start again? What is the present situation?

It is not unreasonable for some parties to the negotiations to be a little apprehensive of what may happen next. What happened the last time after negotiations broke down between British and Cypriot leaders was that Archbishop Makarios was deported for a year to an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Colonel Sir Malcolm Stoddart-Scott (Ripon) indicated dissent.

Mr. Noel-Baker

The hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head, but that is what happened. At that moment I was urging the Archbishop to keep the door open.

Sir M. Stoddart-Scott


Mr. Noel-Baker

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to intervene, perhaps he will do so audibly and I will answer his point. I was saying that I happened to be personally involved in the negotiations, and I remember that after they broke down I spent some time in pleading with the Archbishop not to close the door on negotiations. The next thing I heard was that he had been loaded on to a plane and sent into exile while a propaganda campaign was mounted against him.

In those circumstances, although the Archbishop has recently become respectable to hon. Gentlemen who sit on the back benches opposite, it is not surprising that he may be a little apprehensive about what is to happen next. So we ask the Government to give us a clear assurance on the present position. What instructions do the Government propose to give to the Under-Secretary of State, who is in the area at present, and when will the discussions be resumed?

I close by saying that, whatever reservations many of us on this side of the House have about the nature of the London and Zurich Agreements and about the nature of British military requirements in Cyprus, we hope with all our hearts—nobody less passionately than myself—that an agreement will be reached which will be satisfactory to both countries.

8.37 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wales)

As the debate proceeds the more convinced I become that there was never any need for it. Much, only too much, of what has been said this evening will go to encourage those powers striving to prevent agreement not only in Cyprus but, I suspect, in this country as well.

The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that the nub of the Opposition's complaint was that the negotiations were broken off yesterday because it was impossible to complete them in time to grant independence by 19th March, and that Dr. Kutchuk's offer to mediate and to produce a compromise had been discarded. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not here to confirm whether I have his words right or not, but I think I have given a rough paraphrase of them.

The fact remains that none of us knows what, apart from mediation, was Dr. Kutchuk's offer. Undoubtedly it was unacceptable to the British Government and therefore rightly it was discarded. [Laughter.] I say "rightly" because, if the base areas are to be of any practical value, there must be good will on both sides. If hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot see that they will never see anything.

It has been said, and I think it has a great bearing on the difficulty, that at the original successful negotiations in Zurich no one was present who was a real first-hand party to the dispute. I am sure that is the main reason behind our present difficulties. All along we have had to interpret other people's ideas and put on them what we feel is a right and just interpretation.

One thing at least is clear from what has been said tonight. There are not many hon. Members who believe that sovereignty is the matter at issue. I am convinced that it is the size of the bases, and perhaps the misunderstanding over that stems from the vagueness of the original Zurich draft.

What we have seriously to consider is, first, that for a base to be of any use at all there must be good will on both sides, otherwise the exercise is futile. Secondly, for the base to be of any use it must be of adequate size. After a number of concessions, brief details of which were given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, the area has been whittled down to 120 square miles, or an area 10 miles by 12 miles.

That area is divided, roughly, into two main areas. The western area, with the big Akrotiri airfield, which is suitable for large and fast landing and fast take-off modern aircraft, and the Episkopi headquarters, and the eastern area of Dhekelia, which is more properly the area for the brigade group, a training area, and an area not only for barracks and married quarters but for military workshops and those ancillary works which go to make a military base.

To accommodate a force which my right hon. Friend said might at times have to be up to 20,000 men in a total area of 10 miles by 12 miles is an immense jigsaw puzzle. Not only is it necessary to have hard standings and permanent works such as hospitals and other buildings, but a fairly extensive area for military practice firings. The modern high velocity anti-tank weapon requires a considerable area to provide a safety range when it is fired in a locality where there are civilians, particularly in a locality like Cyprus where one is never quite sure where a civilian may be, although there are red flags flying and he has no right to be there.

Apart from that—and the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) drew attention to this—under certain circumstances the facilities and rights that are to be retained by the Cypriots in the British sovereign base areas might be withdrawn in times of emergency. That happens everywhere where there are military garrisons and the likelihood of military exercises and military emergencies. It happens in this country, in cases where there are military emergencies, that the powers even of the police are temporarily taken over by military police. Anybody who has any experience of these matters must know that that is necessary.

The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), who, I am sorry to see, is no longer in his place, seemed to assume that because we required a military base on Cyprus one of its objects was to attack the Soviet Union. With all that has gone on since even February of last year, when the Prime Minister visited the Soviet leaders in Moscow, to say nothing of all that went before that, I should have thought that ideas of that sort were so out of date as to be hardly worth mentioning. Has it never occurred to those people that the purpose of British defence is to prevent others attacking us and attacking our friends?

8.47 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

The argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) seemed to carry within itself the seeds of its own destruction. He asked a question which hon. Members on this side of the House have been asking—how can there be good will on Cyprus—and he posed—

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

That was not the question I asked. I asked what was the use of a base unless there was good will on both sides.

Mr. Hughes

That is precisely the point which I wish to emphasise and I think that the hon. and gallant Member—

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

If the hon. Gentleman wants to describe precisely a point in someone else's speech he must in future be more precise.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is most helpful. I have listened to many defence debates and I have frequently heard the argument that the worst possible place for a base was on an island—and I have always agreed with it—even when the base was in this country. I cannot conceive how the Foreign Secretary will carry out the instructions of his back benchers without taking some kind of action against Archbishop Makarios and deporting him to the Seychelles again.

But history has moved forward and we have had innumerable prophecies about Cyprus from hon. Members opposite which have never come off. I do not want to go over all of them, but I remember hearing Field Marshal Lord Harding deliver a speech in Westminster Hall in 1956 when he told us confidently that the rebels in Cyprus would be under lock and key before Christmas. We know what happened—Lord Harding was sacked and Archbishop Makarios emerged as the spokesman of Cyprus.

I am not a supporter of Archbishop Makarios. If I lived in Cyprus I should be a supporter of the people who organised the Left-wing demonstration last Saturday which was repudiated by the Archbishop and the Right-wing element.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)


Mr. Hughes

I remember putting a question to Archbishop Makarios—I am not any more a Communist than the Prime Minister.

Mr. Wall

Does not the hon. Gentleman know that the demonstration to which he refers was organised by the supporters of AKEL, which is a Communist-led trade union organisation?

Mr. Hughes

I never repudiate Communism, but I do not mind what hon. Gentlemen call me so long as they do not call me a Conservative. I have done many curious things in politics, but I was never associated with the rebels of the Suez Group.

Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

But the hon. Member is a rare old Tory. [Laughter.]

Mr. Hughes

I missed that one, but I will not pursue it.

I remember putting a question to Archbishop Makarios when he was a comparatively insignificant figure in international politics. We were in one of the Standing Committee Rooms and very few people knew anything about it. In a speech on that occasion the Archbishop made the point that he was not against the British base in Cyprus. I was against it, and when the time came for questions I asked the Archbishop why an archbishop should not be against the base on principle. He said: "I am in favour of the base for exactly the same reason as the Archbishop of Canterbury is in favour of Britain being a base". So my opinion of the Archbishop as a Christian went down and my opinion of him as a politician went up.

Now we are beginning to come down to fundamental things. Last Thursday, in reply to a Written Parliamentary Question, the Minister of Defence told me that we have already spent £90 million on Cyprus. I have a Question down on the Order Paper tomorrow asking him what we intend to spend in Cyprus in the future. Judging by what he said today we are already committed to quite a considerable expenditure in Cyprus in order to appease Archbishop Makarios. We are going to shift villages. There is a village at the end of a runway, and because that is objectionable to Archbishop Makarios the whole village is to be cleared away.

The Minister of Defence is being far more reasonable about this runway than he was about Prestwick when he was Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. For months we tried to get him to spend a couple of million on making good a job of Prestwick Airport, but he was completely obstructive. Here he is prepared to throw away millions of pounds in order to placate Archbishop Makarios. It is £90 million now. What will the figure be after all these plans have been put into operation, including even the shifting of villages? How much expenditure will be borne by the British taxpayer?

Let me come back to the position in Cyprus, the position of Archbishop Makarios. The Left-wing Communists say that they do not want a British military base in Cyprus, and I can understand it. They agree with the ex-leader of the Suez group, Captain Waterhouse. I remember the debate in this House when the then Prime Minister was defending the evacuation of Suez. In order to appease the Suez rebels he produced an elaborate argument saying that in the time of the H-bomb these bases were obsolete. What did the Government do? They went from Suez to about 300 miles nearer the potential place from which the H-bomb is likely to come. Here my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) got down to realities.

I do not know whether right hon. Gentleman opposite remember the newspaper articles written by Mr. Randolph Churchill. The Foreign Secretary did not want to hear about them the other day. But Mr. Randolph Churchill had a very interesting interview with the military commanders on the spot, and he said quite clearly: "There is only one real reason why we are in Cyprus and that is because we want to use the runways of Cyprus as a bombing base in order to bomb the oilfields of Southern Russia."

Whatever the Prime Minister said in Russia—and I think that he did a good job in Russia—these realities are still there. The military strategists have not caught up with the foreign policy of the Prime Minister and so we are hanging on to these bases in Cyprus for the sole purpose of carrying out the elaborate strategy of bombing Russia in the event of war. Mr. Randolph Churchill may say things that are disagreeable to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but that is undoubtedly the reason. It leaked out when we talked about our N.A.T.O. commitments and S.E.A.T.O. commitments and were proposing to use Cyprus as a strategical base in a strategy which is already obsolete.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon said that it would be a push-button war. Everyone now knows that we are not winning the rocket war, the strategic war against the Soviet Union. We saw in the newspapers only a fortnight ago that the Russians can now fire a rocket from somewhere in the U.S.S.R. to within a mile of a target in the Pacific 4,000 or 5,000 miles away. [An HON. MEMBER: "Eight thousand miles".] It is a long distance anyway. If the Russians can do this and be so confident about it, is it any wonder that there is some slight disquiet on the part of the intelligent population of Cyprus who realise that if the West fell out with the East, without Cyprus being involved in any quarrel at all, Cyprus would be destroyed.

That was exactly the point made by Captain Waterhouse when he was the leader of the Suez Group. He said, "Why go to Cyprus? One or two hydrogen bombs and there would be a hole in the sea where Cyprus was." That was the most sensible thing that Captain Waterhouse ever said. He was right, however, about the strategy of it. So today we have the Foreign Secretary in a hopeless and complete dilemma. I believe that he will either have to start the whole business again of imprisoning the Cypriot leaders or that he will have to give in and so make enemies of the remnants of the Suez group. That is the position which he is in; there is absolutely no escape from it.

I say that the sensible position would be to cut our losses, to realise that Cyprus as a base is obsolete and that we are spending £90 million on it which could be spent at home. The people who say that the time has come for the British to leave Cyprus are right. By doing so they are looking further ahead. The people of Cyprus do not want military bases in their country. They do not want to be destroyed. I believe that the Government would be doing a useful service if they said: "The time has come to cut our losses, to clear out of Cyprus and to stop spending any more money on a position that cannot be defended."

9.0 p.m.

Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

The House always loves listening to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). I certainly do, and I must admit that I was amazed to find at the conclusion of his speech something with which under certain circumstances I should be able to agree.

I believe that the people of this country are profoundly disturbed over the Cyprus situation. I do not believe they are interested in our hammer-and-tongs party warfare in this House. I think they appreciate some of the speeches of a moderate non-party sort made in this House today. They are asking—and are entitled to be answered—where do we go from here? In the few minutes in which I shall speak, I want to try to examine the possibilities before us in a realistic frame of mind.

There have been many exhortations to the Foreign Secretary and the Government to begin negotiations all over again. I have no first-hand knowledge, but from what I can make out as an ordinary man-in-the-street, there have never been any real negotiations. I cannot really call them negotiations when there has been step back, step back on our part and no concessions whatever from the other side. I am beginning to wonder whether the Archbishop really wants an agreement. I begin to wonder—I think it best to be frank and outspoken on these occasions—whether he dare reach an agreement with us. I believe the figure of the assassin still lurks in Cyprus politics. It is useless for us, from either side of the House, to urge the Foreign Secretary to recommence negotiations unless they are to be real negotiations. I hope he will not promise the House to start negotiations all over again unless we have a firmer basis on which to build.

The second possibility is that there should be a pause and that Cyprus should go on developing its quasi-independent institutions at home, that we should mark time for a few months, or perhaps a few years, and trust to wiser counsels, more calm, more moderate counsels prevailing. There is a great deal to be said for that. If the Foreign Secretary believes that might produce a detente and a calmer situation. I very much hope that he will announce it tonight.

But in all negotiations there is something which, for want of a better word, I call the ultimate sanction. I do not think "sanction" is the right word, for I think the word "sanction" means the force one applies in order to get what one wants. There is an ultimate, a ne plus ultra, in all negotiations. I think there is bound to come a time when we reach that ne plus ultra. It might be when the potential bases are whittled down to such small dimensions that they are no longer worth it. I think they have been whittled down enough already. I am not a strategical expert and have not the strategical insight of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, who knows exactly what the bases are for. I accept the advice of the Government that it is vital and in the interests of this country and of N.A.T.O. that there should be a British base there. I accept the need for these areas as long as they can be usefully and properly employed. The ultimate sanction must be the moment when we say it is no longer worth going on, and we should leave Cyprus.

By far the most realistic speech, with the exception of that of the Minister of Defence, was made by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney). We should not be in the position of suppliants to the people of Cyprus. We have conferred, and do confer, far greater benefits on the people of Cyprus than the benefits we are asking from them. We confer on them, and are very glad to have them, the benefit of a large Cypriot colony in this country, earning their livelihood and helping the economy of this country. We may possibly confer on them—by "we" I mean the Commonwealth as a whole—the great and valuable benefits of membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We have certainly promised to confer upon them a very great deal of money. I agree with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire that we should all like that money to be spent on our constituencies.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

The hon. Member is getting on. In another five minutes I shall have converted him.

Sir G. Nicholson

If the hon. Member converts me he will have converted me to extreme Toryism. I do not know where I should then end. If ever there were a crusty old Tory in the House of Commons, it is the hon. Member for South Ayrshire.

I believe that the time has come when we should say to Archbishop Makarios and to Cyprus, "If you push us too far we shall chuck in our hand and go".

Mr. Hughes

What shall we do then'?

Sir G. Nicholson

What will Cyprus do then? We shall be all right. What will they do if the 7,000 Cypriots in England becomes aliens? These people will not go to Athens; none of them have gone there in the past. What will they do without the money which we have promised them? What will they do without membership of the Commonwealth?

I commend to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary the speech of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North. I believe that the people of this country have had enough of blackmail, enough of retreating and enough of being pushed from pillar to post in these so-called negotiations. Unless something definite is declared and unless we take up a definite position and say that if we are pushed too far we shall leave Cyprus, then the people of this country will condemn the Government for the part which they have played.

9.7 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

Although I find myself in virtually total disagreement with the hon. Baronet the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson), I hope that I shall emulate the moderation with which he gave us the benefit of his views this evening.

At the outset, I wish to make it clear that I entirely accept the analysis of the Minister of Defence that this problem relates not to a question of sovereignty but to a question of the extent to which sovereignty should be exercised. To that extent I find myself in disagreement with the implied suggestion of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that sovereignty should be ceded in some way or another and that there should be some new arrangement. I say in parenthesis that I think that the cession of sovereignty is a very high price for a small nation to have to pay in order to obtain its independence. We have never asked any other part of our Colonial Empire to pay such a price. Nevertheless, it was a price which was agreed in the London and Zurich Agreements and therefore I do not seek to resile from it.

In so far as the Minister of Defence has diagnosed the trouble, one is entitled to ask how it has come about. The hon. Baronet the Member for Farnham suggests that there has not been an agreement because Archbishop Makarios has not wanted an agreement and has been frightened to make an agreement. I would point out to him that these Agreements were signed over a year ago and that it is only very recently that public dissatisfaction and disagreement has been expressed by the Archbishop.

In my view, what has happened is that there has been a total difference of interpretation between the British Government and the Cypriots of the Third Annex, Section B, which relates to the areas in which Britain wishes to retain bases. That is where the difference has arisen.

If the Foreign Secretary had been asked at the time of the negotiations, "Why do you want these two areas?", I suggest that he would have replied, "Because we have bases there which we want to retain." That would have been the reason for which he would have sought to include these specifically-named seven areas. But his interpretation, as I see it, is that this entitles him not merely to those bases but to the entire geographical hinterland, as much territory as can be brought within the confine of the geographical survey. It is as if the Americans had an agreement to continue their installations at Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, and said afterwards, "Of course we said Brize Norton, but we mean every hamlet, every parish and every acre which geographically comes within Brize Norton."

That is the interpretation being placed upon that paragraph by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It may be the right interpretation. It may be the interpretation which he had in his mind when signing the Agreement. However, it is possible for a reasonable man to have an alternative interpretation of the Agreement. I suggest that that is the interpretation at which the Greek Cypriots have arrived. It may be right. It may be wrong. The Agreement was loosely drafted. The Minister of Defence said that these negotiations are extremely difficult. One discusses things one day and it is extremely difficult to put them into writing the next.

There is reference in the document to particular places where we have bases and to particular rights which are asked for. Those rights are specifically set out. They relate to the use of an airfield, the use of port facilities at Famagusta, the way in which additional sites may be acquired, and so on. There is no reference whatsoever in the Agreement to geographical expansion. On examining the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech at the time of the London declaration one finds that time and time again he referred to the British bases. That was the reason why the area was being kept—because of the British bases.

I suggest that this is the position. Originally those installations covered twelve square miles. It was realised and appreciated by the Cypriots that we would want to move other installations into the area and concentrate all our resources in this small area, and they suggested that to do that an area triple the existing area would be sufficient. They suggested 36 square miles. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, "No. What we mean by retaining those base areas is that the actual geographical area which we now want is ten times that which we originally agreed". [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Gentlemen may doubt my arithmetic, but twelve multiplied by ten is 120. We have asked for an area ten times larger than the area upon which there were physical installations. That is the position. It may be right. It may be wrong. The right hon. and learned Gentleman might genuinely have gone into negotiation with that interpretation in mind. I suggest that the Cypriots have another interpretation.

Mr. Wall

The right hon. Gentleman has already quoted from page 12 of the White Paper. Certain villages are set out in the Annex. If he refers those villages to a map, does he not agree that it must be a very much greater area than 36 square miles, just by putting the villages on a map?

Mr. Thorpe

First, I thank the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) for making me a Privy Councillor, albeit temporarily. I do not agree. We are dealing with base intallations at specific places. Prior to the Agreement, those bases occupied 12 square miles, as they do today. That is a fact which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has confirmed. I accept that when the Foreign Secretary went into these negotiations, he felt in his mind that he was entitled to as much geographical area as could be covered by the particular place names. I suggest that the Greek Cypriots went into the negotiations—I do not blame either side; I merely suggest that this is what happened—thinking that all the British wanted were their existing bases geographically defined with a reasonable area for expansion.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

Will not the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) about the villages named in the Annex?

Mr. Thorpe

Indeed I will. I can give the hon. Member a list of hamlets and villages which are to be brought under British sovereignty within the 120 square miles which are not technically within the geographical areas named.

I suggest that there is a genuine difference of interpretation. If I may be allowed to say so, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is a very experienced lawyer, and he knows that very often there are contracting parties who, quite genuinely and honestly, interpret similar words in different ways. That is why there is a very real question of interpretation here.

I think that if the Cypriots had known when they signed that this meant that two out of their three underground water supplies were to be under British sovereignty, that a very high percentage of their best agricultural property was to be under British sovereignty, and that Britain would have to exercise certain rights over a thousand Cypriot nationals, they would never have signed the agreement in the first place.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has recognised that, and has said that the British Government will give an expression of intention to delegate the administration of these areas to the Cypriots. The Cypriot authorities have said that that is not enough, and that they want a written agreement. One can only suggest, in view of the ambiguities of which the Foreign Secretary has spoken, that it would be a very good thing to have one.

This has arisen through a genuine difference of interpretation as to what precisely the British Government wanted, and I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that instead of saying that our interpretation is the right one, and the only one, and that we refuse to believe that anyone else could have another, he should get round the conference table and try to thrash out the interpretation so that it means the same thing to both sides.

9.17 p.m.

Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)

The hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) clearly feels that, at long range, he has been able to throw some light on the root causes of this difference—

Mr. Thorpe

If the hon. Member will allow me, my most recent source of information was Archbishop Makarios's chief political adviser, to whom I was speaking yesterday.

Mr. Smithers

I think that the casual listener to this debate who had not any particularly detailed knowledge of the matter might have received the impression that, over the years, the negotiations had been conducted by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), with some assistance from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).

I well remember the great sincerity with which, at one time, the hon. Member for Swindon undertook a part in negotiations. As I believe an hon. Member has just said, one of the valuable products of all this is, apparently, that the hon. Member for Swindon is writing his memoirs, which will no doubt reveal that on his dove-like mission he contacted everybody, including the cherubim and the seraphim—but I leave it to members of the Opposition Front Bench to settle with their hon. Friends whether they managed all their contacts well or ill.

The substance of the situation has, I believe, to some extent escaped the House this evening. We have been talking about a disagreement on the details of the British bases in Cyprus, but it would be a mistake not to recognise that that discussion about the British bases has to be cast against the background of the far wider international interests in which we, the Cypriots, the Greeks, the Turks, N.A.T.O.—indeed, the free world—are all involved.

It is not just a question of whether these bases can be effectively used as bases. The issue is the much wider one of whether the settlement arrived at in the Cyprus problem will be a settlement which will command the support not merely of Cypriots but of the Greeks and the Turks and which will thus ensure the stability of the political situation in the eastern Mediterranean, one of the vital regions of the world.

I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney). I admired very much his forthright logic. As far as it went, I thought it was perfectly correct. But it seemed to me to be based, as, for that matter, were some of the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson), on the assumption that we are here dealing only with strategic interests.

If we look back over the history of these long and difficult negotiations and consider the events of all the years before the three-Power Agreement, when any satisfactory solution seemed beyond our grasp, we ought now to be honest with ourselves and recognise that we could not simply walk out of Cyprus because we became impatient at the situation, because we found that our bases were not satisfactory, unless we first assured ourselves that the diplomatic and political situation in the wider international sense was satisfactory to ourselves and satisfactory also to all those for whom, in a sense, we are trustees in this matter.

There has been a great deal of talk tonight as though the Archbishop was the only person who had to be satisfied, but if we are to be content with our work in this long and arduous task, we must ensure also that the Turkish Government and people outside Cyprus, as well as inside, are satisfied. No mere abandonment of our international responsibilities could possibly justify us in bringing down the re-established friendship between Greece and Turkey and in dealing a savage blow at the strength of the free world in the whole area.

We must recognise tonight that the agreement which was so nearly reached in this matter, to the jubilation I believe of every hon. Member who sits in the Chamber tonight, was possible only because we succeeded in arriving at a settlement of the wider diplomatic issue. The three-Power Agreements, in my submission, stand or fall as a whole. We cannot simply walk out of our part without expecting that all the rest of the structure will inevitably collapse and we shall be back where we were in the dangerous position which existed several years ago.

I apologise to the House for taking a few minutes at this late hour to make that point. I do so simply in order to emphasise that we cannot have it go out from the House that we could simply walk out of Cyprus or that we are likely to do so without due consideration of the rights and interests of all those in Cyprus and in other countries to whom we are in a sense answerable.

9.24 p.m.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

If I may say so to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers), I think that everyone recognises that the agreements that were reached at Zurich and later ratified, initialled or signed—I am not quite sure what the technical term is—at Lancaster House represented a balance. And it would be very difficult indeed to upset that balance. The hon. Member is absolutely right to make that point. He speaks from a special position—I do not know whether to say it in praise or blame—because he was, of course, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the former Colonial Secretary.

Despite the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), I think that this debate has been a good debate and very thoroughly justified. I am not sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman fully appreciates the purpose of Standing Order No. 9. The purpose of that Standing Order, as I understand it, and as I think it is accepted, is that at a critical moment, when urgent matters of definite public importance are coming to a particular point, the influence of the House should be brought to bear. That is the purpose of the Standing Order, and that is what we have been trying to carry out.

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

I appreciate that very thoroughly. Does not the hon. Gentleman himself appreciate that there are occasions in history when it is far better to hold one's peace, say nothing and hope for the best?

Mr. Callaghan

What the hon. and gallant Gentleman is saying is, in my view, one of the reasons which has led to the lowering in the prestige of this House, that is to say, we take command of events and judge them only after they have happened and not when it is still possible for us to bring influence to bear upon the Government. I say to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I think he is profoundly mistaken. If he believes in a democracy, provided that views are expressed as sincerely as they have been here tonight on all sides and with a sense of responsibility, I am certain he will agree that it is right that we should make use of all Parliamentary opportunities of so doing.

Lieut.-Commander Maydon rose

Mr. Callaghan

I cannot give way. I want to get on to matters of substance.

I believe that the Foreign Secretary, having heard the expressions of opinion of hon. Members on all sides, will feel that he himself knows more about what is the attitude of the House as a whole, and it is for that reason that we believe it was right to ask for this debate, especially following upon a report in The Times which this morning filled me with considerable apprehension. The headlines were: Cyprus Independence Date Put Off Indefinitely. Tension Rising in Island As Talks Break Down". The report states: All of which adds up to something suspiciously like an 'ultimatum' to the Cypriots to accept the British plan—or face an indefinite deferment of their freedom from colonial status. No one of us who took part in these miserable debates which we have had over the last six years could let this statement go without attempting to call the Government to account for what was taking place. I say to the Government that there is a responsibility upon them, as well as upon all the other parties in this dispute, to see that we do not return once again to that position which Cyprus occupied between 1956 and the early part of 1959.

I was very glad to hear the Minister of Defence say this evening that the question of sovereignty was not really an important question, because that is a stumbling block which I think has been got out of the way. The right hon. Gentleman said that it is not the main point, as I understood it, and I want to make sure that I am not misinterpreting what the Minister said. He said that it was not the major point.

Mr. Watkinson

I should like to be very careful about this. The hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend concluded his speech by saying that he thought sovereignty was the main issue. I said I did not think it was the main issue, and, indeed, there had been a great many exchanges on this. I thought, therefore, that this was not the main issue before us and that it was the size of the bases.

Mr. Callaghan

I am very glad to have that statement because it seems to us that if the issue of sovereignty were thrown into the debate once again, we should be discussing a matter that is now, to a large extent, unreal. I commend to the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Emery), whose maiden speech we all enjoyed and who said that we cannot afford to back down on the question of sovereignty, some words uttered before he came into the House on 19th March last year, when we had our last debate, by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who said: The utility of these areas to Britain, whatever be the forms adopted and whatever we say about sovereignty, will and must depend upon the good will of the people of that island. They cannot be of use to us unless we have that good will. The mere assertion of sovereignty gives of itself no security; in fact, there may be circumstances in which it actually diminishes security. The United States has the use of bases in Great Britain; I am far from sure whether the United States would be more certain of being able to use the facilities of those bases if she insisted that they should be under United States sovereignty. We have to divest ourselves of the notion that sovereignty in itself confers any advantages or gives any security which does not rest upon the real circumstances in the places concerned. Sovereignty in itself is a mere form. The realities within it are the will of the people and the power of the sovereign."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th March, 1959; Vol. 602, c. 697.] I do not see the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West present tonight, but when I came to make my winding up speech on that occasion, I picked out that passage together with the maiden speech by the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) and the speech by the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), who also is not here tonight, because all of them expressed their doubts on the question of sovereignty and the effectiveness of British control unless there were two conditions—and these are the two things which will mean whether these bases are valuable: a friendly people and a stable government.

To produce the map, as the Minister of Defence has done for us, showing how small the areas are makes it quite clear that the question of sovereignty is a secondary question. If we have a friendly people and a stable government, our bases there, if we need them, are secure. This is the most important lesson that, I hope, we have all learned from what has taken place over the last few months.

I ask the Foreign Secretary this question. In the light of the circumstances in which the Agreements were signed at Zurich and at Lancaster House, does he think that there is a misunderstanding now between the Greeks and the Turks, on the one hand, and the British Government, on the other hand, about the extent of these bases? This viewpoint was put forward by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) and by other hon. Members. I do not know the answer. Looking back, I well remember the exhaustion in which the Agreements were initialled. I well remember the circumstances in which they came to be signed and I would say that when one looks at the terminology used in them, they are certainly capable of misunderstanding.

I do not know the view of the Foreign Secretary, but if it were the case that the differences between us, which, as the Minister of Defence has said, relate mainly to the size of the bases, were the result of misunderstanding, I say to the Foreign Secretary and to the Government as a whole that they had no right—indeed, they were wrong—to say yesterday that they were putting forward Her Majesty's Government's final position. To say that we are putting forward our final position if we are in a position in which there may be the possibility of misunderstanding seems to me to be precipitating trouble. We would be quite irresponsible so to do.

It may be that the Foreign Secretary—I would like him to tell the House—has reached the conclusion that he can Ito longer negotiate with Archbishop Makarios because there is no limit to the concessions. This point has been put forward. It was put forward, as I said at Question Time this afternoon, by Lord Harding and by the former Colonial Secretary in 1956 or 1957 just before the Archbishop was deported. They said that there were only three points between us. All these three points, they said, would have been susceptible of negotiation. But they said that if we had given way on this the Archbishop would only have raised further points, and they said, "Because we knew he proposed to raise further points, we decided that the only thing to do was to deport him to the Seychelles and to clear up the situation ourselves." I am within the recollection of all hon. Members and all those who followed the debate.

Are we in this position again tonight? Are the Government saying that, no matter what we may concede on the bases, the Archbishop will always come forward with further demands until in the end, although the bases are not very much use now, they will be completely useless to us? If they are saying that, we are at the most critical turning point in the history of our relationships with this island, because there is no hope. As the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) said, in these circumstances we had better reconcile ourselves to a permanent period of colonial sovereignty in which we take responsibility. We in fact have to pour troops into the island. If we try to govern it against the will of the people, as we saw last time, the island will become useless when we want to use it as a base.

Sir G. Nicholson

After all, they have certain institutions. It would not be a return to old-fashioned colonial rule. If there is a period of waiting in the hope of a dètente it will give the Cypriots plenty of opportunity of learning to govern themselves.

Mr. Callaghan

I will say to the hon. Gentleman that he did sit through all our last debates. Does he really believe that the Cypriot people, who have been brought up to within one month of independence, are now likely to say, "Very well. We will accept this philosophical view from Farnham. We shall sit back and learn to govern ourselves". There are political realities about this. I do not believe that anyone thinks that we could govern Cyprus with the consent of the people from now on.

I want to remind the House, because these issues are of the gravest importance, that there was a time during the Suez troubles when we could not use the troops in the island for the purposes for which we wanted to use them because they were engaged in trying to clear up the guerrilla activity and to secure the arrest of General Grivas. We had thousands of troops locked up for this purpose. If the Foreign Secretary has reached this conclusion, I beg him to say so to the House, because we should then need to reconsider the whole of our policy and the British people would want to know to where we were being led, but I still hope that, in fact, this is a misunderstanding.

Having watched the Archbishop at work over the last five or six years, I am sure that he is determined to get the last possible concession he can out of the Foreign Secretary, but if there is still this possibility I say to the Foreign Secretary that he should not have allowed a communiqué to go out saying, "This is the Government's final position". It makes it very difficult indeed, when there is rising tension in the island, to take up without loss of face some other attitude. I begin to wonder how much of this is face and whether, with common sense on both sides and starting again, it would not have been possible for both sides to reach an accommodation.

I do not wish, and I hope that I have not done so, to take up a position that would make it difficult for the Foreign Secretary to answer this debate. I cannot say to him that we are satisfied with the course of these negotiations. We are not. He has in fact got himself into a position where Dr. Kutchuk and Archbishop Makarios apparently feel that the British Government have mishandled them. I think the House is entitled to know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has now looked up the point which he had not seen this afternoon about Dr. Kutchuk's statement. This matter is important, because the suggestion has been made in one or two quarters, indeed by the Foreign Secretary himself, that there may be rising tension between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Let us hope that that is not true, but yesterday that did not seem to be the attitude of Dr. Kutchuk.

Dr. Kutchuk proposed to act as mediator and he put forward compromise suggestions. Archbishop Makarios did not object to them, but the British side did not seem to be in favour of them. Then we issued a communiqué. I hope that the Greeks and the Turks stick together, because if they fall apart or if some Machiavelli forces them apart, the communal bloodshed would be of the greatest consequence.

We do not propose to vote tonight. We want to see how the Government continue to handle this matter. I believe that it would be wrong at this present stage to vote. It is right, as I said at the beginning, to probe the Government's intentions and views much more than we have done so far. I think that the debate has done that, but we will reserve the right to return to this matter because we are determined, if we can possibly help it, that we shall not allow the Government to get themselves into a cleft stick where, for reasons of prestige or of face or for whatever reason, they have to come to the House and say, "Negotiations have broken down and Cyprus remains a Colony", and we have to continue with the kind of consequences that we endured between 1956 and 1959.

I do not believe that that is the Foreign Secretary's intention. I am sure that he would not want to do that. Our job is to see that he does not fall into it by inadvertence, and we shall continue to keep a searching eye on the Government in this matter.

9.42 p.m.

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

This has been a remarkable debate and I have heard every word said in it. If feelings have been expressed by many speakers and widely different points of view very moderately put forward, I assure the House that I am very conscious of my responsibilty in this matter and of the dangers in failure to reach agreement about the future of Cyprus.

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Emery) on his excellent maiden speech. As was pointed out by the hon. Member who congratulated him, it must have been prepared at very short notice. I think that he acquitted himself in an excellent manner and I am sure that we shall all want to listen to him many times again.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), as one expects from him, made a very robust speech with considerable common sense behind it, and that was endorsed by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson). But I do not altogether agree that this agreement would be valueless. There is a military value in having these bases in Cyprus, and we require to have them in order to discharge our international responsibilities. That is our view, and I gather that is the view of many hon. and right hon. Members opposite as well, though not of all.

The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) asked a question about the provisions for administration in the sovereign areas. He said that we were seeking to put in a quite unreasonable condition in saying that the delegation of this power must be subject to our military and security requirement. That requirement was always accepted by Archbishop Makarios when we were discussing this matter. He always said that he understood that of course our military security requirements must be overriding in the matter. Therefore, this is not because of any evil machinations on the part of the Government.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the Foreign Secretary trying to say that Archbishop Makarios has gone back on the Agreement or that the report in The Times today is inaccurate?

Mr. Lloyd

I am saying that that was specifically clear and accepted by the Archbishop.

As to the size of the area, a suggestion was put forward that we had had second thoughts. I say again on that matter that it was perfectly clear at the time we entered into the London Agreement that we were considering not base installations but base areas. If hon. Members will look at the wording of the Agreement they will see that we say that … subject to the acceptance of their requirements as set out … below … Her Majesty's Government agreed to cede sovereignty over the bulk of the island of Cyprus. It was quite clearly understood that these were our requirements and they were generally defined in terms of the areas mentioned—seven villages, three in one area and four in the other. Indeed, during the discussions, the Archbishop frequently has said that it is for the British to define their military requirements. There is no difficulty about the military requirements. The trouble is the method of presenting them.

It has been suggested that we ought to be content with retaining our installations in the individual places named, and that is the reason why we ought to have only twelve square miles. That is really a nonsensical conception. If one looks at the wording of the Agreement one finds these words: … to enable the two areas as aforesaid to be used effectively as military bases … It is clear beyond a doubt. There is no other legalistic interpretation of this possible. It is absolutely clear that we are talking of areas to be used as military bases.

It is an interesting fact that when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation was in Cyprus last April, when he was Minister of Defence, he was shown certain maps by Archbishop Makarios indicating an area of thirty-six square miles. The Archbishop himself indicated that the areas might well be larger. What he was chiefly concerned with was the number of Cypriots within them, and it was for that reason we went to the absolute limit in getting down the number of Cypriots in these base areas to under 1,000. We had been negotiating for some ten months on this matter and, as I have said, I believe the figure of 16,000 was perfectly well understood at the time. Yet we managed to get that down to less than 1,000. We have done everything we can within the sovereign areas to give the Cypriots free access for agricultural cultivation and for their everyday economic life.

The issue of sovereignty has been raised again. Earlier today I said what our position was with regard to that. I have given the reason why it seems to me that sovereignty is important, and it is the basis of the agreement. It was accepted by everybody who made the original Agreement that we should have sovereign areas. It is true that there may be an argument about size, but the principle that we should have sovereign areas has never been disputed by the Archbishop. I would remind the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) of what was said on 19th March, 1959. In that debate my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), the then Colonial Secretary, said on the question of sovereignty: This was never questioned in the Paris or Zurich talks between the Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers. Nor was it ever questioned in any of the talks which I and my colleagues had"— Then the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East intervened: It has never been questioned."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 19th March, 1959; Vol. 602, c. 644] Therefore the position of these being sovereign areas has, I venture to suggest, never been questioned. The argument is the size and not the principle of sovereignty.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras, North said in the course of his speech that we had issued an ultimatum. The Archbishop said that he would only accept areas 6 miles by 6 miles. Is not that an ultimatum? [An HON. MEMBER: "He did not break off negotiations."] He said that was his final position. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, indeed 6 miles by 6 miles; he would never accept anything else. Why is not that an ultimatum?

The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) talked about the timing. He said he could not understand why it was that the interval between the agreement and the passing of the Bill was rather different in January and February from what it was in March. I take my orders on these matters from those who have to judge the speed with which business will go through the House, having regard to the quantity of financial business in particular, for which time has to be found. The view taken was that if we were to get the Bill through, and adequately discussed both here and in another place by the date in question, we had to have an agreement by last weekend. That is a matter not of practical manœuvre in the negotiations but purely a matter of Parliamentary business. I noted what the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East said about the willingness of the Opposition, if we can get agreement, to facilitate the passage of a Bill. That is an important statement and one of which advantage may possibly be taken if we can get agreement.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Before the Foreign Secretary leaves that point, would he say what is the present position; whether there is now a time limit or whether we are no longer talking in terms of a fixed date?

Mr. Lloyd

At one time in the discussions we pointed out that if the date of 19th March slipped, because of the Easter Recess, 19th May was the next date. The hon. Gentleman with his knowledge of history knows that that is not a very suitable date. That is why we have left the question of another date in abeyance.

One of the difficulties in the negotiations has been the feeling that we are coming up against the time when somebody has to say "Yes" or "No." Therefore, after two attempts to work to a fixed date, we are wiser now not to be precise about the date.

The hon. Member suggested that I had done a disservice by mentioning the possibility of trouble between the communities on the island. We cannot disinterest ourselves in what happens in the internal affairs of the Republic of Cyprus because under the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee we guarantee not only the independence, territorial integrity and security of the island, but the Constitution. That was the essence of this strange Agreement which was almost miraculously reached. There are five elements in this: Her Majesty's Government, the Greek and Turkish Governments, and the two Cypriot communities. Agreement was possible only on the basis that the three foreign countries guaranteed not only the island but also the Constitution, so that there should be a real feeling of security in a situation where one knows from experience what trouble there can be.

I was not in the least meaning to be menacing or inciting people to do what I think we would all accept to be absolute disaster. I was stating a fact, that because of the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee we cannot dissociate ourselves from what happens within the Republic of Cyprus. That does not mean interfering in internal affairs, but we have a responsibility.

Several hon. Members referred to the point that the facilities are no use at all. I cannot call him my hon. Friend after the discussion about his political beliefs, but the reactionary hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) endorsed his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon in saying that the facilities were no use at all. People who say that the facilities are no use at all are right in saying, "What is the point of going on with negotiations? Drop them and clear out of the island", but that is not the position of the majority of right hon. and hon. Members on the other side of the House.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

They will be.

Mr. Lloyd

One never knows. Some slopes are very slippery and one does not know where they will end up.

The Turkish and Greek Governments want us to stay and have bases in Cyprus. They attach great importance to that, and I believe that the Cypriots themselves will feel more secure if we remain on the island. I therefore come back again to the point I have made, that there is military value in these bases from the point of view of our international obligations. There is also great value for the future peace and security of the people of Cyprus. I will not deal with the other points in the hon. Gentleman's speech. I think that tonight he was getting in a little bit of tomorrow's speech when we are to have a foreign affairs debate about disarmament and the cold war.

The House is principally interested in what the position is now and what it will do. The question was put by one hon. Member who asked, "Is there a lull or a breakdown?" I do not consider that there has been a breakdown in negotiations. As I said, if we were to maintain the programme for 19th March certain decisions had to be taken, but I do not accept that there has been a breakdown in the negotiations.

Our future policy is based on the London and Zurich Agreements. We recognise the tremendous difference they made to feelings between Greeks and Turks, the prospects of peace or war in the island, and the prospects of civil war in Cyprus. Our policy remains firmly based on those Agreements. We are prepared to continue to discuss any settlement which is in conformity with them.

I should like to repudiate the unfair attack made on my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies who has worked very hard to try and make a success of the negotiations.

Mr. Callaghan

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that what he has just said clashes with the official communiqué, which says: Mr. Amery explained Her Majesty's Government's final position"? If the position is final, what further negotiations can take place, unless there are to be concessions only from the other side?

Mr. Lloyd

There must be finality at some time if we are ever to achieve a successful negotiation, but I will deal with that point in a moment.

The present position is that the Governor, who has played a considerable part in these negotiations, is in the island and will discuss the situation with the Cypriot leaders, and I shall discuss the matter with my Greek and Turkish colleagues—not personally, but by telegraph. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) I can say that we shall continue to keep in close contact with Dr. Kutchuk and use his services in any way possible.

I was asked if I would give a message to the people of Cyprus. The message, which I hope the whole House will endorse, is that we want their good will and we want a happy relationship with them in future, to our mutual benefit. We are convinced that if we can get a workable agreement within the framework of the London and Zurich Agreements, it will be to their benefit and it will be to our benefit.

We will continue patiently to seek agreement, but they must understand that in trying to reach agreement, there must come a time when there must be some finality in the position of one side or another. We have been trying for nine months to get agreement about the size of the areas and certain other points, but on all these matters there must be some finality. As I indicated earlier in answer to questions, a number of issues appear to have come up again. I was asked whether my interpretation of what the Archbishop said during the conversations appeared to have been repudiated by what took place in Cyprus yesterday. It looks as though that issue has come to the surface again. In all these matters, there must be some finality and, so far as 19th March was concerned, there had to be finality about this last weekend.

We are prepared to go on patiently working to get agreement, but there must be a settlement within the framework of the London and Zurich Agreements, as I have indicated. I believe that the Archbishop and those who heard it accepted the position, as the case was put by the Minister of Defence today. There is no room for give in regard to the size of the areas hut, as I say, we have to continue to discuss and try to reach an agreement within the framework of the London and Zurich Agreements and we are prepared to discuss any settlement which is in conformity with those Agreements. In that spirit, we shall try to get agreement.

Mr. Speaker

Does the hon. Member for Leeds. East (Mr. Healey) wish to withdraw his Motion?

Mr. Healey

Yes, Sir. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.