HC Deb 04 July 1960 vol 626 cc31-7
The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. fain Macleod)

The House will, I am sure, welcome the fact that, as announced in a joint communiqué on Friday, agreement has been reached between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders and the United Kingdom delegation on all outstanding questions.

It is expected that the documents comprising the settlement will be initialled in Nicosia during the next few days on behalf of all the five parties to the settlement, namely, the Governments of the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, and the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The text of the Cyprus Bill and an explanatory White Paper will be published as soon as possible after initialling. It is hoped that the White Paper will be presented before the end of this week.

The Government hope that the Bill, which will empower Her Majesty to name by Order in Council the day on which the independent Republic of Cyprus will come into being, may be passed before the Summer Recess.

The date of independence will be fixed in agreement with the Cypriot leaders. On that day, which will be after the holding of elections in Cyprus, the Treaties and related documents will be signed and become operative.

The sovereign base areas will comprise two separate areas totalling some 99 square miles. The villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymbou and the Dhekelia power station will be enclaves of Cypriot territory within the sovereign base areas and there will be special arrangements for access to them. Akrotiri, which is too closely adjacent to the main airfield to permit of an enclave solution, will be the only village under British sovereignty.

Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that, with the arrangements for training and other facilities in the Republic itself which have been agreed in full detail, the sovereign base areas are adequate for our requirements.

A point which was not susceptible of easy and rapid solution, and which involved lengthy and involved consultations between all the parties, was the future of the base areas. Her Majesty's Government's view on this is that since we have no intention of relinquishing sovereignty the question of cession does not arise.

Nevertheless, in view of the importance attached by the Greek Cypriots to this issue, an understanding has been reached that should Her Majesty's Government in future decide, in view of changes in their military requirements, that sovereignty should be relinquished, it shall be transferred to the Republic of Cyprus.

As regards the administration of the base areas, a declaration will be made by the United Kingdom Government describing their intentions, subject to military requirements and security needs, in respect of various aspects of administration.

It has been agreed that Her Majesty's Government will provide over the next five years a sum of £12 million. Provision is made for the amount of aid in future five-year periods to be determined, after full consultation with the Republic. In addition, there will be payments and commitments made by Her Majesty's Government for particular purposes, including a special grant to the Turkish Cypriot community.

The negotiations have been long and complicated. It has, however, proved possible on all points at issue to reach an accommodation between the essential requirements of the United Kingdom and the requests put forward by the Cypriot leaders and to achieve a settlement in full accord with the Zurich and London Agreements. I trust that these matters will now move forward swiftly to a final conclusion.

Mr. Callaghan

I am sure that we shall all agree with the Colonial Secretary that the negotiations have been long and complicated. Some of us wonder why all this effort was really necessary, but the agreement having been reached—and the very fact that an agreement has been reached is welcome to us—it would not be our desire to stand in the way of the necessary legislation.

May I ask the Colonial Secretary whether it is not still quite clear that in so far as this base is to be useful its full usefulness will still depend upon there being complete harmony and close co-operation and friendship between the people of Cyprus and ourselves, occupying the base?

Mr. Macleod

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said at first. I have acknowledged, and I acknowledge again, the forbearance of the House in not pressing us over a considerable period of time on this matter.

As for the second part of the hon. Gentleman's observations, naturally the operation of a base in the territory of another country depends to an enormous degree for its success upon the good will of that country.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

First, may I ask my right hon. Friend what assurances have been given or safeguards inserted in the agreement against a recrudescence of communal strife between the two communities in the island resulting in a breakdown of the administration? Secondly, may I ask whether it is the case, as reported in the newspapers, that Her Majesty's Government have risen to as great a sum as £1,000 per individual resident in Akrotiri if required to move?

Mr. Macleod

I think that the first point is covered by the Treaty, which, with many other documents, will be published in what will be a very voluminous White Paper indeed, and which, we hope, will be available towards the end of the week.

The details of what has been proposed will be included in the White Paper, but the agreement which has been come to about the movement of the villagers of Akrotiri depends on whether they wish to or not; in other words, the amount of finance is not paid in advance: it is paid as and when people move.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Colonial Secretary aware that many people have been puzzled about the difficulty over the ultimate future of these bases? If we relinquish them there is no one to relinquish them to except the Republic of Cyprus. Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the amount of aid which it is envisaged may be payable over the five-year period or the subsequent five-year periods which he mentioned? Also, can he give us any information about the outstanding questions between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots which remain to be settled?

Mr. Macleod

In reply to the hon. Gentleman's first point, there were, obviously, other possible solutions, but, as my statement makes clear, we have largely regarded this as a hypothetical matter, and regard the solution now reached as quite satisfactory.

The sum of £12 million over these five years is an average of £2.4 million a year. It does not follow that the precise amount will be paid each year. The question of finance is a matter for discussion. The question of any future five-year period is not something I can prophesy on now, because it will be decided when the time comes.

As for matters between the Turkish and Greek communities, the only question on which I know there are talks going on today, on which there is still some anxiety, is the rate of implementation of the 70–30 ratio in the Civil Service.

Mr. Wall

While welcoming the fact that complete British sovereignty over the base is retained, may I ask my right hon. Friend to say something about the possible future relationship of the Republic with the Commonwealth?

Mr. Macleod

The Bill, which will be a very short Bill of six or seven Clauses, will provide that the Republic of Cyprus will be treated, till a final decision on this matter is taken, as an independent Commonwealth country. It will be for consideration by the Republic of Cyprus itself. after independence day, whether it will make an application to become a member of the Commonwealth, and then in the ordinary way it will be, either in a meeting or by correspondence between the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, to decide whether that application should be met.

Mr. Paget

It would appear from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that after Cyprus has ceased to be part of our Colonial Empire we are to make a grant of about £5 per head of the population. How does that compare with the grants we are making to areas which are still part of our Empire, where poverty is even greater and where development is perhaps more essential?

Mr. Macleod

Obviously, I cannot answer that question without going into details of the aid to all the territories concerned, but there is a very convenient chart in one of the newspapers this morning, which I am sure the hon. and learned Member has studied. I agree that this is a large amount, but when a country becomes independent it is not unusual that we try to help it specially to launch itself on its way.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the White Paper cover the future of British schools in Cyprus and also the future of citizens of the United Kingdom resident there?

Mr. Macleod

I think that the White Paper, which will be of about 250 pages, will cover almost everything. In particular, there will be in it the exchange of Notes over British residents in Cyprus which embody the safeguards, which have been accepted by the Cypriots, and which I think my hon. Friend will find satisfactory.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of us think that £12 million spent in Cyprus on roads and similar reconstruction is a very big sum when we are cutting down similar expenditure in Britain? What is the total expenditure on this base? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that many people in this country do not believe that the continuation of this base is in the interest of Cyprus or in the interest of the people of this country?

Mr. Macleod

Quite apart from the cost of the base, as we have seen in negotiations with other countries that have recently become independent, it is quite normal to negotiate a financial settlement. Quite apart from the expenditure on the base, an amount of £12 million, plus the special commitments which I have mentioned, does not seem unreasonable in that context.

Mr. Channon

Will there be maps in the White Paper showing the exact positions of the base areas in complete detail? This was not done at the time of the London and Zurich Agreements and as a result it was difficult to appreciate the nature of the Agreements. Will it be done this time?

Mr. Macleod

There will be maps. They cannot go into the precise details ultimately necessary for the exact demarcation of the area, but they will be fully adequate to show the position of the two sovereign base areas.

Mr. K. Robinson

While warmly welcoming the agreement, may I ask, since the right hon. Gentleman says that the sovereign base areas totalling 99 square miles fully meet our requirements, and since training facilities have never been in dispute with Archbishop Makarios, what all the delay and fuss has been about?

Mr. Macleod

On the contrary. The training areas were very much in dispute. The two main reasons for the difference between the figures are that it his been possible to obtain training rights in areas not included in the sovereign base areas, and that from the base areas themselves we have been able to chisel away at the perimeters, leaving them in a very odd shape indeed, thereby saving small amounts on the perimeters.

Mr. Shinwellrose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate this now. There is no Question before the House.