§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. fain Macleod)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I have it in Command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty places Her prerogative and interests, so far as they are concerned with the matters in the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.
Tomorrow, on the Nigeria Bill, I will read the same sentence to the House, for on successive days the House of Commons is invited to consider independence Bills. But the circumstances could scarcely be more different. We are concerned today with an island in the Mediterranean, tomorrow with one of the great countries of Africa; today with a territory which has a population of about 550,000, tomorrow with one of 26 million. They happen to be by far the smallest and by far the largest territories which may aspire to full Commonwealth membership since the division of India and Pakistan, a dozen years ago.
There is another difference, of which we are all very conscious, and it is that in the past there has been a long and terrible period of strife in Cyprus, whereas the Bill which will be produced tomorrow will be an illustration of a model progress towards independence. I like to think that it will come as a constructive footnote to what has been an anxious and bloody week for Africa.
There have been fierce debates in the House about Cyprus in the past. I myself took no part in them, although I listened to many and have read the OFFICIAL REPORT of them all. I want to make only one reference to the position now, which can be seen most clearly in the draft Treaty of Guarantee. I quote from page 86 of the White Paper:The Republic of Cyprus … undertakes not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever. It accordingly declares prohibited any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly, either union with any other State or partition of the Island.At the end of the day, what we are considering is not British sovereignty 1614. over the whole of the island, or Enosis, or partition. Most of the matters which we discussed in those debates, and the solutions which we canvassed so often over those years, bear little relevance to the Bill now before us and to the voluminous White Paper which has been presented with it.
Obviously, in dealing with a Bill of this sort, and with a White Paper of 220 pages, it would be possible to make a speech of many hours, but I will try to be neither too long nor too tedious and to take the Bill as my main theme, digressing from time to time on the matters of main interest to the House which appear in the White Paper.
Clause 1 empowers Her Majesty to name, by Order in Council, the date on which the independent Republic of Cyprus will come into being. We now know that that day will be 16th August and that elections will have already taken place in Cyprus by that date—for the House of Representatives on 21st July and for the Communal Assemblies on 7th August.
Before I come to discuss the various treaties and agreements and the Bill itself, I want to express the gratitude of Her Majesty's Government, and I am sure that the whole House would wish to be associated with it, to the unfailing imagination, courage and leadership of Sir Hugh Foot, whose part in achieving a solution and whose guidance of Cyprus during a most difficult period have been outstanding. The Governor has been greatly assisted in his task by the loyalty and devotion of members of the public service who, often at great inconvenience to themselves, have stayed at their posts, despite the postponements of the date of independence.
I also pay a tribute to the patience, determination and distinction with which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has discharged a difficult task during the past months. It is a task which would have been made more difficult, and I believe impossible, if it had not been for the forbearance shown on more than one occasion by the House of Commons in refraining from pressing for details about what had to be confidential discussions.
Clause 2 of the Bill defines the base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia by reference to an authenticated set of 1615 maps. One set of those maps is now available in the Library, but it is very formidable, consisting of two volumes. Hon. Members will probably find the small maps, published with the White Paper, convenient for their purposes.
As I said last week in the statement which I made on the Agreement, there will be two separate areas which total about 99 sq. miles. There are two villages and the Dhekelia Power Station which will be enclaves of separate territory and there will be special arrangements for access to them. Dhekelia is at present the only major power installation which supplies electric power to the island and it is the source of power both for the sovereign base areas and the Republic.
As the House also knows, the village of Akrotiri, with some 650 inhabitants, is too near the main airfield to permit the enclave solution. It will be the only village under British sovereignty and a scheme, in Appendix R and the Schedule, for those who wish to leave has been devised.
I want now to refer to a question put to me by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), when I made my statement a few days ago. He asked why, when we had firmly announced that we had needed 120 sq. miles for our minimum requirements, we finally ended with 99. The point could be put the other way round. We could ask why it was that Archbishop Makarios, who had successively announced areas of 36, 70 and 80 sq. miles, was also content with 99 in the end. There is a perfectly satisfactory explanation which I will now give briefly.
When my hon. Friend went to Cyprus at the beginning of February and when we still hoped to get an early and quick agreement and therefore a Bill swiftly through the House, my hon. Friend tried, first, to deal with the big questions—area, administration and aid. That attempt failed and it was then necessary, with the postponement of the date of independence, to go back. There was a much longer and much more detailed negotiation on many small matters before once more it was possible to come to the big questions of area, administration and aid.
1616 In those weeks, in particular, arrangements were made about training, with special reference to two areas, one of 15 sq. miles and the other of no less than 57. In those circumstances, the military authorities felt that they could exclude some 11 sq. miles from the 120. The remaining 10 are accounted for, as a glance at the map shows, by chipping and paring away odd, tiny parcels of land to reduce the amount to the lowest possible figure.
I do not think that the very odd shape which has resulted matters very much, because there are to be no frontiers between the sovereign base areas and the Republic and there are not to be customs posts. I regard the final solution, on which my hon. Friend will say something if he is able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, at the end of this debate, as satisfactory to both parties. I do not regard it either as a defeat for Archbishop Makarios or as a defeat for my hon. Friend. In Clause 2, also, there are the arrangements for the final demarcation, and this is to be done by a boundary commission, which will have some discretion on minor matters. If it disagrees, the boundaries will remain as in the signed documents.
Now I come to a question that arouses great interest everywhere—the question of the future relationship of Cyprus with the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, would he tell us exactly what is the purpose of these bases? We are to spend a considerable sum of public money as a result of having these bases in Cyprus. Should he not go into a little more detail, explaining what these bases are for? Are they intended for operations in the Middle East, or are they intended, as Mr. Randolph Churchill has argued, for operations against the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Macleod
I intended to say something about money separately.
As the hon. Gentleman knows very well, from his persistent and unavailing questions on some of these matters, one does not go into details of what are the precise purposes of bases, but we are satisfied that these bases are adequate to the military requirements which were laid down some time ago.
1617 I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), in answer to a Question recently, that the relationship of Cyprus to the Commonwealth would be that, for a period of nine months, it would be treated as if it was with, but not of, the Commonwealth, and in that time, it will be possible, first, for Cyprus itself, in its Assemblies, to consider this matter and to decide whether she wishes to make application to join the Commonwealth, and then, in the ordinary way, for consultation amongst the Commonwealth Prime Ministers for a decision to be taken on that matter.
If she decides to apply, and if the application is accepted, we do not think that further United Kingdom legislation is needed, but if the decision is against Cyprus becoming a member of the Commonwealth, an Order in Council can be made under Section 6 of this Act which would exclude 'her from all or some of the ordinary privileges enjoyed.
In the meantime, the diplomatic position will be that on the date of independence we will establish a United Kingdom Diplomatic Mission in Cyprus. The first head of that mission will have the rather cumbrous and neutral title of Representative for the United Kingdom in the Republic of Cyprus. That lies, I suppose, somewhere between Ambassador and High Commissioner, and, no doubt, after the decision has been taken by Cyprus and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, the appropriate title will then be introduced.
Frankly, I do not propose, unless the House wishes to ask any particular questions on it, to commend on Clause 3. It is one of those Clauses which it is almost impossible to understand. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] As the House agrees with me, I think that I can press on. It is, in fact, almost entirely common form on the operation and application of existing laws.
The question of citizenship is always a complicated one, and it is more complicated than ever in these particular circumstances. Therefore, I should like to say a word or two about it. The House will understand that Clause 4 deals with the question of citizenship from the point of view of the United Kingdom and the Colonies. Cyprus will be passing her own legislation, and the main provisions, which are extremely
1618 complex, are to be found in Annex D to the Treaty. They take, I fully recognise, a great deal of understanding.
I will, however, if I may, try to put a very simplified version to the House, though hon. Members will recognise that any simplified version is inevitably incomplete. This will be the position. Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who belong to Cyprus—and there is a definition of what a "be—longer" is in the Treaty—and who are ordinarily resident in the island at any time during the last five years will become citizens of Cyprus on independence day, and those who are ordinarily resident elsewhere in the Commonwealth, including the sovereign areas, will remain citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
Six months after independence—that is to give time for the legislation to be passed in Cyprus—a citizen of Cyprus will lose his citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies unless he is ordinarily resident here or in the Colonies or in an independent Commonwealth country. Persons in the sovereign base areas will probably—I say probably, because the legislation has not yet been drawn in Cyprus—have, in effect, dual nationality, because they will be Cypriot citizens and they will also not lose their United Kingdom citizenship, since they continue to reside in the sovereign base areas, which are, in all senses of the term, dependent territories. It follows that any person in the sovereign base areas might either retain dual nationality or renounce either the United Kingdom or the Cyprus citizenship.
I would mention, in passing, that the scheme for the resettlement of the inhabitants of Akrotiri, the only village with Cypriot inhabitants in the sovereign areas, will apply only to those who, on moving into the Republic, have no nationality other than that of the Republic.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
There will be endless complications on that point, resulting from the arrangements. British citizenship is a very valuable thing to many people who are not British subjects, and it may very well be that, one day, if anyone born in the sovereign areas automatically becomes a British subject, there will be a rush of 1619 women expecting children to have those children in the sovereign areas. There is to be no frontier, no barrier and no control. Has the possibility been considered that we may have endless complications if anybody who has a child in a sovereign area automatically gives that child British nationality?
§ Mr. Macleod
It is a fascinating thought, I must say. I will have this confirmed by my hon. Friend in his winding-up speech, but I think that the hon. Member's idea would be defeated by the qualification about residence. Although, if born in the sovereign areas, they would have for a time dual residence, if they move back, and presumably they will because they will not all live in the sovereign base areas, even if they succeeded in having their infants in Akrotiri—and it will be a very flourishing village if this is to happen—the fact that they will not be able to establish residence for any length of time in the sovereign base areas would, in time, mean that it would not operate. I will, however, look into it, and have an answer given on that specific subject.
§ Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
After the six months is over and Cyprus opts to stay in the Commonwealth, a citizen of Cyprus coming to the United Kingdom is automatically a citizen of the United Kingdom, but a citizen of the United Kingdom going to Cyprus is an alien. Is that the position?
§ Mr. Macleod
Normally, people who come from the Commonwealth, and the hon. Member's question presupposes a continued Commonwealth connection, as he knows, by the provisions of the British Nationality Act, 1948, if they have twelve months residence, can obtain citizenship of the United Kingdom. It is perfectly true that it does not operate in reverse, and a British subject going to Cyprus could not, if he wished to do so, in that way obtain full Cypriot nationality. With respect, I do not think that they would wish to do so. I have had no indication—and we have had close contacts with British residents in Cyprus—that it is a point that causes them any great concern.
As long as Cyprus continues to be treated as a Commonwealth country under United Kingdom law—and that will be for at least the period envisaged 1620 in Clause 6—Cypriot citizens will continue to be British subjects and Commonwealth citizens. They will have the same rights of admission to this country as have other Commonwealth citizens. Cypriots now established in this country will continue to enjoy citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, and that citizenship will continue whether or not Cyprus remains in the Commonwealth.
§ Sir Peter Agnew (Worcestershire, South)
Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the legislation we pass in this Parliament will effectively provide against Cypriot citizens resident in England being accorded British citizenship in any circumstances in which they may be accorded Cyprus citizenship by the Cyprus Government? So far as we are concerned, they may hold only one citizenship. Can he assure us on that point?
§ Mr. Macleod
I think that that is the position. As I have just said, Cypriots already in this country will continue to enjoy citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, and that position will not be altered whatever decision Cyprus takes under Clause 6.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
My right hon. Friend has just referred to Cypriots already established in this country. Can he say what that means? Can he say how long they must have been here? If Cypriots come here during the next six months—during the period of uncertainty—will they be entitled to become citizens of this country, even if Cyprus finally decides not to become a member of the Commonwealth?
§ Mr. Macleod
No, Sir. They would have to be resident for a period of twelve months during the past five years, so that the question my hon. Friend puts to me would not arise.
I should now like to turn to the question of the administration of the sovereign base areas. There is a declaration by Her Majesty's Government on this subject, and it is important to notice that this is not an agreement in the ordinary sence of the word—the Cypriots merely take note of the letter—although we discussed this matter at great length with them, and it was one of the reasons for the length of the negotiations.
1621 There is nothing in the terms of the declaration which calls into question in any way Her Majesty's sovereignty over the areas. But we wanted to go as far as we could to ensure that in those areas—and this largely means Akrotiri—first, we would not have to set up an expensive and cumbersome administrative apparatus of our own, and, secondly, that as far as possible the daily life of the Cypriots in the sovereign base areas should be the same as in the Republic. That is why we have invited the Republic to provide a considerable range of services.
This administrative arrangement is unique. But the sovereign base areas themselves are unique. Last week, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) asked whether I agreed that the operation of the bases depended enormously on good will. Of course it does. Indeed, one can go further, and say that the question of administration and many other matters equally depend on good will. We have planned to set up a joint consultative board to try to smooth out whatever difficulties may arise. The Secretary of State for Air will be charged with responsibility for the sovereign base areas and the Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Middle East Air Force, will be the Administrator.
There are two matters upon which specific questions have recently been asked in the House and which come into the United Kingdom declaration of 19th February last year. The first relates to the question of the smaller religious group—the Armenians, the Latins and the Maronites. The statement made in regard to them has been agreed to by both Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk, and on the question of the formal constitutional safeguards the Cypriot leaders have given assurances that in respect of education and cultural matters the smaller religious groups will not be at a disadvantage in the allocation of public funds. I believe that that is satisfactory, and is the right solution for the difficult problems of the smaller religious groups, and I know that the leaders of the two Cypriot communities have shown a great understanding of the difficulties of these groups.
The other point concerns British residents. There are under 1,000 of them. Arrangements which embody the safe- 1622 guards they themselves requested are set out in Appendix T, and I need not read them, I will just say that those safeguards were accepted with great readiness by the Cypriot leaders, and that the documents in the Appendix constitute a formal agreement between the two Governments.
One matter that is not mentioned in the White Paper is the question of the future of the English schools. In this case, a settlement was made a little time ago—I believe it was in March—to the effect that Her Majesty's Government will offer up to £80,000 in each of the next two school years to keep the three English schools in Nicosia going on their present basis, and that this money will be administered by the British Council.
There are two other matters which I should like to touch upon. The first is the question of finance. When I announced the details of finance there was some criticism from the House, mainly on the ground that other countries, on achieving independence, have not been treated with comparable generosity by Her Majesty's Government. It is difficult, if not impossible, to compare like with like in these questions, but we have always recognised that the Republican Government would stand in need of considerable financial help on independence, and we said so a year ago.
The budget is balanced only with difficulty. Independence, naturally, brings with it additional expense, and the island's economic development can go ahead only with external aid. Cyprus is achieving independence without any financial resources and, indeed, without any working balance. On that basis, Her Majesty's Government consider that the financial proposals we have put forward are about right.
One important paint which came in rather unexpectedly, but achieved a great deal of prominence towards the end of the discussions, was the question of cession. The House will be aware of the crucial importance attached to this matter by Archbishop Makarios. This involves the ultimate destination of the sovereign base areas if, through a change in British policy, we no longer required them. The Leader of the Liberal Party, in an intervention last week, said that he could not understand why this had taken any length of time, because there 1623 was no one else to whom these bases could go. That is no so. If it had been, Archbishop Makarios would not have worried so much about this point.
Clearly, one community in Cyprus might have feared that we would make Greece the residuary legatee of these bases, and the other that we would make Turkey the residuary legatee. An international solution through N.A.T.O. was also possible. It was, therefore, important to find—and this took us a long time, and it was made no easier by the abrupt change in the Turkish Government at the time—the formula put forward in the White Paper.
I have tried to cover—fairly lucidly, I hope—this immensely difficult and intricate problem, but at the end I am quite ready to agree with the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that even though so much has been achieved everything ultimately depends upon good will. The House will have seen, and seen with great pleasure, that after the agreement last week Archbishop Makarios said that with good will on all sides we can now consider as over 'the other disputes between us, and that a new era of cordiality and co-operation has been inaugurated. I think, I am sure, that the whole House will echo that sentiment of the Archbishop and join him in that wish. We are certain that there will be good will from our side, and we are glad of the assurance that there will be good will from the other side.
If there is that good will I do not doubt the success of the Measure that I am now putting before the House and to which I ask the House to give a Second Reading.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I somehow have the fancy that the Colonial Secretary relished the particular complexities of the drafting of the Bill. It gave him an opportunity to dilate on them, and in so doing to use his time to the exclusion of discussing some of the more major issues and more fundamental questions about what we have been doing all these years, and why it has taken so long to reach this Agreement.
We have had practically no information from the Colonial Secretary. Indeed, we have had none about the pur- 1624 pose of the bases, or about the reasons for the length of time the Agreement has taken. I think that the House is entitled to know a little more from, the Government about their stewardship, especially during the last six years.
I cannot remember any debate on Cyprus starting in this House without a tribute from the Colonial Secretary to the Opposition for their forbearance. The Government then usually proceed to slosh us. We will see about that later. Over a period of years the Opposition have, some might say, failed to discharge their duty properly because of a fear of embarrassing the Government on this issue. We have restrained ourselves from penetrating some of the motives and inexplicable activities of the Government because we did not want to embarrass their negotiations. I think that we are entitled to something more than we have had today from the Colonial Secretary, and I propose to ask questions which the right hon. Gentleman should have answered, and to which we may have to return, or perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will answer them at the end of the evening.
Before I start, I join the Colonial Secretary in paying tribute to the work of Sir Hugh Foot. He is a man who has been sorely tried. He has had great courage. I agree with the Colonial Secretary about that. He has had to face a great deal of Government wobbling and shilly-shallying. He has almost had his arm twisted behind his back on more than one occasion because of the deep divisions in the Conservative Party in this country. He has managed to triumph over those disadvantages, and he is owed a debt of gratitude by the House for what he has done.
I should also, at this stage, like to say on behalf of my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends that we wish success to the new Republic of Cyprus. We hope that the Agreement which has been come to, and the Bill which we are now passing, will conduce to a relationship between Britain and Cyprus that will put aside all the bitterness, the bloodshed, and the unhappiness of the last six years. We hope that the people of Cyprus have a more prosperous and hopeful future to look forward to than they have had to endure over the last few years.
1625 No one would say that this has been an easy problem for Her Majesty's Government. They have been up against considerable difficulties. I would be the last to deny that, but they made the worst of those difficulties in their handling of the situation.
I suppose that Government back benchers will groan if they are reminded of the gaff of Mr. Henry Hopkinson, who is now Lord Colyton; if they are reminded of the famous occasion when he told us that there were some territories—and by implication, because he was answering questions about Cyprus, Cyprus was one of them—which could never expect to be independent. I suppose that Government back benchers will not want to remember the statement by Lord Harding, to whom no tribute was paid this afternoon, when he made it clear that we would need to maintain British sovereignty over this island for an indefinite period and wrote articles in the Daily Express, when he came back at the conclusion of his Governorship, saying how right the Government were in their insistence on maintaining sovereignty over this island.
I suppose that Government back benchers would prefer to forget the speeches of the Foreign Secretary; the speeches of Lord Chandos; indeed, the speeches of many of their own numbers, some of whom are now on the Government Front Bench——
§ Mr. Callaghan
—about the need for maintaining sovereignty. The rest of the Suez warriors have fled the field. If they had any honour they would be here this afternoon to ask the questions which the Opposition will ask the Government.
The Colonial Secretary skated lightly over Clause 1. I think that it ought to be read to the House, because I remember the six years that we have been througlh on this subject. It says:Her Majesty may by Order in Council … declare that … there shall be established in the Island of Cyprus an independent sovereign Republic of Cyprus, and Her Majesty shall have no sovereignty or jurisdiction over the Republic of Cyprus.That has come about six years after the Government said that they would maintain sovereignty for an indefinite period; after 600 lives have been lost; after 1626 millions of pounds have been spent, and after much of the economic future of the island has been laid desolate and considerable misery has been caused. The Government cannot evade their Share of responsibility.
The Government can claim that this was a difficult problem. I concede that straight away. They can claim that there were difficulties with the Turks and with the Greeks. I concede that immediately. But they have themselves turned turtle in their policy. Having insisted on one line of action and having prosecuted it, they then faltered and turned tail.
The Colonial Secretary skated very lightly over Clause 2. Does he, or those who were on the Front Bench with him, remember what Mr. Aneurin Bevan said on 14th March, 1956?:… it has been very hard to discover whether the Government are anxious to have Cyprus as a base, or a base on Cyprus. In some respects that goes to the very heart of the matter, because if it is a fact that the Government wish to have Cyprus as a base the negotiations with the Archbishop have been dishonest from the beginning."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1956; Vol. 550, c. 391.]That question has been asked in every succeeding debate. We have never had an answer. Now we have got it—Clause 2. It says:The Republic of Cyprus shall comprise the entirety of the Island of Cyprus with the exception of the two areas defined as mentioned in the following subsection …That is an answer which the Government could have given in 1956, if they had dared to do so, but they did not dare. They left this question unanswered publicly although they had answered it in their hearts and minds and were basing their policy on it. The answer was that they intended that the whole of Cyprus should be a base, and to that extent Aneurin Bevan was right. These negotiations have been dishonest from the beginning. If I am asked why I am so categorical in that statement, I would refer hon. Gentlemen to Sir Anthony Eden's memoirs. He has a long chapter on Cyprus, 1955–56, but, alas, he does not deal with 1954. He tells us what was the policy of the Government of which he was Prime Minister, and of which some right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite were members, at that time.
1627 Sir Anthony Eden said:The action which the British Government could take was circumscribed by international considerations. First came the strategic value of the island. Our military advisers regarded it as an essential stage post for the maintenance of our position in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf. There must be some security of tenure."——Here is the sentence——It was not then thought enough to lease certain sites on the island from some future administration on whose policies we could not depend.Is the same value attached to the word "lease" as to "sovereignty"? We shall discuss the value of "sovereignty" later. The right hon. Gentleman makes clear that Her Majesty's Government never had any intention of carrying these negotiations to finality in 1956. They were relying on the necessity to control the whole island.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice) rose——
§ Mr. Callaghan
I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. I am asking these questions of the Government. As he knows, I am never unready to give way, but I am in the middle of asking pertinent questions of the Government and I should like to have answers if it is possible to get them.
If it were true in 1956 that we could not rely upon-what were the words again?—some future administration on whose policies we could not dependwhat has changed in 1960?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Was it just Enosis which made the Government change their conclusions? Suppose, after the election—not this election, but the election after next—that Cyprus goes Communist. Have we any guarantee that Cyprus will not go Communist?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Then what has happened to the vital and inescapable necessity for holding on to the island—to use the words used by the former Colonial Secretary, the right hon. Member for Bedford, Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd)? What has happened to that?
1628 In two elections' time we could be faced with an Administration in the island which had no sympathy for the purpose of the bases and which might decide to make things extremely unpleasant. The Foreign Secretary muttered something about leasing, as if that made a difference. Does it matter whether we lease the bases—this bit of territory—or have sovereign control over it? Is there any hon. Gentleman opposite—or on this side of the House for that matter—with any military experience at all who would claim for "sovereignty", whatever that magic word means, any value at all in connection with these bases?
Just look at the road running from Dhekelia to Paphos Forest—the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) referred to this matter in a maiden speech a year ago. We have sovereignty over that road. There is not a shepherd boy who could not run across and leave a couple of bombs on the road, and be back in the Paphos Forest before anyone knew what had happened. Why put a pretence, a sham, like this before the House of Commons and pretend that we have really got something valuable out of all this insistence upon the word "sovereignty"?
The Colonial Secretary said that the Under-Secretary had shown patience and determination. Well, maybe he has, but I wish that it had been shown in a better cause. Frankly, to have argued for months over the necessity for retaining sovereignty over a road like this is to make a mockery of the negotiations. I place no value on the word "sovereignty" in this connection. What the Government have to answer is this, and I come back to the first question: if it were necessary in 1956 to retain control of the island as a base, as Sir Anthony Eden said, what has caused a change in 1960 to make it necessary——
§ Mr. Callaghan
Maybe it is a new C.I.G.S. in this case. I am obliged to the hon. Member.
I come back to what the Colonial Secretary said in answer to an intervention by one of my hon. Friends, who asked what are the bases for, and why did not the right hon. Gentleman go into 1629 details. The Colonial Secretary said, "Oh, we do not go into details like that, not with the House of Commons—that is well known. But in any case we are satisfied that they meet our needs." The right hon. Gentleman is nothing of the sort, and he knows it. If a new C.I.G.S. can make all the difference between using the whole of the island as a base and using these feeble little bits of red which are marked on the map, no doubt another new C.I.G.S. could overturn everything said here, and I suppose that the Colonial Secretary would then come to the House of Commons and say, "We are satisfied that they meet our needs."
Never have I heard the right hon. Gentleman speak with less conviction. The House knows that this is an absolute sham and a pretence, all this arguing about sovereignty over these areas for all these months. I do not pay any tribute at all to the patience and determination of the Under-Secretary. It has been determination only to deceive the House of Commons and obstinacy in a cause which might have been a better one.
I wish now to turn to one or two other matters. The document we have here is a monument to the mistrust that exists betwen the Cypriot people and the British Government. We have watched some nations ushered into independence and full nationhood, but I have never known a document which laid down in such detail every little single possibility. That might not have been necessary had it not been for the history of the last few years. Tomorrow, we shall be discussing Nigeria, which has not got such a document. The Foreign Secretary is, of course, quite right. He has difficulties with those with whom he has to negotiate. But he cannot escape his share of responsibility because of that. The question he has to answer is whether he made the difficulties easier or more profound. What the Government have to answer is, have they, by their topsy-turvy policy of wobble and vacillation, and by yielding to their own back benchers, made these things more difficult than they need otherwise have been?
The Government are proposing to take the Committee stage of this Bill after 10 o'clock tonight, as I understand. I think that they had better set aside 1630 some time for that, because there will be a number of questions which will have to be asked about particular Clauses in the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot) will ask questions about citizenship and the details contained in this Bill are of such a character, and are so complicated, that we shall need to discuss them with great care. It is not good enough for the Colonial Secretary to say, "It is all right, these things are very difficult. I do not really understand them myself and I shall not explain them unless I am pressed." It is his job to get them put in a form where they can be understood.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to Clause 6 (2). That subsection contains 136 words. Obviously, the draftsman has used his intellectual equipment to try to contain everything he wants to say in one sentence. Were I the Colonial Secretary I should introduce him to the virtue of a few full stops. So far as I can understand it, having gone over the subsection half a dozen times, it contains four separate propositions which might have been contained in four separate sentences. A full stop here and there makes life a lot easier for those who do not have the advantage of a Parliamentary draftsman at their elbow. It might have taken more than 136 words, but it is the job of the Government to produce legislation drafted in such a form that it is comprehensible at least to a diligent reader, and I can claim to be that. I defy any hon. Member to read subsection (2) and make head or tail of it in less than 10 minutes. In legislation of this sort the Colonial Secretary should try to make it possible for us to understand what he is saying.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I passed over only one Clause and that was, as the House will agree; with the consent of the House. I offered to speak, if necessary at length, on the extremely difficult Clause 3, which is largely common form, but the House was content that I should pass it over. I therefore did so. On the other hand, I spoke at considerable length on the subject of citizenship and answered a considerable number of very detailed questions on it. Therefore, there is no 1631 accuracy in the hon. Member's allegation that I did not give full information to the House on the question of citizenship. I answered every question which was put to me.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The right hon. Gentleman gave way every time he was interrupted. A number of us would have liked to interrupt him, but we propose to reserve our points for the Committee stage, because a number of questions still remain to be cleared up. On Clause 6 (2), the right hon. Gentleman said practically nothing, and that is the Clause I am dealing with.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Has my hon. Friend thought about how interesting the subsection will read when translated into Greek and Turkish?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am sure that it will make very interesting reading!
The Government and their followers are relying upon the fact that the Agreement has been reached. They hope that many other things will be wiped out of our memory. They will not. It is the weakness of the Government which has led to this situation. The UnderSecretary—it is against this background that the Bill will be considered—is one of those mainly responsible for the delay in reaching the conclusion to these negotiations. It was he who, on the day after the famous "never" statement, made a speech in the House in which he told us that the Administration of which he is now an ornament was the worst Administration since Lord North. It was he who told us at that time that never had there been an Administration which had given away more of the British Empire than the Administration of which he is now a member. It may be a slightly different Administration now, but it is proposing to give away more.
This is the point, and this is where hon. Gentlemen oposite cannot escape their responsibility. Part of the weakness of the Government in handling this situation was their fear of their own back benchers. More than once the Government would have liked to have moved faster if they had been able to carry the Conservative Party with them. Because the Government knew that they could not carry the Conservative Party with them, they failed to move faster. If this 1632 is not so, I have been deceived on other occasions, but I know that this is the case.
I know that the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), who is now the Under-Secretary, is one of those who holds the heaviest responsibility for what has happened. Is he satisfied with this Agreement? He will have the chance to tell us tonight. If he tells us that he is, he will also have the chance to tell us how he reconciles it with some of his other statements. He will have the chance of telling us, for example, how he reconciles it with his applause and approval at the time that Archbishop Makarios was deported to the Seychelles. He said:For my part, I hope and believe that our action in Cyprus marks a turning point in the policy of retreat we have pursued in very difficult circumstances in the post-war period. There is a general consciousness in the country that we have our backs to the wall … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1956; Vol. 550, c. 432.]That was the hon. Gentleman's view then. What is there in this Agreement which has made the Cyprus situation any more palatable to him, any less of a retreat? We hope to hear this from the hon. Gentleman, because his policy has been wholly one based upon strength. He was one of those who said that we should put down the terrorists and should not negotiate until we had done so. Lord Salisbury thought that, too, but he resigned from the Administration. The Under-Secretary took office in it.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I place a heavy responsibility upon the Under-Secretary, because he was one of the Suez rebels. Some of them have now left the House. Others are still here. He was one of those who led the revolt against the Government when they voted against the Suez Agreement. On 29th July, 28 Conservatives voted against the Suez Agreement. They did so because, as the hon. Gentleman said, it was a policy of surrender in the Middle East. He said that it was a policy to which he could not accede. What is the difference now? What does he think he has got out of this Agreement that he did not get out of the Agreement with Egypt?
The Under-Secretary may have done a service to Britain in concluding these negotiations, but his honour is very much 1633 in question in this matter, because he simply cannot excuse or explain the statements in the speeches that he made about similar withdrawals, similar retreats, as he called them, similar surrenders, similar betrayals, when the Government of which he is a member took part in it in the Sudan and in Egypt.
But he is now cheerfully and willingly able to negotiate this surrender. We do not regard it as such. It is only the hon. Gentleman who regards it as a surrender. We think that this Agreement does honour to Britain. It does no honour to the reputation of the Conservative Party. It does the Conservative Party a great dishonour, because the Conservatives, by their insistence, have prevented this Agreement being reached at a much earlier time than this.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Four years ago. [Interruption.] The Foreign Secretary does not accept any of this. He seems to think that everything they have done has been right.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The point of my intervention was to call the hon. Gentleman's attention to the Zurich Argeement made in December, 1958, followed by the London Agreement in the early part of last year, which fundamentally changed the whole position.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I readily accept the fact that when the British Government stepped out of the arena and left it to the Greeks, the Turks and the Cypriots at Zurich the remaining parties soon reached agreement. The British Government were not at Zurich and can claim no responsibility for the Zurich Agreement. If the Foreign Secretary bases his case, as Sir Anthony Eden does to some extent in his memoirs, upon the fact that there was communal tension there—I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not rest too much on that—how does he now explain that they are going to live together? He will say that the reason is that one has given up Enosis and the other has given up partition. Who created the partition issue?
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I said that a settlement was impossible until the Greeks and the Turks and the Turkish-Cypriot community and the Greek-Cypriot community reached agreement.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Of course, it was impossible until they reached agreement, but was it not also impossible as long as the British Government insisted upon having sovereignty over the whole of the island?
The Foreign Secretary could have said in 1956 what he says now, namely, "We do not want the island as a base. We want just those parts marked on the map. That is all we want on the island, plus the other areas marked pink on the map." Does he not think that, if the British Government had made that position clear then, the possibility of an accommodation between the Greeks and the Turks would have been much easier?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The Foreign Secretary does not think so, but he would at least have been in the clear. He would have had no responsibility for what has happened since 1956, whereas now he has a very heavy responsibility for it. What he has done now he could have done in 1956. This is the share of the British Government's responsibility for what took place.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I am not afraid of accepting responsibility in the least. Until what went on at the United Nations went on, when it was clear that there would be no support there for the Enosis solution, it was not possible for the Zurich Agreement to take place, nor for this settlement to be made.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I should like to quote another statement by Sir Anthony Eden. I say that the Government not only have some responsibility for their change of mind over the bases. They also have some responsibility for the relationships between the Greeks and the Turks. Sir Anthony said:… the Turkish Government … had behaved with restraint.He is speaking about the period 1955–56. He continued:It was as well, I wrote on a telegram at the time,"—he does not say to whom, but I imagine to the Ambassador in Ankara—that they should speak out, because it was the truth that the Turks would never let the Greeks have Cyprus".I have rarely seen a more direct attempt to foment trouble by a British 1635 Prime Minister than that. The British Prime Minister went out of his way to foment the troubles which he knew existed and he did it because he wanted reinforcement from the Turks in order to preserve our position in the base. Those of us who were at Strasbourg saw this tactic being played as long ago as 1954. It was a shabby and discreditable period, when even Sir Anthony Eden, a man of honour for whom I have high regard, said, "Let the Turkish newspapers play it up a little more than they have done so far. Tell them to let everybody know where they stand instead of bringing them together."
The Foreign Secretary knows that when representatives of the Turkish and Greek Governments were brought to this country in 1955, with a view to discussing the situation in the Middle East, it was not with the intention of finding a solution but with the intention of confronting them with each other to see how far apart they were. The whole of the actions of the British Government over many years are suspect in this field. They have done that of which Britain has always been accused—divide and rule. There is certainly some evidence for that conclusion in Sir Anthony Eden's memoirs.
§ Mr. F. Noel-Baker
Arising from the Foreign Secretary's intervention, may I point out that we have been constantly told, and no doubt shall be told again today, that the abandonment of Enosis by the Archbishop was a new factor in the situation which made a solution possible. This statement should be nailed, because the Foreign Secretary, the Under-Secretary of State and the Colonial Secretary know perfectly well that this issue was out of the way before the discussions ever started with the former Colonial Secretary in Nicosia. Parliamentary Answer after Parliamentary Answer make that absolutely plain. The issue was never of Enosis. The issue was self-government, leading eventually to self-determination.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to put that point later.
I think that it is an exaggeration to say that the issue was never of Enosis. But it is certainly true to say that that issue was out of the way long before 1636 the Government were ready to start negotiations. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) went to Cyprus in September, 1958, and Archbishop Makarios made it clear to her that he was prepared to negotiate not on the basis of Enosis but on the basis upon which the negotiations have been concluded.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I quite agree, but I want to deal with this point, which we can nail. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn put this to the Colonial Secretary, and his response was to go to the Conservative Party Conference, where he was given tremendous cheers for saying, "We do not propose to be dissuaded from carrying out our plans for Cyprus on a seven-year basis on the pretence that a long-term solution is possible when we know that it is not." The faithful cohorts of the Conservative Party cheered him. That was in October, 1958. Between then and February, 1959, another 50 lives were lost. Then the Government got down to the Zurich Agreement, which was concluded on the very basis on which the Archbishop had told my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn that he was prepared to negotiate five months earlier.
I and most of my hon. Friends feel that we are dealing here with a shabby and discreditable period of history in the record of the Conservative Government, that they have made mistake after mistake, that they have deceived the British people, that they have certainly deceived the House of Commons over the last six years and that the real change did not come until a new C.I.G.S., if that were the reason, made up his mind that he would deal with the island on the basis of having a few areas marked pink. That was when the real break came in the Government's front. We say that we have no confidence in a Government whose record is of the character that I have described. We certainly repose no confidence in their treatment of foreign affairs and military affairs.
§ Mr. Callaghan
It may be that the country does. I think that the Colonial 1637 Secretary is right to make that point. It is the point on which he is relying—that because the country has confidence in the Government, they can blunder on from mistake to mistake hoping that the country will forget. The country may be wrong.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The country can even be wrong three times. In their judgment of the Government over Cyprus, if they supported the Government on this issue—which I very much doubt—they would most certainly be wrong, because the Government have a record here which is tarnished almost beyond repair.
Although we shall give the Bill a Second Reading, we believe that the Government are bringing to an end a very discreditable period in their history, that they are concluding now an agreement which they could have concluded years earlier, and that they have a heavy share of responsibility for the loss of life and loss of treasure and the failure of this island to prosper.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) will not be surprised to learn that most of my hon. Friends and I do not accept any of his major criticisms. There is only one narrow point on which we may feel in agreement with him, and that is his allusion to the rather complicated wording of one of the subsections. There, at least, I will go with him, although even this criticism came a little oddly from him; for in his criticisms of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary he said that my right hon. Friend has skipped far too lightly over the Bill and had hardly mentioned its contents, and then, with the exception of a brief reference to one sentence of Clause 1 and a criticism of subsection (2) of Section 4, he never mentioned the Bill again in his entire speech.
Most of his criticisms which had not already been answered by the Colonial Secretary in advance and by the Foreign Secretary in his interruptions, will be answered, no doubt, when the Minister concludes the debate. But there are one or two general criticisms which perhaps a back bench Member might answer. First, he criticised the Government for paying attention throughout these years 1638 to the opinions of back bench Members. That seems to me an oddly undemocratic criticism. I always believed that it was the duty of a Government to pay attention to the views of the people elected by this country. Furthermore, for a Member of the Labour Party Front Bench, in their present situation, to criticise another Front Bench for listening to the views of their back bench Members is so naive as to be almost amazing.
There is one point which we all understand. I had hoped, but not with very great hope, that today we should have a constructive speech from the hon. Member about the Bill. I suppose that it would in my turn be a little naive, however, to imagine that the Opposition, after this long time, could resist the temptation to try to get together on one of the very few subjects on which they are able to get together.
I turn to the criticism of the conception of sovereignty and the emphasis which we have put on it. Of course, it is easy to point to a selected road, to say that it would be possible to break that road by putting bombs on it and to ask how it matters whether the road-area is a sovereign area or leased. I do not know whether I speak for the Government here, but surely the main point about sovereignty is not purely in a military context—whether we can protect an area or a road. It is whether in the future we shall be in front of one of these international bodies and be better able to prevent our rights being removed. All our experience has shown that leases have an uncomfortable way of being abrogated. I do not claim that sovereignty lasts for ever, but it seems to me that at least it is much more secure than a lease which, by its very nature, implies that it can be varied later.
§ Mr. G. Reynolds (Islington. North) rose——
§ Mr. Bennett
I will give way, although the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, in his turn, did not.
§ Mr. Reynolds
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. There are two airfieds, one at Akrotiri and the other at Nicosia. The first is in a base area and in the other we have certain rights to some land and to certain roads. 1639 I cannot conceive that a situation is likely to arise in which it will be necessary to use one of these airfields but not necessary to use both. Can the hon. Member explain why the difference and why both are not in the same position as that at Nicosia?
§ Mr. Bennett
I think that that is a question which should be addressed to the Government Front Bench, who made the agreement. On the general question of sovereignty, I should have preferred both to have been in sovereign areas, and therefore that criticism is ill-directed in being directed at me.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
If the hon. Gentleman will turn to page 48, which deals with Nicosia airport, he will find these words:Notwithstanding the above, the United Kingdom shall, in accordance with Section 3 of this Part of this Annex, have the right to exercise exclusive control in emergency as may be determined by the United Kingdom.That applies to Nicosia airfield.
§ Mr. Bennett
I think that bears out my point that the hon. Gentleman's question would obviously be better directed to the Government Front Bench.
The general burden of the Opposition's criticism has been, and undoubtedly will be for the rest of the evening that we have steadily delayed reaching an agreement which should have been reached a long time ago and alleging one reason or another—for so doing—whether this is alleged to be due to the back benchers on this side, or to changes in Ministerial personnel, or whatever may be said in various speeches. If we are to attach responsibility for the fact that it has taken so long to reach agreement, I think that it is right to say that a grave burden of such criticism ought to be directed to the Opposition, who time and time again made the Greeks and Greek Cypriots more intransigent and made it more difficult for this country to reach agreement. HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to make an outcry on that, but they have had their turn of criticising us and must now listen to the answer. Many who have spoken to me from that part of the world know that there is a great deal of truth in what 1640 I have said. When history comes to be written I am sure that it will be borne out that the Opposition have very grave responsibility for the delays and postponements which have taken place.
It is significant that only when it became apparent that we were to have a sustained, long period of Conservative Government and that there could be no hope for a better deal through the Opposition party gaining power, was it possible to reach an agreement.
If we look back to the period before the Conservative Government were in power we wonder too where all this criticism comes from. Hon. Members should remember the telegrams at that time. When criticism is made of Lord Colyton for saying "Never", it should be remembered that the Labour Government, long before that, said that any change in the status of Cyprus was simply not a discussable matter. They did not even trouble to answer the second Greek telegram, patently ignoring it. So, when they make these criticisms of us, they have a hollow ring.
After the initial pleasure in this House and in the country when the Zurich Agreement was followed by the London Agreement, there has been a certain amount of disappointment in all sections of the country that it has taken so long to reach this final Agreement. I think that it is worth while mentioning why we believe that these delays have taken place and trying to attribute the responsibility, because it may have some effect on our future valid use of this base and our relationship with the island.
One has only to look at the map and to see the size of the White Paper to realise that the delay arose—as my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary intervened to say—largely because we have been bargaining with someone who indeed would do well in any form of huckstering about the price of any article in any and all parts of the world wherever he might choose to exercise his abilities. It has been a question of a little bit taken out of the base, a little enclave fitted in, an argument about this, an argument about that, arguments even about N.A.A.F.I. supplies. We have only to remember this to realise that these delays have taken place not because of any intransigence on the part of Her Majesty's Government but 1641 because we have been dealing with someone of whom one has almost thought from time to time that he enjoys bargaining for bargaining's sake.
It has been said that now we have reached this Agreement—and here I certainly agree—it will operate only if we have the good will of the island. In this context one is entitled to doubt a little the latest pronouncement by Archbishop Makarios and to wonder how much reliability we can in fact place on his good will. Yet let us today by all means hope for the best.
The only other point that I want to make, because I appreciate how many hon. Members wish to speak. is on the subject of Clause 6.
§ Mr. Bennett
My hon Friend says, "Hear, hear". He gets to his feet more often than I do and I was certainly not specifically referring to him when I made my voluntary reservation.
It is to Clause 6 and Commonwealth membership that I should like to address my concluding remarks. We have put in the Clause and have reached agreement that this island has the right to opt for Commonwealth membership provided that it gets the agreement not only of the United Kingdom but of the other Commonwealth countries. Perhaps it may be as well, at this stage, to think a little more in terms of Commonwealth membership for Cyprus and what it implies. Of course, from the point of view of the Republic of Cyprus there are very considerable credit items which would flow from membership of the Commonwealth. There are the additional economic ones—access to the London market for loans ahead of foreign countries which are at least as friendly and as closely allied to this country as Cyprus is ever likely to be; and there is the problem of citizenship, as an hon. Member opposite pointed out, a distinctly one-way arrangement; and of course the general protective mantle of being a member of the Commonwealth.
When we look at this ledger from our point of view in Britain I am going to ask a question, but make no observations, as to what exact credit items we may expect from Cyprus membership of the Commonwealth other than those which 1642 are embodied in the Agreement, irrespective of whether she joins the Commonwealth or not. I should like the Minister who is to wind up the debate to indicate to me what we are supposed to get out of it all if, in fact, Cyprus decides to opt in and the other Commonwealth countries agree. There is nothing shameful about this reserve, because, to whatever institution one belongs one clearly gets some privileges but one also expects to have obligations. It would be interesting to know in general terms what are the obligations which Cyprus is taking on in joining the Commonwealth which she does not already undertake as a result of signing the Agreement. There are, too, thoughts we should have in mind as to the precedent we are setting. It would not be appropriate or in order for me to go into that deeply today, but we should start to think what full Commonwealth membership means, in terms of population or otherwise. It is no good saying that an island or a country is size X and that that is about the minimum, because we soon get someone else who is just a little under X and who claims, "If X gets it, why not I?" So I suggest that we should be given some indication of where this process is to stop.
We wish every success to the Agreement and hope that Cyprus will continue to co-operate closely with us, and that we shall play our part in so co-operating. As for Cypriot feelings, we should also reflect that many people in this country also are sad and bitter about what has gone on.
I suggest that we should think in terms of Clause 6, about Cyprus joining or not joining the Commonwealth, in no other way than in a realistic sense. I once read that the last Byzantine Emperor still enjoyed looking at the illusory realms on his map over which he was supposed to exercise nominal suzerainty thousands of miles away while the Turks were actually breaking through the gates at Constantinople. There is nothing to be said, except for purely historic prestige reasons, for having something pink on the map just for the sake of having it there, unless it contains some very real benefits not only for the country concerned but also for the mother country, the United Kingdom.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)
At the outset of his speech the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) confirmed what my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said, that Government policy throughout this long and unhappy story has been very largely dictated from the back benches opposite. I think that the hon. Gentleman's speech, which was very similar to other speeches made in previous Cyprus debates, was, perhaps, as illuminating a comment as we could wish for in explaining the disastrous history of Her Majesty's Government's handling of the Cyprus situation.
In moving the Second Reading of the Bill, the Colonial Secretary went out of his way to say that the solution embodied in the Cyprus Bill is not British sovereignty for the whole island, nor Enosis, nor partition, the implication being, of course, that they were all possible solutions which had been rightly rejected by Her Majesty's Government and that the present solution was something quite different.
I think, however, that the House must be reminded that the solution of independence was also thrown over by Her Majesty's Government in the past and that, as recently as November, 1958, the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Commander Noble, said at the United Nations that there was no question whatever of independence for Cyprus. He went on to say that we must not be mesmerised by the word. Now, of course, we have got independence for Cyprus.
The Foreign Secretary interrupted my hon. Friend to say that, of course, the whole situation has changed because of what happened at Zurich. As my hon. Friend said, what happened at Zurich was no credit whatsoever to Her Majesty's Government. But it was Sir Anthony Eden who, when Foreign Secretary, first began the tragic deterioration of Anglo-Greek relations by refusing in the most peremptory, and, I am told, even in the most offensive, terms to discuss the position of Cyprus with the Greek Foreign Minister of the day.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Was not that the exact position taken up by Lord Winster in the Labour Administration?
§ Mr. Robinson
The Labour Government when in power may have made mistakes about Cyprus, but at least we did not precipitate bloodshed. The discredit for that rests with the present Administration.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman said that he would reply to me, but he has not replied to my hon. Friend. He did not comment on the fact that a telegram was sent in almost identical terms by the Labour Government refusing to discuss this matter at all with the Greek Government.
§ Mr. Robinson
I was saying that though the Foreign Secretary is claiming that the situation has changed because of the action of Greece and Turkey, it was Sir Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary of the Conservative Government, who damaged Anglo-Greek relations by refusing to discuss the matter with Greece. I am not saying that the Labour Government's handling of the Cyprus situation was perfect. This admission has been made many times from these benches, and the hon. Gentleman ought to know this because he has taken part in as many Cyprus debates as I have.
I should like to welcome back the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. His physical presence on the Bench gives the lie to the persistent rumours that he had taken up permanent residence in Cyprus. I cannot join in the tributes paid by some hon. Members to the hon. Gentleman as a negotiator. Granted, of course, he was put in a difficult situation by the statements made by the Foreign Secretary last February when he told us on 1st and 9th February that our position on the extent of the areas is reasonable and indeed a minimum, and also by the Press communiqué issued at that time which, I presume, the hon. Gentleman approved since it said:Mr. Amery explained Her Majesty's Government's final position.Granted that these things put the hon. Gentleman in a somewhat difficult situation, it seems to me that the negotiations subsequent to that date have only resulted in a series of concessions being made by Her Majesty's Government to the point of view of Archbishop Makarios.
1645 I am not suggesting that the present Agreement is an unreasonable one from any point of view. Based as it is on the London and Zurich Agreements, I think that it is a perfectly fair Agreement. I only mention this in order to emphasise what folly it is to take up stiffnecked attitudes and final positions when one is dealing with as shrewd a bargainer as Archbishop Makarios.
I do not think that the Colonial Secretary adequately explained why it has taken just about a year to reach an agreement which he now says fully satisfies our needs. We know that there were certain details to be filled in, but I have not yet heard any adequate explanation of why we could not have agreed many months ago that 99 square miles, which it has now been agreed are all we need.
Why was it necessary to delay the independence of Cyprus? Why, for example, have we been so reluctant to assure the Government of Cyprus that if we gave up the sovereign areas we would give them up to them? Who did we think we were going to give them to in the event of our abandoning them in the future?
I think that the whole concept of the sovereign base areas has rather bemused representatives of Her Majesty's Government engaged in these negotiations. I am glad that the Colonial Secretary, at any rate, accepted this afternoon the fact that the viability of these bases can only depend on the continuing good will of the people of the Island of Cyprus. I wish that this were the view of his hon. Friends. Clearly, it is not. Most of them seem to set some especial store by this concept of sovereignty. Certainly the hon. Member for Torquay made it perfectly clear that he did.
I think that in this context I might quote again what Sir Alan Noble said to the United Nations. They reallymust not be mesmerised by a word.Sovereignty or no sovereignty, there is no difference whatever in the position of these bases in Cyprus from any other bases that we have in any other foreign or independent territory. The sooner hon. Members opposite recognise that fact the happier, I think, they will be.
I do not wish to take up the time of the House unduly, but I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary one question 1646 about citizenship. As he probably knows, it is a matter which affects some thousands of my constituents, and I should be grateful if he would, perhaps, indicate his assent now because I have a constituency engagement and shall not be here during the winding up, and for that, I hope, the right hon. Gentleman will not think me discourteous.
I was grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for simplifying the incredibly complicated provisions in the Bill and in the White Paper on citizenship. I should like him to confirm my view with regard to those Cypriots now resident in the United Kingdom having the necessary residential qualifications, that the continuance of their enjoyment of United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship will be automatic even if Cyprus decides against membership of the Commonwealth and that no specific application will have to be made by them.
§ Mr. Robinson
I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's assent on that matter.
This is the last chapter of this ghastly story of Cyprus, and one can only hope, though without a great deal of confidence, that some of the lessons of these six years have been learned at least by some members of Her Majesty's Government, if not by all.
I wish to join with my hon. Friends and, I think, with the whole House in wishing the independent Cyprus a peaceful and prosperous future and express the hope that it will decide to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary reminded the House that during the past six years or so there have been many debates about Cyprus and all have been of a fairly acrimonious character. I had rather hoped, as I think he did, that this debate would be an exception to that rule, but I must say that the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, Sout-East (Mr. Callaghan) did not seem to steer clear of acrimony. I am sorry to see that he is now leaving the Chamber, because I wanted to reply to some of the things he said.
1647 Of course, in a sense, this is a landmark, and a very important landmark, in the story of Cyprus, because the Second Reading of this Bill, so to speak, puts the seal of delivery on the Agreements reached in Zurich and London. I was never one of those—I am not merely being wise after the event—who thought that it would be at all easy speedily to translate agreements made in a peaceful atmosphere of Zurich and the equally peaceful atmosphere of London into the white heat of an island where the two communities of Turkish and Greek Cypriots have been at each other's throats for the best part of four-and-a-half years.
It would not have been easy in any case, but it was made doubly difficult by the fact that, rightly or wrongly, a lot of the items in the Zurich and London Agreements were left incredibly vague. It was precisely because of their vagueness and because they had therefore to be more clearly defined in practical terms that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary became involved in extremely long and complex negotiations to translate into detail and practice something to which Archbishop Makarios had agreed only in principle. I am not the least surprised that there was a long time lag.
One thing which the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East failed to mention—and it was a rather remarkable omission—was that until the Zurich meeting the Turkish and Greek Governments had not come to any agreement about the future of the island. That was quite an important aspect. It was absolutely impossible for any British Government, be they Labour or Conservative, to get an agreement about the future of Cyprus unless their proposals met with accord and confidence on the part of the Turkish and Greek Governments. One of the most remarkable things about many speeches from the benches opposite in the many debates which have taken place in this House has been the consistent refusal to recognise the strength of feeling which the Turks had about the future of Cyprus.
There were three reasons why the Joint Under-Secretary managed to get an agreement. I wish respectfully to congratulate him on the manner in which he conducted himself in this apparently 1648 timeless test. He succeeded, first, because he understood very well the psychology and background of Archbishop Makarios. That was extremely important. Secondly, it was because, during the months he was out there, there was no change of policy here and the Government were not blowing hot and cold. Thirdly, and perhaps this was the most important of all, it was because, since the General Election of 1959, hon. Members opposite have not been in a position to throw a spanner into the works.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East chided us on these benches, in particular my right hon. Friends, for delays in coming to an agreement and delays in negotiations. He seemed to forget what a burden or responsibility was carried by hon. Members opposite. Time after time, in speech after speech and at party conference after party conference, they had been giving the Greeks the impression whether they meant to or not—that if the Labour Party were to win the General Election, which could not be later than 1960, the Greek Cypriots would get Enosis.
At the Brighton Labour Party Conference in 1957, a lot of very wild speeches were made, and what the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said in summing up on behalf of the Labour Party Executive, was taken by the Athens Press to be a victory for Enosis. If the Greeks thought they were likely to get 100 per cent. of what they asked for by 1959 and not later than 1960, whatever the date of the General Election might be, what on earth would be the point of the Greeks negotiating for less than 100 per cent. beforehand? Similarly, the Turks for their part, were equally fearful lest the Labour Party should win the Election and carry out the promise it was alleged to have made about Enosis, and, of course, they demanded partition as an essential safeguard.
So there was no possible chance of reaching agreement between the Greek and Turkish Governments, let alone between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, until the result of the election was known. As soon as it was known and the Conservative Government came back, Ministers got down to the task of negotiating afresh and it was possible 1649 to get the Greek and Turkish Governments together. That was why my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was able to succeed in this mammoth task of persuading Archbishop Makarios to agree in detail to what he had agreed in principle in London and Zurich.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
Is not the hon. Member getting the dates a little wrong in suggesting to the House that the London and Zurich Agreements took place after the General Election? They took place long before, so the whole of his argument falls to the ground. He said that it was quite impossible for the Greek and Turkish Governments to come to an agreement until they were sure that the Labour Party were not going to win the election.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
If the hon. Member will forgive me saying so, I think he rather under-estimates the general capacity of the Greeks and the Turks to forecast the result. I think the Zurich Agreement was in October——
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I will give the hon. Member the argument so far. That would not be a very good reason for criticising the Government for delay in implementing the Agreement. If I am right in saying that it was impossible to implement the Agreement until after the election, then it is perfectly clear that Archbishop Makarios stalled a little between the date of the London and Zurich Agreements and the actual date of the Election.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Will the hon. Member ask some of his hon. Friends on the Front Bench how many times they have commended the Opposition for their patience since the Zurich Agreement in not pressing for a debate on Cyprus? If he cannot get an answer to that question from them, he might find it in the Library. Then he would find how futile his argument is.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
It was quite true that at the time of the Zurich Agreement the Opposition were not making quite so many wild statements as they had been making before. That was for the simple reason that if the General Election was round the corner, as it was, and had the Labour Party 1650 won it—and I am arguing the other way now—it might have been hon. Members opposite sitting on the Treasury Front Bench who would have to stand and deliver what they had promised.
There are two points I would like to mention, and the first concerns nationality. My right hon. Friend was perfectly right in saying that the nationality provisions are extremely complicated. They are complicated enough to us who in this House are supposed to be able to understand this kind of problem, so they must be doubly complicated to the people concerned. I should like my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to tell us what provisions are being made for explaining in simple terms these extremely complicated regulations about the date at which a man can apply for change of nationality from Cypriot to British, or vice versa, so that the Cypriot resident in the United Kingdom on the one hand and the Cypriot resident in Cyprus on the other-and British residents as well-will understand exactly what they have to do to achieve their wishes.
My other point concerns the bases. It seems to me that the future of the bases played a very important and prolonged part in my hon. Friend's negotiations with both Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk. This problem was, I believe, introduced only at a later date. It was a new element. It did not arise at the time of the London-Zurich Agreement at all. If my hon. Friend could say something about the exchange of the letters which, I think, are important, and which are contained in Appendix P, and tell us a little more about it. the House would be grateful.
I do not think that any debate on Cyprus ought to take place at this time, when she is getting her independence, without a tribute being paid and praise given to the British troops and security services who, throughout the very difficult time of the emergency, behaved with incredible restraint, exercised incredible discipline under the most extreme provocation—and often under a fire of criticism from quarters which, if I may say so, should have known better.
Equally, we should say "thank you" to those Cypriots who volunteered to help the security services, and who did so month in and month out. They risked 1651 life and limb. Some lost their lives and others risked discrimination against their families. For obvious reasons, some of them will not be able to stay in the island to continue with their jobs there and to maintain their homes. We have been generous in our financial provisions for the island as a whole, and on moral grounds we should also be generous in our compensation of those who qualify for it under the conditions laid down.
Still more, we should be grateful to the Civil Service for the way in which it continued to administer the island in conditions of extreme uncertainty. It is difficult enough to administer Cyprus when one knew how long one would stay, but the difficulty was increased enormously when the date of departure changes so rapidly, and by so much. The Civil Service in Cyprus—not only the British element, but the Turkish and Cypriot elements also—deserves our most grateful thanks. It is largely on the impetus which that administration has given that the future prosperity and peace of the island depends.
We have now launched Cyprus on the road to independence. That presents great opportunities for Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk but, like most things that present opportunities, it imposes great obligations. Whether the path will be rough or smooth depends entirely on how quickly, and to what extent, the two communities, Greek and Turkish, can learn to mix up and live together without too many squabbles. It depends entirely on them.
I am sure that, whatever our past views or however much we may have differed with hon. Members opposite, all hon. Members on whichever side we sit would like to wish the new community in Cyprus well, in the hope that in their beautiful island they may continue to build upon and to increase the prosperity and the sound administration that we in the past have been so proud to give.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
My hon. Friends have already made it quite plain that we on this side want to do everything we can to speed this Bill through the House. Indeed, we will gladly help the Government, in the Committee stage, to bulldoze any opposition that might come, for example, from the 1652 noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), from the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), who has just left the Chamber, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell), and the other extremists of the Suez rebel group with whom the Under-Secretary was so very closely associated until he was promoted to be a Member of the Government. We will very much enjoy the opportunity of helping him to stifle and crush any opposition to the Bill which comes from his former friends.
We on this side of the House very warmly welcome the fact that a settlement has at last been reached in Cyprus—and, if I may say so, no one more than I. We will gladly do anything we can to help the Bill, and the arrangements resulting from it, to be a success. That does not mean that we have anything but contempt for the Government's handling of the problem over the last nine years, and it does not mean that I myself do not see many serious defects in the Agreement, and many grave problems arising from it, that may well cause difficulty to us, and to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey in the next few years.
I believe that this is, in many ways, a bad settlement, full of unnecessary complications and dangers for the future, and much worse, from everyone's point of view, than the agreement we could easily have had four years ago. Having said that, I should add my belief that, given the fact that the people in the island were having to deal with reactionary Conservative British Governments committed to very many out-of-date ideas, with a dreadful record in Cyprus and in many other Colonial Territories—and with their appalling record in the Middle East—Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk did very well to accept this settlement, bad as it is, after extorting, as they have, every possible concession from the Under-Secretary and the Government in more than a year of very difficult negotiations, made more difficult, if I may say so, by the Byzantine and mediaeval approach of some of the British negotiators—more particularly, the Under-Secretary himself.
The Government have a lamentable record in this matter. Their policy has 1653 cost 634 British and Cypriot lives—not counting, I understand, those Cypriots who were hanged by the Governor of Cyprus. They plunged Cyprus into four years of terror and oppression that meant untold misery to thousands of Cypriots, to thousands of British troops, and to civilians as well—some of them my constituents. Moreover, the incompetent brutality in Cyprus brought us greater shame and disgrace throughout the world—and particularly in the Commonwealth and in the uncommitted countries—than has any other action in recent years, except, perhaps, the humiliating farce of Suez and the disgrace of Nyasaland and Hola. I believe passionately that those things are wrong and disgraceful, and that it is my duty as a Member of this House to say so. We ought to say so when we look back, as I do, with repugnance at a sad and bad chapter of British colonial history.
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South has been grumbling away during my last remarks, and I appreciate that some people inside the House and a few people outside sometimes suggest that it is wrong or even unpatriotic for members of the Opposition to attack the Government when, in our opinion, they make blunders in international or colonial affairs. If I may say so, that is a childish and undemocratic point of view. It is our duty, a patriotic duty of the Opposition, to assail, goad and criticise the Government when we think they are wrong. Nobody knows that better than the Colonial Secretary himself, who, after all, is thought by many people to owe his preferment in politics to the onslaughts he made on the Government when my right hon. Friends were in power. I do not think that any of them would chide him for being unhelpful at that time.
If I may add a personal note, some of us have bitterly resented the implications and sometimes the direct assertions which have been made from the other side of the House that, in opposing Government policy when we think it is bad, we are sometimes, in some way, less patriotic than the Ministers and their supporters on the back benches. I can only call this a Daily Express level of argument, and when it comes, as it quite often has come, from the Front Bench 1654 and even from the Prime Minister himself we resent it very much. The right hon. Gentleman once said it personally to me. That is of very little consequence to anyone but myself, but he said it to more distinguished and more respected Members of the House among my hon. and right hon. Friends, and I for one deeply resent his wounding and insulting words.
In asserting again that I regard this as a bad settlement of the Cyprus problem which comes five years and 634 lives too late, I wish to point to the chief mistakes which darken the Government's record and draw certain conclusions from them. First and most important of all, in my opinion, is that Conservative Ministers and, perhaps, particularly the Prime Minister and the former Colonial Secretary, whose absence from the debate we note, have been guilty of underestimating and misjudging the temper of the Cypriot people. In this they were, I think, often misled by colonial officials. How often have I heard it said in the past, "These people are Levantines. They will not do anything. We will crack down on them and that will stop the trouble". We did crack down, and it was precisely then that Cypriot nationalist resistance really stiffened.
If anyone is morally responsible for the extraordinary success of the Eoka campaign in Cyprus between 1955 and 1959, it is British officials and British Ministers who believed and said, as they did over and over again, that Cypriot nationalism was a myth invented by the Archbishop, supported by a few agitators who could easily be crushed by force.
I recollect very vividly a conversation I had in the study of the Governor, with the Field Marshal, at which the Deputy Governor took notes, so I suppose I am free to recall it now. One of the Eoka leaders had just lost his life in what the Cypriots believed to be a very heroic action. He had been bombed to death in a cave. The Deputy Governor said to me that "a wave of relief had settled over Cyprus; a pall of terror had been lifted from the hearts and minds of the people". If he really thought that, he was guilty of the most tragic misunderstanding of the situation. A few days later, I passed the village where that particular Eoka member had lived. I 1655 remember that thousands and thousands of simple Cypriot peasants had come with wreaths and flowers to pay their respects to the memory of one whom they regarded as a brave patriotic hero.
I remember very vividly the derision with which my remarks were greeted, in March, 1956, a few days after the Archbishop's deportation. when I said:I am very certain of one thing; one day His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios III will return to Cyprus as a hero. At that time, some British Government will be only too ready to get the kind of agreement with him which, I believe, we could have got two weeks ago."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1956; Vol. 550. c. 481.]I remember that some of that derision came from the present Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. What I did not foresee at that time was that it would be he, who was jeering loudest then, who would himself spend six long months coaxing Archbishop Makarios into an Agreement far more humiliating to us than anything we could have had, and which the Under-Secretary rejected. in 1956.
The second of the major mistakes we made, as I see it—in this, the Prime Minister must bear the major responsibility—lies in our assessment of the position of Greece and Turkey. It was the Prime Minister, then Foreign Secretary, who called the tripartite Conference in the autumn of 1955 at which the Governments of Greece and Turkey, two foreign Governments with no legal standing in the matter, were invited to come and intervene and interfere in our difficulties in Cyprus, although we and we alone were responsible. The Prime Minister did this, of course, because he knew very well before the Conference took place that the views of the Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministers were completely irreconcilable, diametrically opposed, and because he intended to use their disagreement as a new excuse to perpetuate colonial rule in Cyprus.
That was precisely how he used it. These were bad and dangerous tactics. The Turkish Government of Mr. Menderes, of course, understood at once, and they did not need Sir Anthony Eden's telegram to egg them on. They understood that the British Government expected them to adopt a domineering and intransigent attitude towards the 1656 Cyprus problem, in which, I repeat, they had no legal standing whatever, and they did so with increasing enthusiasm and irresponsibility for nearly three years, and it was only in July, 1958, that the revolution in Iraq and the collapse of the Bagdad Pact suddenly brought the Government of Mr. Menderes to their senses.
In my view, our cynical exploitation of the intransigence of the Turkish Government which we ourselves did so much to promote was one of the worst features of the whole affair and one which the British Government may well yet have bitter cause to regret. Throughout the past five years, the Government have consistently exaggerated and exploited Turkey's interest in this matter on the ground, so often and so warmly endorsed by the Under-Secretary of State himself, that the Turks were our only reliable and stable allies in this area—last night, I looked up all the quotations from what he said about that—and that they did us a good turn at the time of Suez.
These words "reliable" and "stable" were used very often by the experts in the Pentagon as well, with whom the hon. Gentleman does not always see eye to eye. I now invite him and them to take a very close look at Turkey and reconsider their position. I will not labour the point because I need not do so, but what Minister can now put his hand on his heart and tell us how the foreign and, for that matter, the domestic policies of "reliable" and "stable" Turkey will look in the next six months?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
It is not a question of whether Turkey, at any given moment, is more reliable or more stable than Greece. Is the hon. Member really telling the House that, at any time, any Turkish Government would have allowed the whole of Cyprus to be transferred to Greece?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am saying that one of the great mistakes of the Government was to exploit and exaggerate an interest which Turkey did not have in this problem at the beginning, for purposes of their own. I am asking the Under-Secretary of State whether he still feels quite the same about the reliability and stability of Turkey since the bloody 1657 revolution which took place not very long ago. I put that same question to the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe).
While we are at it, I invite those who used those terms about Turkey to look at Greece as well. We remember the wounding and offensive remarks made about the Greek Government. I will not even quote them in this debate. We were told that she was a friendly but rather unstable and unreliable country. It so happens that Greece has had the same Prime Minister, democratically elected and re-elected, ever since October, 1955, with the same political elements in power ever since November, 1952. If Conservative politicians in this country want to continue to compare the relative stability and reliability of our N.A.T.O. allies in the Eastern Mediterranean, the recent Turkish revolution should, perhaps, make them reconsider some of the prejudice which did us and the Cyprus problem so much damage during the last five years.
I say no more about the bias of British Ministers for the late Government of Mr. Menderes and against Greece except that it did very great harm to Cyprus and seems to have been overturned by events. The only logical explanation which I can find for it is that they must have felt under some special sense of obligation for services rendered to them by Mr. Menderes at the time of the Suez campaign. It would take a very long time, more time than any back-bench Member has, to go through the many blunders for which the Prime Minister and the former Colonial Secretary were responsible in the last few years—the hangings and collective fines, the interrogations and concentration camps, the military failures and miscalculations, the partition throats and the ludicrous and stillborn Macmillan plan.
Perhaps this is the time when I and others who saw parts of the story at close hand ought to write and publish what we remember of it, including the conversations, which I remember vividly, which I had with Sir Anthony Eden, with the former Colonial Secretary, Field-Marshal Harding, the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Menderes, the Greek Prime Minister and his colleagues, Dr. Kutchuk and his British officials, military officers, police and intelligence officers, 1658. interrogators and Eoka leaders with whom the Under-Secretary of State has been fraternising so closely during the last few days in Nicosia—we hope that he enjoyed the experience—and, above all, with ordinary Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, in the villages and towns, and with British civilians and Service men, several of them my own constituents, on whom the British Government imposed such vile duties during the emergency in Cyprus.
No doubt if I needed to turn to official records to refresh my memory of some of my experiences in Cyprus, particularly when I went there in 1956 at the request of Sir Anthony Eden, I should be able to use him as a precedent for generous consideration.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
Does not the hon. Member propose to mention my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) who, when he was Colonial Secretary, afforded the hon. Member such generous facilities in Cyprus?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The noble Lord has been longing to interrupt me far a long time. I have thought about this. In the circumstances, I thought that it would be better to leave the right hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire, who has very much on his conscience and is not in the House at present, right out of this part of my speech, and. therefore, I propose to do so.
I now propose to leave the details of British policy since 1955 and complete this part of my speech with one final comment. I think that the Government were unwise to approach this matter, as they did, in a narrow partisan spirit as though it were a political issue between the two parties. They withheld information from the House simply because it was inconvenient for them to have the full facts of what they were doing known. They deprived us of the opportunity of debating major acts of policy until it was too late because they wanted to conceal the weight of feeling in the House.
I well recall the withering scorn of my late right hon. Friend "Nye" Bevan on 14th March, 1956, when he assailed the Government for their shabby treatment of the House. Throughout the last 1659 five years the Government have treated the Opposition with arrogance and Parliament with contempt. In my opinion, this was not the least of their errors in dealing with the Cyprus problem.
I now turn to the defects of the settlement which I think will be the cause of difficulty and trouble for some years to come. The Under-Secretary of State said in Nicosia the other day that this will be a difficult Agreement to change. I very much hope that he is wrong The first great defect in it is the wide powers it gives to the Governments of foreign countries to interfere and intervene in the internal affairs of the Republic of Cyprus. The Government will say that those powers are an essential part of the whole settlement. I can only say that I am sure that they will have to be modified over the years—and I believe that they will be modified—if the settlement is to work and if the Republic is to function as an independent country. Moreover, I belive that it will not be very long before the Government themselves help the Republic to modify some of these rights of intervention by Greece and Turkey, and the main motive for this development may well be the situation inside Turkey
The second major defect in the settlement is in the three to seven ratio in the Civil Service. I know that a procedure on this has just been agreed by the Archbishop and Dr. Kutchuk and I hope that it will ease the difficulty during the course of the first few months. But the fact remains that this three to seven ratio is inequitable and unrealistic. The percentage of Turks in Cyprus is 18, not 30, and a rather small proportion of these 18 is suited to administrative work and few of them to senior administrative posts, as the Under-Secretary of State knows very well.
To put it bluntly, anyone who knows Cyprus knows that there are not the qualified Turks to take many of the Government positions. Unless this three to seven rule is given a very liberal and wide interpretation, it will be a major cause of administrative deadlock, inefficiency and friction between Greeks and Turks, and I believe that in the end it will have to be modified.
1660 I want to say a word about what is, perhaps, the most ridiculous of all the provisions of the settlement, something which no Cypriot I have met thinks is anything but a bad and expensive joke, namely, the plan to set up a Cyprus Army of 2,000 men over and above the police and gendarmerie of 2,000. What the function of this Army will be, except to provide jobs for ex-members of the former auxiliary police, I do not know. I hope very much that as long as the Republic is compelled to carry this unnecessary and expensive force of what the Greeks would call bumble bees—the Greeks have a very good word for it—I hope that the Archbishop will keep them busy on unpleasant and necessary public work, such as building roads, patrolling forests and keeping goats out of them for that matter, until such time as he is allowed to abolish them altogether.
I now turn to the position of the foreign contingents of Greeks and Turks to be sent to Cyprus after independece. They will be a token force only, of no military significance. Like many Cypriots, I shall regret their presence on the territory of the Republic, because it can be only a source of friction and potential trouble and provides a temptation for the possible fabrication of incidents which might have very serious repercussions in future. I hope, and so do many Cypriots, that it will not be long before these Greek and Turkish contingents are enabled by mutual agreement to go home.
This brings me to the question of the British troops in Cyprus. My views on this subject, like those of many Cypriots, are modified at present by the fact that, according to the Under-Secretary of State, our forces between them will be putting no less than £15 million a year into the pockets of the people of Cyprus in wages, rent, food, services, and so on. This huge extra subsidy will be very valuable to the backward and undeveloped economy which we leave behind in Cyprus. I can quite understand why many Cypriots and their leaders should be glad to have this money, but just how much longer my constituents in Swindon will be willing to deprive themselves of these huge sums to subsidise the Archbishop's Government and subjects, I do not know, 1661 particularly since they will be getting the most doubtful value for their money.
This brings me to the whole question of the British bases and to the quite farcical arrangements, from the British point of view, made for them and for what the Government are still pleased to describe as the sovereign base areas on the ground that, if we call a molehill a mountain for long enough, someone may believe us. On the question of the bases I think that I ought to state clearly my view, which I think is shared by a good many of my right hon. and hon. Friends and also by more military people here and in the service of other N.A.T.O. countries—I draw this point particularly to the attention of the Under-Secretary of State—than the Government may find it convenient to admit in this debate.
First, I doubt whether any bases of this kind, wherever they may be sited, will have any real military value within a year or two, if they have any value now. This is because the growing range of bombing aircraft and missiles renders all such bases, wherever they may be, unnecessary, dangerous and useless. Even if bases of this kind at present have some military value, which I very much doubt, and even if they—[interruption.] The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South keeps interrupting. At some stage, Mr. Speaker, I shall have to ask for your protection.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. Member says that bases are quite useless wherever they may be. Aircraft must land somewhere. Does he not know that?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
All I can do is to advise the noble Lord to have a word with one or two of his right hon. Friends—I will tell him who they are privately—who might be able to explain the position to him in a way that will convince him much better than I can.
Even if bases of this kind have any military value, which I rather doubt, and even if they were needed in the Eastern Mediterranean area, it is my belief that Cyprus is an entirely unsuitable place to put them, as the Under-Secretary of State, with his experience at the War Office, knows very well. He knows the geographcial facts of the situation and that if we are allied with countries nearby—for example, Turkey—we do not 1662 need the facilities in Cyprus. If the neighbouring countries are against us, these facilities are utterly worthless. The hon. Gentleman knows that there is no deep-water harbour in Cyprus and that we cannot get a single piece of heavy equipment on to or off the island except by loading it on a lighter. The hon. Gentleman knows better than most people that the experience of the Suez farce shows that Cyprus has no real value in this context.
Nevertheless, if there has to be a Western base on Cyprus—and I do not accept the case for that—there is no case for the base being an exclusively British base as against a N.A.T.O. commitment. If ever there was a possibility of independent British military action in the area, that possibility was finally destroyed, as the Under-Secretary knows very well, by the humiliating defeat at the time of Suez.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The noble Lord says "Not at all." I suggest that he has a word about this with the Field-Marshal, whose views changed radically as a result of the Suez operation and with whom I discussed the matter in some detail both before and after the Suez campaign.
If, despite all this, the Government tare determined to saddle the British taxpayer with a purely British base in Cyprus, there is little military advantage in pretending that one small part of the island is so-called British territory and is somehow different from the rest of the island simply because we call it by another name. Even if there were some minimal advantages in calling a small part of Cyprus a sovereign base area, those advantages have been entirely destroyed by the arrangements to which the Under-Secretary has been driven by Archbishop Makarios and pressure from elsewhere.
I can see a military argument—I remember asking the Field Marshal about this after the Suez campaign—for what might be called "little Gibraltars", enclaves with wire and defences round them out of which every Cypriot would be kept, where we would have complete control and where we would say, "It is none of your business what goes on." I discussed this possibility with the 1663 former Governor. The present arrangement made by the Under-Secretary of State, however, with its mad and totally indefensible frontiers round the base areas, and with all the conditions and provisions attached to their use and administration, makes the claim that these are British sovereign territories, or that they will give us any practical advantage over other areas in the island, a complete farce.
Moreover, as the hon. Gentleman must be the first to agree, these so-called sovereign areas would be utterly useless but for the manifold facilities required by our forces in other parts of the island—for example, airfields, training areas, installations, and so on. The fact is that these so-called sovereign base areas are not worth the paper on which the treaty is written, and neither are the military facilities, unless the Government and people of Cyprus want us to have them. If they want British bases and British troops on their island, we will be able to stay there just as long as the British taxpayer is prepared to pay the cost, but from the moment when the Government and people of Cyprus want them out, their position will become just as hopeless as the position of our troops in the Suez Canal zone before the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) decided, despite the protests of the Under-Secretary of State, to pull them out.
The complicated agreements and provisions of British military facilities on Cyprus territory and the establishment of the so-called sovereign base areas are nothing but a thin legalistic fiction to hide a position militarily far less viable than the Suez Canal base, which could not operate for one month if the Cypriot Government and people did not want it to and which is, no doubt, designed chiefly to deceive and lull the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South and his friends on the Government back benches but which will certainly deceive and lull nobody else.
Besides defending this fraudulent fiction about the British bases, the Under-Secretary will, no doubt, seek also to defend the whole settlement and to claim credit for it for himself and for the Government as a whole. Therefore, I must say a word about that. The Cyprus 1664 problem was solved, and the British Government were extricated from the little Algeria in which they were floundering at the beginning of last year, not by any British incentive, not by the action of any British Minister, not by any policy or action which the British Government were even aware, but at a hurried conference in Switzerland between two foreign gentlemen, neither of whom had ever been in Cyprus—and one of whom, incidentally, is now in gaol—in the absence of any representative of the Cypriots or of any Cypriot at all. They kept the British Government and the Governor of Cyprus completely in the dark throughout their negotiations.
I happened to be in Nicosia, staying with the Governor of Cyprus, at the time of the Zurich negotiations. A more humiliating situation than his—and the Colonial Secretary's and the Prime Minister's—at that moment would be difficult to imagine. Here was the future of a British Colonial Territory being settled behind their backs by the Foreign Ministers of two foreign countries without one word reaching any of them about what was going on. Indeed, our only activity at the time of the Zurich talks was to threaten a series of actions in Cyprus which might well have wrecked them and actually to start one action—a full-scale military operation in the north-east of the island—which very nearly did.
The Prime Minister, if he were present, might recall my protesting to him about that operation and his own defence of it—it was called off shortly afterwards—at an interview in Downing Street, the details of which, for several reasons, I remember very well. At all events, neither the Government nor any individual Minister can claim to have done anything except, perhaps, to hinder the Zurich Agreement, on which the London Agreement and, now, the present Treaty are based.
The real reason for it is to be found in the sudden isolation in which Turkey found herself after the collapse of the Bagdad Pact, just as the real reason why a formula was found on the eventual cession of the so-called sovereign areas to the Republic—the Under-Secretary of State knows this very well—is because Mr. Zorlu is now in gaol and the present 1665 Turkish military régime is, for the moment at least, in a realistic frame of mind.
The Under-Secretary knows very well that if Mr. Zorlu had still been Foreign Minister of Turkey, he and Her Majesty's Government would have been faced with the awkward alternative for them of either wrecking the recent negotiations with the Archbishop or of the Government telling Mr. Zorlu to go to blazes, a sentiment which the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have for several years been humiliatingly unwilling to express.
In these circumstances, it is not very realistic of the Under-Secretary to come to the House and claim credit for a bad settlement—a far worse one from his point of view than we could easily have had in 1956—for the achievement of which neither he nor any of his colleagues have any real responsibility whatever.
From those controversial sentiments, I turn to the more congenial task of endorsing the fulsome tribute which the Under-Secretary paid to His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios III on the radio at Nicosia a week ago. I commend the Under-Secretary's words to the noble Lord. The hon. Gentleman said at Nicosia:I would like tonight to pay my tribute to Archbishop Makarios.He went on to explain how the Archbishop hadfought hard for the points which he believed most closely concerned the interests of Cyprus but he has never allowed our differences to cloud our personal relations or hinder the search for agreement.I very much enjoyed that tribute by the Under-Secretary to His Beatitude. I hope that he will repeat it in the House of Commons today. I am sure that the noble Lord and some of his hon. Friends below the Gangway will appreciate hearing these sentiments from the Under-Secretary about the Archbishop and I hope that they, too, will learn something from the remarkable conversion of the hon. Gentleman. I should like to pay a less surprising and, perhaps. a rather more serious tribute to the Archbishop myself. I have seen him in good times and bad. I was with him before and during the dramatic meeting when the former Colonial Secretary wrecked the negotiations in 1956 and the Archbishop 1666 was deported to the Seychelles. I met him when he was released in Madagascar a year later. I saw his triumphant entry into Athens and I welcomed his return to Cyprus, as I had predicted from the beginning in the House of Commons a few days after his deportation. I look forward to being in Nicosia when he takes over full powers as the first President of a free and independent Cyprus.
I am often asked what kind of man he is, what is my own personal opinion of him and whether he will be able to shoulder the heavy burdens of responsibility that lie ahead. One day quite soon I hope to try to write about this and set out the reasons, some personal and some severely practical, why I was always certain that the Archbishop would win through to lead Cyprus to independence. I have very little doubt about his qualities of leadership, statesmanship, patience and imagination which will be so valuable to him in facing the immense difficulties that lie ahead.
I saw him on Whit Sunday before I had dinner in Nicosia with the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. I said to him, "The time will come quite soon when, whatever may have been the difficulties in the past, you will be facing much worse difficulties and you will be saying, Where is Mr. Lennox-Boyd to send me back to the Seychelles?'" The Archbishop will remember that period with some gratitude. The right hon. Gentleman did him a good turn, but I do not think that the habitation which the Archbishop will occupy for the next few years will merit the same name as was borne by his habitation in the Seychelles. I do not think that Government Cottage will ever be called "Sans Souci" as long as the Archbishop is President of Cyprus. But I do believe that he will be a man who will be able to lead his country to freedom and prosperity in the future.
I was fortunate to get to know very well others as well as the Archbishop who were in responsible positions in 1956. I hope that Field Marshal Lord Harding will not think it impertinent of me to say that despite many disagreements with him—and I thought his ideas were disastrously wrong as I believe she thought mine were—I remember with gratitude and respect his great personal kindness to me. He and Lady Harding were good to me at a particularly hard 1667 time in my life. I am only sorry that fate should have saddled such a gallant soldier with so vile a job at the end of his career.
It would also be right to say a few words about the present Governor, Sir Hugh Foot. He must have found my many visits to Nicosia an added trial to him from time to time. He allowed me to express my opinions and conclusions very freely, sometimes I fear in a not particularly ingratiating manner. But I think that he respected my motives as I certainly respected his, and his courage, tenacity and skill. The time that I have spent in Cyprus in the last four years has led me to respect and to like the Cypriots themselves, and until one likes and respects them one cannot begin to understand them or their problems at all. Like our troops and some of our civilians, they have been through hell since 1956, and like them they have been astonishingly ready to forget and to forgive.
They have dreadful problems looming ahead, not made any easier by the complicated settlement imposed on them by this Bill. But they have a beautiful and potentially rich island. They have a great history behind them and many great individual achievements to their credit. Above all, they are hardworking, intelligent, cheerful, good and decent people. I wish them and their new free and independent Republic all possible prosperity and success.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) has a very easy recipe for solving the problems of Cyprus. He puts Greek and Greek-Cypriot interests first and British interests last, and neglects Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot interests altogether. It is so simple, but it does not work out like that at all. One cannot take one or two dates out of the last six or seven years and then play party politics with them.
We have to go back to the whole principle of British colonial policy which is agreed to by all political parties in this country, and to bring countries gradually to self-government and, perhaps, independence within the Commonwealth. We took over the administration of Cyprus long before the Socialist 1668 Party was thought of—in 1878. In 1882 Cyprus had its first Legislative Assembly and that Assembly had six nominated members—British civil servants—and twelve elected members, of whom nine were Greeks and three were Turks. Ever since then British Governments have been trying to apply the normal colonial policy to Cyprus and trying to create a Cypriot nation and a sense of Cypriot nationality.
The Socialist Government after the Second World War, and Tory Governments since then, failed to achieve this because the people who lived in that island consisted of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots and they could not forget the first of those words. They could not submerge their identities as people of the island of Cyprus. Why was this? This is the main point and one which is deliberately neglected by hon. Members opposite and particularly by the hon. Member for Swindon.
It was because the majority of those on the island demanded Enosis. It was not a question of demanding self-government or independence for themselves, as in the case of other Commonwealth countries and as I am sure we shall agree to grant Nigeria tomorrow. It was a question of demanding for the majority of Cypriots union with another country, and that would have been resisted to the death by the minority in the island. This was the problem that had bedevilled Socialist and Tory Governments since the Second World War. Now we have found a way round and, I hope, a successful solution in the passing of a Bill giving independence to Cyprus, the creation of a Cypriot nation and the end of Enosis.
The key to this solution was found in 1958 in the Macmillan Plan when our present Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary. It had become quite clear to both Greece and Turkey and the people of Cyprus that we had made every possible attempt to find a solution. "Now", we said, "there will be a status quo for seven years. There will be communal Assemblies". My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) made it clear that what was good for the majority—that is, self-determination—was also good for the minority—that is, for the Turkish Cypriots—and, therefore, if Enosis was to be considered, partition was also to 1669 be considered. These two facts, the Macmillan Plan and the possibility of partition, made the Governments of Turkey and Greece and the people of Cyprus realise the danger of the situation. This was the key that brought them together in Zurich, and from Zurich resulted the London Agreement.
The solution is a compromise, like so many solutions. The Turkish Cypriots lose partition, the Greek-Cypriots lose Enosis and the British lose sovereignty over the island. We can pay tribute to the people of all these races. The hon. Member for Swindon spent a long time paying tribute to the Greek-Cypriots. I should like to pay tribute to Dr. Kutchuk and Mr. Denktash for their remarkable leadership in restraining their countrymen in the difficult situation under the considerable provocation to which they were subjected for four years in Cyprus, especially when one remembers that Turkey is only 60 miles away and Greece is 360 miles away. Turkish Cypriots would have become far more violent if they had not had good leadership.
Turkey in the linchpin which geographically binds N.A.T.O. with C.E.N.T.O. and she is probably the most anti-Communist country in the world. This fact may serve us in good stead in the years to come in Cyprus as well as in our other alliances.
During the past few months we have had a busy time bargaining in Nicosia. I suggest that this has made the position of the new President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios, far more difficult than it would have been if he had come to an agreement immediately after the London talks. Now we find the Greek-Cypriot majority divided into four camps. There is the majority which follows Archbishop Makarios. There is another party which follows Mr. Clerides, who up to now wanted to tear up the very agreement that we are discussing. Then there is a small number—I do not know how many—following General Grivas, who is still clinging to the idea of Enosis which is ruled out by the agreement and by this Bill. Finally, we have perhaps, the majority party—certainly the best organised party—the A.K.E.L. Party, which is close to the Communists.
It seems to me that the new Government of Cyprus—the Government of 1670 Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk—are in for considerable difficulties from the two wings of their people—the extreme Right-wing supporters of General Grivas and the supporters of the extreme Left-wing party led by A.K.E.L. Both these wings will use the fact that there are British bases on the island to try to drive a wedge between us, the Government of the Republic and our various allies in N.A.T.O.
It is, therefore, particularly important that our sovereignty over the bases—which have been derided by many hon. Members opposite—should be completely clear and completely unrestricted. It is of vital importance that we should have clear access to the bases and ability to use them in any circumstances. We have over-flying rights on the island. We have the right to build hards where we can land equipment. It is clear from the careful agreements which have been reached by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State that we cannot be put in the position in which we found ourselves over the Libyan bases, the Iraq airfields or in the Suez Canal zone. We have a sufficient area and sufficient access to it to maintain those bases come what may. That is now legally binding and accepted by the people of Cyprus and the Governments of Turkey and Greece, and it is for that reason that I feel that the six months spent in arguing the Agreement in Cyprus has been time well worth spending.
I turn now to two other points. The first is the British community in Cyprus. I believe that the House agrees, and I believe that the British residents in the island agree, that the solution with regard to their future is satisfactory. Their status and property are protected. They can move money and property from Cyprus to Britain. But I am not clear about the status of future residents, nor am I altogether clear about the status of Cypriots in this country—certainly future Cypriot residents in this country. Can my hon. Friend tell me whether there is reciprocity in this matter; in other words, will future British residents who want to live in Cyprus be treated by the Republic in exactly the same way as Cypriots who want to live in Britain will be treated by Her Majesty's Government, whether Cyprus is in the Commonwealth of not? That is an important question.
1671 There is also one more minor matter in respect of the British community. It has been said that we are to be represented in the Republic by someone who will be either our Ambassador or our High Commissioner. I hope the Government will bear in mind that particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean status means a lot. I hope that we shall not make the mistake that we made in the Sudan and other countries in not providing adequate residences for the representatives of Her Majesty's Government. These things have to be thought about ahead; otherwise we may find our representative living on a villa on the outskirts of the capital while the representatives of other nations, including the United States, may be living in big houses in the centre of the city—a situation which is derogatory for British prestige.
Finally, there is the matter referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett)—the future relationship of Cyprus with the Commonwealth. Undoubtedly we want members to join the Commonwealth club if those members sincerely want to join. The question has already been asked whether Cyprus should join the club. The advantages would be obvious for Cyprus, but perhaps they are not so obvious for the Commonwealth. There is a difference between this case and the larger countries, such as Nigeria, joining the club. For the first time we are considering the case of a very small country. It creates a precedent.
There are two reasonably tidy solutions. One solution would be regionalisation; in other words, Cyprus would become a regional member of the Commonwealth in the Atlantic-Mediterranean region and would attend Commonwealth conferences concerned with that region but not necessarily the full Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference which all the larger members attend. The second solution is the possibility of some form of external association which, although it would not confer Commonwealth membership, would give the country the advantage of the sterling area and many of the other assets of Commonwealth membership but not consultation over Commonwealth policy and not Commonwealth citizenship. Either of 1672 those solutions would be tidy for a small island like Cyprus.
But the Commonwealth is not a tidy organisation, and it may not be possible for either of those solutions to come about. We may have to accept that if Cyprus wants to join the Commonwealth itself it may have to be as a full member or nothing. I would wish to welcome her as a full member provided that the Commonwealth is prepared to realise that this precedent will mean that many other nations which are still dependent members of the Commonwealth will want the same treatment. I am certain that Malta would immediately apply, with a high degree of justification. If this can be accepted, we must accept the fact that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference will have fifty or more members. It may be a very good thing or it may lead to a first XI and a second XI, which might be thought to be very unfortunate.
All I would emphasise is that we must face the fact that Cyprus is a key territory as it creates a precedent. If she does join the Commonwealth, a large number of other countries will want to do so also. That is probably a good thing, but I suggest that the alternatives of regionalisation or external association might be better for the future of the Commonwealth. If these alternatives cannot be agreed, I shall support full membership for Cyprus, recognising that that means that many other countries will want to become equals in our Commonwealth club.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I welcome the Bill, in spite of its many defects and complications. I do so for one reason and one reason only—that at long, long last the people of Cyprus will have freedom to choose their own form of Government. They will also have, of course, the responsibility that goes with that. It is a position which, unfortunately, the people in that island have not enjoyed for centuries. They have been under the heel of somebody or other throughout scores of centuries. Therefore, one is glad that at this time, at any rate, the opportunity is given to them to look after their own affairs.
Our own record is not one of which any of us can be proud. We went there in 1878, not at the request of the people 1673 of Cyprus. Indeed, they were never even consulted. We went there at the request of Turkey. We were sort of licensees or lessees. We even collected from the people of Cyprus until 1918 £100,000 a year with which to pay the rent to Turkey, which enabled us to continue to be there. So far from helping the people of Cyprus towards self-government, as the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) seems to think we did, we did nothing of the kind. We all along insisted that the officials should be in the majority. Even when it came—this has to be said with regard to the Labour Government of 1929–31—the Government found that their own officials would vote against them and in favour of what was needed by the island—voting with the representatives appointed by the island. The Government overrode them by getting an Order in Council. For the first time the people of Cyprus then rebelled and burnt down the Governor's house. So the record of this country from 1878 to this day is not one of which at any rate we can be proud.
§ Mr. Davies
I should like to join with the Secretary of State in paying my tribute to the Governor, Sir Hugh Foot. He is a man of great ability and of great experience. He is, what is more, a man of great wisdom. He went to Cyprus not merely as a Governor. The moment he arrived he was received as something more than Governor. He was received as a friend, as someone who would protect them and report fairly what their views were. It was in that way that he was received, and it is in that way that he has behaved throughout his Governorship. He is a pro-consul who will be fit to stand alongside our great proconsuls like Lord Cromer, who did great work in Egypt.
I was rather surprised that the Secretary of State, who is usually so generous in everything in his thoughts and actions, did not take this opportunity of paying a tribute to Archbishop Makarios. He did quote something that had been said about him at the end of his speech, but he might have begun by paying a ripe tribute to this man—a man of great courage and determination, and a great patriot whose one object was to 1674 do the utmost he could for the benefit of his people.
Archbishop Makarios devoted himself to them. He suffered for them—and was prepared to suffer for them. I cannot think of a more terrible punishment—it is even worse than death—than to be expelled by a power from one's own home amongst one's own people. That was the fate that befell him. If I may take the House back to the early days of great philosophy, Socrates preferred death to expulsion from his own home.
The Archbishop was sent away to the Seychelles, but he came back still determined to do all that he could for the benefit of his people, still prepared to discuss and debate and do all that he could to bring about an agreement. He has served his people well and he deserves well from them. He is now taking upon himself, as was rightly said by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), a tremendous responsibility, and one which I am sure he will do his very utmost to carry out. I hope that he will carry with him the good will not only of everyone in this House but of everyone in this country.
Now that I am paying tributes, I should like to pay one to the Under-Secretary of State. He at any rate showed patience and self-control. He performed that greatest of all miracles,self-restraint. He has had his reward in that he has brought back a complete agreement. He will always be proud of that, but I only wish that self-restraint had been shown by his predecessors at the Colonial Office. What a difference that would have made. What agonies, what anxieties, what tragedies we would have avoided if his predecessors in the Government had exercised that restraint in 1954, when they put up the Minister of State, Mr. Henry Hopkinson, to tell these people that whatever happened, whatever the circumstances, whatever the changes in the world, they could never look forward to freedom or to choosing their own form of Government.
What a terrible thing to say to a people whom we have no more right to govern than we have to govern anybody else. Nevertheless, a junior member of the Government, who is normally never allowed to put his own views, was put up at that Dispatch Box to express that view of the future of Cyprus. Up to that 1675 time, there had not been a single incident in the island; and not a bomb had been thrown nor a shot fired. It was from then that these people began to say: "It is no good trying to argue or to plead—we shall have to do what so many others have had to do, we shall have to fight for our own freedom."
When will we learn that we can never achieve any permanent position by the mere use of force? We in this country have had a greater and more bitter experience than anybody else in this. Sometimes when I listen to some hon. Members opposite I feel that I have gone back to 1783 and the attitude that these people were there merely to serve this House and those who governed the great empire of those days.
I have actually heard Members of this House speak about Ireland as they have spokent about Cyprus. Nothing can be accomplished by force. A very great leading article in The Times today calls attention to this very fact because of the tragedies occurring in the Congo. How necessary it is, if we take responsibility for a people, that we should, right from the outset, say that we are dedicated to one thing: the advancement of that people along the very lane that we ourselves have walked, so that they may in time be able to govern themselves, choose their own form of Government, and determine their own fate without having to rely upon us to protect or guide them.
As The Times very rightly points out, it is a long process, taking a great deal of patience and time, and that is exactly what ought to have happened with this island. I do not think, until it was mentioned in this House, that there was any idea at any time of partition, the form of Diet now provided for in this Bill.
As I remember, this was first mentioned in July, 1957, by the late Mr. Walter Elliot. I remember the consternation caused in the House, particularly on the Government Front Bench. I sit opposite the Government Front Bench and I could see the consternation that Mr. Elliot's interjection caused. What then resulted? This was at once reported to Turkey. At once, it made a world of difference in the Turkish attitude. That was translated again from Ankara back into the island.
1676 Prior to that we were proceeding along the right lines, along the way of giving the people of Cyprus the chance of earning their own self-government. The Archbishop up to that time had been asking merely for Enosis. What he was really after was freedom. He had not understood the ordinary democratic constitution, but when it was explained to him, from that moment, in 1952, and certainly by 1953, he was in favour of it. He was dropping the call for Enosis. The discussion we then had with the Government was on how self-government could be gradually achieved.
It meant, of course, giving the right to vote to men and women over 21. A parliament would appear, and from that Parliament would come the form of Government of the day, and they would then take charge of their own affairs. He was quite ready to leave foreign affairs in our hands until the people of Cyprus were ready to take care of the matter for themselves. That was the form agreement was taking, and that was the form of discussion between the Archbishop and Lord Harding.
The discussions were progressing extraordinarily well, and the right hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), a strong personality and. in many ways, an admirable character, started discussions on those lines with the Archbishop, but then suddenly asked him to denounce the people who were committing atrocities. The Archbishop said that he was not in a position to do so.
I only wish that the Government had then exercised the self-restraint which has now been shown by the Under-Secretary. Instead of giving the Archbishop time to think it out, they expelled him to the Seychelles and, from that moment, the troubles began and Grivas entered the scene, with all the tragic consequences and the 634 deaths, for which we are responsible, all because the Government could not exercise self-control and agree gradually to move towards what they were ready to grant to Ghana and Nigeria and what had already been granted to India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. A little more patience would have saved so much trouble.
1677 I do not know why there was so much delay between February, when the Agreement was made in Geneva, and the arrival home of the hon. Gentleman with the Agreement in his pocket. Was the risk worth while? If he had come home without an agreement, does anyone think that there could have been another round table conference of Greeks and Turks and Cypriots and representatives from this country? The whole thing would have been wrecked, and for only two small areas which have no value unless we have the friendship of the people of Cyprus. That is what matters, not the size of the bases. Ultimately, after all these months, an Agreement has been reached by which the originally proposed size of 120 square miles has been reduced to 99 square miles. Was it worth running the risk of destroying the entire Agreement and again starting the troubles?
To whom is it thought that we can hand back the bases when we no longer need them, and to whom do we want them to go back other than to the people who have occupied them for hundreds of years, the Cypriots themselves? Apparently, the Government do not even remember the Constitution of Malta, which provides a very good precedent. It will be remembered that, because of the betrayal of the Grand Master of the day, on his way to Egypt Napoleon managed to conquer Malta. The Maltese strongly objected and fought back. After the Battle of Aboukir Bay, Nelson and his fleet landed at Malta and the French who did not manage to escape were captured.
In 1802, there was an agreement between us and Malta whereby the Maltese handed to us entire responsibility for the island but which included a clause—which would have been a very good precedent in the case of Cyprus, and I am glad that it has now been followed, although probably without the example of Malta in mind—by which it was agreed that when we no longer had any use for Malta, we would have no right to hand it over to anybody except the people of Malta themselves. That was a commonsense precedent to follow in the case of the Cyprus bases.
I have only approval for the proposals in connection with the money which is to be granted to the Cypriots. We have 1678 altered their lives and the money represents a debt of honour. Now that they are starting on the tremendous responsibility of looking after themselves, it is only right that we should give them all the help we can. Whatever may have been our views in the past, we can all agree that what is desired above everything else is the prosperity and welfare of the people of Cyprus as a whole, without distinction between Greek and Turk.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton, Pavilion)
It is inevitable in debates such as this that almost every speaker should go back into the past and discuss what has happened in the House, although it will not be expected that we would necessarily all agree. I could not agree with all that was said by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), although much of it was true.
I want to take up only one point, but before doing so I want to comment on some of the unfair criticisms of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. He has been criticised, as a Suez rebel, for having taken part in these negotiations. I, too, was a Suez rebel from the very start and I have always been. It is the very fact that it is my hon. Friend who has been undertaking these negotiations which makes me feel satisfied with them, and perhaps many other hon. Members feel the same.
The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery spoke of the money which is to be given to the new State. There is one group of people in Cyprus which has not so far been mentioned. We have spoken only of Greeks and Turks, but there are religious minorities, one of which is the Maronites. We have had debates on this subject ever since I first went to Cyprus in 1954 when I saw much of these people.
The Maronites are a small and deeply loyal community and have been loyal to us throughout the eighty years that we have been in Cyprus, especially so in the last few years. I am concerned for these people because I am myself what is called a Southern Ireland Unionist whose family was as loyal as possible to this country in the years up to 1920 and who, as a result, saw our home burned down. I and others were told by Mr. Lloyd George to make the best we could out 1679 of the position in which we were left after having made ourselves rather unpopular in Ireland by being on the side of the British.
To some extent, the Maronites are probably in a similar position. They have been in Cyprus for about 1,3000 years—I once said that it was only about 500 years, but I was corrected by the then Minister of State who is now the Minister of Agriculture. In a speech which he made in 1956, I think, he said that everything would be done to help the Maronites in their difficulties—they are a poor community—and that if in future there were negotiations for an agreement about Cyprus they would be protected.
Have they been protected? In February, I had a letter from the Bishop of the Maronite Church in Cyprus who wrote:As you know, in the Zurich and London Agreements all the political rights of the Maronite Community have not been included therein.His English is not of the best and I think that he means that none of them is included. He went on:According to this Agreement only Greek and Turkish Communities are mentioned. We have protested to the Government and to the Greek and Turkish Leaders. We have applied for one representative in the Lower House and one in the Upper House from our community also this to be included in the Draft Constitution which is being prepared but in vain.We have also applied to Her Majesty's Government that prior to the signing of the final London Agreement the political rights of the Maronite minority should be safeguarded. I don't know if you can do something about this matter before it is too lateI should also mention that we have applied to the Governor and Her Majesty's Government that a grant may be given to us as will do to the New Republic with 9 million Pounds and the Turkish Community for their Evcaf Religious needs the sum of 1 million Pounds.As you know our community is very poor and owes to the Local Government the sum of £40,000 for which sum we have mortgaged all our Religious property for building a Church and a number of flats. For this purpose the Government of H.M. should come to our aid.I am sure that something must be done for our community in recompense for our loyalty to the British Crown during the 80 years of British rule and especially during the emergency.All that appears in the White Paper which we have before us today is in 1680 Appendix E, which refers to the rights of smaller religious groups in Cyprus:The Constitution will enable the Armenians, the Maronites and the Latins, as groups, to choose to belong to either the Greek-Cypriot or the Turkish-Cypriot community. In the event of option, the members of the group will enjoy the same benefits as the other members of the Community. For example, they will be eligible for the Public Service of the Republic.These people are neither Turks nor Greeks. Why should they have to join up with one or other group? Their whole history has made plain that they belong to the Latin rite, the Roman rite. Although they are from Asia Minor, their whole history is one of oppression by the Turks. They have always suffered under them. They had something like 80,000 people living in Cyprus in the old days, and now the number is down to fewer than 5,000.
They do not want to be with the Turks. They are rather frightened of them. I do not say that they hate the Turks, but certainly they do not trust them. They are not Greeks and they speak, not Greek, but only English. Some people forget that Cyprus has been under British control for eighty years, and the Maronites, who have been told that they have the choice to belong to either the Greek-Cypriot or the Turkish-Cypriot community, speak neither Greek nor Turkish. Could they not be allowed to have British citizenship and remain as, I imagine, other Britishers will?
Then, they are told:Any religious group which has opted as a group to belong to one of the two Communities will have the right under the Constitution to be represented in the Communal Chamber of the Community for which it has opted.That means that they will have to go in with either the Greeks or the Turks, if either will have them. It was said in the Radcliffe Report, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) definitely stated in this House, that there would be one member representing the Maronites. Then, we are told:Finally, the Constitution will provide for members of the smaller religious groups to enjoy no less extensive rights in respect of religious matters than they enjoyed in law before the Constitution came into force … In respect of education and cultural matters, the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect have given an assurance that the smaller religious groups need have no fear that they will be at a disadvantage in future in the allocation of public funds.1681 If we are to give these millions of pounds away to these two communities, including £1½ million to the Turks, against which the Maronites are asking for £80,000, which is not a large sum of money, why should they not get what they are asking for?
They want £40,000 to pay off their debts. They needed a new church, but were not able to get it, although Lord Harding found them some land and arranged to have money advanced to them so that they could build a church for themselves. They have difficulties about education, because they are a scattered community, scattered over many villages. They want to set up their own schools. I know it is thought that it might do them harm if they got that money, and that it would he better to come to agreement afterwards with the Greeks or Turks, hut, if they do not come to any agreement, we should by then have no power left to help them. Surely, we could have gone to the extent of offering £80,000 lo this group of people, who, as the Minister and everybody else has always said, are 100 per cent. loyal to us and were so during the whole of these troubles.
Could nothing be done about moving the Maronites into one of these special enclaves? Could they not live there? We are told by the right hon. Gentleman that the Turks and the Greeks have agreed in regard to these small religious bodies, but we have not been told what the Maronite bishop has said. Has he been consulted and has he agreed to the present position? It does not look like it to me, judging by the letters I was receiving up to a month ago.
The Maronites were hoping very much that some assistance would be given, but today we are talking only about Greeks and Turks. Could my hon. Friend when he replies give some encouragement to us for thinking that there might be some possibility that these people could be given this amount of money and allowed the opportunity of carrying on in a fairly independent way without necessarily entering either the Greek-Cypriot or the Turkish-Cypriot groups? I am quite certain that the Greeks are perfectly willing to be friendly with them, and they have been there for 1,300 years, much longer than the Greeks. It would be a 1682 nice gesture, to say the least of it, on our part if we showed that being loyal can, in some ways, bring results.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
Without entering into the pros and cons of the suggestion which the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) has been putting before us, I am sure that every one of us would think that it was right to mention the case of a minority. It would be a great thing if justice could be done to this and any other minority that exists in Cyprus at a time when it may be that we are laying the foundations, at last., of peace in that country.
While welcoming from the bottom of my heart the fact that there is an Agreement and the occasion upon which we are talking today, I would point out that there are, as the Secretary of State for the Colonies himself suspected there might be, quite a number of details in this Bill which may be more than details. So that we may understand them, I suggest that we ought to have some more explanation than that given by the right hon. Gentleman. He apologised in a sense, or rather excused himself, for not dealing with these matters in his speech on the grounds that if anybody wished to have an explanation about them, his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, in winding up the debate, would deal with them.
I feel that there is great mystery and confusion about something which the right hon. Gentleman called common form, or some such words, in Clause 3 of this Bill. I must say that, outside the Finance Bill, I do not remember such confusion in any Bill as appears in this one which is, we presume, shortly to become an Act. I feel that the Under-Secretary of State will be very well advised to give us a little explanation as to the meaning of Clause 3. It might save trouble and the time of the House during later stages of the Bill.
I should like to know what it all adds up to. I have heard it suggested that this is a back-handed way of trying to slip into statutory form the alleged constitutional convention whereby Southern Rhodesia is given specially privileged treatment in the Commonwealth. I am not saying that I think that the words of this Clause or any other part of the Bill merit that interpretation. I am 1683 merely saying that this interpretation has been put upon it, and I should like to have an assurance that it is not warranted. I do not feel confident, having regard to the extreme obscurity of the language used in Clause 3, that that really is not the case. I should like to be assured that it is not.
I certainly do not propose to go into Committee points, but in Clause 3 (1) it appears that what is intended is that—I am paraphrasing and may be a little inaccurate in this process though I hope it will not be effectively inaccurate—the United Kingdom law which applies to Cyprus at present shall continue to apply to the Republic of Cyprus after that Republic is established. That is all right. It is understandable, and fairly plain. But then there comes a proviso and then, almost immediately, there follows a saving parenthesis. Shortly afterwards both proviso and the saving parenthesis are made subject to the Schedule. All this may be necessary. I appreciate that it is not possible to draft a Bill with the clarity and simplicity of a nursery rhyme. At the same time, there are limits beyond which the obscurity and tortuosity of Bills should not be encouraged—and this seems to have gone a little beyond the limit.
The mysterious proviso seems to be saying, "If the United Kingdom law referred to in the first part of the subsection makes an exception of any Commonwealth country, that exception is to apply to Cyprus", whether or not the conditions are the same. I do not believe that any Government would be so stupid as to say that. Therefore, the Government must have in mind what those exceptions are. What exceptions apply to the Commonwealth countries referred to what are those countries, and in what circumstances do those exceptions apply? Only if we know the answers to those questions can we say whether it is sensible that these exceptions should apply to Cyprus.
In any case, who asked for this provision to be inserted? Who asked that these exceptions—of which I do not know the nature—should apply to Cyprus? Was it the Government's opinion that they should apply, or was it the wish of the Cypriots?
I refer to Clause 2 for one reason only. The right hon. Gentleman stated that 1684 Cypriots living in this country would have British nationality. That may be so for a certain time, but if we examine subsection (2), taken in conjunction with paragraph 1 of the Schedule and the British Nationality Act of 1948, to which the Schedule refers, it seems that all Cypriots will have the status of British subjects as soon as the Republic is set up on the appointed day. Is that so? I have no objection to its being so, but it should be made absolutely clear, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman said about the nationality of Cypriots in the United Kingdom. If his interpretation is right, well and good, but I should like to be assured that it is right.
The next mysterious thing is hidden beneath the verbiage of Clause 3 (6). The first half of the subsection is quite plain; it explains the meaning of the words, "existing law". But the second half seems to bring in, by a very small back door, all the legislation in all Commonwealth countries—whether or not they are independent—which is applicable to Cyprus at present; to bring in all that legislation on the same footing as the legislation of the United Kingdom referred to in subsection (1), and to make that applicable to Cyprus after the Republic is set up—with certain very significant exceptions.
It is upon those exceptions that I want to probe the hon. Member. They consist of that law of Southern Rhodesia and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in so far as it was made law or can be amended by the Parliaments of either of those countries. Such legislation is excepted from the rule that the Commonwealth law applicable to Cyprus shall continue after the setting-up of the Republic. Why is it necessary to have these exceptions? Is it because the Cypriots will not have anything to do with Southern Rhodesia or the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland? Is it that they suspect the motives of those Parliaments, and therefore wish to bring in this rather extraordinary limitation to the general rule? I cannot say what is behind this mysterious provision, and I should be very grateful if the Under-Secretary of State can tell us precisely what it means. If he can do so at least some of the suspicions as to the motives of whoever wanted it put into the Bill can be cleared away.
1685 It is possible that there is an innocent explanation. We know that Statute 12 of the 1957 Federation Statutes for Rhodesia and Nyasaland enables British protected persons from Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia to become citizens of the Federation and thereby automatically have British nationality. Has someone in the Colonial Office taken fright at this provision and wished it to remain applicable to the particular and not to spread generally over the Commonwealth?
I suppose that every hon. Member is delighted and relieved that at long last agreement has been reached between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots—because theirs is the agreement which is at the essence of the matter with which we are now dealing. What has been gained by all the recrimination and bloodshed which have preceded these protracted negotiations I do not know. Like many other hon. Members, I believe that all that has now been obtained, and perhaps much more, could have been obtained years before, if only the Government had then arrived at their present state of mind.
The trouble was that, some years ago, the Government—and, in particular, the Colonial Secretary of that day—were shackled by nineteenth century thought in regard to many of the matters which had to be dealt with in order to arrive at a solution of the Cyprus problem. Now they have changed their minds—and I do not say that in any scoffing way. I think it is creditable to change one's mind, especially when it makes one look somewhat stupidly inconsistent. The Government very often do some good things—I do not want to appear patronising—and sometimes, when presented with a fait accompli, they pretend that they initiated and proposed the very things which they have been opposing all along. In such circumstances they act with considerably good grace, and I give them full credit for that.
I believe that they are doing a good thing now, and I believe that that good thing sprang from the courage which I willingly attribute to them; the courage they had in stopping the nonsense about the Cypriot question being solely a domestic matter for us. I believe, though I may be wrong, and some of my hon. Friends may not agree with me, that 1686 the moment they openly recognised that this was not wholly our question. but was a question for the Greeks and Turks, in that the whole of this area has been a cockpit for hundreds of years between those two peoples, the Cyprus question being only a part of the bigger Ægean question, and had the courage to admit that this was not a domestic question only for us, it looked as though a solution might be found.
The present good has flowed from that admission on their part. We are left with misery and odium for the tardy recognition of that fact. However, it has now come. We should all recognise it, and be grateful for it. It is now behind us, and let us hope that it will at any rate be forgotten by both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots.
It does not matter if between ourselves we have a little recrimination here. I think that we ought to have it. I see the point of hon. Gentlemen opposite who object to our point of view, but it is our job to question the Government and criticise their past so as to construct the future, and naturally we have to do it. We should all look to the future of Cyprus. There must be no recrimination by us in this House against either party to the dispute in Cyprus, or to any others outside who might have been interested in the position there.
All that is behind us. Let us hope that the Cypriots themselves can forget the immediate past years. In this country they have many friends. I believe that they can count on the help of those friends, and perhaps the help of many more, now that a settlement has been reached. They can count on our help to enable them to blend together their peoples into a happy and contented community. They can count on our help to bring about peace between those peoples who up to now have been warring in that tiny island where there simply is not room for anything but peace.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)
With respect, I agree with much of the speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). I have listened to nearly all the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The speech to which we have just listened was the only constructive speech we have heard, and the only speech in which an effort was made to make a success of the Bill 1687 we are considering today. Other hon. Members opposite seem to have indulged in that rather fashionable exercise of "looking back in anger" the whole time and of not trying to look forward to make these proposals work as we wish them to work.
I join in congratulating and paying tribute to my hon. Friend for his hard work and great patience in bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion. I think that we should all be grateful to him.
On many occasions tributes have been paid to Sir Hugh Foot. I feel, however, that we should also pay tribute to Field Marshal Lord Harding. He did a magnificent job while he was in Cyprus. Times have changed, but the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), who I am sorry is not in his seat, is not the only person who has been in Cyprus. My son served there for nine months in Her Majesty's Forces. Hon. Members should know what the Forces thought about the Governorship of Lord Harding. They backed him every time, and he backed them at a very difficult time when the loyalty of the Forces was of vital importance.
I think that most sane people agree that this base in Cyprus is necessary. We have achieved the base, but I should like to go into more detail about the way in which I think we have done well in our Agreement. Anybody who has served in the Forces knows how soul-destroying life can be if one has to soldier behind barbed wire in a cantonment. I think that the hon. Member for Swindon suggested that that kind of thing might take place and would support the idea. I repeat that this form of military service is completely soul-destroying. When one looks at this well got up map, it is apparent that that will not be the case. We shall have sovereign bases over which we shall have complete control, but, thanks to the Agreement reached by my hon. Friend, we shall have bombing ranges and many other facilities. We shall thus be able to give proper training to our troops and relieve them of the ghastly monotony and boredom of being confined behind wire.
Furthermore, I believe that the Agreement will make a great difference to the recreational life of our troops. My boy told me that while he was out 1688 there the worst aspect of life was the ghastly situation where three or four men had to go out together, usually armed. Is it envisaged that in future the troops there will be allowed to mingle freely with the population? Will they be allowed to wear civilian clothes?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Julian Amery)
§ Mr. Dance
I am glad of that assurance from my hon. Friend. We must now consider the Cypriots themselves. Unlike some hon. Gentlemen opposite, we must forget the past and work towards the future. One of the stumbling blocks in an island such as Cyprus is the problem of employment. Unemployment causes great discontent. Unfortunately, there is unemployment in Cyprus, and even by Cypriot standards it is rather higher than it should be. With the return of the British garrison that situation will be greatly improved. The troops will move about freely and spend their money. Employment will thus be provided and will be a great achievement.
I do not wish to detain the House for very long. I welcome the Bill, and I welcome the great opportunities which I feel will now be given to Cyprus. I know that it might be called a bromide, but I still believe that our troops are some of the finest ambassadors in the world. I hope that they will be allowed to settle down there and work with the Cypriot population. I believe that our troops in this country will welcome a tour of duty in the fine training base that is to be set up in Cyprus. I think, too, that it will be an exciting adventure for some of our young men to go to Cyprus. Because of the Agreement which has been reached, and because of the Bill we are considering, they will be able to go out as friends of the people.
The greatest help that we in this House can give is not to bicker and quarrel about what has happened in the past but to look forward to the future and hope that the Bill will bring peace. prosperity and happiness to the island.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
Although we differ fundamentally about the purposes for which the troops were sent to Cyprus, and about the job that they had to do there, I agree with the 1689 hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) in the tributes he paid to the essential decency and patience of the overwhelming majority of the security forces on the island.
They had a most odious job to do—I am not speaking politically for the moment: the hon. Gentleman will agree that there is no more unpleasant job for trained soldiers and airmen than internal security work, with guerilla resistance and the knowledge that the people around them, with whom they would perhaps like to be friends, are against them, and regard them as enemies. I share the hon. Gentleman's feelings about the troops themselves, though I must insist that I strongly condemn the Government's policy which, in my view, led to the tragic events of the last few years.
I think I can save the Under-Secretary the trouble of answering one of the questions asked of him by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove. The hon. Member would know the answer himself had he read what is so oddly described as a White Paper—perhaps it has been dipped in the new bluewhite detergent, or something. If he looks as page 56, Section 5, he will see that:Members of a force may wear uniform or civilian clothes; they shall, however, wear uniform when actually performing their official duties within the territory of the receiving state.
§ Mr. Driberg
I assume that it would also have been communicated in the appropriate form to commanding officers, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman was justified in raising the matter.
We have heard today, in some of the speeches from hon. Members opposite, occasional rumblings from the Bourbon backwoods, but on the whole I suppose we must concede that the British Conservative Government have shown themselves, belatedly, slightly less blind to the processes of history than the French and the Dutch have shown themselves since the Second World War.
§ Mr. Driberg
We have moved quite a long way—from the days when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) could boast that he had "not become the King's first Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire." All the old Western empires are in the process of liquidation. and a good thing too—so long as the old colonial masters are not replaced by other masters who may perhaps be worse than the former ones; so long as the liquidation of the Empire means genuine freedom and independence for former Colonial Territories, or a free association within the Commonwealth. We have moved a long way from the time when the same right hon. Gentleman boasted: "What we have we hold." They had Cyprus: they are not holding it now, are they? Only these little tiny bases on this map, still for some reason marked "Confidential" in red ink, at the end of the blue book. In fact, the old jingoistic braggadocio is very muted today.
We have heard echoes of the old argument about the Turks and the Greeks. I personally think that the people who, in a way, have done best out of this Agreement are the Turks. As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), the ratio of three to seven is quite disproportionate to the actual percentage of Turks in the population, which is about 18 per cent. Also, if one wished to drag up these old historical arguments, one could say that the Turks as a community have, if anything, rather less right to be in Cyprus even than we have; and certainly much less right than the Greeks have. The Cypriots are a Greek people and the Turkish minority there is simply a hangover from an old imperial domination far more despotic and bloody even than ours.
However, as was said by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove, we must look in the main to the future, although we are also entitled to indulge in a certain amount of the gentle sort of recrimination in which we have been induling this evening—since, as again the right hon. Member for Woodford once said, "the use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action for the future." I hope very much that in the future, if 1691 there should be any even approximately comparable case to that of Cyprus—there is no exactly comparable case, I think; it is unique within the Colonial Territories—but should there be any approximately comparable case, I hope very much that the party opposite and the Tory Government will learn a lesson from this experience, and that they will accept our recriminations today with a good grace, and promise to do better in future.
§ Mr. Driberg
Yes, that is a good idea. We might start with Malta next. Then no doubt we shall be told from the Government Front Bench that Malta can "never" have independence or full self-government. But perhaps they will not make that identical mistake again. The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs who said that became an absolute albatross round the neck of the Colonial Office; no doubt that is why he was rapidly kicked upstairs to another place. I am glad, at least, that the Government have dropped the rather feeble and wriggling pretence that the word "never" was not used on 28th July, 1954. I remember so clearly that occasion, when a few of us on this side of the House seized the opportunity afforded by the Consolidated Fund Bill to stage an impromptu debate on Cyprus in which several of my right hon. and hon. Friends took part very vigorously, including the right hon. Gentleman whom we are still mourning, Aneurin Bevan. As the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) so rightly said, it was from that date, from that statement, from that use of the insane word "never"—a word no politician should ever use—that all the trouble in Cyprus originated; all those lives lost, lives of British soldiers and Cypriot patriots lost unnecessarily, because of the stupidity and obstinacy of Her Majesty's Government.
The hon. Member for Bromsgrove said that it was universally agreed that the bases are necessary, but he did not actually say what they are necessary for, and when the Colonial Secretary was opening the debate he also was rather evasive on that point. It would be interesting to know what is in the mind of the Government, whether these bases 1692 are simply a prestige foothold, so to speak, in the Middle East—because the bases in Cyprus are in a sense the last British foothold in or near the Middle East—or whether there is some practical purpose envisaged for them. I think that the limitations on air movement in that part of the world have become increasingly stringent in recent years, and I want quite seriously to ask the question, what exactly is the use of these bases? If the hon. Gentleman cannot give a precise answer because perhaps it would inflame antagonisms or aggravate already tense situations—I certainly do not want to do that—could he give us some idea of the number of troops who will be stationed more or less permanently in Cyprus at these bases? With the rundown of National Service, presumably the troops are needed badly elsewhere. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can say if it is the case that a brigade group, or something like 8,000 or 9,000 men, are to be kept there, and, if so why?
A subsidiary point of a very different kind, which arises out of the question of the bases occurs to me as a result of an interesting suggestion made by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), who spoke earlier from the other side of the House. He spoke of the necessity of having a good building for the British Embassy in Cyprus, whether it is called an embassy or the Office of the High Commissioner, or whatever it may be in future. I entirely agree with that. I hope it will be a worthy dignified, and completely contemporary building—so that the Cypriots will be able to see the best that modern British architects can do. Perhaps, too, it may symbolise the welcome fact that even the Conservative Government are beginning to grow up into the second half of the twentieth century.
Such barracks and married quarters as I have seen in Cyprus struck me as quite peculiarly hideous and as having been apparently designed for the North of Scotland rather than for a tropical country. I do not know why that should be. Why cannot they be decently designed? Why cannot the designs be sent to the Royal Fine Art Commission first? There must be a number of standardised designs for barracks and married quarters turned out by the Ministry of Works for the Service Departments. I 1693 hope that when eventually, as of course they will be, these bases are evacuated—just as we evacuated the Canal Zone eventually, after saying that we would not—we shall not leave behind only such hideous relics of our civilisation and occupation as these barrack blocks and married quarters. When we contrast them with the wonderful beauty of the relics of earlier empires and earlier civilisations in Cyprus, whether they are the classical buildings of Salamis or the Byzantine churches, surely we can do something a bit better than these dreary blocks.
There is one other specific point I want to make, a point initially raised by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling): the question of the smaller minorities. He dealt only with the question of the Maronites. I think that most of us would agree that all the minorities, the Maronites, the Armenians and the Latins are equally entitled to consideration by this House. In his opening speech, the Secretary of State laid great emphasis on the binding character of Appendix T, the guarantees about British residents in Cyprus. He pointed out that there was a draft exchange of notes between Her Majesty's Government and the Archbishop and Dr. Kutchuk on this matter and that therefore the safeguards were perfectly satisfactory.
If one contrasts Appendix T with Appendix E, one finds that, although it may be equally binding—since the safeguards are indeed being embodied in the constitution—a rather different formula has been adopted. There has been no exchange of notes which would, at any rate, bind the first President-to-be and the first Vice-President-to-be. Appendix E is simply "a statement by Her Majesty's Government." That does not seem quite so binding as the form adopted in Appendix T.
There is also a certain obscurity in the text of Appendix E itself. I hope the hon. Gentleman can say something about paragraphs 3 and 4 in answer to the hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion, other hon. Members and myself. Paragraph 3 says:The Constitution will enable the Armenians, the Maronites and the Latins, as groups, to choose to belong to either the Greek-Cypriot or the Turkish-Cypriot Community".1694 There are these religious and cultural differences between the Armenians and the Maronites, and the Orthodox Greeks and the Muslim Turks. I do not quite understand why they more or less have to opt to belong to one or the other community. Would it be absolutely impossible to ensure for them the very small representation which the hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion asked on behalf of the Maronites—say, one Armenian, one Maronite and one Latin? Would it be impossible to arrange that? There could not possibly be any threat to the ascendency of the Greeks, or of the Turks for that matter.
Apart from these groups as such, I do not see why individuals necessarily have to be treated in this way. I am a Socialist because I am an individualist. I do not quite understand why an individual Armenian or Maronite, who might perhaps not be practising his religion actively at all—he may have become an Agnostic, an Atheist or a humanist—should be dragooned into one of two majority religious groups. Personally I regret very much the division of a nation on communal lines—inevitable, of course, as it is in these circumstances. This has always been one of the delicate and difficult aspects of public life in the Lebanon—the fact that it is divided on religious communal lines, and that this constant tension and balance between the different faiths has to be maintained. I think it a great pity that people cannot be encouraged more positively to learn to live, and to vote, as Cypriots rather than as Orthodox Greeks or Muslim Turks. Although that would not be easy to achieve at this stage, I hope that it will come about in the future, and that, meanwhile, these very small minorities of Armenians and Maronites, who might be compared numerically with the community of British people retired and living there, can be allowed a certain amount of freedom and representation.
Paragraph 4 says that:Any religious group which has opted as a group to belong to one of the two Communities will have the right under the Constitution to be represented in the Communal Chamber of the Community for which it has opted.How many representatives? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to say.
1695 I am sure that Archbishop Makarios, whom I know well personally, is not the sort of man who would wish to discriminate in any way against any of the smaller religious groups. I am not the least questioning his good faith, or the good faith of the Vice-President-to-be, when I ask these questions, although it struck me that the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion was perhaps not being entirely helpful to the cause he was pleading when he stressed so strongly that the Maronites had been extremely "loyal" all through the recent troubles. The word "loyal", applied to an alien on the lips of a Tory, always means loyal to Britain, even though it may mean being disloyal to the alien's own country. However, let that pass.
I end by echoing very briefly the tributes which have already been paid. I have paid my tribute, with the hon. Member for Bromsgrove, to the British security forces. I associate myself with everything my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon said about the Archbishop. I remember so well back in the autumn of 1954 discussing the question of bases with the Archbishop. I remember that absolute guarantees were given then, both by the Archbishop and by the Greek Foreign Minister, that if Cyprus had self-determination then, six years ago, ample arrangements could be made for bases for Britain, for N.A.T.O., or for whoever it was desired should have them. All the bitter agony of these six years has been absolutely unnecessary.
The Archbishop, however, has shown great patience and wisdom, and because on the whole I have supported the claim of the Greek majority, I should like also to pay tribute to Dr. Kutchuk. I know that he has behaved in a thoroughly responsible and co-operative way during these negotiations. Indeed, the Archbishop himself told me so the last time he was in London.
As I say, these have been bitter years. There need never have been all this bloodshed and hatred if only Her Majesty's Government had shown more wisdom a bit sooner. But the experience will not have been entirely wasted if it helps the Government and the people of this country to realise what is going on in the world around us, and 1696 to behave with a more imaginative courage next time anything like this crops up.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
For me this debate is a closing chapter in a long struggle from these benches, and I hope that what I say will cause no offence to those on this side of the House who have disagreed with me and no offence to hon. Members opposite with whom I have had the honour to work on the Cyprus Conciliation Committee over four long and trying years.
The speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) was a fine and eloquent appeal to the House and to the British people to show that generosity which we always show when we understand the problem which we have to face. I want also to pay my tribute to Dr. Kutchuk, to Archbishop Makarios and to the Governor; this I have already done by letter. It remains only for me to express some words of consolation to the Under-Secretary of State for his long ordeal on the island. I had the pleasure of seeing him there. I do not think that the Opposition ought to blame him for any of the delay for I do not think he was in any way responsible for it. The responsibility for the delay, I believe, ran further back into higher offices than his. He, as I said in the island, has shown wisdom and patience, and as he was playing a chess player, he played his hand very well indeed, although I did not want to agree with him in everything he did.
I remember following the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) in the debate in 1955. I realise that my maiden speech caused a great shock. It was described by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) as the biggest "clanger" ever heard in the House of Commons, and he said that no such clanger would ever be heard again. I then said:I must refer to the island of Cyprus and to our relations with the Greek Government. It is no use us adopting the attitude of Madam La Marquise—everything will be all right—because it will not."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1955; Vol. 542. c. 660.]The policy in 1955 was quite simply dolce fa niente, which I can only translate as doing "sweet Fanny Adams" While the whole situation deteriorated on us.
1697 I returned to Great Britain from the Middle East in 1954 convinced that the only possible way to affect our foreign policy and to stop us from living in a cuckoo land was to get in the House and to try to make some impression there. After all, I lived on the island and I was not coming back here to talk a lot of nonsense. I remember clearly in 1956 giving a promise to the Archbishop that I would do all that I could to persuade the Government of that day to come to a sensible agreement with the Cypriot people. Indeed, the harsh and horrible feelings between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots was not even mentioned; it had not even arisen at that time.
The Foreign Secretary has stood at the Box and has tried to twist our memories and to persuade us that the only time that the negotiations could have been successful was when the Archbishop dropped his request for Enosis in 1958. In my humble estimation, that is the biggest twist of the facts that I have ever heard from the Dispatch Box. I do not know what he thinks hon. Members' memories are made of. Mine is certainly not made of putty.
I am afraid that the difficulties of the island have been insuperable over the last five years. We were unable at that time to accept any agreement. I am sorry to say that I do not believe that the Government between 1955 and 1958 seriously wanted agreement. When I came here and spoke about Cyprus at that time, never did I expect that I should see such terrible tragedies both to our people and to theirs. Perhaps the only redeeming feature of it all is that somehow the Cypriot people have not despaired and still today, remarkable as it may seem, we hold their good will and affection. I think that this shows a great forgiveness on their part.
The mayor of the village in which I lived, Lapithos, was dragged out of his house backwards by his hair and thrown into a lorry on his sprawling compatriots. He told me this recently when we were having supper, and today he looks back on that as an amusing incident. I must say that is something which I deeply admire. At Lapithos, where the mountain comes down to the blue sea, there is a memorial on the side of the rock 1698 and marble plaques to commemorate those of E.O.K.A. who lost their lives. I feel that that memorial is not complete. Somewhere on it there should be a small note in Greek to those who also lost their lives doing their duty, too. In those circumstances I would accept that very fine memorial as one truly representative of those tragic times.
We have come a long way since 1956–58. I think that perhaps the movement for the better began when the Prime Minister began to take an urgent interest in the island. Some say that it was the Macmillan Plan, but it does not matter whose plan it was. It was the Prime Minister's intuition that the problem of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece ought to be solved. Perhaps he best put it in the words which he used when he recommended the London Agreement to the Conference: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 … what I call interdependence.I believe that this agreement which the Under-Secretary of State has brought home and this Bill embody that spirit of interdependence. I have no doubt that Dr. Kutchuk and Archbishop Makarios and the Cypriot people will play their part. It is up to us and to the Service Departments to play their part, too, and for them to take their rôle of being good guardians of the sovereign territory and also of the trust joint user territory.
I am delighted to think that the base commander will be from the Royal Air Force. Perhaps people will wonder why. I consider that the situation today and the friendship we have retained in Iraq has been in the main due to the long and successful co-operation between the Royal Air Force and the Iraq people. That gay, infectious spirit of the Royal Air Force and those who serve in it is the sort of spirit that I want to see in the island of Cyprus. I know that the Royal Air Force will make friends with many of the people who live on that lovely island.
Today we bury a policy. I mourn it not. It was a policy regretfully of bloody-minded arrogance—the policy of a square. Its crass stupidity cost this country millions. At one time it even 1699 appeared that we should lose our good name. I shall never forget one of those extraordinary statements which came from a great Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden. He said no Cyprus, no oil. We had Cyprus during the Suez crisis and we had no Middle East oil.
What did a statement like that mean? Precisely nothing. But what a danger and what an unfortunate thing that it was said because it put in the minds of the ordinary British people that the island was of enormous strategic imperial value, when any honest man, when any honest soldier, including General Sir Claud Auchinlech, said that the strategic value is but little. We cannot afford to fool the British people all the time on serious matters like this.
Later, of course, people have been asking me: have I not given up the long and anxious thoughts and the anguish of the past, and, in particular, my recent contretemps with the Foreign Secretary? I do not think that it is worth pursuing this battle of impeachment. I think that the best answer would be promotion. When in doubt, promote!
I do not feel antagonistic to those who take a different view from my own, but I cannot let this day pass without giving a warning. There is a danger of building up in the minds of the people some sort of pseudo patriotism, a feeling that someone who disagrees with a line of policy is immediately a traitor. It is a very dangerous thought when one political party accuses either its members or an Opposition party which happens fundamentally to disagree on a matter of great importance and says that because they disagree they are traitors.
I believe that I know who is responsible for these unfortunate accusations in our country. It is mainly the fault of some elements in the national Press. The quick way to get a good newspaper circulation is to sell to the people what they want. As a result, our country and some of the people I talked to are in Cuckoo Land. They have no conception of the world outside. We look at the confusion now going on in people's minds, whether we should hold on to the Commonwealth or whether we should join Europe. There can be no doubt about the matter. We must join Europe. 1700 I am sorry to digress in this way, but I think that these things are important.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. I cannot but feel that the hon. Member has digressed far enough already. This is the Second Reading of the Cyprus Bill.
§ Mr. Yates
I am very glad, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you have mentioned that. I was pointing out that when we adopt a policy which seems to be basically very patriotic and very right, sometimes that policy, like the one that we held on to in Cyprus, is, in fact, the very sort of policy which makes the Communist task in the Middle East and particularly in Cyprus very much easier. I would say that the increase of the Communist party A.K.E.L. in Cyprus has largely come about because of the policies which we pursued between 1955 and 1958.
As to the uses of the military bases, here is an extraordinary thing. I asked one of the people responsible in the Army what sort of size of base was really required. The answer was that the base must be big enough to enable us to deploy as large a force as we require, to be able to use that force in the Sovereign bases, even though it is contrary to the wishes of the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots, or Turkey or Greece, Or N.A.T.O., or the United Nations—we must have sovereignty to do just what we like and to hold it against all corners. To hold it against all corners we must have one of those great military requirements—elbow room.
One of the greatest difficulties about the final agreement on the bases was how much elbow room did we require. It may surprise hon. Members to know that during the past eight months, this was one of the main stumbling blocks in concluding the Agreement. I remember the Archbishop of Canterbury writing to me a letter recently in which he said that he almost despaired of the situation in which the wishes of the military must always be conceded to what the politician and statesman thought advisable. All I can say is that if this country is going to get itself into the same position as the Pentagon in the United States, and if the War Office is going to dictate our policy, it is high time that it was stopped.
1701 I asked this great military genius what it would cost to hold the base against all comers with troops in case of emergency. The answer was that we could neither hold it nor was he able to calculate the cost of such an operation.
There is one thing that I should like to ask the Minister. If he refers to Annex A, at the top of page 16, in relation to the bases, which must have given hon. Members great interest, he will read as follows:The large-scale maps, air photographs and descriptions referred to in this Annex are not printed. Copies will be made available in the Libraries of both Houses and an authenticated set will be deposited in the Commonwealth Relations Office during the passage of the Bill through Parliament.Why was it that no maps were deposited in the House of Commons until two o'clock this afternoon. Why is there only one folder. Why is there no explanation, and where are the air photographs? That is not the way to treat hon. Members of this House. I should like to know also—the Colonial Secretary said that the lines of the bases are already fixed—what is the purpose of the Boundary Commission and what is the purpose of having an independent Swiss referee in case there is some dispute in the variation of the boundaries.
I do not understand how such an important document as this Blue Book could have come to the House without these proper maps being made available to show—after all, some hon. Members take a great interest in military strategy and regard it as very important—the actual size of the sovereign bases drawn out on large-scale maps. I hope that the Minister will be able to answer that when he replies.
Much discussion has taken place about whether Cyprus should be welcomed into the Commonwealth. I regard this as rather presumptuous. Commonwealth Ministers will themselves decide. I should have thought that if any people wished to come into the Commonwealth they would be welcomed with open arms.
§ Mr. Yates
Anybody who wishes to come to the Commonwealth should be welcomed with open arms. No doubt the hon. Member is hoping to be called, when he will explain why not. I make 1702 no rule about number, religion or colour. Someone said to me once, "Do you realise that you will be outnumbered nine to one by the African States in ten years' time?" I do not mind. I do not mind being outnumbered by anybody. If we are to carry the tradition of the Commonwealth to Africa or to Asia, what shall we say? Shall we say that the club should be run for our benefit or for those who want to join? If any hon. Members take another view about the way to run the Commonwealth, it is certainly not mine.
At last, we come to the end of a passage of Cyprus history. We have learned just one thing. Power and military might are no substitute for love and affection. In this spirit we must carry out the Agreement before us today. Those who know Cyprus as one of the most beautiful islands of the Mediterranean, those who know something of the orange trees, the silk and the scarab, those who have seen across into the mountains of Anatolia, who have been out to the palace of Vouri and Salamis and who know the long Kyrenia Range and the castles, will welcome the Agreement and they will know how much the people of Cyprus welcome it too. I hope that our good wishes and affection will go out from this House to the people of Cyprus.
Perhaps, as the lemons will no longer be bitter, I may read a few lines about the island.Branches of orange, lovely with flowers, Seven are the bridesmaids who sew the bed Into the bride's hall flew two nightingales They came to bring her English needles".To the people of Cyprus we send, I hope, our best wishes for their prosperity and also our love and our affection. In this spirit, I commend the Bill to the House and to the country.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
I cannot remember another speech like the one we have just heard from the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates). He stood there, like the boy on the burning deck, defying all. I can only commend his speech to the Tory Whips and ask them to treat him with as much tender mercy as possible.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Commonwealth and the admissibility of various peoples in the Commonwealth.
1703 He opened the breach very wide, saying that he is prepared to have all and sundry join, irrespective of contribution or obligations. The Commonwealth is not for that, as I shall try to demonstrate.
The Colonial Secretary has brought to the House this Blue Book, the result of ten years of tortuous negotiation, bloodshed and agony. It is a complicated document. It would take a constitutional lawyer all his time to understand it. All the "T"s are crossed and all the "I"s are dotted, but, quite frankly, there is hardly a page of it which I understand, and I do not think the Colonial Secretary really understands it himself, especially the part dealing with citizenship. But this is the end of ten years of misery in the affairs of Cyprus, during which we have debated its importance to the United Kingdom as a Colony and as a possible defence base in the future.
What the Colonial Secretary has put before the House is the most expensive shot-gun marriage in history. I do not think he realises what he has done. If this is the pattern of the future for other dependent territories which are aspiring to independence, the United Kingdom certainly has something on its plate. Various hon. Members have distributed accolades and medals all round the Chamber today. I have none at all to distribute.
I have had my say in previous debates, and I have said what I thought of Archbishop Makarios. I do not clothe him in a white shroud. I am fearful whenever the church interferes in politics, in Cyprus, in Greece or anywhere else. At any time, he could have called an end to the hostilities which resulted in bloodshed, despite the justice of his case, but an end was never called. Whether he likes it or not, although he has this agreement, the Archbishop is now the prisoner of forces which will turn out to he stronger than he.
In my opinion, this Agreement is quite valueless for defence purposes or for any other. We have here a polarisation of forces resulting in a polarisation through fear. Every day, there are in the world issues and events, chiefly in which the great Powers are concerned, in regard to which, by virtue of the destructive power vested in each, none can take a decision, not even to protect its own nationals. There are, for instance, conflicts of legiti- 1704 mate interest between Cuba and the United States and there is Cuba's desire for independence, the result of economic upsets and confiscation of assets, for that is what it amounts to, followed by an immediate offer of help from behind the Iron Curtain. We know about the shooting down of bombers, whether on or off course, whether over territorial waters or not. Every base throughout the world, if the Russian claims are accepted, is in danger of direct attack. What use is a base of the character of Cyprus?
As the Colonial Secretary knows, we ran from the Canal base in 1954 and ceased to be there as an occupier. We had to have a base in the Mediterranean. Some of us at that time thought that this base in Cyprus was not suitable for military purposes, and I still hold that view. Events have proved me correct. The events of Suez demonstrated that this base was of no value to us at all. It has no deep water port. The population may at any time be hostile. This Agreement, drawn up between the Turks the Cypriots and ourselves and based on the existing position of the political parties in Cyprus, can become valueless overnight immediately a certain political party assumes office, as well it might.
The Communists are the best organised and the most forceful party in Cyprus, and they are chiefly concentrated among the population in the areas where we have the bases. Surely, these facts should have been realised in acquiring the bases for the purposes for which they have been acquired. The purposes have not been stated, but I imagine that there can be but one purpose. It cannot be just an ordinary staff training purpose which applies here. They must be nuclear bases. Are they? If they are nuclear bases, then the instant there is any threat of aggression in any part of the world or an attempt to use them for what might be genuine N.A.T.O. interests, the population will rise and make them untenable.
This is our situation now, for which we are paying out of British taxpayers' money no less than £40 million, and more to come. This is a rich reward over ten years for bloodshed and murder. In my constituency there are many old-age pensioners and widows of soldiers who lost their lives in Cyprus 1705 who could do with this money. If this is the pattern which we are to follow in future—and we have still about 20 Protectorates—the price will go up very quickly. The West Indies, with nine times the population, will have something to say about this. The Federation Government receive only £3½ million.
What are we concerned with here? It is about time we had a look to see what the Government propose to do with the taxpayers' money. This pattern is being set for the future. I am old-fashioned enough to know that independence means what it says—being independent. Every family in the country knows this. When children leave their mothers and fathers they become independent. But independence in this case means that the British taxpayer keeps the people of Cyprus a live for ever. Is this the pattern which we are to follow in future? If so, whether this Government or any other Government are in power, the burden will become intolerable.
Is the Under-Secretary of State aware of what is happening? Is he aware of the weight of colonial immigration? Since the emergency of 1952, 17,000 Cypriots have come to this country. Despite Enosis, they have come here. The reason is obvious—the jackpot is bigger, and the benefits which are available are greater. But we cannot have wealth here and distribute it outside, too. Since the beginning of January this year no fewer than 19,200 people have come from the West Indies. Is this the pattern for the future as Nigeria, Ghana, the Rhodesias and Kenya become more wealthy? How big a burden can we or should we undertake in view of our obvious economic difficulties in Europe with the Common Market, and so on? The conditions which we have enjoyed for the last 15 years, with full employment, will not last for ever. What will be the future position in an overcrowded island of 52 million people? Has the Under-Secretary of State any answer to these problems?
This agreement is generous in the extreme. Let us look at some of its provisions to see what we have done and how much we have given. Taking financial year by financial year, in 1961 we shall contribute £4 million; in 1962, £3 million in 1963, £2 million; and in 1706 1964 and 1965, £1,500,000. In addition, there is to be a grant of £500,000 towards the construction of an airport, and £500,000 for the settlement of Cypriots who do not wish to remain at the bases. In addition £365,000 is to be given towards road construction and loans of £165,000 for water supplies and £65,000 for irrigating the villages are to be granted through the Development Corporation. Is this the pattern which we, the heaviest taxed nation in the world, have set for the future? In view of the difficulties which are creeping up on us, if this is the pattern to be followed someone had better do some straight thinking about it, because we cannot afford to keep it up.
This agreement is valueless and useless. When there is a danger of hostilities commencing the population of Cyprus will make the position untenable and will feel fully justified in so doing. For this we have waited ten years. During an Adjournment debate this year I said that I did not believe that Archbishop Makarios was master of the situation. I do not believe it now. He is subject to forces he cannot control.
Let the Colonial Secretary look at the pattern which we are to try to operate throughout the world. We are not the Colonial Power that we were. We have not the overseas resources which we formerly had. We are living by virtue of our own economic strength, receiving no favours from any country, not even in Commonwealth Preferences, if one cares to take the broad view as was proved conclusively when the Korean War was started. The Commonwealth means different things to different people, and this is where I join issue with the hon. Member for The Wrekin.
Let us consider the position of Canada, for instance, with its huge borders, its great mineral wealth and minute population. Even Canada is not prepared to take on the burdens of the Commonwealth which rightly should be hers in view of her strength. Neither is Australia nor New Zealand. No other country will do so either. But they are all willing apparently to come to us for grants and loans and favourable treatment. This is all right as long as we can keep on doing it. But how long can we keep on doing it?
§ Mr. W. Yates
I can see the point which the hon. Member is getting at, but I should have thought that one of the problems which the Commonwealth should decide is the co-ordination of its financial resources, each country in the Commonwealth giving as best it can. I appreciate the hon. Member's point that they come to us for assistance.
§ Mr. Tomney
The trouble is that each is not giving according to what it can. Let us consider the immigration position. We are the only country in the Commonwealth which operates the open door policy. We believe that inherently we as the Mother Country should do this, regardless of colour, race or creed. It is a noble thing, but it carries great penalties. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and even Ghana do not operate this policy. Let anyone try to get into Ghana freely. One will not be allowed to do this, not even West Indians.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he will not lead the House astray into discussing something which it is not proper to discuss in a Second Reading debate.
§ Mr. Tomney
I am sorry if I have strayed, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I am delivering a speech and trying to answer the point of the hon. Member for The Wrekin. It is difficult to keep a balance.
I know that some of my hon. Friends disagree with me in this matter. I have not got this problem on my doorstep, and it is a different kettle of fish when one has. We in this country take these burdens on ourselves gladly. I shall not get a large measure of agreement yet on this side of the House in some of the views which I am expressing. Possibly, some of my hon. Friends will never agree with them. Whether I get agreement or not, however, I am sure that they will not mind my stating the problem, because the problem is there and must be faced.
No other country assumes the responsibilities that we assume. What is our position in agreements like the Cyprus agreement? I have contended in previous speeches that this should never have been a British responsibility and should always have been a N.A.T.O. responsibility, as N.A.T.O. is the force 1708 which is primarily responsible in the area for the defence of the West.
Why we could not have got that established, I do not know. Possibly, we could have got a settlement much earlier with much less trouble and bloodshed had it been a N.A.T.O. settlement. We clung to the present kind of agreement because of outmoded ideas of imperialism and colonialism which no longer apply in the present situation. As a consequence, at the end of the day we are left with a situation which is ludicrous.
Other hon. Members may not think the same as I do. My opinion is that internationally, in almost every field, the Communists are winning all along the line, as, indeed, they must, because they are not subject to the forces of democracy, consultation or public opinion. They are able to take quick decisions of a character which we cannot match.
Arriving at agreements such as that which has now been reached concerning Cyprus does not help. It is a N.A.T.O. responsibility right from the Middle East round to Western Germany. N.A.T.O. should have been brought into the consultations and we should have abrogated any responsibility for going into Cyprus to establish bases there.
We now have the Agreement. How long it will last is a matter of conjecture. The right hon. Gentleman has a responsible job in his position as Colonial Secretary. More demands of this nature will be made upon him throughout the world. When he gets them and the price is stepped up, he can remember that they will have been based on the Cyprus Agreement. He cannot blame any other territory for trying to get equal or better terms. There is no doubt that all the remaining dependencies will make such demands.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)
It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) in the debates on Cyprus. From him and from my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates), we have had two vigorous speeches. The speech of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North might well have been made from this side of the House, while that of my hon. Friend 1709 the Member for The Wrekin might more properly have come from the benches opposite. There was only one point in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin with which I was in agreement, and I shall deal with it presently.
I was glad to notice that during the last few speeches we have managed at last to get away from discussing the past at such great length and to begin to try to discuss what is happening in Cyprus now and what will be the problem of the future. At one moment, I feared that we might have a repetition of last year's debate at the time of the signing of the Zurich and London Agreements. At that time, there were fears on all sides of the House that those Agreements might not be so easy to get as at first sight appeared. As time went by, it looked as if agreement would be more difficult to reach.
I should like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for his magnificent work during the past few months in Cyprus. I know that some hon. Members opposite do not agree with this appreciation of the work of my hon. Friend, but my opinion is that he has done a magnificent job in the way he has managed to get an agreement which has been fiercely contested every inch of the way. My hon. Friend has not been helped in the matter by the fact that almost at the last moment there was a change of Government in Turkey and negotiations had, no doubt, to be held up to allow time to consider what the attitude of the new Turkish Government would be to any Cyprus settlement. The highest credit goes to my hon. Friend.
Throughout the whole of the negotiations of the last few months, one thing which has remained absolutely clear is that there could be no basic change in the Agreements reached in Zurich and London last year. Those Agreements had been reached with the agreement and support of five nationalities—Greek-Cypriots, Turkish-Cypriots, the Greek and Turkish Governments and the British Government. It was not to be expected that any major change could take place without the agreement of all these parties. One of the major faults of the 1710 Zurich and London Agreements was that so much was left vague. No doubt, this made it easier to reach those Agreements at the time. Later, however, it made matters much more difficult.
I now come to the part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member far The Wrekin with which I agreed. That was when he talked about the provision of maps. I should like to remind my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies of what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said in our debate in February. I quote:I think that the difficulty that 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 9th February. 1960; Vol. 617, c. 314.]I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies shares the views of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, because in spite of the assurances contained in the White Paper that copies of maps would be available in the Libraries of both Houses it was not until my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin and I made strenuous efforts to obtain these maps during the early hours of this morning that they became available at 1 o'clock this afternoon, with no word of explanation, and there was only one set of them. I suggest that there must have been some muddle about these maps that we were promised in the White Paper.
Large parts of the White Paper are quite impossible to understand without detailed maps. I would refer hon. Members to Section 3 of Annex A where we are told about the territorial waters and where there is one sentence which begins:From the position on the low-water line lying in a 163° direction from Point No. 57D/1, as defined in Schedule A to this Annex …and it goes on to describe some area of water. How is anyone supposed to know where the Point No. 57D/1 is? I fail to understand, but fortunately since 1 o'clock we have been able to get at least one set of these maps. I am sorry to say, however, that they do not mark the lines of territorial waters clearly.
1711 I should like to ask my right hon. Friend about the position of the villages of Xylotymbou and Ormidhia. It is perfectly clear from the detailed map that the area round the village of Xylotymbou, the Cypriot enclave in the middle of our base area, is smaller than at first appears. It almost circles round the houses of that village. It has been said in the course of the debate that it is vital to have the good will of Cypriots if these bases are to be any good whatsoever. That is very true.
If we get that support these bases obviously will be all right anyway and there will be no problem. The difficulties that will confront the Government will come about if circumstances arise—and we pray that they do not—when we have not the support and good will of the Cypriot Government and if, as some hon. Members have said, Cyprus goes Communist in a few years' time. What will happen to the villages if we have those difficulties?
Appendix G sets out the terms of access to the two villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymbou and paragraph 3 of the Appendix states:If, in any exceptional circumstances, the military requirements or security needs of the United Kingdom should require the restriction or control of movement within the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area, the United Kingdom authorities …have a right to take certain steps. But who will determine whether or not these exceptional circumstances have arisen? All that is left very vague and imprecise in the terms of the Agreement. I should be interested to hear about it.
I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary one question about the financial requirements. Appendix R states that there is to be a £340,000 by-pass of the Ayios Nikolaos section of the Dhekelia area. I have looked at maps, big and small, and I have yet to find any mention of this proposed by-pass. If there is to be one and we are to spend £340,000 on it, would it not be more sensible if it were extended a few more miles and then it would be perfectly possible for Cypriots to go from Famagusta to Nicosia without going through any British base areas whatsoever. If we are to make this enormous by-pass—and I cannot find exact details of it because they are not set out 1712 anywhere—would it not be better to make it longer so that we should have a road from Famagusta to Dekhelia which would not at any stage go through any part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
§ Mr. Channon
My hon. Friend may be right. There is certainly a lake there, but perhaps the road could go to the south rather than to the north, near the village of Dherinia. That is worth examination.
I wish also to raise the problem of the route from Famagusta to Larnaca. I suppose that it will always be necessary for people to go through part of the British base area. In spite of any bypass, I cannot see how one can avoid going through the base or through the vicinity of Pergamos and Pyla. I should like to know what plans the Government would adopt in an emergency to secure for our people their transport and routes without contravening the agreements with the Republic to allow free circulation.
I cannot entirely agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North about financial assistance. I agree that the hon. Member has an important point about what may happen in future, but I think that in the present case the amount of financial assistance was worth while. It is cheaper and worth more to this country than would have been the case if the Conference had broken down or in the event of the emergency which might have been created if no agreement had been reached. If the bases are to be effective—there is room for considerable doubt on that score—I do not think the money has been ill spent.
§ Mr. Tomney
I do not think the hon. Member understood what I said. My case was that Cyprus should have been granted independence ten years ago. It is totally unrealistic and uneconomic for us to pay this price for the bases at this juncture. When I think of the campaign which has been waged against this country in Cyprus I feel that if any country campaigns in future for independence we should leave it to that country to come to us instead of our continually chasing that country.
§ Mr. Channon
I see the hon. Member's point. This may well be an awkward precedent in future, but I think that in the special circumstances of this case—the problem has beset us for so many years—the financial terms are not so unreasonable. The problem of Cyprus has been such a peculiar one and so different from other colonial problems that I think we may well argue that this does not set a precedent for the future. It is quite special.
I join other hon. Members in the hopes which they have expressed on the ending of this sorry chapter in the island's history. The Prime Minister of Greece expressed it best when he spoke in London last year. Talking about the solution, he said:It is the best solution because its main foundation is co-operation between Greeks and Turks, both in the Island and in our two countries. And is best solution because it leaves to the Island's majority the rights enabling it to develop in the most appropriate manner all aspects of its life, while it secures to the minority a splendid opportunity for maintaining its characters and institutions, as well as for enjoying their generous share of common authority and responsibilities.I am glad that by the success of the negotiations we have been able to live up to the fine words of the Prime Minister of Greece at the London Conference.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
This debate marks the end of an epoch. We have witnessed a tremendous change in public opinion in Britain and within the Conservative Party. We welcome that change, and we are very glad to see it being put into effect.
I congratulate the Under-Secretary of State upon the job which he has done and upon his conversion. I should be able to congratulate him far more sincerely if I knew that he was going to recant from the statements he made in the past which were quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who advised the hon. Gentleman to make an honest and sincere speech to the House admitting frankly that he had been wrong. We should then certainly wholeheartedly congratulate him upon his conversion.
I congratulate the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates). Many times we have admired the courage with 1714 which he has risen and prodded the lethargic Ministers on the Front Bench, who would have been well advised to follow his advice on some of these questions a long time ago.
§ Mr. W. Yates
It is no use the hon. Gentleman praising me and asking the Government Front Bench to eat crow pie. That will not help me.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
I am very glad that the hon. Member has a more intelligent constituency Conservative association than very many of his colleagues.
We are, then, discussing a Bill which will bring an end to that disgraceful period in colonial history. I shall not add to the various points that have been made criticising the Government for their appalling mistake in the past few years. This period has involved a tremendous waste of human life and financial resources.
I want to refer to the future operation of this Agreement. I was interested that the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) shot so many holes in the Agreement. It is, of course, bristling with difficulties. Nobody who looks at the maps can fail to see how impossible it will be to run these so-called sovereign base areas without the full agreement and good will of the authorities of the Republic.
It contains various clauses which attempt to bolster up the authority of the United Kingdom. We are advised that access to the airport at Nicosia, for instance, will be the right of United Kingdom forces in an emergency. Very many clauses aim at bolstering up the United Kingdom's power to operate in the sovereign base areas, and, indeed, in other parts of the Republic in an emergency. But the United Kingdom will not be able to exercise those rights unless we have the full agreement of the people of Cyprus for the policies which we intend to pursue during that emergency.
The Colonial Secretary today gave no indication about what political consultations will take place between the United Kingdom and the Republic to ensure that the policies which the United Kingdom pursues in using the bases will be with the agreement of the Republic. He 1715 referred rather vaguely to the setting up of a joint consultative board or committee which would help get over the problem of deciding how and when the bases would be used. He did not say enough about this committee, however. I should like the Under-Secretary of State to tell us how it is to be constituted and what its powers will be.
If the representatives of the Government of Cyprus object to the operations which are to be pursued by the United Kingdom authorities, will they have a right to veto them? If, for instance, we intended to use the bases for reconnaissance flights over, say, the Soviet Union, would the Republic have the right to know where our aircraft were flying? Would it have the right to veto the use of the bases by United Kingdom aircraft for such purposes?
In the case of disagreements between the representatives on this committee of the Republic and of the United Kingdom, is there to be any arrangement for appeal to ensure the smoothing out of these disagreements? Or does the United Kingdom intend to ride rough-shod over the objections of the representatives of the Republic? We have not had nearly enough light on the topic of political consultation between the United Kingdom and the Republic in the future. The Agreement is absolutely worthless—in fact it is fatuous—unless there is good will on both sides and unless the Republic of Cyprus agrees to the policies which we are to pursue from the bases on the island.
I could not follow him in all that he said, but I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) said about the future use of the bases and the weakness of the Agreement. It would have been much better and more logical for N.A.T.O. to have been brought into the Agreement. N.A.T.O. is conspicuous by its absence from the Agreement. It is clearly indicated that the only troops to use the base will be the Armed Services of any country within the British Commonwealth. There seems to be every indication that not even the allies of the United Kingdom in N.A.T.O. will be entitled to use the bases. Is that true? For instance, would United States air- 1716 craft be able to use the bases and would the French forces, say, be given staging facilities on the island, or is such an arrangement expressly excluded?
The Agreement is riddled with weaknesses and, unless there is a great deal of good will between the Republic of Cyprus and ourselves, it is not likely to succeed. When it is put to the test and when we have to use these bases in an emergency, I can foresee a great deal of trouble unless the Republic of Cyprus agrees with the policies which we are pursuing.
I cannot agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North said about the financial provisions. I would have preferred the aid to have been given more directly in encouragement of the development of the natural resources of the island rather than for military assistance. It would be utterly wrong, having granted Cyprus independence, not to give Cyprus the chance to work out her economic development, and the Cypriots would be at a terrible disadvantage without economic assistance which they sorely need to develop the island and for which they would have to look elsewhere if we did not provide it.
However, I hope that in addition to the various grants of military assistance to be given, indirectly and directly, we will have a plan for the economic development of the island to encourage the development of civilian industries and agriculture. That is needed within the framework of a Commonwealth plan for economic development, assuming that Cyprus remains within the Commonwealth, as I sincerely hope she will. Even if Cyprus decides to go outside the Commonwealth, I hope that we will find some way to provide economic assistance so that her natural resources can be developed.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I have attended nearly all the debates in the House on Cyprus and I have listened to almost all of today's debate. I am sorry that the urgent necessity for some refreshment prevented me from hearing what I am told was a very vigorous speech by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates). Evidently, I missed something very good.
1717 I intend to give the Under-Secretary plenty of time to reply to the many questions which have been put to him. He will have to answer questions about his mission over these last months. He took a very long time over it and he has been asked more than once, in very pointed terms, whether his journey was really necessary. He will have to tell us particularly whether the bases are necessary and, more pertinently, whether they are practicable and how the arrangement which he has negotiated will work out. He will have to try to justify to the House the value of the bases, even an air base, on an island in which it is notorious that the provision of harbours and ports is very inadequate indeed. Surely, even an air base, on which we were told at one time 20.000 troops might have to be deployed, requires large volumes of supplies, which could hardly be carried by air and must surely require the use of a port. He will also have to answer some very pertinent questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney). We shall also look forward—and I hope there will be time for him to do this—to his reply to all the criticisms made of the past record of the Government in this field.
To sum up very briefly, I should like to give two impressions of the discussion we have had today on this topic, bearing in mind all the discussions and debates which we have had in the past on the same thing. I definitely do not believe, after all I have heard today, and I have listened very patiently, and after what I have read and heard before the debate began, that the difference between the Turk and Greek communities in Cyprus were as deep or as bitter five years ago as they have been alleged to be.
One has only to think of that admirable book by Lawrence Durrell "Bitter Lemons" to realise that before the disputes and disturbances arose, before that famous statement of Mr. Hopkinson, as he then was, that the island could never attain independence, there were few differences between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Although there may occasionally have been some tension between them, as there is tension in the City of Glasgow from time to time, especially when Celtic play Rangers, between Protestants and Catholics, on the whole people lived together very well. As Durrell said in his book, and he was 1718 there and lived among them, the way in which these communities fitted together and co-operated with one another in agriculture, and understood one an-other's point of view, even if they did not always admire or agree with it, suggests to me that before 1954 there was not this acute tension between Turk and Greek Cypriot that has been alleged this afternoon.
When we examine this further and discuss the dreadful events of the four years from 1954 to 1957, the bloodshed, the loss of life, the conflicting and contradictory statements made by Ministers from that Box, it is natural and understandable, I suppose, that hon. Members opposite should leap to defend their Government, even if, like the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), they may not be very well acquainted with the facts and dates involved. Surely not even the most zealous member of the Tory Party can deny that the whole long series of events from 1954 up to today brought discredit on this country in the eyes of the world.
The second summary conclusion which I want to make, having listened to this debate, is that I do not believe that insistence on Enosis was the main obstacle to a settlement until finally the Greek and Turkish Governments came together and imposed a settlement. We have been told several times this afternoon that it was Greek insistence on Enosis which prevented a settlement, until, at last, the two parent Governments came in from outside, knocked heads together and said, "Now you have to live together under a new constitution."
I do not believe this. I have a fairly good reason for not doing so. I well recollect the occasion on which some of my hon. and right hon. Friends and myself had the opportunity of discussing this matter with Archbishop Makarios, before the outbreak of violence—before the commencement of resistance and before the statement that the island would never attain independence. Before any of these things happened we had an opportunity of discussing these matters with the Archbishop, and although I suppose that since I have not asked his permission beforehand I ought not to reveal in detail what he said, I can say that we came away from the meeting 1719 with the firm and well-founded belief, based on what he had told us, that at that time he was prepared to agree to self-government for a limited number of years, to be followed not by Enosis but by independence for Cyprus.
I confirmed my recollection of this meeting with my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in a conversation tonight. Unfortunately, my right hon. Friend cannot be here, but he has empowered me to say this. We were convinced at that time—and we still believe—that the allegation that, all the way through, the Greek Cypriots were insisting upon Enosis, and it was that which prevented a settlement being reached, was a myth. I cannot believe that if Archbishop Makarios told us that, before Mr. Hopkinson's statement, he did not make known that view to Her Majesty's Government. They must have asked him what his view was and had confidential discussions with him.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), in an admirable speech, made it clear that a far better and quite acceptable settlement could have been obtained long before the trouble started. Nobody who followed events closely at that time can doubt that the Government's attitude towards Cyprus suddenly stiffened after the evacuation of the Canal Zone of Egypt. It was after Sir Anthony Eden had agreed to evacuate the Canal Zone and had made a statement of what he was going to do, and after the protests had risen from below the Gangway opposite—and we know who one of the protesters was—that the Government stiffened their attitude towards Cyprus. It was then that they began to take up this bellicose position and Mr. Hopkinson said that the island could never attain independence.
As the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said, in an eloquent speech, there was not a single incident—not a gun fired nor a bomb thrown—before the statement that the island would never attain its independence. It was said of the Bourbons that they had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. In this case we can say of the Tory Party that it had learnt nothing and had forgotten everything. It had forgotten the burning of Cork and the massacre at Amritsar. It had forgot- 1720 ten all the lessons which history had provided in relation to attempts to suppress free peoples by military force in Colonial Territories.
Wherever one went one heard the same opinion. People whom one met in a bus, or in a railway carriage, or on the street, or casually in an hotel lounge, were unanimous in their opinions. They all knew what would happen in the end. Any schoolboy could have told the Government what would happen. It has happened. Archbishop Makarios is now President of Cyprus. Everybody knew that that would happen. It was the old familiar story, the story of Ireland and India all over again. The only reason that one can think of for men who knew their history forgetting and ignoring it like that was the desire to appease the minority group in their own party which was threatening the stability of the Government at that time.
The result of what has happened has unquestionably led to an increase in tension within Cyprus, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) pointed out, an increase in suspicion between the peoples of the Island. When one has had fighting, when one has had assassinations, when one has had imprisonments, hangings, and all the rest of it, when neighbour has been spying on neighbour, when people have been asked to inform on one another, it is inevitable that there should be increase in tension and suspicion in an island in which one has peoples of two lifferent religions and two different languages living side by side.
The result of the deplorable history of the past few years, the result of this failure to profit from the obvious lessons of history, will be that today, or tomorrow, or whenever the Bill is passed, the newly independent country with a population of just over half a million people will set out with one of the most elaborate constitutions ever devised by man.
Thank heaven that the stupid, silly, idea broached by a right hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House has gone. I was very surprised when I heard the right hon. Gentleman suggest it, because I did not expect that a man with his wide experience and great personal charm, a man whose passing we all regret, could have thought up such an idea.
1721 Thank goodness the idea has gone. Physical partition of the island has gone, but it has not quite gone, because we now have the situation where the greater part of the island remains unified, but there are two enclaves of so-called British sovereignty contained within it.
Though the idea of partition and physical separation of the Turks from the Greeks has fortunately been buried, the cultural separation of the two peoples is inherent in the new Constitution in almost every one of its important provisions. Again and again throughout the document it is emphasised that there are two quite distinct national groups living there. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) reminded us a short time ago, it is to be compulsory. If one does not belong to one of these two groups, one has to join one or the other. In Article 2 (3) of the Constitution it expressly says that those who do not belong to one group or the other "shall opt", within a certain period, to join one or the other of them.
This division of the island, this emphasis on the difference between Turk and Greek, is carried out in many other Clauses. It is carried out, I think we must agree particularly unfortunately, in the basic Articles. The Constitution lists and itemises these basic Articles, and it says that they shall never be amended, though the rest of the constitution is subject to amendment by methods prescribed within the constitution. The basic Articles must never be changed as long as the constitution lasts. The President must always be a Greek, the Vice-President must always be a Turk. There are always to be two official languages just as there are in Canada or South Africa or Belgium, with all the complications of printing every official document in two languages, with all the complications regarding correspondence and that kind of thing which such a situation brings about.
In another Article of the Constitution which appears on page 101 of the White Paper, paragraph 6 of Article 23 actually says:In the event of agricultural reform, lands shall be distributed only to persons belonging to the same Community as the owner from whom such land has been compulsorily acquired.1722 What an amazing feature to find in a Constitution. How is it possible to carry out sensible land reform within a small community, amounting to less than 20 per cent. of the total population, which speaks Turkish? Land reforms cannot be undertaken efficiently or effectively in an island where these communities live mixed together, often in the same village, if it is hampered by such a provision.
Similarly in the Legislature the proportion has to be 70 Greek and 30 Turk forever, because the Constitution says deliberately that the proportion shall be "independent of any statistical data." The Turkish proportion is less than 30, but if in future it changes they are still to be entitled to that 30 per cent. There are to be communal chambers and communal municipalities and not only all religious but all educational matters are to be arrived at by reference to the community, language and religion to which the person belongs. There is even to be separate communal control of co-operative societies and credit establishments. I hope that I am not labouring this point too much, but not much has been said today about the Constitution and I think it rather important to make clear how far it has to go as a result of the creation of tension between the two communities by the civil war which has been going on.
I have made notes about various other Clauses which I could read, about the police and the Army, but I need not bother. Where the head of any force is a Turk the deputy must be a Greek and where the head is a Greek the deputy must be a Turk. We shall not get a very high degree of efficiency from the police force or army if we have to choose officers always and inevitably on that basis. It may not be unreasonable to take account here and there of a man's background and the language he speaks, and that kind of thing, but here it is to be enforced forever.
I think I have said enough to show that it will be extremely difficult in the future to work a Constitution of this kind. There will inevitably be many references to the Supreme Constitutional Court which is made the final body of appeal in all disputes which may arise from this almost incredible Constitution. 1723 It would be difficult for a Supreme Constitutional Court even with a neutral chairman to enforce this Constitution. One can imagine the great volume of constitutional case law arising in the unfortunate island of Cyprus.
Fortunately—I am happy indeed to note this—there is in the Constitution a very valuable chapter on human rights. safeguarding to the individual fundamental human, political and religious rights in an admirable manner. I have nothing but praise for this and I am very glad indeed that Cyprus, like Nigeria and other countries passing out of colonial status into Commonwealth status, has adopted this practice of enshrining in its Constitution basic fundamental human rights. I hope very strongly that the existence of these human rights within the Constitution may mitigate some of the difficulties which arise from this almost incredibly minute attention to the distinction between Turk and Greek which is hence-forward to permeate the whole of life in Cyprus.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
The right hon. Member is not, I hope, suggesting to the House that the friction between Greek and Turk started in Cyprus? It is deep-rooted in history for hundreds of years. It is quite true that the Greek and Turkish communities lived reasonably enough together so long as there was a third Power to hold the ring. We have yet to see whether in this new Constitution which we have devised it is possible for the two communities gradually to come to live together without too much friction, but the right hon. Member must not give the House a lecture on history and ignore all the basic facts.
§ Mr. Marquand
If the hon. Member had been here at the outset of my speech, he would have heard my reference to the past and my statement of the reasons why I believe—and strongly and firmly still believe, despite all I have heard today—that before these events started in 1954 the Turkish and Cypriot people were living together in decent harmony. Although there were differences between them, they were living in the same villages mixed together. If the hon. Member does not believe that, in the time left at my disposal, I can only refer 1724 him to the book, to which I have particularly referred, Bitter Lemons, by Lawrence Durrell. If the hon. Member has not read that book, I advise him to do so.
I believe this potential hostility between Greek-descended and Turk-descended people living on that island was inflamed and exacerbated by the actions taken by Her Majesty's Government, for the reasons I gave. That is why we have now reached the point where all these elaborate safeguards have to be put into this Constitution. I, of course, go on to say—that is my intention—that I hope they will now be able to overcome these difficulties.
It might be said that in many ways this Constitution resembles that of Canada, where we had a similar situation of two groups of people who had been at war with one another, the British and the French. One group was Protestant and the other Catholic, one group was English-speaking and the other French-speaking, and still are. It was very difficult at the outset to get those two groups to join together in the same nation, but, as time has gone on, their harmony has grown greater and greater. They still continue to speak their separate languages, but the memories of the warfare between them have died away and they work their Constitution satisfactorily.
I believe that some of that very welcome development which has taken place in Canada over the last 200 years has been due in some measure to Canada's association with the rest of the Commonwealth. That is why, if it be true that the ability of the Canadians to settle down and live together with British-descended Protestants and Catholics from other European countries who have come to settle in Canada—if I am right in thinking that the Commonwealth association and the gradual development of Commonwealth ideas have helped these people to live together—I hope, as we must hope very strongly indeed, that Cyprus will decide to join the Commonwealth.
I know that it is to be the decision of the Cypriot people themselves, and so it should be. I, of course, would not interfere or seek to influence them. I suppose it is none of my business and whatever I say will, perhaps, not 1725 influence them, but I should like it to go out from the House tonight that we hope they will see fit to do this. We hope that if they do it, this reconciling effect of Commonwealth membership and common citizenship with the rest of us in the Commonwealth may help them to overcome the tensions and bitternesses, which obviously must exist among them at present for otherwise they would not be so careful to safeguard their communal interests as they have been.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I am not differing in any way from what the hon. Member said except where he said that it was a decision for the Cypriot people to take. That is not strictly the case. If they wish to make an application, the decision is for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
§ Mr. Marquand
In view of what I said about South Africa recently I should be the last to deny that the Prime Ministers must decide in the usual way on receiving an application, and I am glad the right hon. Member corrected me in case there was any misunderstanding about it. If the Cypriot people join the Commonwealth and are accepted into it. I hope that over the years they will be able to develop that sense of a Cypriot nationality which the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) told us earlier it had been the aim of British policy to develop as long ago as 1880, so far without great success. Let us hope that as the years go by this will happen as a result of Commonwealth citizenship.
Passing briefly to economic affairs, I hope that there will be the utmost willingness on the part of the House to make the economic provision which is proposed in the White Paper. This will be part of Cyprus's association with the Commonwealth in a more meaningful way than if it is merely a grant, tapering off, to a foreign country. I think that she can benefit a great deal from the proposed economic grant of £12 million over a period of years, if it is associated with technical assistance from this country and other members of the Commonwealth, too.
Although I see great force in what he said about the bases, I do not sympathise with the views expressed on this issue by my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North. I believe that aid given 1726 in this way by this country is not, as he called it, a burden on our people. I believe that, though time must elapse, eventually it will be a benefit to our people. I have said many times, and hon. Members know that I believe it very strongly, that investment overseas in this way, in the health services, education services, roads, transport and other services, as well as in the development of industry, in the underdeveloped countries, although it immediately may involve some sacrifice by our people, in the long run will bring them enormous benefit. This applies to Cyprus as well as to Africa and Asia.
I believe that as a consequence of all that has happened we owe a debt to the people of Cyprus and we ought to make good some of the loss of opportunity for production and for the development of their territory which has occurred during the last four or five years of civil war. Whatever may be their views about the base, I hope that hon. Members will gladly agree to the making of a generous gift to Cyprus, and I hope that in the many things he ought to tell us the Under-Secretary of State will devote at any rate a few minutes to telling us a little more about the purposes for which the £12 million is likely to be spent and whether Cyprus has yet worked out a comprehensive economic plan for using it. Here, again, co-operation between Greek and Turk in Cyprus can be valuable. They are bound to co-operate in the working out of any sensible economic plan, and this might help them to work together, as I believe they used to do in the past.
It is with a sense of heartfelt relief that the long agony of Cyprus is at an end, that the House will part with the Bill tonight. I join with all, on both sides of the House, who have today expressed their good will to the new Republic of Cyprus. I hope that the communal strife between the separate nations living in Cyprus will disappear and that the emergence of a Cypriot nationality will be speeded. I hope that they will feel that their association together will be better fulfilled if they apply for membership of the Commonwealth, and I wish the Cyprus Government, her President and Vice-President and all her people great success under the future Constitution.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Julian Amery)
I should like at the outset to express my gratitude to the House for the forbearance which hon. Members on both sides showed during the prolonged talks in Nicosia. A large number of Members have drawn attention to the length of time the negotiations continued. I ought first, perhaps, to say a word about that.
Despite the January conference of Foreign Ministers there remained an immense amount of detailed work to get through, and I think that the size of the White Paper is in itself evidence of how much detailed hard work there was to do. The House will also appreciate that the negotiations on which I was engaged were not the only negotiations. There was the Constitution, which had to be worked out between Greek-Cypriots, Turkish-Cypriots, and the Greek and Turkish Governments, and there were various matters outstanding between the two communities which also had to be settled in the course of these different negotiations which ran parallel but were to some extent interdependent. Nor were my negotiations purely bilateral Anglo-Cypriot negotiations. In certain stages we had to consult the Greek and Turkish Governments, and the change of Government in Turkey inevitably imposed certain delays.
It is also a self-evident fact that where there is a country of two communities there are more holidays. Christian holidays and Muslim holidays follow on one another in extraordinary numbers. These things, too, interrupted our work and in a small community threw obligations upon the shoulders of their leaders.
Another aspect—I will not call it a problem—of my life out there was that I had occasional offers of mediation from colleagues on both sides of the House of Commons. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) was one of those who came and offered to help, and I think that the partisanship of his speech this evening perhaps explains why I did not avail myself of his offer. The trouble about the hon. Member, if he will allow me to say so, is that he speaks Greek so well that he never listens to the facts in whatever language they are put. I think that his consistent 1728 adherence to the Greek cause and Archbishop Makarios's cause has the merit of consistency, but some of his criticisms tonight, quite frankly, went far beyond anything that the Archbishop and his principal colleagues are saying in Cyprus or have been saying for some time. The Archbishop has never pretended that the settlement fulfilled all his aspirations, but he has consistently and repeatedly supported it, to his great credit, all through the period since the Zurich and London Agreements were concluded.
The hon. Member for Swindon referred to delays due to medieval and Byzantine methods. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) spoke of the agreement as a monument of mistrust. The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) said that we could have got agreement a year ago without all these negotiations. It is not so easy to get agreement even between members of the same party. It may be that the strangely intemperate and, I thought, unsuitable speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East at the beginning of the debate was due to some of the difficulties going on in his own team. We cannot rush matters like this. We have to remember that Archbishop Makarios——
§ Mr. Amery
We have to remember that Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk do not have a large backing of advisers such as we have in this country with the Whitehall machine. They needed time to go through a great many of the clauses of these voluminous Agreements, and I think it is probably true to say that work done quickly in this case would not have been work well done. It remains my belief that the fact that we took time about the job and went into every sentence very carefully is in itself some assurance that the work will not easily be undone.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East invited me to account for the stewardship of the Government over the last six years——
§ Mr. Amery
I am coming to that. There is a difference between the two, so, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman will excuse me from accounting for the stewardship of the Government over six years. I shall refer only to my own personal position. He attacked my record in this matter and produced a quotation or two. I withdraw nothing of what I said on this question——
§ Mr. Amery
— and I do not believe that Archbishop Makarios would withdraw anything he said about Enosis or Dr. Kutchuk about partition. Each of us thought that a different solution was ideal. All of us have come to the conclusion that, if there is to be peace in the island, and if the major interests of the three parties most concerned and of Greece and Turkey are to be safeguarded, the present Agreements are the only answer.
I have no wish to rake up old fires. The hon. Gentleman suggested that what we were doing now was exactly the same as what we did when we left the Canal Zone base. There is a very great difference, as he will see if he reads the Agreement as carefully as I hoped he had. Troops remain in Cyprus. That is rather a fundamental difference.
The hon. Gentleman said that we could have had this solution four years ago. If he believes that, he will believe anything. The facts are perfectly clear and, in saying this, I am addressing my remarks not only to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East but to the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand). Enosis had first to be excluded. Enosis was excluded. It is perfectly true that, at one stage of the discussion—indeed, at many stages—Archbishop Makarios said that what he wanted was self-determination, but anyone who has spoken intimately, as I and the members of my delegation have, with the leading circle of the Greek-Cypriots today, knows perfectly well that they intended self-determination to lead to Enosis.
It was only when there was agreement between Greece and Turkey, and between Greece and Turkey and the leaders of the Cypriot communities and ourselves, excluding Enosis on the one hand and 1730 partition on the other, that it was possible to move forward to an agreement under which our sovereignty became limited to the base areas.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, after saying that we could have had agreement four years ago, went on in a dramatic moment to say that the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) had known that it was the Archbishop's intention to accept independence five months before the London and Zurich Agreements. Five months is getting a bit nearer the mark than five years, and it was, of course, in the autumn of 1958 that the discussions were beginning between Greece and Turkey on the subject and, no doubt, Archbishop Makarios was apprised of them. I hope that that disposes of the allegation that the hon. Member had to make against myself personally and, f think, against the stewardship of the Government, at any rate in the period during which I have been associated with it.
§ Mr. Callaghan
It does not dispose of it in any way at all. The Under-Secretary's case consistently was that we had drifted into surrender and betrayal of British interests in the case of the Canal base and in the case of the Sudan. What he wanted us to do, w hat he praised the Government for doing, and what he pressed them to do, was to stand firm, deport Archbishop Makarios, put down terrorism by force, and maintain British sovereignty over the island. He has not begun to answer that.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Gentleman is a Minister now, and he is defending an entirely different case.
§ Mr. Amery
Our interests have been defended. The hon. Gentleman referred to the deportation of the Archbishop. I think that the history of the Commonwealth shows that a long line of eminent leaders have been deported by Governments from both sides of the House, and they have not been any the worse friends to us afterwards as a result.
1731 Let me now take one or two of the more detailed points raised by hon. Members on both sides. First, let me deal with nationality. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) asked how we were explaining the very complicated position of nationality in simple terms. Anyone in this country who is in doubt about the position should consult the Home Office or the Commissioner for Cyprus. Any Cypriot living abroad or in a Commonwealth country should consult an Embassy, Consulate or High Commissioner's Office. The Home Office will issue detailed instructions with any application that may be made for United Kingdom citizenship. In the island of Cyprus it will be for the Government of Cyprus to make known the terms and nature of the provisions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) asked about reciprocity in all this. So long as Cyprus is in the Commonwealth, citizens of Cyprus will have all the rights of British subjects. The status of British residents in Cyprus who are citizens of Cyprus will be for the Republic of Cyprus to decide, but presumably they would be considered as Commonwealth citizens. If Cyprus is outside the Commonwealth the citizens of Cyprus would be foreigners in this country if they are not also citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, and British residents would be foreigners in Cyprus unless they were also citizens of Cyprus.
The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) asked me to answer a number of rather complicated questions on Clause 3. I hope that he will allow me to deal with these in detail in Committee, but I might say at this stage of the proceedings that the object of the Clause is to adapt United Kingdom law to the fact that Cyprus will no longer be a Colony, and at the same time to treat the island for purposes of United Kingdom law as if it were a member of the Commonwealth in the period until the decision whether it joins the Commonwealth has been taken. The reference to the Federation which the hon. and learned Gentleman found a little difficult to understand arises from the constitutional position of the Federa- 1732 tion whose laws are not regarded by Parliament as Colonial laws.
Let me say a word on the subject of the minorities. The Maronites and Latins but not the Armenian community sought representation in the Central Assembly. It was not possible to obtain this for them. The basis of the Zurich Agreement is that there are only two communities in Cyprus. The view strongly held, particularly by the Turkish community, was that there are no other communities but only religious groups. We were, however, able to secure representation for these minor religious groups in the Communal Assembly under Article 109 of the Constitution. In addition, there are safeguards under various Articles of the Constitution for their religious, cultural and personal rights. Their eligibility for the public service is guaranteed and they are afforded access to the Supreme Court, not only as individuals, but as groups. They also benefit from the provisions regarding human rights and non-discrimination.
In addition, Appendix E of the White Paper contains Archbishop Makarios's and Dr. Kutchuk's assurance of fair treatment in the allocation of public funds for educational and similar purposes for the two communities. The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) asked why the document in question was of a different category, a different type of document, from the others, but it was agreed by Archbishop Makarios and Dr. Kutchuk before being published.
It is against this background that I ask the House to consider the claim of the Maronites raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling). This claim has been pressed by him and Lord Harding on various occasions and I am bound to say that we have felt a good deal of sympathy with it. I saw the Bishop myself when I was there and the Governor had several talks with him as well. We recognise that the Maronites have been a thoroughly loyal community.
§ Mr. Callaghan
All I think is that the Under-Secretary is a very good judge of what constitutes loyalty to beliefs.
§ Mr. Amery
It is the Government's view that it would not be in the best interests of the Maronites to receive separate assistance at this stage, and that to do so might well detract from the assurance given by the two Cypriot leaders that they would receive their fair share of public funds, which will, of course, include the United Kingdom grant.
I think that the position about British residents is now well understood.
My hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice asked about the residence of the British representatives. I have seen it. and I think it will be found satisfactory.
We will also subsidise to the tune of £180,000 over the next two years the three English schools in Nicosia. The money will be administered by the British Council, who will participate in the management. These schools have played a big part in Cyprus and have catered far more for Cypriot than for English pupils in the period before the emergency, and I believe that they may have a great part to play in the future.
The Constitution provides for a public service commission and an independent status for the public service, both of which are important points to have secured. I should like at this stage to pay a tribute to the public service for the difficult task which it has shouldered in the long months of negotiations at a cost of great inconvenience and uncertainty-especially to the expatriate staff.
I come now to the provisions governing the status of our forces out there. There were complicated and lengthy negotiations about the privileges of N.A.A.F.I. There were fears on the Cypriot side that we would try to set up industries in Cyprus, which explains the curious list on pages 196 and 197 of the White Paper under which N.A.A.F.I. undertakes not to import heavy agricultural machinery, expensive fur coats, uncut precious stones and other things which are not usually to be found in the N.A.A.F.I.
The effects of the provisions finally concluded are customs-free import for all official purposes for goods imported by the Services, and the maintenance of the status quo for the rest—that is to say, private purchases. A Committee of representatives of the Republic and of 1734 the forces will meet under the chairmanship of the Command Secretary, Middle East Land Forces, to see whether any improvements can be made. As the House knows, there will be no Customs between the Republic and the sovereign base areas.
Our primary interest in Cyprus is, of course, a defence interest. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East quoted an aphorism of the late Aneurin Bevan, who asked whether we want Cyprus as a base or a base in Cyprus. The House can judge for itself which it is we have got from the explanations I now shall try to give.
In the Republic, we have secured thirty-one sites, eighteen of which are to be permanent. Some of these are of a logistic character—a section of Fama-gusta harbour, for instance; some are of an operational character—for example, radar installations; some are purely technical—wireless communications, for example, and some recreational such as camps where the troops can take their leave on the territory of the Republic. I will not detain the House with details of the temporary sites. They are simply a matter of convenience and economy. The troops will continue to use them until alternative accommodation has been built inside the sovereign base areas. The permanent sites are to be used as if they were the absolute property of Her Majesty's Government. We retain the right to police them and the right to apply for further sites if needed.
We have the right of complete freedom of movement for individuals and formations between bases and sites. This applies to authorised Service organisations and contractors as well as to troops. There is also freedom of movement for individual soldiers anywhere as individuals.
Part of Nicosia airfield will be reserved for the Royal Air Force, and part of the rest under joint use. The Cypriot Republic will run it in normal times, but in emergency we retain right to take over. The training facilities are extensive—an artillery range, two field firing ranges, one naval bombardment range, two parachute dropping areas, and one air-to-ground firing range. There are provisions for large-scale manœuvres and tactical training ranges 1735 of about 80 square miles. It was the satisfactory character of these training ranges that made possible the reduction of the bases from what we regarded as the minimum figure of 120 square miles to 99 square miles.
There is also full status of forces protection for United Kingdom and Commonwealth troops on N.A.T.O. lines. As the House knows, there were long arguments about the area of the bases—36 square miles on the one hand and 120 square miles on the other.
§ Mr. Amery
Yes, but that was before I was in the negotiations. Later we had areas of 80 square miles and 120 square miles, and it fell appropriately to Doctor Kutchuk to get Archbishop Makarios to say 99. The boundaries were described today—I think by the hon. Member for Swindon—as mad and indefensible. They are not, of course, to be regarded as strategic boundaries to be defended. The essence of sovereignty over the bases is that if it is necessary for them to be used as operational bases they will be used on our responsibility alone and not the Republic's. This is an advantage to us and will be a convenience to the Republic. We took particular care to safeguard the water supplies of the bases, and each sovereign area has its own full water supply.
I think that we can say, looking over the whole field, that the essential defence requirements of the Services have been met. They have opportunities for training, they have wide deployment of installations, and yet they have within the sovereign base areas a concentration of most of what is needed for operational purposes. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East asked what had changed since the quotation from Sir Anthony Eden's book which he read to us, and he asked why it was that we were able to give up sovereignty over the whole island. A close perusal of the Zurich and London Agreements would show the hon. Member that there are safeguards which were not then foreseeable, guaranteed by Greece and Turkey and the two communities, which make it possible to run the risks which have been run.
1736 I think that the defence requirements have been met. Therefore, on our side, we can say that our primary interest is satisfied. The Archbishop, on his side, I think, has secured a great many advantages that were not foreseen at the time of the Zurich and London Agreements. The daily life of Cypriots in the bases under the Declaration on Administration will be almost the same as in the Republic. Our laws will prevail, but they will be similar to the laws of the Republic and their administration will be in the hands of the Republic's Ministers. This Declaration is put forward without prejudice to our sovereignty, but it will be a matter of great convenience to both sides. It is a unique experiment which owes a great deal to the initiative and imagination of Sir Hugh Foot.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) asked about the Joint Consultative Board. He seemed to think that this would be a board for consultation on the use of the base areas. That is not the case. The use of the base will be entirely a matter for us. The object of the Board is to consult on the administration of the base areas, to ensure that there is no friction between our authorities and the Cypriot authorities whom we have invited on our behalf to run the civilian administration in the base areas.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
What happens when the Government of the Republic of Cyprus have political objections to the use to which the base areas will be put?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes rose——
§ Mr. Amery
I was asked a number of questions about the future of the bases, which is not as easy a problem as some have thought it would be. Indeed, 1737 it was a problem which gave rise to a number of international implications. The bases are, after all, an integral part of the settlement. If we were at any time to withdraw from the bases, it could well be argued by other parties to the settlement that' one of the foundations of the Agreements had been taken away.
My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor asked me to comment on the exchange of letters which is published in the White Paper. The House will note that in the exchange of notes on the future of the sovereign base areas—Appendix P—it is stated that Her Majesty's Government:do not intend to relinquish their sovereignty or effective control over the Sovereign Base Areas and that therefore the question of their cession does not arise.This exchange of notes also makes clear, however, that if Her Majesty's Government, in view of changes in their military requirements, should at any time decide to divest themselves of sovereignty or effective control over the sovereign base areas or any part of them, it is understood that such sovereignty or control shall be transferred to the Republic of Cyprus.
If that contingency arose, it is not possible now to foresee what formalities for any change in the status of the areas would be needed. It goes without saying, however, that any such change would be made legally——
§ Mr. Driberg
If the hon. Member says that we have complete sovereign control over the bases, does that mean that the British Government can and will allow aircraft of any nationality—for instance, American aircraft—to use them?
§ Mr. Amery
Let me now say a word about general aid. The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) queried the size of the economic assistance that we are giving and suggested that it was too large. I do not think that the House, on consideration, will think that the £12 million that we are providing for the first five years is too large. Cyprus is a small country to embark on the adventure of indepen- 1738 dence. Indeed, in a sense it has had independence thrust upon it. Independence has been the only solution to the tensions between Greece and Turkey, between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and between them and ourselves. It is, therefore, up to us to help them to get away to a good start to independence. Certainly, any alternative course that we can consider would be more costly.
I have dealt at some length with the different points that arose in the negotiations. I should now like to say a word about the spirit of the negotiations. I think that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders approached them in a very realistic mood. They recognised that there was no better solution to our differences at the present time. I think that as the negotiations went on there arose a better understanding of each other's point of view.
I should like to repeat in the House what I have said in Nicosia about Archbishop Makarios. He has shown himself a staunch defender of the rights of his community. He has also shown himself a determined opponent to us in the past. It is my hope, and, I am sure, the hope of all of us, that he will prove an equally firm friend in the future.
In the same way. I should like to pay my tribute to Dr. Kutchuk. He was tireless in the search to reconcile the differences that arose at one time and another between our delegation and the Greek Cypriot delegation. I do not think that we should have got the Agreements through without him. In the same spirit, I should like to add my tribute to the help which we received at every stage of the negotiations from the Greek and Turkish Governments.
I think it would be right on this occasion—perhaps the last Colonial Office debate on Cyprus—to pay tribute to those in the Colonial Service who have done so much to make Cyprus what it is today—easily the area with the highest living standard in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a fact not often known that there are more cars per head in Cyprus than in any other country in the Mediterranean. excluding France.
Tremendous improvements have been made in agriculture and forestry, in mining, in irrigation, in roads and public 1739 transport, in communications and wireless under the British regime. Education has wiped out illiteracy. Health measures have wiped out malaria. I am told by those who know about these things that the co-operative system in Cyprus——
§ Mr. Amery
— is the best in the Colonial Empire. In addition there is the heritage of honest administration and British justice which has certainly not been lost upon the Cypriot people.
The emergency has been a sad period in what was otherwise seventy-five years of very good co-operation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said that force does not solve anything. I shall not go into the philosophical points today, but undoubtedly the efforts made by the administration and the Services during the emergency held the ring until agreement could be reached. I should like tonight to pay a tribute to Lord Harding and the administration in the time of the emergency.
I should also like to pay a very warm tribute to Sir Hugh Foot, with whom I have been working almost hourly in the last five months. He has been tireless in working for agreement and in breaking down barriers of misunderstanding and mistrust. If we have agreement today it is very largely due to him.
We are at the end of the chapter of British colonial rule in Cyprus. Now a new chapter of independence begins. There are a great many problems facing the new State. I believe that it can overcome them. As I see it, this is not the end of the connection between Britain and Cyprus. The 60,000 Cypriots in this country and the 50,000 in the Commonwealth underline that. The ties 1740 between England and Cyprus are too strong, I believe, for a real separation ever to happen.
It may be that before the Emergency we took each other too much for granted. Now I think that the two communities, both in their understanding of each other and in their understanding of Britain, and we in our understanding of them, know each other very much better. These Agreements are not a victory for any one side but a victory for common sense which, I hope, will turn this island from a cause of contention into a cause of concord between Britain, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he clear up a discrepancy in his reply to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg)? In reply to my hon. Friend he indicated that United States aircraft would have the right to use the bases on the island. [Interruption.] This is an important point. According to Section 4 (2) of the Agreement there is only reference to United Kingdom aircraft, and therefore United States aircraft would of necessity have to obtain the permission of the Republic before using these bases. Will the hon. Gentleman clear that up?
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House. —[Mr. Chichester-Clark.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.