HC Deb 22 June 1960 vol 625 cc411-3
32. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the Cyprus negotiations.

38. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the Cyprus negotiations.

46. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has now been made towards agreement on the independence of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)

Since the statement by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on 2nd June, the efforts to devise a formula on the future of the Sovereign Areas, should we ever decide to leave them, have continued in conjunction with the Greek and Turkish Governments. As a result of these efforts, I believe that a formula which could form part of a general agreement on the outstanding points may shortly be forthcoming.

Mr. Healey

Is the Minister of State aware that we on this side of the House find it very difficult to support, indeed, to understand, the Government's position on the future of these bases? Can he tell us whether it is true, as stated in the Press, that unless agreement is reached by Friday there will be no chance of enacting the necessary legislation to give Cyprus independence before the Summer Recess? If so, can he give an undertaking to the House that the Government will make a full statement on the negotiations before the beginning of next week?

Mr. Profumo

Since the Opposition, I understand, has formally said that it will give facilities to the Bill when we put it before the House, I should not like to say exactly what the last possible date is. I think it would be difficult if we were tied within the range of particular dates. I am hopeful that the negotiations may now be nearing an end; in fact, Archbishop Makarios is reported as saying that this would be a decisive week.

Mr. Donnelly

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why, if the Bill is acceptable to us on this side of the House, it cannot be dealt with in a single day?

Mr. Profumo

Of course, it would have to be acceptable to my hon. and right hon. Friends as well.

Mr. Driberg

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what real issue is still at stake, in the view of the Government? Is it really necessary to hold up this very important agreement merely because the Government will not say that if in fifty years' time we decided to clear oat of these bases, they would go to the Republic of Cyprus? What is the difficulty?

Mr. Profumo

It is not quite as simple as the hon. Member puts it. It is not quite like putting the last pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into place. The final stages of any negotiations are usually, perhaps, the most difficult. This is a very complex negotiation which involves no fewer than five parties, and we have to find solutions which are acceptable to them all on all points.

Mr. Driberg

But is either Greece or Turkey opposed to the suggestion that the bases should go to the Republic of Cyprus if we in fact vacate them?

Mr. Profumo

I hope the hon. Member will agree with the last part of my last answer.

Mr. Thorpe

Is it not a fact that no such formula has been put to the Archbishop yet and there is no indication, even at this stage, as to the British Government's intention in regard to any formula?

Mr. Profumo

I wonder if the House would appreciate that I am at some disadvantage in trying to reply to these questions? Short of revealing the details of the exact position, I cannot reply to the questions, and if I did reveal the exact position, I might well prejudice the outcome of the negotiations.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the real issue is whether or not Archbishop Makarios has any intention of implementing the terms of the London Agreement?

Mr. Profumo

I know what my hon. Friend means, but I have reason to believe that the Archbishop is seriously wishing now to conclude an agreement. There are some outstanding points on which I hope the House will not press me more, but we may be able to reach some finality in the not-too-distant future.