HC Deb 16 July 1964 vol 698 cc1453-4

4.17 p.m.

The Minister of Defence for the Army (Mr. James Ramsden)

With your permission Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I will make a statement about Major Macey and Driver Platt, who disappeared some weeks ago while serving with the United Nations Force in Cyprus.

The House will be aware that inquiries have been going on in Cyprus into the whereabouts of Major Macey and Driver Platt. I regret to have to tell the House that information has now come to hand from which it appears virtually certain that the two men are no longer alive. During the past 24 hours this information has been communicated to the United Nations and to the Cyprus Government. Urgent investigations are now in progress.

I have taken the earliest opportunity of informing hon. Members of the position, and I will keep the House informed. For the time being, however, it is important that nothing should be said which might prejudice the course of the inquiries.

We have been in touch with the next-of-kin early this morning, and the House will wish to join me in expressing our sympathy with them in their ordeal.

Mr. Healey

I am sure that the House will share the deep regret expressed by the Minister at the news which has been given to us and will wish to join in the expression of profound sympathy for the next-of-kin.

Can the Minister say whether the Government are satisfied that they are getting all possible help from the authorities in Cyprus in pursuing their inquiries?

Mr. Ramsden

I framed the statement with great care so as not to say anything which might prejudice any aspect of the investigation, and I would rather leave my statement as it is. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand.

Mr. Kershaw

I shall not press my right hon. Friend to go further in view of what he said. I associate myself with the expression of condolences to the next-of-kin, but will my right hon. Friend note that many hon. Members are profoundly dissatisfied with the position as it is? We will watch the future negotiations and inquiries with great care.

Mr. Ramsden

I take note of what my hon. Friend has said. The main thing is that the investigations are in urgent train and that they should be brought to an issue.

Mr. P. Williams

On a question of fact, can my right hon. Friend say what he means by "the authorities in Cyprus"? Does he mean the Cyprus Government, or the United Nations, or both?

Mr. Ramsden

I was not aware of having referred in my statement to authorities. I said that during the past 24 hours we have communicated the information that we have to the United Nations and to the Cyprus Government. I then said that urgent investigations are in progress.