HC Deb 23 March 1964 vol 692 cc14-7
16. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been reported to him on the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force for Cyprus.

17. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the proposed United Nations peace-keeping force for Cyprus has now been established; what financial arrangements have been made; what is the composition of the force; and whether he will make a statement.

23. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the composition, terms of reference, and financing of the United Nations peace-keeping force for Cyprus.

Mr. R. A. Butler

As the House will be aware, the Governments of Canada, Iceland, Finland and Sweden have agreed to contribute contingents to the United Nations Force. Austria is contributing a medical unit. The bulk of the Canadian contingent have already arrived in Cyprus and a Swedish advance party and an Irish planning party are expected there shortly.

The basic terms of reference of the force are those set out in the Security Council Resolution of 4th March.

As regards finance, paragraph 6 of the Security Council resolution of 4th March laid down that all costs pertaining to the force should be met in a manner to be agreed upon by the Governments providing the contingents and by the Government of Cyprus. Her Majesty's Government have agreed to contribute one million dollars. Other Governments have also promised substantial contributions as a result of which U Thant has expressed himself confident that satisfactory arrangements for financing the force can be made.

I am sure that the House would wish me to express our thanks to the Secretary General for what has so far been achieved.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that more than 50 years ago it was proposed in this country, and I believe in this Chamber, that an international police force should be created under the auspices of the old League of Nations? Yet when we are faced with an emergency of this character there appears to be a great deal of confusion or at any rate delay among the members of the United Nations in deciding whether to contribute an adequate force of a peace-keeping character. In view of the statement which has been made and endorsed by the United Kingdom Government that the maximum number of troops which will be available under the auspices of the United Nations will be 3,500 and that the United Kingdom must make up the balance to create a force of 7,000, does the right hon. Gentleman think that we are being asked to bear far too large a share of the burden of keeping the peace in Cyprus? Would it not be wise to relieve some of our troops and to bring them home?

Mr. Butler

First, we must await the actual establishment of the force which, we hope, will take place later this week. Secondly, I think that it is quite clear that we have, as a country, borne the greater burden of this particular duty. Thirdly, if there is an opportunity when the others have joined us in the United Nations force to relieve some of our troops, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will take advantage of that opportunity.

Mr. Henderson

Is it not the fact that life on the island has been largely paralysed by the existence of road blocks and other obstacles to free communication? Is it not essential that armed confrontation of the respective Greek and Turkish communities on the island should be brought to an end if the United Nations is to succeed in bringing about political settlement of the problems that exist in the island?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I would agree with that general proposition.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that most of us in this House wish the United Nations peace-keeping force to be successful, and regard it as a very great experiment? Can he say why he did not quote the last sentence of paragraph 6 of the Security Council resolution of 4th March, which provides that the Secretary-General can accept voluntary contributions towards the cost of the force? In this connection, can he say whether the British contribution of one million dollars comes into the category of a voluntary contribution towards the total cost of the force, or is only a contribution towards the cost of the British half of the United Nations force?

Mr. Butler

We must be under no illusion. We have taken up the generous attitude that we will pay for our own force, and have also made this as a contribution to the force as a whole.

Mr. Longden

Would not all this invariable difficulty and uncertainty about United Nations peace-keeping forces be dissolved if the Soviet Government could be persuaded to remove their veto, which has prevented the operation of Chapter VII of the Charter since 1945?

Mr. Butler

I cannot answer for the Soviet Government, but I think that there would be something to be said for that suggestion.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon he expects the total force of 3,500 to be in the island? Does he realise that many hon. Members will agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that the United Kingdom will still be bearing too big a share in what ought to be a general United Nations operation? Would he make representations to the Secretary-General about the terms of reference of this force, which are still vague and imprecise, and might lead to certain dangers?

Mr. Butler

In regard to the right hon. Gentleman's first point, I cannot give a date when all these contingents will arrive, but General Gyani is meeting the Secretary-General in Geneva on, I think, Wednesday of this week, and thereafter we hope for his immediate return to Cyprus and the establishment of the force. In regard to the terms of reference, we are in contact with the Secretary-General. He has still to discuss with General Gyani the final terms of the terms of reference for the force itself. That, I presume, will be done this week, and I will endeavour to keep the right hon. Gentleman informed.

27. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will assist the Scandinavian project for a United Nations stand-by force by a commitment of logistic support.

Mr. P. Thomas

We welcome the Scandinavian initiative and are at present considering ways of strengthening United Nations peace-keeping capacity, including the kind of support the hon. Gentleman has in mind. But before reaching any decision we shall need to consult with our allies and with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mr. Mallalieu

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the noises that the Foreign Secretary occasionally makes in favour of greater use of the United Nations scarcely drown the noises in the contrary sense made by the Prime Minister? Will the hon. Gentleman urge his colleagues in the Government to see that some action is taken following this Scandinavian initiative?

Mr. Thomas

Apart from disagreeing with the first part of the supplementary question, I do not think that I can add anything to the answer I gave.

Mr. Shinwell

Whether as regards the Scandinavian approach or any other associated with the United Nations, cannot the British Government at least make up their mind whether a peace-keeping force in Cyprus should adopt a passive or an active rôle? Is that not exceedingly important? Will he consult the Foreign Secretary about the terms of reference of the United Nations peace-keeping force and inform the House of the position before we adjourn for Easter?

Mr. Thomas

The Question I answered was about logistic support. We will consider what the right hon. Gentleman has just said.