HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc15-7
17. Mr. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when further contraction of the numbers of military personnel at the Dhekelia and Episkopi bases in Cyprus will be possible.

Mr. Healey

If and when there is a reduction in the work they have to do.

Mr. Jackson

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that these bases were established shortly after the Suez evacua- tion by the Tory Government as a face-saving device? Does he not agree that if we have a modern defence review this is surely one area where we could have useful economies?

Mr. Healey

I should be able to express an opinion on the latter part of that supplementary question if we had completed the defence review, but so far we have not.

Mr. Soames

Would the right hon. Gentleman take the opportunity of his hon. Friend's Question to make it abundantly clear that he has every intention of maintaining the bases in Cyprus?

Mr. Healey

This question is, of course, being looked at in the context of the defence review, but until that review is completed the position of Her Majesty's Government remains in detail the same as that of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) when he was Secretary of State for Defence.

Mr. Wall

Is it not a fact that the military bases and the military personnel operating from them made the United Nations peace force possible, and also, indeed, that they have borne the whole brunt of the United Nations campaign?

Mr. Healey

I would not say that it is now the case that they are bearing the whole brunt of the campaign, but it would have been the case that if we had not had forces in Cyprus when the dangerous emergency situation arose on Boxing Day, 1963, it might have been impossible to create the conditions in which the United Nations was able to intervene very constructively, as it is now doing.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it not the case that when in opposition my right hon. Friend expressed doubts as to the value of these bases? Does not he continue to hold those views when be is in the Government?

Mr. Healey

As I have already explained to the House, we are looking at the need for foreign bases in regard to the likely legitimate needs of our defence forces in the 1970s, and until we have cleared our minds on all the factors, political and military, involved in the review, I am afraid that I cannot add to what I have already said.

Mr. Marten

When the right hon. Gentleman is clearing his mind on this subject, will he bear in mind the views of many hon. Members behind him—I believe that there are more than 60—in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—who are very much against these bases, and also, I believe, colleagues of his in the Government? Will he take their views fully into account?

Mr. Healey

Yes, Sir. I always take the views of my colleagues into account, and often find them a good deal more intelligent on these matters than hon. Gentlemen opposite.