HC Deb 28 July 1965 vol 717 cc466-8
Mr. Sandys

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what action Her Majesty's Government as co-guarantor of the Cyprus Constitution are taking to uphold the constitutional rights of the Turkish-Cypriot community following the rejection of the representations made by the British High Commissioner to Archbishop Makarios.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Arthur Bottomley)

The representations made by the British High Commissioner to the President of Cyprus were an expression of our often stated view, as a co-guarantor of the Cyprus Constitution, that the validity of the Treaty embodying that Constitution should be upheld until it is freely renegotiated.

This remains our view, and it is Her Majesty's Government's earnest hope that the Cyprus Government will do nothing to implement the law in question, or take any other action likely to increase tension in the island.

Mr. Sandys

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the flagrantly illegal action of the Cyprus Government gives to Turkey an unquestionable right under the Treaty of Guarantee to intervene in order to restore the Constitution? In view of the very grave consequences which this might have, may I ask the Government to take this matter immediately to the Security Council?

Mr. Bottomley

I think that for the moment we ought to rest on what I have said, and I would further amplify that by saying that we are satisfied that the terms of our representations were clear and correct and were clearly understood by the Government of Cyprus. I do not consider that anything would be added to them by a public debate at this stage. I would consider further action, should it be necessary.

Mr. Sandys

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a very serious and a very urgent situation? Can he give us an assurance that the Government are in close touch with the Turkish Government and the Greek Government, who are co-guarantors of the Constitution? Will he think again about the desirability of taking the matter to the Security Council so that the nations of the world may bring pressure to bear on the Cyprus Government not to aggravate this already explosive situation?

Mr. Bottomley

No, Sir. What I said was that we would not take it to the Security Council. However, we have informed the Secretary-General of the position and of the nature of our representations to the Cyprus authorities.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the possible gravity of the situation which may emerge, is it likely that my right hon. Friend will be able to make a statement before we go into recess, because hon. Members on this side may wish to offer an opinion as to the propriety of the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion—in my view, it was a very proper suggestion—for referring this matter to the Security Council?

Mr. Bottomley

I repeat that we are in touch with the United Nations, and if it should be necessary to take any further action I undertake to keep the House informed.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While the United Nations has its part in this matter, is not the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government very clear indeed? Is not the subject of this Question one of many acts taken by the Cyprus Government detrimental to the Turkish community and in defiance of the treaty arrangements upon which the Republic of Cyprus is founded?

May we take it that Her Majesty's Government will regard this very seriously indeed? We on these benches have been very restrained. There have been so many acts of discrimination. Can we be assured that Her Majesty's Government are in full consultation with the two allies also responsible in Cyprus and that this matter will not just be shuffled off on to a reference to the United Nations?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir. We are in touch with all the authorities concerned. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is a very serious matter. Indeed, last weekend, when I first heard about it, I instructed immediate representations to be made to the Cyprus authorities. I am quite sure that it is the concern of both sides of the House that we should not add to the tension in the island. We will do all we can to keep the peace, and that is what the Government are trying to do.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

In view of the suggestions made to my right hon. Friend from both sides of the House about referring this matter to the Security Council, can my right hon. Friend say whether he has any information that he can give the House about the likelihood of an early meeting of the Security Council? Does he not consider that if there were a likelihood of such an early meeting there are far more urgent and far more dangerous questions than this one to refer to it?

Mr. Bottomley

That is a point of view which is held by many Members of the House. The co-guarantors and the Cyprus Government are in touch with each other about this matter. I think that it is much better to leave it for them to try to settle at this stage rather than to take the matter to the Security Council.

Mr. Hooson

In view of the explosive potential of this situation and our previous experience of the difficulties in Cyprus, would it not be better to refer the matter to the Security Council now rather than to await the risk of an explosion there?

Mr. Bottomley

I have already indicated why I think that that is not the best way to deal with the matter. There are other authorities concerned in this dispute. They, in turn, have apparently decided not to refer it to the Security Council at this time.