HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc822-47

12.59 p.m.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)

I should like to start by joining in the congratulations offered to the Foreign Secretary on the success of his negotiations in Geneva. I should also like to thank him warmly for coming so promptly to the House to report what has been going on. But peace, as the Foreign Secretary himself said, must still be on a knife edge, and I am therefore very grateful for a chance to raise this subject.

In the past couple of weeks, the country and the House have been short of news about the situation in Cyprus and about the background situation in the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole. I hope that this can be a constructive debate and that we shall be able to avoid the kind of pecking and scratching across the Floor that is all too frequently seen here.

Can the Foreign Secretary let us know any more about the safety of the remaining United Kingdom citizens in Cyprus? I understand that there are a number of tourists and retired and business people there who are probably not yet anxious to return to the United Kingdom and some who may be anxious, but who have not yet had the chance to come back.

Several of my constituents have made inquiries about families on holiday and so on in Cyprus and they are short of news because the normal channels of communication do not seem to be available. I wonder whether the Foreign Secretary could say anything about a suggestion, which his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence agreed to take up yesterday, that Service communications facilities might be made available so that those inquiries could be pursued. I am thinking of perhaps a telephone number in London which people who are still worried could ring, and some attempt could be made by further communication to help them.

Thirdly, has the staff of the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Nicosia been reinforced? His office must be an extremely busy place at the moment and I think that the House would like to know that he has had all the reinforcements and help that he needs. In particular, is he in close contact with the operational headquarters of Air Marshall Aiken at Akrotiri?

Lastly, and this may be difficult, can the Foreign Secretary at this stage say anything about the arrangements contemplated by the Government of Cyprus regarding British property? A great many people have invested their savings in homes and so on in Cyprus and there must be a great deal of anxiety on that score.

As for the security situation in the island, we still see in the Press a lot about local fighting between Greeks and Turks, and the House must face the fact that there are tens of thousands of pretty excitable people with guns in their hands running around the island in what had been a hotch-potch of communities. Many of them feel that they have old scores to settle. I have received in private letters accounts of various massacres and atrocities, which I shall send to the Foreign Secretary. I do not want to make them public in this debate for fear of doing more harm than good and inflaming a situation which is already difficult enough.

I come to the wider issues affecting British interests, not only in the island of Cyprus itself but in the eastern Mediterranean as a whole. First, I feel that it is a very frail peace existing between two or our NATO allies, and this must be recognised. Secondly, there must be a possibility of action or engagement by accident or mistaken identity. The fleets of the Soviet Union, the United States, the Royal Navy, Turkey and, I believe, Greece, are operating cheek by jowl in the waters around Cyprus and, similarly, so are aircraft in the air space. There was a report in the Press of a case of mistaken identity causing Turkish aircraft to sink one of their own ships.

That sort of accident is always a possibility in a situation like this. Could the Foreign Secretary say whether there is an overall operational clearing house so that nations can say where their forces are from moment to moment, an arrangement that could be monitored by one central authority? I wonder whether Britain, as one of the guarantors, not as a nation engaged in the fighting, should be in a position to arrange such a service. It seems to me that the facilities for it are available in the sovereign base area.

The third subject about which I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary is his opinion of Russian involvement. In recent years we have seen enormous Soviet naval increases built up in the eastern Mediterranean and we know that there is a strong Communist Party in Cyprus. I have read in the Press that it is the strongest political party. There was a story in the Press, which was not followed up, about a Soviet observer inviting himself to Geneva, and I think that the House would be grateful to have some word from the Foreign Secretary about his estimate of the part being played by Russia in this intensely complicated situation.

As regards the future, whatever constitution emerges for the island of Cyprus itself, Britain will still have important interests in the area—trading interests, strategic interests and the defence of our shipping, which will become more important when the Suez Canal is shortly reopened, as we hope it will be. Do the Government recognise the continuing interest that we shall have in the area? If so, will they declare now their intentions about the future of the British sovereign bases? If they could do so, that would remove at least one of the many uncertainties affecting the situation, and it would help to solidify the efforts to achieve a more durable peace in the area as a whole.

I put it to the House that the bases are needed for surveillance—particularly of the trade routes—for effective implementation of our rôle as a guarantor and for the maintenance of the facilities of the United Nations peace-keeping force. I believe that it is correct to say that the United Nations force could not have done its work in recent years—and certainly not during this emergency—unless it had had the administrative backing and the supplies that have been passed through the United Kingdom bases. Let us not forget that these bases are an essential part of our contribution to the CENTO alliance, an alliance that is sometimes slightly forgotten.

Finally, there is the rôle played by our Armed Forces in recent days. I believe that, apart from the Foreign Secretary himself and a few diplomats and civilians, our Armed Forces have borne the whole brunt of the emergency. The successful protection of so many British lives is entirely due to them. They have also made a great contribution to the success of the United Nations forces under General Chand.

While the rest of us go on holiday, Mr. Deputy Speaker, British soldiers, sailors and airmen remain on the job in conditions of very great danger, difficulty and discomfort in the intense summer heat. It is impossible to pay sufficient tribute to the work of all three Services and to their enterprise and efficiency in unforeseen circumstances. They seem, once again, somehow to have snatched our chestnuts out of the fire for us.

I should like to see more detailed mention of the names of the ships and helicopter squadrons that carried out the dramatic rescues from the beaches and of the Army battalions, the Royal Air Force squadrons and the Royal Marine Commandos. These men, who are working out there for us and for peace, are only human and they like to be in the news. I think that the Ministry of Defence public relations department could have done more than it has done on their behalf in this respect.

If the Foreign Secretary agrees with what I am saying about the work of the Armed Forces, I put it to him that the best news that these men could receive would be to hear that the Government have paid heed to the real lesson of the Cyprus affair. That lesson is, first, that a British presence is still needed in the eastern Mediterranean and, in my submission, that the sovereign bases are essential to it; secondly, that our forces are already stretched to the utmost in doing this type of peace-keeping work without this additional work on top; and, thirdly, that any talk about cutting the forces still further is, in terms of reality, political nonsense, because they are already cut to the bone.

Service men are dedicated professionals. We have seen this again in the past week or two, if we did not know it already. Unlike so many people, they are not agitating about their pay or conditions. They do their jobs in the belief that they are valuable and worth while. I believe that the least that the Government can do is to recognise that and to say that the forces will have a future and that they will continue to get the men, weapons and equipment that they need.

The Foreign Secretary said in his statement that he had been proud of Britain. I agree, and I am sure that the whole House agrees, but we could not be proud of Britain—and nor, I think, could he—unless we had sufficient forces to protect our interests wherever they may be threatened.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Before I call the next hon. Member, I should mention that, owing to the number of statements this morning, the timings of debates have been cut down to what amounts to just under one hour for the first and to 25 minutes each for those that follow it.

1.10 p.m.

Mr. John Ellis (Brigg and Scunthorpe)

I heed your warning, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall be brief. I do not intend to follow the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles), mainly because of the need to make a short speech.

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend. I hope that he will convey the thanks of the whole House to everybody and particularly those on the ground in Cyprus who laboured so hard, and who have done such a good job in getting back home the tourists and the other people who flocked into the bases. It goes without saying, I think, that we all feel that way.

I should like to voice one minor criticism about the arrangements for getting news through. There must be many Members who have been approached by constituents who have relations there, perhaps a son or daughter who is married to a Turkish or Greek Cypriot. So far, these people have had no information from Cyprus. We recognise the difficulties of our forces who were overloaded by all the people flocking into the base, with perhaps fighting going on and people being cut off in remote villages. I am aware of the emergency service set up in the Foreign Office, and I am sure that it is doing what it can to help, but it should be realised that there are other means of communication with the sovereign bases. The Meteorological Office, for instance, has extensive communications facilities which if used would allow more information to come out of the island.

I am unhappy about the House going into recess. I have a certain number of cases—and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen may have more—of people who are still desperately waiting for news and who are concerned about the situation. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to reassure us. If any other cases come to our knowledge, shall we be able to get in touch with the Foreign Office and leave with it the names and addresses of the people who are desperately and anxiously awaiting news? May we have an assurance that Members will be assisted in looking after their constituents' real interests?

I emphasise that, because I have spoken to these people. It is distressing for someone to have a son or daughter or mother in Cyprus and find, as the days go by and people arrive by plane, that there is no news of where his nearest and dearest are. As we get over the chaos, and as, we hope, the peace negotiations continue, we trust that we shall speedily be in a position to have a communications system with the Greeks, the Turks and the United Nations so that we may send our representatives to these villages to find out what has happened. All that is required is a simple message to say that they are in good heart, that they are wall and that they have survived. That is the least we can expect in this situation.

I hope my right hon. Friend does not think that we are being too critical. I am aware—as I am sure others are—that when something like this blows up the essential first tasks have to be done first. But we should now be able to see our way ahead to a situation in which we can go to the Foreign Office on behalf of our constituents and say that their friends and relations are at certain addresses and ask whether it is possible to find out how they are.

I hope that as the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester said we shall utilise the communications facilities that can be made available and that all the news will be made available. I hope that what I have said will not be taken in a spirit of undue criticism. I am aware of the difficulties, but I hope that we can make progress in this way. We can then sit back on our laurels and say that we have done a good job for the people whom we seek to help in this unhappy situation.

1.14 p.m.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)

I do not venture into the fields of defence and strategy on which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) has spoken with the eminent authority that he has in these matters, but I join with him in his tribute to the Foreign Secretary.

On Monday I referred to the necessity of measures to safeguard British lives and interests in Cyprus, and particularly in the Kyrenia area. I shall not repeat what I said then, except to emphasise the urgency and importance of the matter, and to express the hope that for British citizens in Cyprus the worst may now be over, or that it soon will be. Like the rest of the House, I heard with great distress the news of the four further casualties in Cyprus.

I join, too, in paying tribute to the work of the High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Olver, and his staff, in these difficult circumstances, as well as to our troops in Cyprus.

I turn to the wider aspects of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman very properly stressed the temporary nature of the achievement to date, gratifying though it is, and the necessity to press on to a lasting solution. The Geneva Declaration, in particular paragraph 5, refers to those constitutional aspects. I warmly welcome the early association of the indigenous Cypriot elements with the talks, because naturally their consent is necessary for any lasting and stable solution. It will not be easy to evolve a viable and acceptable constitutional pattern in Cyprus, as is evidenced by the snail's progress of the inter-communal talks over the past few years.

It is, however, vitally necessary that we should achieve success if we are to avoid the fear of a repetition of recent events. Paragraph 5 of the Geneva Declaration notes the existence in practice in Cyprus of two autonomous administrations, the Greek Cypriot community and the Turkish Cypriot community. That, of course, is a fact.

As I see it, there are three possibilities for the future. The first would be to seek to continue on the lines of the two autonomous communities. Logically that would involve the partition of Cyprus, and I do not consider that the pattern of population in Cyprus lends itself to partition. Nearly all the towns have a mixed population, although it is fair to say that the Turks tend to reside in their own separate quarters. There are still some mixed villages, though unfortunately not as many as there were a few years ago. In any case, the Greek and Turkish villages are sometimes close and do not follow an easily divisible geographic pattern Therefore, it follows that any partition, whether de jure or even de facto, would probably necessitate compulsory movements of population and other elements of human hardship.

The second possibility is to revert to the precise prescribed machinery of the 1960 Constitution. That has obvious attractions, but the fact that it has not worked so far in practice may be an indication of the practical difficulties of its full restoration.

The third possible course is to use the spirit of the 1960 Constitution as a base, and to evolve by good will and agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot elements such adaptation and improvements as are necessary to meet the practical requirements of the situation. The third suggestion seems to me to be the most hopeful avenue of approach. I believe that in Mr. Glafkos Clerides and Mr. Rauf Denktash we have men of the requisite ability and good will to make progress on those lines. They are, too, men who will appreciate the inherent difficulties of the situation and the necessity of a good deal of give and take in the matter.

I see one other hopeful sign in this dark scene. Paradoxically that is in the economic context. I say "paradoxically" because naturally the economy of Cyprus has necessarily received a shattering blow from recent events. But economic considerations show clearly that Cypriots must take a practical view and that will be acceptable to the outside world. The average man, be he Cypriot or otherwise, wants economic stability and growth, but in Cyprus in particular, this prospect depends wholly on a peaceful and sensible solution of constitutional problems.

About one-third of the island's economy in terms of earnings is tourism; one-third is the export of wine and citrus fruits. Tourism, of course, depends wholly on the outside world. The export of wine and fruit depends, only fractionally to a lesser degree—formerly on Commonwealth preference—today on obtaining the right arrangements with the EEC. That being so, the economic conditions must push Cypriots of whatever extraction to a sensible and agreed solution.

I hope that economic realities will pervail. I believe that the terrible and tragic experiences of the last two weeks will help—indeed, force—all concerned to recognise that the economic salvation of Cyprus and all its citizens depends on a practical and sensible approach.

I hope, therefore, that the lessons of the past are now learnt and that a new start can be made in binding up the wounds of this lovely but unhappy land.

1.21 p.m.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

I shall be very brief, for I wish to make only one or two observations in this debate.

The events of the last few weeks—the intervention under the treaty of guarantee by Turkey in Cyprus and the fighting that has taken place—have tended to cloud the real issue and what started off this tragic event in Cyprus. That intervention was with the full consent of the then Government, the military colonels' junta in Greece, who incited and supported the officers of the Cypriot National Guard to overthrow the legal Government of the Republic of Cyprus. It would be wrong if, in the events that have followed, we did not recognise that the guilty parties in this current tragedy are those who initiated the overthrow of the legal Government of the Republic.

I want to join with the whole House—indeed, with the rest of the country—in congratulating my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the part that he has played on behalf of the British nation in bringing about at least an interim agreement that has established a ceasefire. It would also be right in this short debate to record my appreciation of the restraint that has been shown by the Turkish Government and, indeed, by the new régime in Greece itself. In my view, they have done all they can, within the constraints of the very strong public opinion that must be flowing in their respective countries, to de-escalate the hard fighting that was taking place.

As to the future, obviously, my right hon. Friend and all others in the world interested in restoring peace and democracy to Cyprus must keep the negotiations continuing until we find a solution to this tragedy of the split population of Cyprus. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) has referred to Mr. Denktash and Mr. Clerides. In those two Greek and Turkish citizens of Cyprus we have people who understand the communal problems of the Republic of Cyprus and can play an immense part.

I only wish that I could say the same for Mr. Makarios. In my view, it would be wrong in the immediate future for Mr. Makarios to be involved too closely in the initial negotiations that must now continue. There may well be a future for Mr. Makarios back in Cyprus, but he, too, has a responsibility for the tragedy.

It must be remembered that under his presidency the communities in Cyprus were not brought together in the way that they could have been united and integrated if the Government of the Republic had shown the right lead. So, while I have every sympathy for a democratically-elected president who is overthrown as a result of a military intervention, in the circumstances that have flowed from that and with the emergence of Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash as the prime spokesmen of the two communities, I hope that Mr. Makarios will agree that he could play a low profile rôle, at least for the immediate future.

A matter of continuing debate, particularly on my side of the House, is the future rôle of the British Armed Forces. We ought to seize this opportunity of placing on record that there must be many thousands of citizens in Cyprus who today are thanking God that there were sovereign area bases in which they could and did, take refuge from the murder and havoc that were raping the Republic of Cyprus.

It is my hope that, with the experience we have had of the importance of a British sovereign base in Cyprus and a strong British contingent in the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Cyprus and elsewhere, the demands for Draconian defence cuts will at least be muted by the realisation that, if it were not for the presence of United Kingdom Armed Forces, the blood, terror and death would have been far greater than it was.

Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) touched on the subject of United Kingdom tourists who are still in the eastern Mediterranean area. I have received representations from people whose children are on holiday in Crete, for instance, and from tourists in Turkey and Greece. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to reassure the parents and families of these holiday makers to the effect that the civil airports in Crete, Greece and Turkey are open for British tour operators to go in and out with their tourists. I hope also that he will be able to say whether he is satisfied that the British tour operators with holiday makers in these areas are discharging their undertakings and responsibilities in seeing that the tourists are properly housed and fed during any delays that may take place.

I emphasise the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) and my hon. Friend that greater publicity should be given to a central point through which United Kingdom citizens could make inquiries about friends and relatives in Cyprus and the other areas where communications are rather delayed at the moment.

I again congratulate my right hon. Friend. He has served Britain and the world immensely in the past few days in the part that he has played in bringing peace and tranquility and in the long term, we hope, a firmer settlement.

1.28 p.m.

Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)

I join the hon. Member for Erith and Cray-ford (Mr. Wellbeloved) in congratulating the Foreign Secretary on the stamina and skill that he has shown in the last few days.

I also join the hon. Member in hoping that when the conference reconvenes, we shall not insist too strongly on the presence of President Makarios. I remember well that 10 or 11 years ago President Makarios was instrumental in breaking down the power-sharing constitution in Cyprus and that he did a great deal, alas, to undermine the constitutional rights of the Turkish community. Since then, of course, he has won wide admiration for the adroit way in which he has survived on the high wire of Cypriot politics. But, of course, high wire acts lose some of their effectiveness if the star falls on his head in the ring. I hope that we shall not insist on the presence of President Makarios.

I am sure that we would all agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) that the situation in Cyprus would have been much worse in the last few days, had it not been for the presence of the sovereign base areas and the British troops. They have done a magnificent job, for which we should give them full credit.

I wonder whether the Foreign Secretary can give an estimate of the cost to the Treasury of the relief work for the refugees and whether he would say a word or so about what further support will be given the next few weeks for those who have been forced to leave their homes. In particular one thinks of the families of British Service men who have had to leave their homes and go into sovereign base areas. Presumably they have to be flown back to this country, and I hope that adequate care will be taken of them.

But while there is universal praise for the rôle of the British forces, I am sure the Foreign Secretary will be aware that there has been anxiety in this country, and in the Middle East, about the rôle of the United Nations force as a whole. When serious fighting broke out in Cyprus it seemed that the United Nations force there was incapable of taking effective action. I wonder what fresh orders have been given to the United Nations force in Cyprus to ensure that, if there are infractions of the cease-fire, they will be able to deal effectively with them. Have they the authority to use force if there is a break in the cease-fire and have they the full authority of the Turkish and Greek Governments to go everywhere they need on the island?

I also hope that the Foreign Secretary can say something about the future of the sovereign base areas. He will know that some doubt has been thrown on their continued existence by the defence review I am sure we all join the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford in hoping that the sovereign base areas will remain, because our forces in Cyprus are an element of stability in a desperately unstable part of the world.

1.33 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

At the risk of boring my right hon Friend, I congratulate him on his arduous endeavours of the past few hours. The result gives a lie to those who say that Britain has very little influence in conflicts of this kind.

Cyprus is part of the Commonwealth, and one cannot escape the messages of history. She is struggling to assert her sovereign independence, and I found it strange that, in my right hon. Friend's initial statement and until recently in the debate, President Makarios was not mentioned very much from the Government side of the House. I understand that he is currently in London. I should like to know whether, when my right hon. Friend has caught his breath, he intends to have talks with President Makarios, who is an expert on the situation and whose opinion and advice would be sought by the British people as a whole. I should also like to know whether President Makarios, as the British Government have been at pains to describe him all the way through, will be a party to the talks with which my right hon. Friend will be involved in the not-too-distant future.

As my right hon. Friend will be denuded of sound advice from our side of the House during the talks and in the coming weeks, it is as well to spell out now some of the fears and trepidations of the Labour Party and the Labour movement on the vexed Cypriot question.

The Labour Party Executive accepted a resolution calling for the return of President Makarios to Cyprus because it was accepted that what he had to say in answer to that call would lead to the restitution of the sovereignty of Cyprus. I have met Mr. Clerides, who is a most able man, and I have met some of the Turkish leaders. I made one visit to Cyprus in 1970, but not for the purpose of making a painstaking political study of the area. Because Cyprus is part of the Commonwealth, and because there are many immigrants of Greek origin—not so many of Turkish origin—from Cyprus in this country, perhaps we have become more acquainted with the problems of that island than we otherwise would be.

There is no doubt that many of the Turkish people of Cypriot origin who have settled in this country have respect for President Makarios, as have those people of Greek origin who demonstrated their anxieties in Hyde Park last Sunday, when the call for his return had an instant response. It was the one thing that "rang the bell" in the context of the anxieties that are felt about Cyprus.

The background events—this was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford—that led to the coup that resulted in the deposition of President Makarios, the setting up of a junta for a brief period, and the strange events involved with it, have already been partly uncovered by researches in papers such as The Sunday Times.

I hope my right hon. Friend has in mind that many of us are mindful of the influences exerted by the Greek millionaires. There is an interlocking of the situation in Greece and Cyprus. Those who control events in Greece endeavour to do so by one régime or another, and they have a link with the United States in the international field. I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to that article in The Sunday Times because one of the millionaries was a rich backer of Mr. Nixon's Presidential campaign.

The Labour Party and the Labour movement do not want to see any activity on the part of our Foreign Secretary which tends to buttress this state of affairs. We want to be seen to be ranged on the side of the peoples of both Cyprus and Greece in their anguished moments and in their endeavours to assert their democratic rights to advance to a Socialist society if they so desire.

1.38 p.m.

Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)

I join with others in welcoming the cessation of hostilities. I should like, first, to pay the warmest possible tribute to the Secretary of State for his determined, healing and creative part in reaching the agreement. I welcome also the action of the Greek and Turkish Governments. Their statesmanship at the conference, has been outstanding. The new Greek Government were in a particularly difficult position just having come into power. Then I should like to join others in a warm tribute to our Armed Services and to our High Commissioner. It has been a multilateral effort that has produced a ceasefire.

The agreement signed yesterday will, I hope, lead to a longer-term settlement and allow the people of Cyprus to live alongside each other with much less fear of communal clashes. But this, as the Secretary of State said, is only a beginning. I wish him success in the resumed negotiations on 8th August and, later, when the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are brought in. He will then find there two of my old friends, Glafkos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, both clear-sighted and determined leaders who care for Cyprus as a whole as well as for their own communities.

I was involved in the administration of Cyprus for five years, from 1955 to 1960, and I should like to make only a few points at this early stage. The ceasefire agreement points to separate rule in the new Turkish and Greek sectors within an independent and unitary Cyprus republic. This could—and I pray it will—lead to a more stable political future. It is difficult, at this stage, to see far ahead. but, in my view, an arrangement on these lines offers better prospects than the alternative of outright partition, which would involve much suffering through major movements of population.

But one point is already clear. The members of the Turkish Cypriot community could not thrive on the land now occupied by Turkish troops. It contains very little of the good farming land. The detailed settlement that has yet to be worked out will, as I see it, leave Turks in the Greek sector free to live, farm and trade there, and Greeks in the new Turkish sector free to do the same.

But such an arrangement will call for great tolerance and care by the authorities in each area for the other communities under their administration. We have seen in Ulster, which is a different case, how hard it is to achieve this tolerance. But we must await further details.

As to the future rôle of the United Nations forces, which have already achieved so much in Cyprus, it is clear that they will be required for many years to come to ensure that border incidents between the two sectors are kept to a minimum and to help people to adjust to the new situation after great suffering on both sides.

In the first settlement of 1960, the constitutional arrangements for a republic were based on the Zurich Agreement between Greece and Turkey, while Britain retained two sovereign base areas. These sovereign base areas have been of great value to Western defence, as has been recognised by all our Western allies. They have been of value also to our Armed Services for training purposes and for supporting the United Nations forces, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) made clear in his opening speech—and I congratulate him on choosing this subject for his Adjournment debate.

There have also been two side benefits of the sovereign base area. First, in the emergency they have helped to calm the situation and to reduce the threat of war between Greece and Turkey. They have greatly reduced human suffering and have provided a refuge for British residents, for isolated Greek and Turkish groups under threat of massacre, and for the thousands of tourists from all nations scattered all over the island. They have also been of great benefit to the economy of Cyprus. The wages paid out in the sovereign base areas have been an important contribution to the economy of Cyprus.

My hope is that with the continuing good will of Greece and Turkey, and the Cyprus communities, these bases will be maintained for many years ahead until Western democracy is no longer under threat in that region.

1.44 p.m.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

I join in paying tribute to what has already been done in the past week. I must not overdo that tribute—otherwise, it will be grossly misunderstood—but I shall make one reference to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who, as Chairman of the Labour Party, is the custodian of its policy. I am sure that he must be well aware of the resolution which was passed unanimously by the National Executive of the British Labour Party outlining, in my view, majority opinion throughout the Labour movement on what should now be done, and outlining what the British contribution should be in the talks to come. It is on that aspect that I wish to make two or three very brief points.

But I refer, first, to the United Nations and to what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) about the sovereignty of the island and the presence of British troops and naval and air force participation. Did Ivor Richard at the United Nations enjoy my right hon. Friend's confidence when he made the accusation against the Soviet Union that its intervention was purely mischievous and for ideological purposes? I should have thought that some of the comments that were made, by Mr. Gromyko particularly and by others who spoke on behalf of the Soviet Government, were making a contribution to the discussions throughout the world as to the inevitable de-nuclearising of the Mediterranean area. Surely, it is a dominant part of British Labour foreign policy to speak realistically about de-nuclearising the Mediterranean and starting to reduce the military presence not only of Britain but of other nations taking part in all sorts of naval and air force exercises throughout the Mediterranean area.

The situation is complicated by disagreements about Aegean Sea oil agreements and so on between Greece and Turkey, but it is further complicated by other military strategic necessities brought about by the presence of Soviet ships, British ships and United States ships. But, above all, there must be recognition of the part to be played by NATO in this situation.

I come now to the question of the size of the United Nations forces. It was welcome news to hear the Foreign Secretary announce the considerably increased contribution that the United Kingdom is about to make towards the size of the United Nations forces in Cyprus. But there is one important question here. What is the function of the United Nations. The question has been raised by the spokesman for the Liberal Party, the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) on previous occasions—quite rightly, in my view—as to what is their function in the present situation, when we recognise that the purpose of our policy should be to establish clearly the sovereignty of Cyprus and the sovereignty and independence of the Cypriot people.

Two points have arisen from the Foreign Secretary's statement which I believe to be of considerable importance to all of us in the House concerning the hardening of the idea of segregation of the communities. We all recognise that the future of Cyprus is impossible unless there is communal harmony on the island. It cannot function economically if segregation takes place. Therefore, those people who talk about the future being based upon two autonomous communities are doing a disservice and are playing into the hands of those who want to create maximum havoc for the future economy and well being of the island and the prosperity of its people.

Because we have said that the most important aspect is harmony among the Cypriot people we must say in clear terms, as, indeed, the British Labour Party has said, that President Makarios must be involved in future discussions. We believe that it is the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary to make sure that that point is made and to invite President Makarios to take his rightful place.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

Order. The hon. Member knows that we have agreed, in order that other hon. Members shall have their debates, that Front Bench spokesmen should start their speeches about now. If the hon. Member could come to a conclusion, it would help the House.

Mr. Atkinson

Yes, but I understood that the arrangement was that 5 o'clock was not to be a rigid deadline and therefore there was to be some pushing back of the time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. We may go beyond 5 o'clock, but not for that reason. The Adjournment debates would be affected if we continued too long.

Mr. Atkinson

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to prolong the debate unnecessarily. However, on the question of the return of President Marakios it is important that we should make this point, and I tried to give it the necessary background. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary is conscious of the desire to have President Makarios involved in the discussions now taking place, for the reasons that we have put forward.

Those discussions, in the opinion of many hon. Members, must include some discussion about the provision of resources to rebuild demolished buildings, to try to put right the damage already done on the island, and to make it not only a military contribution but a contribution towards the restoration of the island and the prosperity of the Cypriot people.

1.52 p.m.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)

I am glad that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) was able to promote this short debate. It has enabled him to emphasise the importance in the widest context of Western security of the British base in Cyprus. Certainly in recent months its usefulness has twice been underlined. Therefore, I find him justified in the conclusion that he drew at the end of his speech.

The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary rightly impressed upon us that the settlement which he brought back is temporary. There will be plenty of difficulties ahead on the ground and in relation to the improvement of the constitution. It is plain that at the talks which have just been concluded there was considerable tension. However, like my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), I am not surprised that the new Greek Government were faced at a moment's notice with a situation which aroused the deepest emotion in Greece, and does still, and they showed considerable courage, for which they should be given credit, in the arrangements they were able to make with the right hon. Gentleman and the Turkish Foreign Minister.

So wide are the implications of the trouble in Cyprus—possible war between Greece and Turkey and possible Russian intervention in the eastern Mediterranean—that we are apt to forget—we might have done if my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) had not reminded us—that this whole matter is about people. It is about simple people, indigenous Cypriots, and the problems of how they are to live together in ethnic groups.

Towards this goal a new start has been made, and this temporary agreement contains two or three ingredients which are realistic and are, therefore, hopeful. First, the right hon. Gentleman hinted that the Constitution of 1960, or whatever was the year, has not been satisfactorily worked for a number of years. I agree with that. One has to recognise that the Turkish minority in future will require what I might call "more bankable assurances" that their majority will not be treated as second-class citizens. On that, I have no doubt, a great deal of the discussion on 8th August will properly take place.

It is necessary, in view of some of the comments which have been made, to say that it is not for others to choose who will be the Cypriot leaders who conduct these talks. It is for the Cypriots themselves to say that. I can only say that, so far as I know, Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash understand perhaps better than anybody else the mutual concessions and tolerances needed to avoid what has been called the barren, outright partition of the island.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that President Makarios is the elected President of the Cypriot people and that he has never in any way been displaced by any person who has been chosen by the Cypriot people? Ought we not to recognise that?

Sir A. Douglas-Home

We recognise that there is a legal Government of Cyprus in existence: it is for the Cypriots to say how that Government is to be maintained, changed or whatever they may decide. It is for them to decide, not for us, and not for anybody else outside.

The second point, therefore, which I find realistic is that in the high state of emotions which are bound to rule for some time, the United Nations forces are going to be increased, and they will help the two communities to live together.

The last piece of realism which I think has come out of this after these many years and after the crisis of the last few days is that Greece and Turkey have realised that, within the wide of context of the free nations, they must remain friends. The consequences of any other relationship are just too dire to contemplate.

I promised the Foreign Secretary 10 minutes, so I will close in this way. He knows as well as anybody who has anything to do with Cypriot politics that there may be many a slip between the cup and the lip. However, I should like to repeat my pleasure at what he has achieved, at what the High Commissioner and his other colleagues have achieved, and at what our Armed Forces have done. May this promising start be continued on 8th August and beyond.

1.57 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. James Callaghan)

I thank the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home) for the typical generosity with which he has spoken.

There is a great wealth of experience in the House on the subject of Cyprus, and this debate has revealed it. I trust that hon. Members will forgive me if I do not refer to their individual contributions, but perhaps I could pick up the points that have emerged from them. I should particularly like to mention the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles), whose foresight managed to secure a debate for us. He raised immediately the question of the safety of United Kingdom citizens, which must be one of our prime considerations.

I do not think that the debate has wholly revealed the situation in Cyprus in relation to making and keeping contact with United Kingdom citizens. The area which the Turkish forces have occupied as they say, under their rights as guarantors of the 1960 treaty of guarantee—is a war zone that has been bitterly fought over. I think that when the full casualties are known we shall realise that the degree of fighting was much greater than was expected initially. That is the basic reason why, in that area at any rate, it has not been possible to get for the constituents of, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis), and others, the information that we ought normally to be able to supply. The sheer difficulty of movement has not been fully understood, although stories have appeared about the organisation of convoys.

I have seen telegrams from our own High Commissioner which have been interrupted with a comment saying "We must now retire to the cellars," and 10 minutes later the Telex continues with "We have now emerged from the cellars." People have been operating in the greatest physical danger in this situation. This applies not only to our own High Commission but to many other British subjects. We have been dealing with a war situation, and this is the only apology that I can offer. The Foreign Office, too, would like to get more information for them about British subjects.

I must pay the very greatest tribute to the High Commissioner. He has not had any particular staff reinforcement at present, for reasons that I will not go into now, but he is in very close touch with the Commander-in-Chief. Operational instructions are agreed between them and none goes out without the other being in the picture. I am satisfied that, although we hope that the worst is over, there has been very good co-ordination between them, after an original hiccough or two, as usually happens at the beginning of this kind of crisis.

As regards the citizens, the situation of the British residents in Kyrenia who decided to remain in their homes is still unsatisfactory. The Turkish military command is extremely sensitive about the operations of UNFICYP, the United Nations force, as also about the operations of our High Commissioner, although he arranged for consular visits to be paid to Kyrenia on 29th July. I understand that there is no main water supply, but restoration of electricity supplies is said to be in hand. There are complaints of harassment by soldiers and the ransacking of empty houses. I hope that these conditions will improve, but we shall need more co-operation from the Turkish military authorities if we are to satisfy a number of the inquiries made by or on behalf of British subjects.

I asked the Turkish Government to issue instructions to their military commanders that help and assistance should be forthcoming. Now that the immediate warlike situation is over, there is no reason why they should not permit facilities to be restored more easily than they felt able to do earlier in the week.

I understand that it would be possible—and I wish to thank the Turkish Government—to mount a convoy from Kyrenia if families of residents there wish to leave, but from some of the contacts which have been made it seems that families want to stay. It is their homes and properties which are involved, and if they leave what will happen to them? Many of them prefer to stay and face it out. However, it means that, if they decide to stay, we cannot get much communication with them. Therefore, the choice has to be made by them.

The High Commissioner is trying to re-establish the network of contact with British families, and that is taking place. I should like to thank my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs for all he has done. He should have been in Jamaica this week—not sunning himself but attending a conference there—and has made it his job to deal with the problems of British families. I emphasise that a delicate position exists in towns such as Nicosia and Famagusta which are cut off, and many individuals are unable to get out information.

Let me turn to the question of the influence of the United Kingdom. This influence flows from the position of the sovereign base areas. In addition, the mutual ties built up with the United States enabled both of us to play a significant rôle at different times during these events. The co-operation between us has been complete, and I wish to pay my tribute publicly to the work of the United States administration. It has been of great assistance indeed.

I was asked about the position of the President of the Cyprus Republic. He is the President; there is no gainsaying that. He was elected. He will state his own intentions about proceeding to Geneva or to Cyprus. That is not a matter for me. It is for him to say whether he will go. I understood last night from the Greek Foreign Minister—and I believe that he has stated this publicly—that it is not President Makarios's intention to be present at Geneva next week. But that is a matter for him and not for me, and is a matter for the Greek Cypriot community to decide. I have no doubt that Archbishop Makarios will make his own statement about his intentions. I am ready to see him in London, as he is here, before I leave for Geneva and will be pleased to listen to him. Whether or not he is in Cyprus, I am certain that he will have a great deal of influence on the discussions which are likely to take place.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith

As a postscript to that, will the Foreign Secretary confirm that under the Constitution while the President is out of Cyprus the President of the Assembly, Mr. Clerides, is ipso facto acting as President in his absence?

Mr. Callaghan

Section 36(2) of the 1960 Constitution has very explicit legal provisions for the succession to a president who is temporarily out of the country. I do not wish to interpret them now, because the situation is capable of more than one explanation. Certainly Mr. Clerides has an official rôle to play in this, and one major matter that we have to consider is the need for confidence now between the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot communities. Both Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash are capable of supplying that.

There is no escaping the fact that during the past 10 years the Constitution has not operated as it should have done, and the immediate sequence of events has been first that the violent assumption of power by Nicos Sampson and the overthrow of President Makarios with its associated creeping Enosis prompted the Turkish Government to set in motion the 1960 treaty of guarantee. That in turn has precipitated the landings which have taken place. This has undoubtedly meant that we now have to start again in many ways.

As to the solutions which will be propounded, I have listened to all that hon. Members have said about partition, about a reversion to the 1960 Constitution and about an evolution from the 1960 constitution. I am certain that a number of ideas will be put forward, because a constitution which has not been operating successfully and which has prompted these feelings amongst the Turkish community must tend to mean that a number of different proposals will be brought forward, in my estimation, when we meet again.

I say a special word about the Greek Government. They inherited a situation which they did not create and for which they are not responsible. I trust that they will be given full support in their efforts in the next few weeks to try to ensure that there is a community and an identity of interest as far as possible developing in Cyprus between the Turkish Cypriot community and the Greek Cypriot community. This is a task to which we have to bend ourselves, as well as that of reducing the number of different types of armed forces present on the island.

I was asked about the United Nations and the UNFICYP. The UNFICYP mandate has been in the widest and most general terms since 1964. The numbers of soldiers had been run down, and that is why steps are now being taken to increase its size. I have the figure for which I was asked. The cost has been about £8.7 million a year. It will now have to increase substantially if these forces are to play the part required of them.

I have not mentioned the sovereign base areas. I will take up the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester about naming the units. But some of them, too, have been in a semi-war situation, and up until now it has not seemed appropriate to do that. But certainly we ought to consider doing it, and I will take up the suggestion, together with the idea of the operational clearing house and the use of military communications which the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposed.

The sovereign base areas are important. However, I should not like to be drawn today into a discussion about them. We do not have time to do so, in any event. But every one of us has seen both their possibilities, which are great, and also their limitations in a delicate situation such as we have had in the Middle East, and we have to weigh them over the next few weeks.

Finally, I make this comment about what the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said. Of course, war between Greece and Turkey would be one of the greatest tragedies which could befall this sensitive and inflamed part of the world. As the Greek Foreign Minister said to me yesterday, "We are condemned to be friends." If there is one thing which gives me hope, it is my judgment that the two Foreign Ministers, with whom I spent six long days and nights, are determined, despite their very real differences, on behalf of the two communities, together with their Governments, to try to find a way through the thicket here. It is therefore vital that we should send our good wishes to the Government of Greece and to the Government of Turkey to sustain them both. They will need a lot of courage in the next few weeks if they are to survive and to enable the people of Cyprus to live the kind of life that we want for them. Inflamed Public opinion can be very dangerous in these circumstances. I do not wish to add to it in any way. I want to subtract from it.

I ask the people of Greece to understand that the remedies for the discontent that lie there may involve some changes, but if they lead to the people of Cyprus being able to enjoy a better life it will be to the advantage of Greece and Turkey and it will certainly be for the benefit of the people themselves.

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