HC Deb 15 April 1981 vol 3 cc308-9
4. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Lord Privy Seal what plans he has to visit Cyprus.

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir Ian Gilmour)

I visited Cyprus in April 1980, and have no plans for a further visit at present.

Mr. Cox

I note that reply. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, sadly, all the indications are that the inter-communal talks are again making little progress? As important issues are involved, such as the continuing occupation of part of Cyprus by Turkish troops and the unresolved question of missing Greek Cypriots, is it not the time that the right hon. Gentleman made another visit to the island and clearly stated the Government's policy on its future and on those key issues?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree that the talks have not made much progress. However, I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that they have taken place in a notably better atmosphere than that of the previous round of talks. I agree about the great importance of the issues that he mentioned. It is not surprising that the tempo of the talks is slowing down. As the hon. Gentleman knows, in the next two months there will be elections in both communities. It would not be right for Britain to take any unilateral action now. The hon. Gentleman keeps a close eye on such matters and, as he knows, we are offering every support to the United Nations in its endeavours.

Mr. Jim Spicer

My right hon. Friend will know that recently Mr. Denktash made a speech on behalf of the Turkish-Cypriot community in which he pledged its full support for the long-term future of sovereign base areas. Have we received a similar pledge from the Cyprus Government?

Sir Ian Gilmour

The Cyprus Government have not called in question our sovereign base areas. They are not an immediate issue and are not under threat. However, we all understand the meaning of the original question, namely, that we should press on towards achieving a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.

Mr. Norman Atkinson

Does the Lord Privy Seal realise that it is nearly seven years since the invasion of Cyprus? Is it not a curious fact that neither Labour or Conservative Governments have made a major statement offering a solution to the problems in Cyprus, although Britain has an interest in sovereign bases there. Notwithstanding that, will the Lord Privy Seal say whether the Government believe that the Turkish Government should withdraw their troops from Cyprus, restore free movement to its people and bring about the reunification of the island on a sovereign basis?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree that it is seven years since those events took place. As the hon. Gentleman knows, events before that damaged the unity of the island. It is not surprising that neither Labour nor Conservative Governments have made high-sounding declarations. I do not think that that is the right way to solve the problem. We look forward to the day when there is a comprehensive settlement. That witll obviously include the wihdrawal of Turkish troops.