HC Deb 27 April 1982 vol 22 cc713-4
14. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what economies, or increases in real expenditure, have been made in the sovereign base areas in Cyprus in each of the last 10 years; and what savings or additional costs have resulted in cash terms and at constant prices.

Mr. Blaker

I regret that the information sought by the hon. Member is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate effort. However, I am arranging for details of the estimated budgetary cost of the British Forces in the sovereign base areas and associated sites since 1974–75 to be published in the Official Report at both current and constant prices.

Mr. Price

As we are able to maintain such substantial forces in those permanent bases, what do the Government intend to do about a far more serious invasion than that of the Falkland Islands? The invasion to which I refer involved a great loss of life and serious injury in an area for which Britain had statutory responsibilities. Will the Government use these forces to put right the problems arising from that invasion, especially as the Government of Turkey are now proposing to put in gaol the democratically elected Prime Minister of the country, Mr. Bulent Ecevit, for up to five years?

Mr. Blaker

As I recall, when the invasion to which the hon. Gentleman referred took place, the Labour Party was in power. Therefore, the question of military action does not now arise. This is a problem for diplomatic action, and it is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and others.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Has not the maintenance of the sovereign bases in Cyprus over the years contributed to the stability of the area and helped our allies and friends of peace in that part of the world?

Mr. Blaker

I agree with my hon. Friend that the sovereign base areas are extremely valuable. They are situated at strategic points on the world atlas.

The information is as follows:

£ millions
At current prices At constant 1982–83 estimates prices
1974–75 57 173
1975–76 34 85
1976–77 42 87
1977–78 46 87
1978–79 53 89
1979–80 59 83
1980–81 63 76
1981–82 72 77