HC Deb 26 February 1985 vol 74 cc160-1
9. Mr. Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of the sovereign bases in Cyprus.

Mr. Stanley

The sovereign base areas in Cyprus are an important British defence asset. I expect them to remain so.

Mr. Johnston

Is not the concept of sovereign bases now anachronistic? If there was a notional contribution to the stability of the area, was its credibility not completely destroyed by the failure of the United Kingdom to take any action when the invasion of Cyprus by its NATO ally Turkey took place?

Mr. Stanley

I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it is a dangerous moment to suggest that the concept of sovereignty somehow becomes anachronistic. The base is sovereign British territory as laid down in the 1960 treaty. It has the full rights of sovereignty that we associate with the use of that word.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the sovereign base areas are among the few places where Turkish and Greek Cypriots are working and living happily together? Secondly, will he confirm that the sovereign bases are used to supply the UN peacekeeping force not just in Cyprus but in southern Lebanon, that Britain supplies the largest national element in that peacekeeping force based on the sovereign bases, and that the sovereign bases play an important part?

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I am glad to confirm both the points that he raised. It is the case that one of the social benefits of our use of the sovereign base areas is that we employ approximately 3,400 locally-employed civilians and, as my hon. Friend says, they come from both communities. I also confirm what my hon. Friend said about the importance of the logistical back-up that we provide from the sovereign base areas both to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus and to the United Nations force in the Lebanon.