HC Deb 24 July 1985 vol 83 cc1037-40
13. Mr. Haynes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the problems of Cyprus with the Secretary General of the United Nations; and if he will make a statement on the outcome of that discussion.

Mr. Renton

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend had discussions with the Secretary General on 23 January and remain in close and frequent contact with him through official channels about the Cyprus problem. The Secretary General has made clear his determination to continue his efforts to bring about a settlement in Cyprus and we have expressed our strong support for his initiative.

Mr. Haynes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is not good enough? Has he read early-day motion 915, which refers to the 11 years during which there has been an invasion of Cyprus? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, under a complacent Conservative Administration, Hitler invaded many European nations? What will the hon. Gentleman do about these problems? I am not satisfied with his answer. Action must be taken. Inaction has gone on for long enough. The problems should be sorted out.

Mr. Renton

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern. We take a serious view of anything that worsens the situation in Cyprus. For that reason we opposed, and called for the reversal of, the so-called declaration of independence in 1983. We drafted and secured the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 541, which deplored the Turkish-Cypriot action and declared that it was legally invalid. We believe that all sides should do their utmost to support the Secretary General's efforts.

Mr. Crouch

I do not want to waste the time of the House——

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Everyone else has done so.

Mr. Crouch

Does my hon. Friend realise that he has just answered the question that I wanted to put to him about the fact that the Government confirm that they strongly support United Nations resolutions 541 and 550 and recognise the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the only Government in Cyprus?

Mr. Renton

I thank my hon. Friend for endowing me with the quality of perceptiveness, which I did not know I possessed. My hon. Friend has put the Government's position accurately and well.


Mr. Deakins

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to draw your attention and that of the House to the fact that today's Foreign Office questions mark the end of the experimental period that began earlier this year. during which European Community questions temporarily lost their separate slot. This experiment was agreed between the usual channels, although there was inadequate consultation on either side. To take today's questions as an example, only two European Community questions were asked compared with the seven or eight that would previously have been asked. Whatever one may think of the European Community, it is not being viewed in the same light as the United States of America, the middle east, South Africa or any other part of the world, although it has the power to tax the British people and legislate for them, a power which other parts of the world do not have. May I therefore express the hope through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the House will take on board these comments, which have been conveyed to ham separately? I understand that some of the minority parties also feel strongly about this issue.

Sir John Farr

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. There were 81 oral questions on the Order Paper today to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, only nine of which were devoted to European Community matters. Most of us believe that the experiment has been a great success and we hope that it will continue in a permanent form. There seems to be no reason to devote 20 minutes of Question Time to the European Community when so many other pressing matters in the rest of the world await attention.

Sir Russell Johnston

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Liberal party does not agree with the view of the hon. Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr). It feels that you, Mr. Speaker, ought to exercise some benign influence over the Government to ensure that these matters are properly ventilated.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I add my support to the point made by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins). The experiment has been a failure in the sense that the European Community impinges on so much of the business of this House. Whatever views hon. Members may have about the European Community, I believe they would prefer that slot to be reinstated, because this experiment has been a failure.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

It might be for the convenience of the House if I drew its attention to the written answer that was given on 22 March, which initiated the present experiment. It said: The experiment will last until the summer recess to allow an opportunity for its success to be evaluated. Further discussions will then take place through the usual channels to determine whether the new arrrangement should become permanent." —[Official Report, 22 March 1985; Vol. 75 c. 625.] May I suggest that we should have those discussions rather than that they should be continued at this momemt.