§ 3.45 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, before we proceed with the Business before the House, I should like to ask the leave of noble Lords to make a statement, which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, with regard to the Eastern Mediterranean. I will give it, if I may, in my right honourable friend's own words.
"I wish to inform the House that Her Majesty's Government have this morning made the following communication to the Greek and Turkish Governments, through Her Majesty's representatives:—'Her Majesty's Government have been giving further consideration to the strategic and other problems affecting alike the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. They consider that the association of the three countries in that area based on mutual confidence is essential to their common interests.'Her Majesty's Government accordingly invite the Greek and Turkish Governments to send representatives to confer with them in London at an early date on political and defence questions which affect the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus.'"Her Majesty's Government very much hope that the Greek and Turkish Governments will accept this invitation. The House will note that the terms of the invitation are not restricted; and in fact it is our intention that there should be no fixed agenda, and that the discussions should range widely over all the questions involved. The discussions will be without prior commitment by any party."
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, in the absence of my noble and learned friend the Leader of the Opposition, I should like, on behalf of my noble friends, to welcome very much the statement which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has just made. We are delighted that these conversations are to take place, 400 and note with particular satisfaction that the conversations will include the very thorny subject of Cyprus. We are also glad that the terms of the invitation are not restricted and that there will be no fixed agenda. I always feel that one of the big pitfalls to be avoided in any discussions of this kind is an attempt to settle an agenda in advance. Her Majesty's Government have certainly learnt the lesson that it is often better to enter into discussions of this kind without an agenda. We very much hope that fruitful results will follow. Perhaps I might ask the noble Marquess whether it is his idea that these discussions should commence before the top-level discussions in Geneva, or would they probably follow later? It will have some bearing on the atmosphere in which these discussions will take place.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am afraid that I cannot answer that question to-day. Indeed, we have not yet had the answer to our invitation; but in due course no doubt I shall be able to let the noble Lord know.
My Lords, it would be unwise and undesirable to go into any detail on this statement which every Member of the House will welcome very much. We are particularly grateful for the very wide angle at which the door is open for these discussions to start, and we wish them every possible success.