§ 2.47 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE rose to call attention to the situation in Cyprus; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, it is now over three months since we last discussed the situation in Cyprus, and as we shall shortly be dispersing for the Summer Recess I do not think there is any need for an apology that I am raising the matter again. I am confirmed in that view by the long list of noble Lords who have expressed a wish to take part in the debate, and in view of that lengthy list I shall endeavour to cut my remarks as short as possible.
§ The last time we discussed Cyprus the Government had just taken action, which I presume they thought was going, somehow or other, to improve the situation, and deported Archbishop Makarios. More than three months have passed. Can any noble Lord say that the position has improved since that time, that the action has been effective? Hopes were expressed that, with the removal of the Archbishop, sober elements would conic forward to co-operate. We warned the House at the time that it was far more likely that more and more reckless elements would take over, and that is just what has happened. Week after week, day after day, these deplorable outrages continue. As I came into this House I saw in the evening paper that another British soldier has been murdered. We have inevitable repression, the use of troops; but the position hardens and difficulties increase. The Greek Government, I very much regret to say, made no endeavour to restrain the agitation from that side. We are told that the Turks feel aggrieved. It is generally suggested, I think with truth, that the very foundations of N.A.T.O. are being undermined.206
§ What is the next step? The next step that we have from the Government is the sending of the Radcliffe Mission. I shall have something to say on that later, but I am bound to say that all of us who are interested in this subject were severely disappointed at the decision to send out the Mission after Sir John Harding, who has an extremely difficult task and has our sympathy, had conic over here and while discussions were going on. We were all given to understand that there was going to be some real new initiative. We were asked to hold our hand. We understood that proposals were going forward. And then the whole of that disappeared, and we had instead the Radcliffe Mission. It has been suggested—I do not think it has really been denied—that that initiative was withdrawn because of pressure from the Turkish Government. We shall perhaps hear to-day whether that is true or not. But to cover that retreat we have the Radcliffe Mission.
§ I do not know whether this is really seriously meant or whether it is a kind of attempt to fall in with the suggestion thrown out by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury on the last occasion. But I do not think that it fulfils in the least what he suggested. In my view the Government have given Lord Radcliffe an impossible task and he deserves all our sympathy. Everyone knew that he would not be able to get into contact with the people because there would he a boycott—and in fact that is just what has happened. He has been sent out, as I understand it, to look around and frame a Constitution, without even being given the leading principles of that Constitution. How on earth can a man frame a Constitution without guidance on such a question, for instance, as to whether there will be a majority for the Greek Cypriots? He really must be given some guidance. It is no use sending a man out without guidance if he is going to see the people of the place. We know that he cannot see them. He might see the Turks. We are told that he will look around, assess the atmosphere and see the facts of the situation—the numbers, the history and all the rest of it. He could just as well do that here. It may be he will get contact—we all hope he will. But it does not look like it at present. It looks to 207 me as if this is a mere effort to cover a retreat.
§ Years ago, when I was first studying for the Bar, I was told that it was a great mistake to put up a number of weak arguments on a case, because it weakened the strength of such arguments as there were which were really worth presenting. Yet that is exactly what this Government have done. All kinds of extraordinary arguments are being put forward. There was an argument about our duties under the Lausanne Treaty. That was very fully discussed in another place, and I must say I thought that that learned lawyer, Mr. Clement Davies, blew that case sky high. Obviously, there is nothing whatever in that.
§ Then we have the strategic argument. Though something may be claimed on that, I think it is put much too high. What is said on the strategic importance of Cyprus seems to run entirely contrary to the thoughtful, broad and wise survey of conditions in the hydrogen bomb age that was put forward by the Prime Minister. We are told that Cyprus is essential for our position. We are told that Cyprus is needed to protect oil fields in Iraq, Persia or Kuwait. This is called "our oil"—though why. I do not know: we have not yet paid for it, and it is in other countries. But I, like others in your Lordships' House who are deeply knowledgeable on strategy, should like to know exactly how one protects from Cyprus oil fields in Iraq and Iran. I do not quite know how that is to be done.
§ Another suggestion made is that it is essential to have forces there. I put this point to a distinguished general. I asked why Cyprus particularly, and he made the astonishing remark that it was necessary because from there we could reach strategic points of a potential enemy. Of course, the answer to that is that the potential enemy could also reach us; and as we were dealing with this question of hydrogen bombs it seemed to me that if I were a Cypriot I should not be very pleased with that position. I believe that no-one has seriously suggested that Cyprus is important from the point of view of a world war. So far as I can see, the kind of backing that would be needed in the Middle East could equally be exercised from bases in Libya or somewhere else.208
§ There is next the astonishing confusion which runs through all Government statements on this question, as to whether this is a domestic affair or an international affair. At one time we were told that we cannot move in this matter because of N.A.T.O. Yet if it is suggested that we should take the problem to N.A.T.O. the answer is, "No; we must keep this strictly in the Commonwealth." I think it is about time that Her Majesty's Government made up their mind on this point: whether Cyprus is an essential part of our defence or an essential part of N.A.T.O. I do not know why we should walk into the position in which we have to take full responsibility for preserving peace in the Middle East when other nations besides ourselves have interests there. I suggest that the whole question of this base is too often considered in an out-of-date manner. Bases such as this were important before the air age, but I think the whole question of these bases now needs to be reconsidered, quite apart from the fact, as we have already found to our cost, that a base in a disaffected country is of precious little use.
§ Moreover, a quite extraordinary emphasis has been placed on the Turkish position. I thought it one of the most astounding things that a representative of the Foreign Office of this country should say that the possession of an island forty miles away from another country was a serious menace and naturally "got up the noses" of other countries. That is a remarkable statement from a country that has the Channel Islands, Malta, Cyprus, Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands. It is putting up a pretty strong argument for other people, and I should have thought that that argument was better left alone, quite apart from the fact that it would be utter madness, in my view, for anyone who wanted to attack Turkey to do it from Cyprus. I do not know who the potential enemies are. I can only suggest Greece or some country behind the Iron Curtain. But the Iron Curtain touches other parts of Turkey much more closely. I cannot help feeling that all these arguments are fundamentally false. They seem to me to be the kind of argument ferreted out in sonic Government office by some ingenious man who has had a general instruction to try to find out something which can be put up to defend an indefensible position.209
§ The fact is that the position has grown no better. I cannot think that the sending of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Radcliffe, will really change the situation; or that, however long he stays, Her Majesty's Government will not be faced with the same difficulty when he comes back. That difficulty is that, whether you allow this campaign of murder and repression to run on for a long time or a short time, in the long run you will have to talk with people, and probably with people you do not like at all.
§ Yesterday I happened to come across a book that I had not seen for years, Thoughts and Adventures, written by Sir Winston Churchill. In one chapter he discusses the Irish Treaty, and he points out how difficult it was and how humble agents of the Crown, in the faithful exercise of their duty, bad been and were being cruelly murdered; how soldiers, policemen and officials were shot down at close quarters in a deliberately adopted method of warfare. Sir Winston Churchill said of those responsible for those acts that they were not actuated by selfish and sordid motives but were ready to lay down their own lives, and that they were all supported by the sentiments of their fellow-countrymen. That was the charitable view taken by Sir Winston Churchill. But what happened? It was found necessary to meet these very people and to discuss the problem with them and come to a settlement. The men who had the courage to do that were Sir Winston Churchill, the late Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, the late Lord Birkenhead and Mr. Austen Chamberlain. No doubt they suffered for it. They had great difficulty with a big section of their own supporters but they faced up to that—and all honour to their couragea
§ It seems to me that this Government are not facing up to the problem. First of all they sent out a soldier; then they send out a judge. They are not taking decisions, or facing up to the problem. Yet I do not think it need be such a very serious problem—certainly not as serious as that which faced the Conservative Party over the Irish Treaty—in spite of Captain Waterhouse and Mr. Julian Amery. I do not like the thought that we are going on vacation and that this same process of murder and repression, which solves nothing, is to continue. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to make a new move, either through 210 N.A.T.O. or through direct touch, to bring back Archbishop Makarios, I think that in their heart of hearts noble Lords must recognise that his deportation was, to put it mildly, an error of judgment. It has accomplished nothing whatever; it has not helped us one bit to talk to the Cypriots. 'This is not an easy question, but certainly the mere deportation of the Archbishop settled nothing. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 2.59 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD LLOYD)
My Lords, there will be few things during our deliberations this afternoon on which we shall all agree, but I am confident that there is not one of us who does not deplore, just as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has deplored, the present tragic situation in the island of Cyprus, or who would not sincerely welcome a solution acceptable to all parties, if such a solution could be found. At any rate, let me say straight away that these are the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government and—as I shall hope to show during the course of my speech—we have toiled, and are toiling unremittingly, to that end.
If I speak to-day on behalf of the Colonial Office, it is, of course, because Cyprus is a British Colony, for the administration of which my right honourable friend is responsible. That is an important fact which has, perhaps, got somewhat overlaid by present events in connection with the current political situation there. On the other hand, it would be foolish to pretend that this is merely another colonial problem which could have been settled at any time between Her Majesty's Government and the people of Cyprus alone. Apart from our own vital interests, everybody knows that there are aspects of this matter which closely concern both Greece and Turkey. The noble Earl admitted that freely. Both those countries, as your Lordships are aware, hold strong views. It is not surprising, therefore, that no simple solution of this problem has been found. Indeed, if I may make an initial criticism of the speech of the noble Earl, it seemed to me that the whole time he was trying to put everything into pigeonholes. He suggested that no one had decided whether this was a domestic issue or an international issue. Of course, you cannot put 211 this issue into pigeonholes—it is both. It has a domestic aspect and it has an international aspect.
It is no good trying to put a situation like this into a pigeonhole. and, of course, there is no simple solution. If there had been a simple solution within reach, no doubt the Socialist Party would have found it when they were in power. As your Lordships know, they failed entirely to do so. In view of its intractable nature, I do not condemn them on that score. But I confess that, in the circumstances, I find their present criticisms of Her Majesty's Government a trifle disingenuous. Nor do I believe that a solution will be brought any nearer merely by ignoring those facts in the situation which arc inconvenient, or by trying to minimise the difficulties which confront us. There have been a number of debates in your Lordships' House. One took place about three months ago. The noble Earl suggested that suddenly in three months everything could get right. We cannot look at it in that aspect of time at all. In that debate three months ago, the situation was fully discussed. I do not wish to detain the House any longer than is necessary, and I shall be as brief as I can, but nevertheless, I feel that I owe it to your Lordships to summarise the situation once again as it is seen by Her Majesty's Government.
Our own position is well known. Cyprus remains essential for the maintenance of British interests and the discharge of British obligations, both under N.A.T.O. and in the Middle East. If I may interpolate a remark here, I might remind your Lordships that the Middle East is not the principal, or indeed a direct, concern of N.A.T.O. Our need for a base in Cyprus is related both to the Middle East and to our N.A.T.O. obligations; it is related to the Baghdad Pact and to the Turkish obligations in the Middle East, to the Protectorate oil-fields and to the Tripartite Declaration. A purely N.A.T.O. base on Greek soil would, therefore, not satisfy our needs. We cannot accept any doubt about the availability of facilities in Cyprus as and where we need them. The noble Earl went into the strategic question. I am not going to follow him in that, for the simple reason that I am not 212 a great military expert and so I do not feel that I am the right person to expound to your Lordships the strategic aspects of this matter. Other noble Lords, no doubt, will deal with them. I would merely say that there is a great deal of expert military opinion which would entirely disagree with what the noble Earl has said.
I am not going to go into the strategic aspects of this matter. As I say, there are other noble Lords who, I am sure, will deal with that question. I do not pose as a strategic expert, and I rest my case on the fact that many experts take an opposite view to the noble Earl.
That is our position. If the views of the Greeks are not also well known to your Lordships, that is certainly no fault of the Greek Government. In 1954, it was that Government which first backed the demands from the more extreme elements in Cyprus, headed by Archbishop Makarios, and then inscribed a Cyprus item on the agenda of the United Nations. It was, incidentally, only in 1954 that the Ethnarchy, with the United Nations in view, began to talk of self-determination instead of Enosis. Since then, the Greeks have poured out a steady stream of propaganda, not confining themselves to mere advocacy of their case. On the contrary, the officially-controlled Athens radio has incited the people of Cyprus to violence and murder. It has praised the murder of British soldiers and civilians and the murder of Greek Cypriots who have had the courage to oppose the terrorists.
Though, unfortunately, there has been at different times serious communal rioting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus and between Greeks and Turks in some parts of Turkey, I venture to say that the Turkish Government and the Turkish Cypriot representatives have, considering the present difficult situation, behaved with commendable dignity and restraint. Moreover, the Turks, while stating their attitude firmly, have not, like the Greeks, sought to build up propaganda for their case. For these reasons, the Turkish attitude even if it is known to your Lordships, is probably less well known in the world at large. Therefore, 213 I suggest, it would be very foolish to imagine that, just because the Turks have not shouted their case from the house-tops, they do not feel strongly upon this issue. I suggest also that as a nation we should be the last to make such a mistake. It has never been our custom to advertise our views or our feelings to the world. Indeed, I think that if we were to do so more often we might come in for rather less criticism and abuse than we do. Yet the fact that we do not do so does not mean that we do not feel strongly. Indeed, over and over again in our history, the world has been astonished at the last moment at the force of our reaction.
I must therefore ask your Lordships to accept the fact that the Turks feel just as strongly about Cyprus as do the Greeks. The facts of geography cannot be altered even by the maps sent out from Athens for use in Cyprus schools. From these maps the conclusion might well be drawn that Cyprus lies alongside the southern coast of Greece and well to the west of Crete. In fact, as your Lordships are well aware, it is no further from the southern coast of Turkey than is the Isle of Man from the coast of Lancashire. It is, in fact, an offshore island covering the southern ports of Anatolia and, therefore, for strategic reasons—I know that the noble Earl will not agree with this—the Turks are opposed to any radical change in the present status of the island. It does not really matter whether Turkey is strategically right or strategically wrong: that happens to be what the Turks feel. That is the Turkish position. Your Lordships may agree with the Turkish attitude or disagree with it. But, either way, it is one of the hard facts in this whole affair which cannot be ignored. It has been alleged by the Greeks that we have inspired Turkish opposition to self-determination for notions of our own. I need hardly say that there is not a word of truth in this allegation. The fact is that the methods adopted by the Greeks in the last two years to press their aims have done nothing to make the Turks more forthcoming, or, indeed, to still the fears which the whole situation inspires in their minds and hearts.
So there we are. We have to face these conflicting views, and the vital point of difference is the demand for self-determination which has been made by 214 Archbishop Makarios and those in Cyprus who support him, and which has been backed by the Greek Government. I use the words "Archbishop Makarios and those who support him" advisedly, because it seems to me to have become a tacit assumption that the Archbishop enjoys the support of the Greek Cypriot population in Cyprus as a whole. In fact, no one can measure with any certainty the extent of the support which the Archbishop and the Ethnarchy enjoy. Nor shall we have any means of knowing, so long as those who wish openly to express opposition to Enosis are too frightened to do so because they fear that, if they do, not only they but also their relations will be excommunicated and in all probability brutally murdered.
Indeed, at the present time the only glimpse of the true feelings of the Greek Cypriots may possibly be found by looking at the behaviour of emigrants from Cyprus. If all that the Archbishop and his supporters have claimed is true, one would have expected that the one place to which any Greek Cypriot would wish to emigrate would be Greece and that the one place which they would wish to avoid would be this country, which, according to Athens Radio, is the centre of a bloodstained tyranny. Is it not remarkable, then, that, between January of last year and April of this year, between 5,000 and 6,000 Greek Cypriots emigrated to the United Kingdom, whilst over the last five years the emigration figures to Greece were possibly five in 1952, possibly five in 1953 and 1954, none in 1955 and one so far this year? I do not pretend that these figures prove anything, but I do say that they are very interesting.
The principle of self-determination is a general conception embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, and as signatories to that Charter we are committed to that general conception, which commends itself to most liberal-minded people. Unhappily, it is the sort of principle the practical application of which bristles with difficulties. Indeed, I go so far as to say that the universal application of self-determination, without qualification and without regard to the local circumstances of the time, would make nonsense of organised international society. For example, it might fairly be 215 argued that the Turkish Cypriots, despite the fact that they happen to be a minority, should have self-determination applied to them equally with the Greek Cypriots. Yet I have never heard even the most ardent advocate of self-determination suggest such a thing. Indeed, without partitioning the island, it could not be. So here already you have one obvious qualification of the general principle—namely, that in mixed communities it can hardly be applied to minorities. Of course, students of this question could point to any number of examples in recent history where for one reason or another it was realised that the application of this principle would create such problems that it was not a practical possibility.
One must presume that these difficulties were only too apparent to the noble Earl and his colleagues when they were in power, since, although they had subscribed to the general principle, they never once suggested that it should be applied to Cyprus. Frankly, this seems to me to be one of the difficulties of the position which they are now adopting. If it is right now to accede to the demand for self-determination, regardless of the wider consequences of so doing, it was right then. The demand was there. The only difference—and it is an important one—is that at that time it was not backed by violence. It is difficult in the circumstances to avoid the impression that the campaign of terrorism in Cyprus has persuaded the Socialist Party that it is right to do now what apparently they thought it was wrong to do then. And this is probably exactly what the campaign of terrorism was intended to do.
In view of the differences which exist between Greece and Turkey on this issue, the Government might well he forgiven if we had taken the line that this was just another of those cases where, however excellent the principle, it was impossible to apply it. That, however, has not been the line which we have taken. On the contrary, in our desire to reach a solution, we have adopted a more positive approach. We are not saying that the principle can never be applied, but we have undertaken to try to work out conditions where, in due course, the principle of self-determination might be applied to Cyprus. Nor have we been content with 216 mere words: we have taken a series of positive steps to this end.
First of all, at the London Conference in the autumn of 1955 we tried to work out an agreement with representatives of both the Greek and the Turkish Governments. This first attempt to reconcile the views of the two countries failed, as your Lordships know. We then decided, in the hope of making some progress, to enter upon direct negotiations with Archbishop Makarios. These negotiations, of which the Greek Government were kept fully informed, also broke down. Since this matter was fully debated by your Lordships on March 15 last, I do not propose to go into the details again this afternoon. Finally, we have had an exchange of views with the Turkish Government, and, once again, this exchange of views—which was confidential—has failed to produce a solution. So, upon the issue of the application of self-determination we have still not arrived at a solution, as the noble Earl said—and I do not deny it—and the gap between our Greek and Turkish allies appears too wide to be bridged at the present time.
Nobody can pretend that this situation is anything but extremely disappointing, and clearly the most important question which your Lordships have to consider this afternoon is what should now be done. That is the question the noble Earl asked. As I understand it, the opinion of the Opposition is that in view of our acceptance of the principle of self-determination, in view of the fact that the Turkish Cypriots are in the minority in Cyprus, and in view of the campaign of violence in Cyprus, which is being encouraged by the Greek Government, we should disregard the feelings of our Turkish allies and should accede to the Greek demand for self-determination, either immediately or at some definite date in the future. Furthermore, I understand it to be their view that in these matters we can negotiate only with Archbishop Makarios.
The superficial attractions of this proposition are obviously considerable. Nobody could pretend that the position of Her Majesty's Government in Cyprus at the present time is an agreeable one. It is never agreeable to be misrepresented; it is never agreeable to be abused, particularly when the abuse conies from people who ought to know better; and, 217 finally, it is never agreeable to have to take the kind of measures which we have had to take in Cyprus. And if it is disagreeable for the Government, how much more disagreeable—and how much more dangerous—is it for the Governor and his officials and for the British troops who are struggling to preserve law and order in the face of a vicious campaign of terrorism and murdera For their courage and their devotion to duty they deserve not merely the admiration but the full support of this House. For all concerned an immediate relief from all their troubles would he more than welcome. Think of the praise we should get from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee; from the Greeks, from Archbishop Makarios and the Greek Government—how very attractive a
But whatever may be the specious attractions of such a course, it is not really to the point. The point, surely, is whether such a course of action is likely to produce enduring peace and stability, not merely in Cyprus (because, unfortunately, we are not dealing merely with Cyprus) but in the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole, and also what effect it is likely to have upon N.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact.
Let me refer for one moment to the Treaty of Lausanne. That Treaty was a settlement of all the territorial issues outstanding between Turkey and the Allied Powers at the end of the First World War. I might add that during those Treaty negotiations M. Venizelos, the great Greek statesman, whose views on self-determination were evidently not those of some of his successors, argued strongly that the Turkish majority in Western Thrace should he subjected to Greek rule—and he obtained his point. The Treaty also confirmed the present position of Cyprus. Whatever the demerits of the Treaty of Lausanne, it had one supreme merit. It was an agreed settlement of a number of complicated issues and it has endured for over thirty years. There is no doubt that the Turks regard that Treaty as a "package deal" and that they will regard any unilateral alteration of that settlement as a breach, if not of the letter, at any rate of the spirit of the Treaty. Of course this does not in any way limit British sovereignty over Cyprus. I would observe to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that that is not in any way the point of my argument, 218 although I think that was his contention. I am not suggesting that we are bound by the Treaty of Lausanne: I say merely that it is a settlement that has lasted for thirty years.
The point I want to make is that if we are going to make any radical alteration in the present position of Cyprus, I still believe that we must try to do so by general agreement, and not by unilateral action, and that we must still try to arrive at some arrangement whereby not only our own vital interests but also those of the Greeks, the Turks and the Cypriots, are all effectively safeguarded. To reach such an agreed solution will. I am sure, take a good deal of time, a good deal of patience and a spirit of compromise which is not at the moment as evident as one might hope, and which will certainly not be encouraged by speeches, either in this country or elsewhere, which encourage intransigence on any side. It would, moreover, be of inestimable advance if this issue could somehow be removed from the international arena into which the Greek Government have put it, where everything is debated in public and where, as a result, all parties are inevitably encouraged to adopt extreme positions.
It is indeed for this reason, among others, that I am doubtful about any suggestion for referring the matter to N.A.T.O., or any other international body. On the contrary, I am sure that our best hope continues to lie in private negotiation with the parties concerned. and I am sure that this is the policy that we ought to pursue. If it is suggested to me that such a policy is a capitulation to a "Turkish veto" I would reply that that argument makes no more sense than to suggest that because, as a result of this business, there has been a deterioration in relations between Greece and Turkey, the best way to improve those relations is to give one party exactly what they want at the expense of the other.
Before I leave this side of the question, let me deal with the suggestion of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that negotiations should he reopened forthwith with Archbishop Makarios. As I have said, if progress is to be made I am sure that there has got to be some spirit of give and take between all the parties concerned. And as my noble friend 219 Lord Salisbury explained to your Lordships when this matter was last debated, the real difficulty about the negotiations with the Archbishop was that the Archbishop was not prepared to consider any solution which did not give him every single thing that he wanted. Perhaps he may moderate his attitude—I certainly hope so. One thing, however, is clear. There can be no further negotiations with the Archbishop until he has publicly denounced violence. So far, he has not done so. Were he to do so, a new situation would undoubtedly arise.
Whilst, therefore, we shall continue to strive for a settlement on the issues which I have been discussing, recognising that time and patience will be needed if success is to be achieved—as we all devoutly hope it will be—there are various things which can, meanwhile, be done in Cyprus itself. First and foremost, we must continue our efforts to eliminate terrorism. This is essential from every point of view. It is essential for the social and economic progress of the people of Cyprus, it is essential if we are ever to ascertain the real views of the Cypriots on the question of self-determination, and it is essential if a new Constitution is ever to be introduced.
During the last three months large-scale anti-terrorist operations have been carried out in the mountain areas with considerable success. The E.O.K.A. organisation suffered serious losses, including a number of their leaders, and Grivas himself narrowly escaped capture. Considerable quantities of arms and ammunition were also recovered. Although the situation remains serious, there is no doubt that these operations by the security forces have considerably lowered terrorist morale. Moreover the anti-smuggling blockade has been tightened up, and although the terrorists are probably not limited operationally by shortage of ammunition, they are finding it difficult to replenish their stocks. Most encouraging of all has been the increased flow of information, which has led to successful operations and important captures.
Considerable progress has therefore been made. Nevertheless, the top-level leaders are still at large, and the campaign of assassination in the towns remains a particularly dangerous threat 220 to law and order. We are, however—and I should like to emphasise this—determined to destroy terrorism, and I have no doubt whatsoever that in due course we shall do so.
In the meantime, we have taken another step in conformity with a suggestion made by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, during our last debate upon this subject, which has been the subject of comment by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, this afternoon. As your Lordships know, Lord Radcliffe has been asked to draw up a Constitution which might provide for the people of Cyprus an appropriate means of running their own internal affairs. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested that this is a futile initiative because Lord Radcliffe has been boycotted by some of the leaders in Cyprus. I would say here that I do not think that boycott is necessarily because they do not want to meet him; it is probably because they are frightened to meet him. That is why we must destroy terrorism.
Nevertheless, whether Lord Radcliffe meets the people in Cyprus or not is not really the point; it is not the object of the exercise. He has not gone out there as a negotiator. He has gone to find out as much as he can about the Island (and a great deal is already known) and because he is, as all your Lordships will recognise, a brilliant constitutional expert. He has gone out on this preliminary reconnaissance to see the Island for himself, and I do not doubt that he will produce a Constitution, and probably one that is on the right lines. At least, I devoutly hope that he will. I do not believe that the mere fact that he is not going to meet the members of the Ethnarchy necessarily means, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, seemed to think, that he will thereby find it impossible to produce a Constitution.
Lord Radcliffe arrived in Cyprus eleven days ago for a preliminary visit. I am sure that noble Lords would not wish anything to be said to-day which would make his task more difficult. It is public knowledge, however, that he has already had useful talks with the Governor, with officials, with Turkish Cypriot representatives, and has had meetings with some of the Greek Cypriot Mayors at which municipal government was discussed. Lord Radcliffe has also been touring the Island in order to get an appreciation of its social and economic structure 221 and organisation. I believe that Lord Radcliffe will derive considerable information from this visit, and I am sure that, whatever the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, may think about his chances, he will be the first to welcome his appointment and to wish him well in his task.
While Lord Radcliffe is at work drafting the Constitution, the Governor and the security forces will press on with all possible speed with the campaign of eliminating terrorism, and to restore law and order. The more quickly this is done, the more information is supplied which enables the security forces to press on with their task, the more quickly shall we be able to press ahead with the introduction of a Constitution. We shall press on, too, with the measures we have in view for the social and economic progress. And, while never losing sight of our military requirements, and of the overriding need to establish stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, we shall continue to bend our minds and our endeavours to the aim of securing a lasting solution of this most difficult political problem.
§ 3.28 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I speak now, as I spoke in March last, solely in the interests of reconciliation between this country and the people of Cyprus. As I speak, I think even more of my fellow Christians in the Churches of Cyprus and Greece than of my audience here. They listened with sympathy and considerable approval to what I said in March, and if what I say now is more difficult for them in Greece and Cyprus to appreciate, they will, I know, weigh it against the background of that sincere friendship which has long united our Churches.
The new fact in the history of this quarrel is that Lord Radcliffe is in Cyprus, not yet, as we have heard, to negotiate, but for a preliminary visit during which he can survey the scene. When I made such a suggestion last March it wits, in fact, warmly welcomed both in Cyprus and in Greece as providing a helpful and a hopeful starting point. I know that since then, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has said, many things have happened to make the situation far more difficult, both in the domestic life of the island and in its international 222 aspects. But I believe Lord Radcliffe's mission can still save the situation and he the beginning of reconciliation if all parties will combine to make it so. Reconciliation involves leaving alone for the present those things on which agreement is not possible, and concentrating on what admits of agreement. It means accepting facts which cannot yet be changed, and ceasing to argue about them—though, if that advice were taken literally, this debate would end after I had finished speaking. I shall myself try to avoid argument or, at least, inflaming argument, and stick to bare realities.
It seems to me essential to drop, for the time being, all reference to the explosive term "self-determination", simply because as things are and from the nature of the case there can be no agreement about it yet. The reasons which prevent agreement are known to everybody concerned—to British, Cypriots, Greeks and Turks. These reasons are capable of endless argument and dispute, but at the end they are still there. To bring them for further argument before N.A.T.O. or U.N.O. will not really lead to anything at all except more argument, much frustration and, at the best, some expedient which satisfies nobody. The facts cannot yet be changed. Then let us, in the interests of friendship, leave the subject alone.
For the Cypriots, self-determination stands as their sole and final aim. Our Government recognise that, express sympathy with it, but snake it clear that, for reasons beyond the control of British or Cypriots alone, it cannot be granted now. I would add that the Government are quite unable to say whether it will ever be possible or not. I think they should say that openly. Reconciliation means accepting these facts, however unwelcome they may be at this end or the other. For how long self-determination will, for the sake of the general peace, be impracticable, nobody can say, and nothing is gained by trying to say it.
Can we not reduce the whole matter to manageable proportions as a matter of internal and domestic concern alone? For it becomes that at once, if you drop the references to self-determination. Can we do it? Indeed, we can, for Archbishop Makarios agreed last February with the 223 Governor to do that very thing. I quote his words in a letter to the Governor:Although we do not agree with the preconditions on which (the application of self-determination in Cyprus is made to depend), we would nevertheless in the interests of the pacification of the country agree to co-operate in the framing and operation of a Constitution of self-government as a transitional stage towards self-determination.That gives enough for co-operation on the next step, without any deception as to their views or as to ours about self-determination. It leaves out all the distractions of international complications. It concentrates on the one thing possible; and as a step towards it the Government have sent out Lord Radcliffe. I do most earnestly trust that leaders in Cyprus will co-operate in the sense already defined by Archbishop Makarios on the one point on which pacification can fruitfully begin.
As to terrorism and the way in which we have to cope with it, and the sacrifices we endure, I would make only this reference. It would enormously help if all parties could, as far as possible, refrain from talking about terrorism. All men of good will, there and here, can, and must, agree that it is the first duty of the Government, and an absolute duty, to suppress violence and restore law and order. No patriotism on the part of Cypriots can deny that fundamental right of every Government. It is a process costly in death and suffering to us and to many others, and only the terrorists get a perverted satisfaction out of it. There are only two things to be done with violence and terrorism. One is to suppress it, and all men of good will can surely accept that obligation. The other is to circumvent it by pressing on with constitutional agreement. But the two must be done together. For the latter, the pressing on with constitutional agreement, there has been a long and, I think, very regrettable time lag. For myself, I regret every time the Government state that terrorism must end before negotiations can begin. By putting the whole weight on suppression it hampers and bedevils the other work of circumvention and healing. Let us leave the work of terrorism and the harsh duty of its suppression, with all its hateful necessities, to those whose business it is. It should not be allowed to hinder the working out of a constitutional agreement, and I again beg and implore Cypriots and Greeks to accept that situation.
224 If, therefore, avoiding the passions aroused by self-determination and terrorism, we could concentrate on achieving an instrument of self-government, success, I would say, is certainly possible; and I am sure that informal discussion by the leaders in Cyprus with Lord Radcliffe would speedily reveal the way. In all the conversations that I have had with some leading Cypriots I have emphasised two things: that a liberal Constitution must provide an elected majority reflecting the proportions of the population, and must also provide ample and generous safeguards to any minority—and, of course, to the Turkish minority. So far as I can see, the Cypriots have agreed whole-heartedly to both propositions; they have said that they asked for no more than that but were satisfied on those grounds to proceed with Constitution making. The way is, I believe, really open, if men of good will and Christian men on every side of this problem will now come together.
There remains only one more obstacle: How is Archbishop Makarios to be brought back into the picture? He must be brought back at some time: there is no doubt about that. He cannot be exiled for ever, nor separated for ever from the Church of which he is the head. Once it is agreed that at the right time he shall come back into the picture, flexibility is restored instead of argument and counter-argument, and common sense can begin to operate. At this stage of informal talks, when no one is committed at all in what is said to Lord Radcliffe, no reference to the Archbishop is necessary. But when Lord Radcliffe produces a first draft, it must obviously be discussed directly with the Archbishop by Cypriot leaders, for if not they will never agree—and quite rightly, since he is their acknowledged leader. Therefore, there must be free discussion by the Cypriots somewhere.
I cannot believe it is impossible to find a suitable place. Again, I would say to my friends in Cyprus and Greece that it would be unhelpful to urge that, at that stage, the discussions must be in London. Why should they be? When the final draft is ready and agreed, Archbishop Makarios must then be among the signatories of it, whether here or in Cyprus. The settlement of the place and, indeed, the moment at which Archbishop Makarios is reintegrated depend entirely, 225 to my mind, upon when the Archbishop is able to join with us in an open and imperious call to end all violence. For beyond doubt that must be a part of the settlement, and the sooner it can be given by him, the easier the work of co-operation becomes; and the faster the work of co-operation goes, the easier it will be for him to make the declaration.
So I return at last to my main point. Reconciliation is in sight if all parties can do these simple, humble, unexciting but sufficient things. The doing of them demands wisdom and restraint from all, and especially demands difficult self-denial and patience from leaders in Cyprus and Greece. But these demands are such as Christians should recognise and accept as belonging to their Christian duty to be peacemakers. I believe that along these lines a restoration of an old friendship can be reached which will never be reached by way of argument and counter-argument, by the bitterness of demand and denial, and by the increase of frustration.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, there is one thing on which we shall all agree, and that is that the situation in Cyprus is as difficult as it is critical. This debate to-day, like so many debates in this House, is serving a very useful purpose. In the first place, constructive suggestions can be made to the Government; and provided that the suggestions are constructive, real and responsible, I am sure that the Government will welcome them. The debate will have another value. I remember Lord Cecil once saying, "Do not let us ever forget that Parliament is a place where people talk." That is one of its functions. One of the great advantages, I think, of debates—and particularly one like this in this House—is that those who can speak not only with conviction but also with authority and experience are able to give their views; and those views, when known outside, are of great value to the country and Ito the world. If I may respectfully say so, I found myself to-day in much closer agreement with the most reverend Primate than I was on an earlier occasion. I thought that his speech had a realism which is very much to be desired in all speeches on this subject. I say this because it has surprised me that, the more clearly the Commonwealth, the United States and Western Europe are seeing the Cyprus 226 issues in true perspective, the outlook of so many Socialist critics of the Government is so blinkered and so out of focus.
It surely is unreal and wrong to repeat the word "self-determination" as if it were either an unqualified aphorism or a solution of this problem. I cannot say how much I agree with what the most reverend Primate has just said about that. After all, self-determination is like freedom. It is a very good thing, and it is an aim which we should all wish to achieve; but certainly noble Lords on the Benches opposite would be the first to admit that freedom cannot be absolute, unlimited and unconditional. We may not agree as to all the conditions and limitations that should be applied, but we should all, I think, agree that there are overriding interests and duties which should limit the absolute freedom of the individual. Surely the same exactly is true about self-determination.
The overriding interest of the whole free world is peace, and the overriding duty of the embers of the Grand Alliance is to ensure peace by being able to act instantaneously and effectively to defeat aggression. That, after all, is what is meant by the deterrent. It is the existence of that deterrent in a hydrogen age that has brought us, certainly for the time being—and I hope for all time—so much nearer to peace. Without the realisation of that fundamental fact, self-determination might well become self-extermination. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said that the strategic arguments in this case were put far too high. I ought perhaps to say a word or two about that. I have no authority to speak now, but I have been for many years very closely concerned with these strategic matters. I was amazed at what the noble Earl said on this aspect. I should have thought it was common ground between people who had had anything to do with the planning of defence in the last ten, and certainly in the last five, years that in all this Cyprus is a key position. It is certainly an indispensable N.A.T.O. base.
On this the noble Earl said something about bases which I found extraordinarily surprising as coming from him. He asked: "Why is this base in Cyprus so important?" It is much more than a mere offensive-defensive base—I am coming to that in a moment. He said, "From Cyprus you can attack 227 an enemy; but what is the good of that if the enemy can attack you? If you can bomb him, you can be bombed." Of course, that applies to practically every base in the world. The longer the range and the progress in aircraft, the more true that is. But what an extraordinary argument to come from the noble Earla It was the noble Earl—and it was greatly to his credit—and Mr. Ernest Bevin who agreed with the Americans that there should be American bases on British soil. Those bases are to-day a great deterrent. He realised the risks they implied; indeed, it was one of the brave things, if I may say so, that the noble Earl did. He took the broad long view about that. Although, as Sir Winston Churchill has said, it made us the spear-point of attack if attack should come—nobody realised that better than did the noble Earl; he was the first to say, "Well, we must have these American bases and these American aircraft on British soil." Similarly, this Cyprus base is vital for the Turkish bastion, which is the one effective defence in the Middle East; and it is, of course, vital to the Baghdad Pact.
The noble Earl accepted the argument —though I think he rather denigrated it—that the base was essential to the security of the oil of the Middle East. He said, "Why is it?" I will tell him. Certainly he ought to know this. He went through some pretty difficult times over Abadan. He had to consider using troops; he had troops ready—I am not divulging any secrets about these things, which were all published at the time. Whether those troops were to be sent or not, they had to be staged over bases. Of course, the security of the oil of the Middle East means that, if you get any danger or difficulty, whether in a Trucial Sheikdom, or wherever it may be you are in a position to reinforce that area and to ensure security. That is what security means. But for that you must have through communications; and you must have bases. This oil is not just a British interest; it is a vital interest of all the Western countries, and it is no less, for that reason, intrinsically a vital interest of the United States. Then again, Cyprus is a key staging base in Commonwealth communications—that the Commonwealth Conference has fully realised and appraised. These Commonwealth 228 communications are not merely a Commonwealth interest: they are, again, an interest of the free world. The free world circles the globe, but we can circle the globe only if we have secure communications.
My Lords, here, I would say, are considerations, obvious, indisputable, which make Cyprus and the Cyprus base a key position in the free world. That is why I think not only the Commonwealth but the whole of the free world and America are seeing this matter in a truer perspective. This is a situation in which we of the Commonwealth and the Grand Alliance cannot afford to take risks. It has been said (I think the noble Earl suggested it again to-day): well, if Cyprus were Greek, we could occupy the base on lease or licence. Does the noble Earl really think that? And, if he were again responsible, would he venture to take that risk? Has that solution proved so satisfactory in regard to other bases of the Grand Alliance?
I do not know whether your Lordships heard the one o'clock news on the wireless to-day. Then I heard reported the first declaration of the Prime Minister of Iceland: that it was now going to be one of the cardinal points of his policy to get the United States troops and base there removed. Is that a good precedent for saying that we should be perfectly safe to have a lease-lend base in a Greek Cyprus? What guarantee is there? We all want our friendship with Greece. We all want Greece to be strong and stable, and a force in the Grand Alliance. But do let us face facts. Is it at all beyond the bounds of possibility that Greece at an election might go Communist? She has not been very far from it once or twice. Certainly there is the possibility that Greece, following the example of Tito, might think that neutralism, which is becoming speciously popular to-day, might be the wiser course. We really cannot take that risk.
Then, it is said about self-determination: well, give a time limit and a fixed date. I was so glad that the most reverend Primate to-day set his face against that. I cannot think of any instance where a time limit has been given and where, in the past, we have not regretted it. It always raises false hopes. You cannot give a time limit unless you can say "I will guarantee the future. I will guarantee 229 that at the end of five, ten or fifteen years, such-and-such will be the situation." Who on earth can give any such guarantee today? Even Hitler's astrologer would have hesitated to make a forecast of that kind. Therefore, I entirely agree both with the Government and with the most reverend Primate, that we must put self-determination into cold storage for the present.
The most reverend Primate read out a statement of Archbishop Makarios. He speaks on this point with more authority than I do, but I am bound to say that I had not read that statement in the unqualified manner of the most reverend Primate. I only hope he is right. But even if Archbishop Makarios is unwilling to denounce terrorism from his island today, there would be no difficulty, and there would be great advantage to Lord Radcliffe and to all the negotiations and to everything, if Archbishop Makarios would say categorically, "I am prepared to discuss, and to advise my people to discuss, the whole of the Constitution and the whole question of the self-government of Cyprus while putting self-determination completely on one side for the time being." He does not forgo his claim and his desire or aim of self-determination but if he confirmed what the most reverend Primate has said, I believe that would be of great value. I believe that these arguments are conclusive, and that the Government cannot go further than they have gone.
I must say just one word about Turkey. I think Turkey has been a good deal maligned and misunderstood. Forget, if you will, and are rash enough, that Turkey is the bastion of our allied defence in this area—she certainly is. Forget that if you will. But surely in this matter Turkey has her rights and her own essential interest. I agree with the Under-Secretary of State who said that she may be right or wrong strategically, but there is no doubt what Turkey thinks. I must say that I do not regard the Channel Islands as a good analogy. Of course, if our relations with France were hostile, that would be another matter. It is no good pretending that there is not a good deal of hostility always under the surface, happily suppressed till lately, but there is this uncomfortable "undertow," to say the least of it, between Turkey and Greece. It is a very different thing to having somebody in this sort of relation 230 in occupation of an offshore island and having us in occupation of the offshore island vis-à-vis the French. If the Channel Islands were at the edge of Russia—I hope I shall not be provocative—that would be a much closer analogy.
§ EARL ATTLEE
The noble Lord is being very modern—he has not looked back more than one hundred years ago, when our relations with France were just like that. For years and years; we regarded the French as our enemy.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I know, and in that case France clearly resented our occupation of the Channel Islands; and she had good right to do so. On more than one occasion she tried to get them. In fact, on, I think, one or two occasions one of the Channel Islands was occupied by the French. I really do not think we disagree greatly on that. Then, there are the minority rights in Cyprus. My memory, like that of the noble Earl and that of the Leader of the House, goes hack to the time of the Lausanne Treaty. I would say, without hesitation, that I am sure that the Turks would not have agreed to the Lausanne Settlement of Thrace and the Dodecannese if they had believed that later on Cyprus was going to pass into the hands of Greece. If Cyprus were transferred from British Sovereignty without Turkish consent—I do not put forward the question of a Turkish veto; I say advisedly "without Turkish consent"—and in circumstances and under conditions which jeopardise her safety, then Turkey would certainly morally, and I should have thought legally, be entitled to reopen the whole of the Lausanne Treaty.
My Lords, to look at local conditions also, I wonder whether people do not too readily assume what is the interest and the desire of Greek-speaking Cypriots if they had the chance of expressing their opinion free from terrorism, and, I must also acid, free from ecclesiastical dictation and control. I think it is very unwise to dogmatise. The noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies has given some figures about emigration, but there are some still more remarkable figures. I believe it is true that in the course of the last ten years something like 100,000 Greeks have come from the Greek mainland or from the Greek Islands into the Island of Cyprus.
231 Those Greeks did not come in as pioneers and missionaries of Enosis; they came in from Greece because they wanted to have a more prosperous life in a happier land, and it may well be that if they really have the chance of expressing their opinion they would like to manage their own affairs and not to be joined up to Greece and taxed and conscripted by Greece. But I do not seek to dogmatise on that point.
I am sure it is very wise to send out Lord Radcliffe. I am sure it is wise to try to frame this Constitution, or the heads of a Constitution, so that the Cypriots themselves may know what it is they can achieve and operate in their own interests when law and order are restored. I hope and believe that any solution—I am not talking about self-determination, but any solution, any project—would be open to Lord Radcliffe to consider. We certainly do not necessarily want a sealed pattern constitution. There are many suggestions—the suggestion of dual citizenship, for instance. I take it Lord Radcliffe would be free to consider any of those matters and to make his recommendations. I think those are the right lines; indeed, those are the only possible lines.
I should like to end upon a note which I believe will command universal assent in this House. I believe we should all wish, as we are on the eve of our Recess, to send a message to a man for whom there will be no Recess—a message of good will, encouragement and sympathy to Sir John Harding, the Governor of Cyprus. We in this country and the people of Cyprus are very fortunate that in this difficult time there is there, in that extremely difficult position, a man who is a great leader, a wise administrator, and, above all, a most human man.
§ 4.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, it is with great humility that I rise to address your Lordships for the first time. I would not have imposed this hardship on your Lordships had it not been for the fact that I have recently been in Cyprus and that I feel that certain aspects of the problem and its possible solutions have not yet been fully discussed in your Lordships' House. It is for those reasons that I have the temerity to rise to-day. At once I would like to 232 associate myself with the sentiments expressed by my noble friend Lord Swinton, in recognising that we must be fully behind our present Administration in Cyprus. There is more that I shall have to say about that later.
The suggestions I have it in mind to make stern mainly from the effect of the troubles in Cyprus on the Atlantic Alliance. I know your Lordships will agree that to restore and maintain the morale and political unity of that Alliance is of paramount importance, in view of the dangers with which the free world is still confronted. Since the first study conference on the Atlantic community, held in Oxford in 1952, I have been closely connected with the work of creating and maintaining what one might describe as a kind of Atlantic community spirit: first, as chairman of the original International Atlantic Committee, and now as a member of the British Atlantic Committee, of which Sir David Kelly is Chairman. I am also Honorary President of the Atlantic Treaty Association, which is the international body co-ordinating the work of the National Atlantic Committees in twelve of the N.A.T.O. countries. As Chairman of the European Atlantic Group, which is a sort of London discussion forum, I have taken part in various discussions regarding disputes within N.A.T.O. These organisations, working together, have been described as a kind of voluntary Western counterpart of the Cominform. I do not very much like the word "Natinform" but it does, perhaps, give the general impression of the character of the work that has been undertaken by these voluntary bodies, which include representatives of leading national organisations in twelve of the N.A.T.O. countries and include, in particular, representatives of the trade unions and the teaching profession.
In our discussion, both formal and informal, in the Atlantic Treaty Association, the problem of Cyprus has, of course, often arisen. Our overriding concern has always been to help maintain the efficacy of the collective defence of the free world, particularly in that part of the Eastern Mediterranean where the Island of Cyprus lies. Communist action in Greece, in Cyprus itself, and in its general international direction, has aimed at exploiting national passions, Greek and Turkish, and causing the maximum degree 233 of dissension between the three Allied countries concerned: Britain, Greece and Turkey. Its immediate objective has been to dislocate the military planning of the South Eastern sector of S.H.A.P.E. and to hamper the activity of the headquarters of the British Middle East Command in Cyprus. This situation goes, therefore, beyond the purely nationalist demand of the Greek Cypriots for political union with Greece.
The organisation of political murder by youths in Cyprus, endorsed by the Greek Government, and the kind of monstrously vicious anti-British propaganda which can be seen in the lounge at Athens airport—I picked up some of these pamphlets from that place only the day before yesterday—are poisoning British opinion against the Greeks, and to some extent dividing us from the United States. There can be no question that this ruthless campaign of violence and progaganda must be crushed and that the Governor of Cyprus, whom I had the pleasure of visiting last week, and our troops in the Island, deserve our unqualified support. The situation has certainly improved, and terrorism looks as though it is being suppressed. I heard generous tributes on all sides from disinterested responsible quarters of the consummate skill with which Field Marshal Sir John Harding has handled a most difficult situation. I wish I could quote the sources of that approval, but I will gladly give them privately to any noble Lord. But Sir John's task is made much more difficult by the international character of this dispute and by the lengths to which official Greek diplomacy and propaganda have gone to advance their national cause.
The Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, supported by a unanimous and dangerously explosive feeling in Turkey itself, are solidly opposed to union with Greece. The result is a condition which almost amounts to an undeclared war between Greece and two of her allies, and a movement in favour of neutrality by the former. Herein lies a victory for Soviet policy. Britain, Greece, Turkey, N.A.T.O. and the free world as a whole are all the weaker for it. General promises of self-determination for the population of Cyprus which have been offered, and the mission to the Island of Lord Radcliffe, whom I also had the pleasure of meeting there, have not yet eased the political 234 situation, even if terrorism has been reduced. I will not to-day discuss the failure of local negotiations in Cyprus nor here examine in detail the well-known Turkish attitude which, while admitting the principle of national self-determination as a general international principle, insists that it cannot be applied in the case of Cyprus any more than it could be accepted, for instance, in the Aaland Islands, off the coast of Finland, of which the entire population is Swedish. or Western Thrace which used to have an overwhelmingly Turkish population, or Northern Ireland where the Government is strongly opposed to the Enosis of a large minority of Nationalists with the Republic of Ireland.
I would refer to-day to the various appeals which have been made, notably by M. Spaak and responsible writers in America, that the North Atlantic Council should play some part in resolving this dispute. I realise that the Prime Minister has stated in another place that it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to refer this matter to N.A.T.O., at any rate at this stage, and in the present circumstances I admit that the time is not propitious. There might have been good reason to do so some months ago, but not at this very moment. Law and order must first he restored and we must await the suppression of terrorism and the report of the noble Lord, Lord Radcliffe. For the moment, therefore, the status quo must be maintained, but hope that meanwhile possible alternative N.A.T.O. solutions will be examined, for I feel that the time may well come, during the course of the next year or two, when sonic kind of N.A.T.O. solution may prove to offer the best chance of acceptance by the various interested parties. Nothing I say this afternoon, however, must be taken as criticism of the excellent work of my right honourable friend in another place, of Sir John Harding or of the noble Lord, Lord Radcliffe, who are doing or have done great work in their respective fields.
I hope, therefore, that Governments which may hitherto have rejected a N.A.T.O. solution may be brought again to reconsider variants of it. At any rate, I do not believe that there can be any harm in ventilating or re-ventilating these ideas to-day. Even if the present 235 Greek attitude intransigently sticks to Enosis as the only solution, circumstances may change and make a compromise solution possible later. In this, the United States Government could do much to help, and therefore I do not think that some kind of N.A.T.O. solution should be rejected utterly in the future. Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that signatories are boundto settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.I know that in the North Atlantic Council the rule of unanimity obtains, and that so far everything that has been done has been accomplished in this way. That rule does not, however, exclude free and intimate discussion between members of the Council in private session. There is nothing to prevent members who are not a party to this dispute from offering their good offices as mediators. Of course, if Her Majesty's Government agreed to accept such mediation she might have to be prepared for a proposal that Britain should surrender part of her sovereignty over the island; but self-determination has been promised, and I do not see how Her Majesty's Government can go back upon that promise. At the same time, neither the Greeks nor the Turks could, as I see it, secure unrestricted sovereignty over Cyprus without aggravation of the present quarrel.
This leads directly into the suggestions which I venture, with great respect, to make. Let us suppose that the North Atlantic Council arranges for certain of its members to exercise a condominium over the island. In that case it must be remembered that the Council is simply a body representing all the signatories of the Atlantic Treaty, including Britain, Greece and Turkey, on a basis of absolutely equal rights. It follows, therefore, that all citizens of N.A.T.O. countries resident in Cyprus would have equal rights locally, without ceasing to be nationals of their own country. The present residents of Cyprus would be empowered, under the supervision of an appropriate N.A.T.O. commission, to opt for or to declare their nationality. Thus those who desired to remain British would, of course, do so; a number of Greek Cypriots would no doubt choose 236 to become Greek citizens, and Turkish residents, Turkish citizens. There seems no reason why, in addition to appointing representatives to any local Assembly which might be devised, the Greeks should not elect members to sit in the Parliament in Athens and the Turks one or more members in the Parliament in Ankara—much as it was proposed that the Maltese, while retaining their Parliament in Valletta, should elect three members to the Parliament in the United Kingdom.
Foreign policy, defence, and, at least for an interim period, internal security would remain the functions of the N.A.T.O. Governor or High Commissioner, assisted by the N.A.T.O. Commission of Government, over which he would preside. Such a Governor or High Commissioner might not necessarily be of British, Greek, or Turkish nationality: he might be a Canadian, like the Truce Commissioner in Palestine; but there would be members of the three principal nations on the Commission. Probably, however, there would have to be at least an equal number of members belonging to other N.A.T.O. countries, including the United States, whose communications in the Eastern Mediterranean arc as important as our own.
It would be very important to ensure, as a condition of the transfer by the British Crown of some of its sovereign rights to the North Atlantic Council—and this is most important—that Britain would be granted, in treaty form, facilities for the maintenance of a base to enable it to discharge its national and international military commitments both within and outside the N.A.T.O. area. The present British Middle East land and air commands do not come under S.H.A.P.E., and there is no reason why they should do so under the proposed arrangement; but there would, of course, be proper co-ordination and liaison in regard to the defence of the Island and the necessary assistance to be given in the event of war to the South-Eastern sector of S.H.A.P.E. and the Mediterranean Command.
Here I would, with deference, make a brief comment on recent statements by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. At Norwich on June 2 the Prime Minister said:It is sometimes suggested that a N.A.T.O. base on Greek soil should suffice all our needs.237 In another place the Foreign Secretary last week made a similar statement. But, the proposals which I now put forward and which have the substantial support of many responsible quarters within the Atlantic community make no such suggestion. Under these proposals it is the island which would become legally a N.A.T.O. island; but the base, which occupies, or need occupy, only parts of the territory, would remain British, under contractual arrangements perhaps somewhat similar to those applying to bases in the Caribbean area which Her Majesty's Government lease to the United States Government. The base would remain a British base—I cannot underline that sufficiently. Therefore our ability to defend our oil communications would in no way be jeopardised. Moreover, the kind of international guarantee which the N.A.T.O. administration would provide would, in my view, greatly strengthen, and not weaken, our position.
An alternative might be that the United Kingdom might lease the Island to N.A.T.O., with the base or bases remaining British from the outset and remaining British permanently. I know it is said that in present circumstances—and this is a subject which I particularly discussed on the Island—that it is not possible to separate the Island from the base, but the time may well come when this may be possible. I will not go into this in detail, but having had discussions on the subject with those concerned on the Island, I believe ultimately it may be possible to separate the two.
The administrative departments of Government—for example, Justice, Health. Finance, Trade and Forestry—would be taken over and maintained at the start with their existing personnel by the N.A.T.O, Council or Commission of Government; but the aim would be to transfer them all to persons responsible to a Cypriot Legislative Assembly as soon as the latter could be duly constituted. Thus the exclusive sovereignty of any one country over Cyprus having been excluded by the international settlement which I contemplate, and the Greek Cypriots being already full Greek citizens, the local assembly would have no competence to alter the international status of the Island or the Constitution established by Treaty. Its sphere of action being confined to local administration, the question of the voting strength of the 238 various national communities would have no great political significance one way or another. It would be radically different from a Legislative Assembly, in which a majority could vote for territorial annexation to Greece, a proposition to which the Turkish Government, and of course we ourselves, would, quite naturally, be fundamentally opposed. I will not further elaborate these proposals today. I would only suggest that there are many instances in modern history, from the Constitution of Canada to that of the Lebanese Republic, in which it has been found possible to respect and safeguard distinct national, religious or linguistic groups within a single political framework. However, to any noble Lord who is interested I will gladly send a detailed memorandum on this subject.
My Lords, I should like also to refer briefly to the suggestion that reference of the Cyprus problem to N.A.T.O. might harm the integrity of the present Alliance. I cannot believe that this great Alliance, welded together by the United Governments of the Western World, could be in any way damaged by such action. Moreover, there is no means by which the North Atlantic Council can compel any of its member Governments to accept an international arrangement to which it is opposed. The whole purpose of the suggestions which I have outlined, in all humility, is to offer to the Greek and Turkish Governments, as to the United Kingdom, something which, upon careful consideration, each would find to be to its advantage.
Here are three national preoccupations which are all in themselves respectable. First, the need of our own country to retain, with the agreement of its Allies, a military base to enable us to discharge our heavy obligations in the Middle East, as well as our direct obligations to Turkey under the North Atlantic and Baghdad Treaties. Second, the desire of the Greeks to see a large number of people in Cyprus, who genuinely feel Greek, joined to the Greek nation. Third, the determination of the Turks not to allow an island which they ceded by Treaty to Britain, and which they regard as essential to their defence, to pass with its considerable Turkish population under another sovereignty. It should not pass the wit of statesmen to devise a means of reconciling these three purposes to 239 the mutual advantage of the three countries concerned, who are confronted with a common and greater danger in the strategy of Communism.
It must be remembered also, in regard to the practical application by Her Majesty's Government and the North Atlantic Council of any such collective responsibility as I have indicated, that Turkey and Greece, as well as Britain, would each retain the right to give or withhold its agreement. They would be compelled to face their responsibilities directly, without the vicarious exploitation of local populations for national purposes in the false context of a colonial dispute. This itself would be no bad thing. And, if we are to judge by the remarkable way in which, since its inception, the North Atlantic Council has achieved unanimity on a variety of financial, technical and political, as well as military subjects, under the pressure of practical necessity, there is at least a reasonable ground of faith in the prospects of its working a plan of this kind successfully, once the principle has been accepted by the countries concerned. Our country's acceptance of it would, I believe, give the other members of the Alliance great confidence in Britain, confidence that by this act of sacrifice she was prepared to support the Alliance in every possible way and to put behind it the full force of her traditions, her influence and her power. It would show that we were willing largely to agree a policy in the Middle East with the United States. Having recently visited other parts of the Middle East, I know how important this is. And a N.A.T.O. solution of the Cyprus problem would, I think, help us to achieve this understanding with the United States over the Middle East.
I cannot help feeling that there should be high-ranking United States representation on the Island, covering both the political and military fields. This, surely, is essential now, regardless of whatever ultimate political solution may be evolved. The excellent United States consul in the Island is very well thought of, but surely there should be high-ranking diplomatic and military representatives as well. There would then be much less chance of a cleavage of Anglo-American policy in the region. A N.A.T.O. solution would cover this deficiency. It would also show to 240 the rest of the world that Britain was determined to play her part in restoring the moral and political solidarity of the Alliance, which is an indispensable condition both of its military efficiency and of developing the non-military aspects of N.A.T.O. which are now being carefully examined by the three Foreign Ministers, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Lange and Signor Martino. It is on these non-military aspects of the Alliance that I have been working during the past four years, and I cannot imagine an act which would give the Atlantic movement greater impetus and give it greater cohesion than this very limited renunciation of British sovereignty. In this case, such renunciation would not be in favour of a wholly alien Power but of a Grand Alliance of which we ourselves form an integral part. If we in Britain do not do something soon we shall lose some of our friends who should remain lasting ones.
I should also like to see the Commonwealth play a greater part in the Island, in the same way as, for example, under the Colombo Plan, Canada is doing in Ceylon. The civilisation of the Atlantic community and the Commonwealth has grown out of the heritage of Greece, Rome and Byzantium; and Cyprus represents all three. Cannot we of the N.A.T.O. countries, knowing that we are now all part of the same civilisation, which must not be disrupted, rise above this strictly regional dispute and decide to resolve it on the broader basis of the Atlantic and Commonwealth community as a whole? My Lords, I leave that great question to be answered, I hope, by others. I have heard it said that there is no solution to the Cyprus problem. I agree that every solution so far proposed has disadvantages. My feeling is that a N.A.T.O. solution may have fewer disadvantages than any other and that it at least goes some way to meeting the various conflicting claims. If, therefore, any of the Governments concerned have rejected such a solution, might they not even now, at this late hour, be asked to reconsider it?
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I am sure that it would be the wish of your Lordships in all quarters of the House that I should offer our congratulations to the noble Earl who has just spoken and so successfully overcome 241 the ordeal of making a maiden speech. At the beginning of this debate the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said something about the good things of having this debate. Since then one more good thing has emerged—the speech to which we have just listened, a speech of grace, authority and knowledge, and full of interesting suggestions. I am sure that we shall all look forward to further contributions to our debates by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough.
The most reverend Primate, who is not at the moment in his place, adjured us not to speak of terrorism. He said there were two ways of dealing with terrorism: first, to suppress it; and secondly, to circumvent it. He said that the less we spoke about it the better. Almost his final point was an expression of regret concerning Her Majesty's Government's insistence on the restoration of law and order before we could advance along the line of political progress. With great respect to the most reverend Primate I would disagree. I support most wholeheartedly Her Majesty's Government's insistence upon the restoration of law and order as a first step towards the solution of this Cyprus problem. I believe that it is essential as a foundation for working out any solution that a state of law and order exists in which men can speak their minds without fear of the assassin's bullet. Negotiation, consultation, even consideration and reflection, are impossible under threat of gun and bomb.
The point I should like to submit to your Lordships is that I believe it is wrong to lock together—as speeches, particularly from the Opposition Benches, have done, both here and in another place—a political settlement and the restoration of law and order. Recently in another place, Mr. Gaitskell said that violence in Cyprus… is a direct result of the refusal of the British Government to show any indication to the Cyprus people that the principle of self-determination will be implemented.I believe that it is a fallacy to think of the leaders of violence as thwarted and frustrated political leaders. They are now men with assassins' minds. They have developed those minds either from their early years or from war experience. I believe that it is an illusion to think that the political deadlock has turned good men into bad. History shows us that 242 the growth of almost every nationalistic movement has around its edge a fungus of violence and disruption. We had it in Ireland and we have had it in nationalist movements all over the world; and I believe that we are now seeing it here.
I believe that it is equally an illusion to think that some political settlement will turn these violent men into law-abiding citizens overnight. These men now have a vested interest in terrorism. It is now their way of life and their livelihood. I do not believe that any possible political settlement will satisfy the blood lust of these territorists. They will find further targets for their weapons, possibly in the ranks of those whom they now profess to be supporting. I think it is an error to talk of the restoration of law and order as being dependent on a political settlement. They are two separate conditions, and the first must precede the second.
Because of this, I think it is right that Her Majesty's. Government should expect a denunciation of terrorism from the banished Archbishop Makarios. I would say that it is to the discredit of Archbishop Makarios that, so far, he has declined to make such a clear denunciation. In our last debate the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury quoted a letter he had received from Archbishop Makarios, and I would remind your Lordships of something that was said in that letter [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196, col. 471]:I am sincerely afraid that an official condemnation of events by myself would not find at the present stage the necessary response, but would involve the risk of exposing me rather unprofitably.There spoke the politician, not the churchman. The most reverend Primate advocated the calling back of Archbishop Makarios into consultation. Her Majesty's Government have said that the future position of the Archbishop rests with the Archbishop himself. If and when Archbishop Makarios makes a clear denunciation of terrorism and violence, then, in the words of Her Majesty's Government "a new situation arises." Speaking a few days ago in another place, Mr. Wedgwood Benn made the point that since his banishment the authority and standing of Archbishop Makarios had risen very considerably in Cyprus. I cannot say whether that is or is not so, but if we 243 accept that, it is all the more important that that denunciation should come from the Archbishop now. The Archbishop's position rests upon his own courage and integrity as a churchman. His fate rests in his own hands.
The impact of events has led to a logical sequence of action by Her Majesty's Government. First, the restoration of law and order; secondly, proposals for the preparation for internal self-government—Lord Radcliffe's Mission is the outward expression of that hope; thirdly, the hope in the minds of the Government, and I believe in all of us, that we shall receive that Christian declaration of denunciation of terrorism from Archbishop Makarios, either from his lips or in the written word; fourthly, to make clear to all, within and without Cyprus, that we accept the principle of self-determination but are unable to accept any date or programme for its application. I believe that we should make clear that circumstances in the world are such that at the present time its application is not a practical matter. Finally, I believe that we should take a further step, an extension, as it were, of the suggestions made by the most reverend Primate in his speech. While we accept the principle of self-determination and differ about its application, we are trying in Cyprus to advance along lines of self-government, and one can only hope that the frame of self-government will be such as will eventually fit in to the application of self-determination, as and when that becomes possible.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said that the strategic argument was put too high. The noble Earl knows far more about strategy than I do, but I do not believe that any political person is really competent to judge upon the broad policy of the advisers. The noble Earl has held the highest office in our country, that of Prime Minister, and he knows that the Chiefs of Staff and the Service advisers are cross-examined, criticised, and made to justify their assertions; but that in broad principles their policy is either accepted or rejected. If you reject their advice you get new advisers. So long as Her Majesty's Government have advisers, I believe that in broad policy it is right that we should accept their advice.
The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and my noble friend Lord Lloyd stated some of 244 the strategic safeguards which Cyprus grants to us in respect of obligations under the Tripartite Agreement, the Baghdad Pact, N.A.T.O. and the vital Middle East oil supply. The noble Earl said something about the Middle East oil. The oil world is a complicated and technical one, but I have taken the trouble to tap the fringe of it on this question of Middle East oil. I think that the noble Earl's question was: what would happen if Middle East oil were denied to us?
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I asked who was supposed to be going to attack the oil, and what the Government would do about it.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
Our Service advisers say that Cyprus is necessary for keeping open the Mediterranean, and we must assume that if the Mediterranean were denied to us, our oil situation would be critical. In the oil world there is a yardstick called TQ, which is a 15,000-ton tanker steaming at 14½knots. A total of 140 million tons of oil a year are produced in the Middle East—I do not think it matters who owns it, so long as it is destined for the free world—and, so long as the Mediterranean is open, based on that yardstick eighty-five tankers can transport that oil. If the Mediterranean were denied to us, it would need a notional 1,200 tankers to take that oil round the Cape; and there are not 1,200 tankers available for that purpose. That fact must be clearly conclusive on the argument about the necessity of keeping open the Mediterranean for our oil supplies. One accepts the Service advisers' views that Cyprus is an essential requirement for the keeping open of the Mediterranean.
§ EARL ATTLEE
If I may interrupt the noble Lord again, may I say that I have heard a great many arguments on this point. We were told that we must stay in the Suez Canal because of the oil, and all the rest of it; but the Party opposite brought us out of there. I am sure that if Cyprus had to be given up somewhere else would be found.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
It is an "old one", to compare the Suez and Cyprus. The fact is that Cyprus was an alternative base for the Mediterannean. These bases are our own sovereignty, and will, I hope, with good will, remain so. As to the possibility of leased bases, we 245 have seen in Iceland and Morocco what happens with them. There is no security for this country in the idea of leased bases at Cyprus which are not British territory.
Finally, there is the one further step that I said I was going to suggest as an extension of the proposals of the most reverend Primate—that is, an appeal to the Greek Government and the Greek people, by speech, by diplomacy, by radio and by all the modern means by which we can get it across to them. The appeal should be along these lines: that we in Britain are not clinging to Cyprus for aggrandisement, or economic gain, or out of obstinacy. We need Cyprus to safeguard our safety, which is the safety of Greece as well. On our ability to put up a defence against the Communist world threat depends our freedom and that of our friends and Allies, including Greece and Turkey. Our freedom is Greece's freedom. With ours gone, there is nothing more certain than that theirs is gone, too. I would say to them that we are still a great Power, the centre of the British Commonwealth; and by history and position we must be able to contribute more to the common pool of arms and material than Greece can in the common task of freedom's fight for survival.
Then I should like Her Majesty's Government to remind Greece that between 1939 and 1945 we, as they did, gave unstintingly of our life and our treasure for the cause of freedom. Is it too much to ask Greece now to contribute directly, in patience and understanding, to her own security and that of the rest of the free world? That patience and understanding would take this form. First, it would support the essential restoration of law and order. We know that there are offensive streams of terrible propaganda coming from Athens. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, held up some pieces of offensive and terrible literature that he picked up in Athens airport. But there are far more good people in Greece, who want to see our traditional friendship restored, than there are of these fanatics and wicked and wild men. Secondly, I would ask them to accept that our mutual interest of security for the free world requires a certain British tenure so long as the present world tension continues. The most reverend Primate asked us not 246 to concentrate upon the irreconcilables but to think of the points of agreement. With great humility, I would follow that advice absolutely.
Thirdly, I think we should ask Greece to agree that consideration of the application of the principle already accepted should be deferred for a period of years. The most reverend Primate spoke about time limits, and how difficult they are. I am not suggesting a time limit, but a time of deferment, which is something quite different. If Greece would agree to deferment for five, eight or ten years, while we safeguard our mutual interest of freedom in the free world, by then violence will have been put down: internal self-government may be well advanced; the world situation will be clarified, and judgment and tempers will be calmer. A response to such an appeal by the Greek nation would need courage and breadth, both within and without the Island of Cyprus. But it is to the rank and file of those of Greece, both within arid without Cyprus, if not to their political leaders, to whom we would make this appeal. It is an appeal which might rally reasonable people to proposals, logical, definite, giving security without and a set time for calm consideration on how and when to apply what has already been conceded in principle but must, in the Christian interests of freedom, be deferred for some indefinite period.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords. I should like to add my congratulations to those offered by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, to my noble friend Lord Bessborough, on his notable maiden speech. He comes to us with great experience of international affairs, and particularly of Atlantic co-operation; and certainly the ingenious suggestions that he made on the subject of Cyprus will be studied with great interest by all of us.
This debate follows closely on the debate in another place last week, in which the policy of Her Majesty's Government on this intricate and unhappy problem was overwhelmingly endorsed. Part of that debate ranged over the past—and certainly, in my view, there would be no advantage in raking over the ashes of the past unless by so doing we could find any clues likely to lead to a solution of the problem as it confronts us to-day. However, in view of the 247 numerous, and in many cases inaccurate, references made to a statement which I made in another place, speaking as Minister for State for Colonial Affairs on July 28, 1954, I hope that I may be forgiven if on this occasion I preface my remarks by recalling to your Lordships what I then said. The purpose of that statement was to announce the intention of the Government to take a fresh initiative in the development of self-governing institutions in Cyprus.
I gave an outline of the proposed Constitution, of course making it clear that the details required to be worked out. It has been argued by Opposition speakers that the Constitution which it was then proposed to introduce was less liberal than that which was put forward by the Labour Government in 1948—the so-called "Winster Constitution," in the application of which the Nationalist Greek Cypriot leaders had for six long years refused to co-operate. In some respects that was so, but it was stated the other day in another place that the 1948 Constitution had in fact been rejected by the Nationalists on account of the wide powers reserved to the Governor. That was not, in fact, the case. The real cause of the rejection of the 1948 Constitution was that it denied to the proposed Assembly the right to discuss any questions of change of sovereignty. To that extent the new Constitution which we announced on July 28, 1954, was an advance, for it included no such ban.
I also stated on that occasion that Her Majesty's Government could not contemplate a change of sovereignty in Cyprus. In so doing, they were merely continuing the declared policy of the previous Socialist Government, and, indeed, their own publicly stated views. I could quote many examples. For instance, a Socialist predecessor of mine, as Minister of State, said in another place on June 21, 1950 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 476, col. 1279]:It has repeatedly been made clear that no change in the sovereignty of the island is contemplated.The passage in my remarks, however, which attracted the most attention and criticism from the Opposition and elsewhere was when, in reply to a question 248 by the spokesman for the Opposition, I said:There are certain territories in the Commonwealth which, owing to their particular circumstances can never expect to be fully independent.That principle is one which had previously been enunciated in Parliament without challenge or comment, and one could, of course, think of many cases in which it might be held to apply. Certainly the position of all the smaller colonial territories, and particularly those of strategic importance, has to be examined individually, and a solution—not necessarily an orthodox solution—found to meet each case. This principle was fully accepted in the recent Malta Round Table Conference Report, which was signed by the noble Earl who opened the debate and many others of his colleagues.
However, in the case of Cyprus, as my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary pointed out in another place the other day, I specifically qualified my statement of this principle by going on to say:I am not going as far as that this afternoon.Therefore, the famous "never", in the sense attributed to it by so many critics, was, in fact, never uttered. Nevertheless, I would suggest to your Lordships that subsequent events have demonstrated only too clearly the difficulty of applying the doctrine of self-determination in Cyprus.
It was also argued by the Opposition speakers in another place the other day that it was this statement which led to the decision of the Greek Government to bring the Cyprus issue before the United Nations. It may perhaps have been used as a pretext, but the fact remains that the Greek Government—and I think this needs to be said—had for some time been threatening to take this matter to the United Nations unless they could secure satisfaction for their claims in bilateral conversations with Her Majesty's Government over Cyprus. On May 12, 1954—that is to say, two months before my statement—my right honourable friend, the present Foreign Secretary, said unequivocally that Her Majesty's Government would not be prepared to discuss the status of Cyprus with the Greek Government, and this proposition, which certainly had been held by the Labour 249 Government when they were in power, was not challenged by the Opposition Front Bench.
It has also been argued that the statement should not have been made because there had been a change in the attitude of the Greek Cypriot leaders after 1951 (this point was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place the other day); that in fact they would have been prepared to consider operating the Constitution. To the best of my belief—and I had access to all the files at that time—there is no evidence for this at all. On the contrary, it was perfectly clear that they would not at that time have been willing to discuss the issue except on a basis of union with Greece. The slogan was, "Enosis, and only Enosis". I repeat that the statement of July, 1954, enunciated no new principle. It also initiated no fresh policy, except for the decision to proceed with the introduction of a Constitution. Certainly it was misinterpreted by many members of the Opposition in the debate that followed, and it was repeated and reported in that distorted form in the Athens Press and the Greek Cypriot papers.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I am sure he does not mean to suggest that it was deliberately misinterpreted by the Opposition in another place. I would agree entirely with him if he had said—as I think he did say—that it was misinterpreted. I am sure that was due to ignorance, and anyone who studied the Hansard report of his speech would entirely agree with the interpretation he is giving it this afternoon.
§ LORD COLYTON
I will readily concede that to the noble Earl. I know how difficult it is, when statements are made, and answers given to supplementary questions, to get the exact shade of meaning of a phrase.
I venture to suggest to your Lordships that the task of Her Majesty's Government in finding a solution to this well-nigh intractable problem has been made far more difficult by the wholesale acceptance by members of the Opposition and others in this country of what, for the sake of simplicity, I would call the Greek solution. It is true that lip service has been paid to the need for constitutional safeguards for the Turkish minority on 250 the Island. But Turkish mainland sentiment—and do not let us forget that there are at least 250,000 Cypriot-born Turks, some in positions of authority in Turkey—and, above all, Turkish strategic interests, have simply not been taken into account by the Opposition spokesmen at all. Indeed, we heard that repeated in essence by the noble Earl who opened this debate this afternoon. I do not say that he entirely dismissed the importance of Turkish sentiment and Turkish strategic interests, but certainly he passed them over very lightly.
It is all too easy to say, as has been said in another place, that constitutional advances in Cyprus should take place on normal colonial lines towards Dominion status. But the fact is that it is not a purely colonial problem; it is a mixed colonial and international problem. Even now, from reading last week's debate in another place, and from what the noble Earl said this afternoon, it seems to me that the Opposition have not really faced up to the realities of the situation and to the realities of Turkish feelings. What are the issues with which we are confronted? I should like to refer to them very briefly.
The Greek point of view is very simple. The Greek Government and the Greek Nationalist leaders in Cyprus say that four-fifths of the Island are of Greek race or Greek-speaking, and they declare that the majority would like to be united with Greece and that the principle of self-determination should be applied. I should not for a moment deny the essential Hellenism of the large majority of the people of Cyprus, and I can well understand the emotional desire of many of them—though not by any means all of them—to be united with Greece. I yield to no one in my admiration and affection for the Greek people. I lived and worked with them in Greece as a member of His Majesty's Legation in Athens before the war, and even more closely for two years during the war. I think my Greek friends—and they are many—would agree that I was sometimes able to be not altogether unhelpful to them. Certainly one member of the present Greek Administration will remember a critical evening on Easter Saturday of 1939, the day after Mussolini had landed in Albania. So to me personally it has been particularly painful to be drawn into conflict with Greek opinion on this Cyprus issue.
251 But while I understand the strength of Greek feeling, I cannot believe that it can in any way justify the methods which Greek leaders, in pursuit of their aims, have chosen to advocate or to employ against an old and traditional friend and Ally. Nor have the. Greeks themselves really faced up to the practical facts of this Cyprus problem. It is true that the present Greek Government and their predecessors here offered us bases, but in so doing they seem to disregard the fact, as has been pointed out by several of my noble friends, that Governments change; that policies can be reversed; that bases which have been freely granted at one moment become the target of political attack and denunciation the next. As the noble Earl pointed out, Iceland, Ceylon and many other examples can be given. That is the Greek position.
The Turkish position is also very simple. Setting aside the legal arguments arising out of the Treaty of Lausanne, into which I do not wish to enter now—it has been touched on already—the Turks, although recognising the principle of self-determination, do not admit of its universal application. They consider that other factors, such as history, geography, strategy and, above all, the essential safety of the State must be taken into consideration. They regard Cyprus as their "offshore island"—at the nearest point it is only thirty-six miles from their shores. They regard it as an extension of the Anatolian Peninsula, as a pistol which is pointed at the heart of Turkey and which, if it fell into hands which were hostile, or one day might become hostile, could effectively dominate the only two ports on which the Turks could rely for supplies in the event of war with a Northern enemy. We must recall the fact that there is a well-organised, powerful Communist minority in the Island of Cyprus itself. That is the crux of the Turkish position. It is far more important, I believe, than the sentiment of the 250,000 Cypriot-born Turks; it is more important even than the fate of the Turkish minority on the Island.
Greek spokesmen—and, I am sorry to say, some members of the Opposition in this country—have sometimes suggested that the Turkish attitude on this subject had been encouraged or even inspired by 252 Her Majesty's Government. As my noble friend Lord Lloyd has already pointed out, there is not one grain of truth in this. Indeed, at the Tripartite Conference in September of last year the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs made it quite clear that for three years before that, long before this issue was hitting the headlines, the Turkish Government had been uttering friendly warnings to their Greek Ally not to raise the Cyprus question. The strength of Turkish opinion was well known long before the present crisis developed.
I come now to the British position. It seems to me that our responsibilities in Cyprus are threefold. First of all—I would put this on a level of equality with the others —there is our duty to carry the people of Cyprus and of all races forward to a better standard of living, further material development, improvement in social conditions and ultimately to lead them to the fullest possible degree of self-government. Then, secondly (and my noble friend Lord Swinton has already referred to this) there is the need to maintain a base from which to carry out our obligations in the Middle East. Certainly, I would endorse all that my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye has said about the views of the military advisers of the Government in these matters. Those are views to which attention must be paid. Those obligations and commitments include the Tripartite Agreement on Israel (which we are always being invited by the Opposition to say we still endorse and will carry out in an emergency); the Baghdad Pact; our Treaty of Alliance with Jordan, and, as several of my noble friends have said, the general maintenance of our influence in the Middle East, with all that that means in connection with the protection of our oil supplies.
Thirdly, and finally, we have our duties under N.A.T.O. It should be remembered —though it is sometimes forgotten—that for purposes of N.A.T.O. Cyprus is a British naval sub-area but is not covered by the N.A.T.O. Treaty for land forces or for air forces purposes. It has sometimes also been suggested that, if Cyprus were simply an Anglo-Greek affair, a settlement could have been achieved long since. I think there is a certain amount of truth in this, though even then not, I believe, on straightforward colonial lines. It might have been 253 possible in those circumstances to have provided adequate safeguards for the Turkish Cypriots. It might have been possible to provide for our military requirements under N.A.T.O., but so long as Britain is a party to a number of international commitments which Greece does not share, and which indeed are right outside her scope, it is clear to me that, quite apart from Turkish interests, some measure of British sovereignty would have to be maintained in the Island for a very long time to come. This is one of the reasons why I have always felt that it was impossible to lay down any definite dates for the exercise of self-determination which we recognise in principle.
The spokesman of the Opposition in another place in a debate last year laid it down as Opposition policy that the islanders should be asked to decide upon their own future within five years of the introduction of internal self-government. That seemed to me a most dangerous and utterly unrealistic suggestion. I happened to notice in the debate last week that the speaker in question had moved on to suggest live, ten or fifteen years of self-government as the possible stages when a decision as to the future status of the Island might be taken. That is all to the good. Certainly, I would say that one of the factors which has handicapped the Governor of Cyprus—and here f should like to add my tribute to all that has been said about Sir John Harding this afternoon—in his task has been the widely-held feeling among the Greek Cypriots that, if the Labour Party were returned to power, they would immediately grant self-determination to Cyprus. That view is widely held. The statement made in another place the other day as being a modification of the previous attitude adopted seems to me to be a great step forward.
I should also like to say this. It seems to me that in the proposals which have been under discussion recently and which have, for the moment, failed, it is very important to realise that this is not a question of a Turkish veto. In these matters it has been the practice of Her Majesty's Government to consult freely with both our friends and Allies, with the Greeks or with the Turks, according to the state of negotiations and the form they are taking. In this complex affair it seems to me that it is quite certain 254 that, in the long run, concessions must be made by all concerned. During the last two years Her Majesty's Government have made their contribution; and so, I would say, have the Greek Government—and indeed, in fairness to Archbishop Makarios, I think one must say that he, too, has made concessions. I have no doubt whatever that, when it comes down to seeking and settling a formula satisfactory to all, the Turkish Government, too, will play their part. But having regard to our obligations to our Turkish Allies, to the great part which they play, standing as they do in the front line of the defence of the free world, it would be wrong for us to attempt to force upon them something which they consider to be contrary to their own vital interests and safety.
My Lords, we do not know the details of the Government's recent proposals, and it may well he that Press reports are quite wrong in suggesting that they contain any fixed date for a withdrawal—indeed, I should be most surprised if it were otherwise. But it is clear that, for one reason or another, these proposals were not satisfactory to our Turkish friends. For the moment, the conversations have ceased and the Government have sent out Lord Radcliffe, not to negotiate but to explore the ground with a view to the drafting of a Constitution. We must all wish him well in this difficult task. It would be quite wrong to try to anticipate his conclusions, but I hope that in considering the provisions for safeguarding the Turkish minority under a Constitution, he will bear in mind the machinery of the African Affairs Board in the Central African Federation, which, of course, was introduced to deal with quite a different state of affairs but which I venture to suggest would be more elastic and practical than any such plan as trying To provide for equal Turkish and Greek representation in the upper House in Cyprus.
When Lord Radcliffe has reported—he has indicated that it may take some time —and when the Government have considered his Report and decided on the form of Constitution that they propose to put forward, we must hope that by that time a considerable step forward will have been made in regard to the restoration of law and order. In reference to what the noble Earl was saying earlier, I would draw to his attention the report 255 of the Daily Herald correspondent in Cyprus the other day, who referred to the large amount of information now coming forward because the terrorists have lost the sympathy of the villagers. This information is leading to the greatly improved security position in the island. But when all this is done, I suppose at some point the Government would have to consider where and how they are going to approach the situation—whether it is possible to continue on the same sort of lines as before. I suggest that if at that time we seem to be faced once again with a blank wall of difficulties, the Government ought to consider the possibility of other and more unorthodox solutions.
My noble friend here has suggested a condominium by N.A.T.O. If I may say so, it seems to me that, while the principle has great attractions, there would, of course, be great difficulty owing to the complication of having so many different countries interested in this small territory. And I would venture to suggest to your Lordships, with great diffidence, another form of condominium. Many in your Lordships' House have experience of a condominium—certainly, my noble friend Lord Killearn remembers only too well the troubles which arose over the Sudan—but I suggest that in this unique case of Cyprus a condominium might perhaps provide a workable solution. At any rate, it would be better than no solution at all. What I would suggest is a condominium between Britain and Greece, subject to a number of conditions—I will not attempt to go into details to-day, but I will touch on some of them.
From the point of view of the Cypriots, out of such an arrangement they would, of course, get the best of all possible worlds. They would get joint British and Greek nationality with freedom to enter this country, as they seem to like to do, and freedom to enter Greece, which they do not seem to be as keen on as they might be. They would share the benefits of the sterling area. They would have the right to govern themselves, to internal self-government, and to maintain their own customs duties and immigration laws. They would remain part of the British Commonwealth. From the Greek point of view, it would seem to me to provide an honourable solution which, while extending Greek sovereignty to the Island, 256 would do so in association with Britain, whose essential needs in Cyprus can be met only by the retention for a great many years of British sovereignty in some form. That might be more acceptable to Greek opinion than having to wait an indefinite period for the application of self-determination.
I suppose it would be argued that such an arrangement might not be acceptable to our Turkish friends. I believe that it would be, on one condition, and one condition only, namely, that Britain would be vested with the duty of protecting both Turkish strategic interests and the interests of the Turkish minority—in a sense, as a guarantor of Turkish rights and interests. I will not suggest that this should be for perpetuity, because, as I have sometimes been reminded, that might be a dangerous term but at any rate, shall we say, for as long as the present relationship between the national States remains as it is to-day. Other ways might be found of helping Turkish opinion. There might be a special Turkish Commissioner appointed to assist the British representative in his duties. Turkish Cypriots, too, might be given the chance of dual nationality—British and Turkish.
My Lords, it may be argued that, having regard to the attitude of the present Greek Government and people towards Britain and British rule in Cyprus a condominium would involve risks which we should not be entitled to run. On the face of it, this may be so. But I cannot help believing that, deep down in their hearts, despite all that has occurred, the bitterness and hostility which have saddened us for the past few years, the real feelings of friendship and affection of the Greek people towards Britain and the British people have not changed. I think that if an honourable solution could be devised which would meet in large measure the aspiration of the Greeks and Greek Cypriots, we could rely on them to work hand in hand with us in a novel relationship which, while safeguarding the Turkish position, would draw the bonds of friendship which have existed for 150 years between the Greeks and this country, and now with the whole British Commonwealth, closer than they have ever been before.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, may I preface my speech with my congratulations from this side to the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, on his maiden speech? We hope that we shall hear him on many occasions from that side of the House, or from this side of the House, as the case may be, and that he will always have the ear of the House, as he has had this afternoon.
I am glad to be able to support the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who has raised this Motion on Cyprus. This is the first time that I have spoken to your Lordships on this particular matter, but I can promise all those who follow me that I will be brief, and I am sure that I shall receive their approbation on that score. Unlike the noble Lord who has just sat down and the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, I have no knowledge of the Island, and I am afraid I am too old at the present time to see the many black and troubled spots throughout the world at the expense of our Forces. But whether we have been in Cyprus or not, we can review the events which have happened in the Island during the last few months, we can draw our conclusions upon those events, and maybe we can suggest revision of policies and activities in connection therewith. But, whatever we do, I think our consideration this afternoon must lead in the main, and I hope it will, towards the saving of human life, not only in Cyprus but throughout the world. The position has been described as tragic. It is indeed tragic and it is distressing also. Whatever Her Majesty's Government do in the interests of this nation and the interests of the world, they must endeavour to find a swift settlement of the matter. It cannot remain static t it can either go worse or it can become better, and I think all efforts should therefore be made towards improvement.
Allusions have been made from the Benches opposite this afternoon, I think rather regrettably, upon what we, the Opposition, have done or have not done, but I do not propose to follow that line at all. What I shall have to say will come from my own view of the situation, and I hope I shall speak with that moderation which will not in any way hurt or hinder the progress of peace between the Cypriots and ourselves.
258 Moderation at this particular time is extremely necessary. In this country of ours I think that some people are not very cognisant of the position in Cyprus. Some of us are inclined to stand aloof and take no particular interest in what is happening there. The question of Cyprus makes no appeal. Others unfortunately are perplexed and worried. do not know the numbers of the troops in Cyprus, but I think I have heard that it is between 10,000 and 15,000. If there are 15,000 troops, there are in this country probably 50,000 relatives of those boys who are in Cyprus, and it is certain that there are 50,000 anxious people here who, day by day, look with troubled eyes at the papers and also wait to hear the knock on the door to tell them whether one of their boys or their husbands or fathers have been killed by terrorists.
Now, what emerges from the present situation? I think we can consider it on these lines. There is murder and violence on the Island and no one here can possibly condone that. There is retaliation by our Forces, and retaliation may be equally as violent and equally as terrible. There is a military occupation which unfortunately—and I use that word intentionally—has not been over-successful. There have been similar episodes in other parts of the world where we have adopted military methods to reach a settlement and have not been successful. There has been a loss of British prestige in dealing with a small people, and, as has been heard on one or two occasions this afternoon, there has been a loss m international friendships, with the Greeks or Turks or elsewhere. There is also the risk that this conflict may spread. I am Informed, for what it is worth, that there is considerable unrest and disquietude in other parts of the Middle East, and it is seriously hoped that we shall be able to settle the Cyprus problem before any risk of spreading takes effect.
The strategic position of Cyprus has been mentioned. I can agree with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in that respect. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, referred to the strategic position of Cyprus in regard to the Mediterranean, and he rather suggested that we could not hold the Mediterranean unless we held Cyprus and that the military advisers advised the Government that Cyprus was important, 259 Well, the past strategic position of Cyprus surely must have gone. The future opens up entirely new considerations. We are approaching an atomic age when the whole world, not one island in the Mediterranean, is vulnerable. I therefore suggest that to be unduly troubled by whether or not we hold Cyprus as a base in the Mediterranean is unnecessary.
The protection of the oil supply has also been mentioned, and it was seriously hinted in one speech we heard that that might involve us in war. It seems to me that at the present the requirements as regards oil are international, and those requirements surely can be satisfied by honest and fair trading methods on the part of every country. Moreover, we must not overlook the fact that in the next generation, when many noble Lords now in this House have passed hence, oil may have become a product of the past and may not be so important as we find it at the present time. A few days ago in another place the Prime Minister, in dealing with the question of atomic tests. said:Each one of us should try to work out the best method we can contrive for limitation and control of these tests. Limitation should be fair to all concerned.I believe we can apply that also to Cyprus. It is up to each and every one of us to try to work out some method of solution and limitation of the trouble.
I wish to make one or two suggestions for a settlement, partly following the lines suggested by the most reverend Primate, which Her Majesty's Government might consider. First, I believe it is necessary to persuade the terrorists, or whatever you might like to call them, that nothing can be gained by violence; that violence never paid and was never effective; that Britain desires a settlement, and that when we say that we desire peace, not only for ourselves but for the inhabitants of the Island, we mean what we say. The most reverend Primate thought the banishment of the Archbishop was an error of judgment. I believe he is right. I believe that until the Archbishop comes back into the office of negotiator between ourselves and the Cypriots we cannot get very far ahead with those negotiations. The most reverend Primate hinted at the possibility of a conference. I want to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that a conference should be called to which interested 260 parties should be welcomed—the Archbishop and his advisers, the Greeks, the Turks, ourselves, and any others concerned. That conference should be held at high level. Apparently it would be impossible to take the Archbishop home to Cyprus or to bring him here to London, so I suggest that such conference might possibly be held in Switzerland, at Geneva, or Lausanne, or in some other neutral country.
That might be the first step towards a solution. Such a conference might produce a truce between ourselves and the Cypriots, and would, at any rate, show the Cypriot people that we were in earnest when we talked of peace. It might also be the forerunner of a suggestion that an amnesty be granted to the many thousands of people who, I understand, may be interned or confined without any kind of trial. That is the suggestion which Her Majesty's Government may consider or throw out; but in this House and elsewhere we have to move as quickly as possible towards a settlement of this difficulty. We must recognise that small communities have a right to live; that they have a right to freedom and to their own modes of life. I believe that if we could bring about a swift settlement of the Cyprus trouble it would be a wonderful British contribution now towards peaceful co-existence between the small and the great nations of the world, and would find marked approval here at home.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Wise, put what I might call the typical Leftist case with moderation and in the temperate manner one might expect of him, but he was led into one most unfortunate phrase in which he spoke of "retaliation" by our Forces. There has been no retaliation by our Forces. Our Forces, under conditions of extreme difficulty, with a moderation that I do not think could be found in the Forces of any other country in the world, have carried out the mast unpleasant task of putting down most foul terrorism, a matter on which I am going to say a word in a moment. To use the term "retaliation" for that action would be like saying when a criminal is arrested that the police who arrest him and the judge who sentences him are retaliating against him. If the noble Lord will allow 261 me to say so, it is an example of the somewhat confused thinking which for so many years past has been so characteristic of the Left in this country. Mr. Disraeli once observed of the Liberal Party, to whom in this respect the Socialist Party are heirs, that they were the friends of every country but their own.
I do not propose to follow what the noble Lord, Lord Wise, has said in other respects, but, most strongly supporting Her Majesty's Government as I do, I wish to put one or two points of rather different character to those which hitherto have been made in the debate. I may be quite wrong, but in moments of depression I wonder whether this country, since the war in which it did so magnificently, has not fallen into the habit of refusing to face harsh, naked facts, and is not trying to get round them by pompous, pontifical and platitudinous clichés to the effect that "we must find a solution," that "there must be a way out," and that "we cannot go on as we are doing." I notice that in your Lordships' House and in another place there are constant appeals to our enemies (because they are our enemies for the moment), to the Greek Government and to Colonel Nasser in Egypt to be more moderate. We do not tell them what we think of them, but we appeal to them. There are moments—and here I shall, I hope, evoke some sympathy from the Opposition Front Bench—when I should like to see that great statesman, the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, back in this country. He emphatically told the Russians, in speeches in another place, what he and his Government thought of them; and I believe that the improved climate of opinion (if I may use that overworked phrase) between Russia and ourselves is partly due to the fact that the Russians realise that in many respects we can be just as tough as they are.
There has been a great deal of what call "pot-and-kettling" over this matter. By that I mean that the Opposition including the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, say to Her Majesty's Government, "Why do you not do something? You have been in power four or five years and have done nothing"; and Her Majesty's Government, for their part, turn round and say, "Why did you not do something during the years that you were in office?" If I may he permitted to say so, with respect 262 to both Parties, and both forms of abuse or criticism, the real answer is that there are some problems which are so hard and intractable that no amount of English emotion and dislike—and very proper dislike—of violence can find a solution to them. I would say quite emphatically, with some previous though not recent knowledge of the Middle East, that it is very doubtful whether at any time a solution on the basis of self-determination could be found for Cyprus which would satisfy the Greek and the Turkish Governments and our own and N.A.T.O. strategic interests.
Frankly, I think we have to face the fact—despite the attractive proposals which have been put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, Lord Colyton, and other noble Lords who have spoken—that there may be no immediate solution in sight. Incidentally, I think the Greek Government and the Greek Cypriots should be warned of one thing. I believe they have the impression that if and when (I hope it will not occur, but it may) the Labour Party get into office in this country, all their demands will at once be granted. I would venture, with great respect, to say that no British Government could possibly agree to the frame of mind which prevails in Greece at the present time over this matter without smashing the whole of our Alliance in the Middle East. I do not believe that any Government would do that. I believe that in that matter—as they have been in so many matters—the Labour Party would be very patriotic. So do not let the Greeks and the Greek Cypriots think that they have only to wait a short time and they will get everything they want when the Labour Party gets into power in Britain.
If I am correct in saying that there is no immediate solution in sight, what is the point of bringing back Archbishop Makarios? I want to make a few observations about this man. He has condoned by his silence, if he has not actually contrived, terrorism, including the murder of British soldiers and civilians. The letter which the most reverend Primate read to us in that connection was, if I may say so with great respect, one of the most astonishing and terrible documents I have ever heard read in your Lordships' House. What, in effect, the Archbishop said, as I understood it, was: "It would 263 not be much use my condemning terrorism. If I did I might be in personal danger." What a man to represent the people of Cyprusa
I am afraid that I must say one or two rather wounding things about the Greek Church. One is led to believe—and it is, I submit, a perfectly proper point to put—by the right reverend Prelates in this House that there is a close feeling of liaison between the Church of England and the Greek Church. Cynics may observe that the real bond between them is that both Churches are regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical and schismatic. For that reason—to use a vulgarism—there is between these two Churches a very "matey" feeling. It would be doing great disservice to the Church of England, of which many of us are proud to be members, if we compared the attitude of the Greek Church with that of the Church of England. Its record in Russia has not recently been a good one. Originally, its Bishops, Archbishops and clergy showed immense courage in resisting Bolshevism. Thousands of them were, of course, put to death. But the present representatives of that church undoubtedly have an understanding with the Soviet Government that they shall never refer to any political matter. So long as they do not do that, and do not ever condemn the fearful cruelty of the Soviet Government, they can carry on their ordinary ministrations. In Greece they are specifically a political Party. It is temporal power which they seek quite as much as ecclesiastical power. Therefore for that reason, and quite apart from anything else, I do not see why Archbishop Makarios should be brought back.
I wish to make only two other points. The Foreign Secretary, in a very clear statement in another place, showed how the principle of self-determination has never been completely applied, either under the League of Nations or under the United Nations. I do not want to quote, but I have in my hand Hansard containing passages in which he referred to four or five specific and important instances where it was not possible to apply it. Therefore, it is ridiculous, in my opinion, for us to say that we can at any time—indeed, that it is incumbent upon us to do so—apply it in the case of Cyprus. Whatever the members of the 264 Opposition may say in your Lordships' House or in another place, if we were to apply the principles of self-determination to Cyprus and, in consequence, left Cyprus and handed it over to the Greeks, the Turks would seize the island by force, and a most disastrous situation would arise.
Earlier in my speech I ventured to say frankly to your Lordships that we were too hesitant about condemning our enemies. I would add that we are also too hesitant in supporting our friends. The Opposition say, in effect—or they said in another place—"Do not consult the Turks, or at least do not allow their attitude to alter Britain's decision; do what the Greek Cypriots and Greece wants". This seems to me to be a classical example of the prevailing Leftist heresy which is derived from the evil tradition of Gladstonian Liberalism: "Desert your friends and please and placate your enemies." Incidentally, that brought down more than one Liberal Government in the past.
Now, although we all hope that friendship with Greece, or rather with the Greek Government, will be restored, certainly at this moment Greece and her Government are not our friends. She has allowed something which no civilised Government—let alone a Government which is heir to such great traditions as the Greek Government should be—should allow; that is, most foul slanders, insults and incitements to murder and terrorism to go out on the Greek radio. Because Her Majesty's Government can do no more than protest, I do not think the people of this country ought to take that lying down. In the long run, Greece will suffer far more from the loss of our friendship than we shall suffer from the loss of her friendship. I was delighted to see that the voyages of a number of cruise ships which were going to Greece have been cancelled, thereby entailing the loss to Greece of considerable sums of tourist money. I see no reason why anyone should go out of his way at the present time to purchase Greek goods in this country. It does not make sense if we merely condemn countries behind the Iron Curtain, and yet, although the Greek Government has shown itself just as unfriendly as Governments behind the Iron Curtain, refrain from condemning them.
But while Greece is not our friend, Turkey, on the contrary, is our very good 265 Friend—and I may say, in parenthesis, that she is in an infinitely stronger national position than Greece. The real reason for the Grecian attitude over Cyprus is an internal one. They have a miserably weak and corrupt political social system. They have a few rich people at the top and a mass of appalling poverty at the bottom. Like the Egyptians in the past, in order to distract attention from prevailing conditions at home they have started this form of xenophobia, and attempt to embroil us over Cyprus. Turkey is absolutely essential to us and to the whole basis of the bulwark of the Middle East. And I think it is high time that we did all we can for our friends—Turkey, Iraq, Persia, Pakistan—for all the Baghdad Pact Powers; and that we were less friendly to our enemies.
For all those reasons I support Her Majesty's Government, and I think that the Colonial Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister, and indeed all members of the Government, should be commended for the attitude which they have taken up. That is not to say that I take the reactionary view that a settlement in Cyprus is not desirable. Of course it is desirable. A settlement of all our international difficulties is desirable. The world is in a terrible state at the present time, but there are some settlements which, if they involved deserting our friends and pleasing our enemies, would be worse than no settlement at all. I therefore commend Her Majesty's Government for what I believe to be the right and statesmanlike attitude which they have taken up.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, I would say at once that my views are influenced by my feelings as an old soldier. Like my noble friend Lord Winterton, I am full of admiration for the patience, the gallantry and the excellent work of our troops in Cyprus. I believe that it is a mistake to talk about self-determination, let alone independence, for Cyprus so long as murder and outrage continue in that country; and, in my humble opinion, there should be no such talk for years to come. The Greek Cypriots have shown themselves to be utterly unfit for any form of self-government, and in any case, as we have been told many times this afternoon, the Turks certainly would not agree to anything of the kind. I am told that of 266 the Greek Cypriots some 250,000 have come to Cyprus in recent years for the purpose of being under British rule—not forgetting for the purpose of making money, for the Greek is a very considerable trader in these days. If they now do not like British rule, let them return to Greece. That is the best thing they could do.
To talk of self-determination or independence gives an impression of weakness and conciliation. That is a fatal impression to give in any negotiations at all, but it is especially fatal in negotiations with Orientals or near-Orientals. As regards condominium, suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, I believe that condominium is no dominion at all and we should do far better to avoid anything of the kind. Cyprus is a British Colony, when all is said and done. As regards the suggestion made by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, in his eloquent maiden speech, that Cyprus should become something in the way of an international island, I think that that is worse still. I would venture to say that the modern idea that everything can be settled in any country, whatever the difficulty, by the granting of self-government to people, however unfit they may be for self-government, is a mistake. It is a modern idea I know, but I am old-fashioned enough to say that it is an utter mistake. It is not everybody who is fit for self-government, and certainly not every people are anything like the people of this kingdom.
In recent times there appears to have been some improvement in conditions in Cyprus and some Cypriots are hoping for a restoration of law and order, but there will soon be a recrudescence of trouble if the idea gets about that we are weakening in any way. For that reason, I believe that Lord Radcliffe's visit is premature. It would have been far better to keep out of any idea of reform in Cyprus until we have law and order restored. On the contrary I believe that we should intensify our measures. I suggest that what is now desirable is the introduction of martial law, under which murderers and terrorists should be tried at once, and from the sentences there should be no appeal. In my view it is absurd that murderers should be able to appeal and delay, sometimes for months, as has been the case in recent times, the punishment which they richly deserve and which should be immediate in order to be fully 267 Effective As regards the youths and teenagers who throw stones, and sometimes bombs, at troops and police, I suggest that they should be soundly beaten as soon as they are caught, and the troops and police should have power to do this.
Let no one think the Greek Cypriots are fighting for their country: they are doing nothing whatever of the kind. They are not fighters a bit, but skilled murderers and terrorists. The most reverend Primate has said, "Do not talk of terrorism." How can anybody who takes any sort of interest in the affairs of this country not talk of terrorism and not think of terrorism? It is doing infinite harm and it is absurd not to talk about it. It must never be out of our view. I can imagine no greater mistake than to allow Archbishop Makarios to return. I think his deportation was a master stroke and he should be kept under detention and allowed no further opportunities whatever of advertising himself or his views or of doing what I am afraid some of his church, and some perhaps of other churches, are too apt to do—mixing in politics when they should stick to religion. Every possible support should be given to Field-Marshal Sir John Harding. I only hope that he has been fully supported by the Government, whose political views should not be allowed to interfere in the least degree with anything that the Governor might think right to do. It is not a question of what some Greek Cypriots want or think they want, but of the lives of our troops and police. I do not believe that any other than British soldiers would have behaved so well as they have done and been so patient under such terrible provocation as they have been.
The feeling of the Turks is well known. Cyprus is a short distance from the Turkish coast and formerly belonged to Turkey. The Turks, both in the island and on the mainland, are dead against any idea of Greek rule in Cyprus, and we must have regard to that fact. Lastly, we must consider the effect on N.A.T.O. We may have to break either with the Greeks or with the Turks. The Turks are infinitely the better fighters and are a more virile people, and for that reason, if for no other, it is much better for us to take to the Turks. I venture to say that there is no reason for referring the matter to N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. is excellent as a military 268 agreement, but, in my humble opinion, should have no part to play in political matters; and I hope that it will not have any part. I have ventured to say briefly what I feel on these matters, and I hope that, whatever else the Government do, they will not be weak or appear to be weak in dealing with this matter.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, the hour is late and noble Lords have a habit of rising round about this time and saying that the hour is so late that they will not burden the House with a full speech. I ask your Lordships to forgive me if, in spite of the fact that every point I wish to make has already been covered, I give those points in my own way, in the hope that differences of emphasis may be brought to bear in my observations on the ways in which one can approach the question of Cyprus. First of all, may I make something in the nature of a personal explanation of my approach? In a former age we should never have countenanced the studied insults that are heaped upon us to-day. We should have said that here is a case, perhaps, of greatness failing "through craven fear of being great." I say that in no criticism of the handling of Cyprus to-day, either by Her Majesty's Government or by the authorities in Cyprus. I only draw the attention of your Lordships to what in a former age I might have said. I find to-day that one has to study the situation as it is, and not as we should like it to be. We have to adopt rescue measures, and, for that reason, my approach is perhaps not quite in accordance with traditional colonial policy as we on this side of the House might have seen it a few years ago.
We could indulge in post mortems. We could remind ourselves that apparently no British Government of the past ever had the imagination to set up in Cyprus a Cyprus University, harnessing the loyalty of Cypriots to the Island; making good Cypriots in loyalty to Cyprus, rather than bad Greeks in loyalty to Athens. There is little wisdom in being wise after the event, and, therefore, I hope to concentrate on the problem as it is to-day. In doing so, I have to admit that I have spent only a few hours in the Island: but I claim to know a little of the problem of minorities and the problem of multiracial communities which, for one reason 269 or another, live in uneasiness with each other under British control. After all, that is the essence of this problem. It is interesting to me, on studying the pages of Hansard and the many thousands of words devoted to Cyprus in the last few months, and having noted the amount of space that has been given to the fate of Archbishop Makarios, his status and his future, to compare that with the apparently rare comment on the heart and core of the matter, which is the reconciliation of the two communities. I think it is legitimate to approach the problem under two fairly distinct headings, namely, strategy and politics, although they are different faces of the same coin, and it is in that way that I shall present my case.
First of all, I should like to make some comment on the point to which the noble Lord drew our attention; that is to say, the question of a differentiation between a domestic problem and an international problem. Some capital was made on the point last week by the Opposition in another place, and again to-day I think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, repeated words to the effect: "Will the Government make up their minds as to which this problem is?" I should like to underline what the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, said: that you cannot differentiate between a domestic problem and an international problem. There is an international content in the problem, so far as strategy is concerned; there is a domestic content in the problem, so far as internal politics are concerned. Once again, as so often occurs in international affairs, the truth is not black or white, but is painted in shades of grey.
Now, if I may break down strategy again into two components, a dual responsibility as between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Middle East responsibility, one presumes that it was to secure the Eastern flank of the North Atlantic line across Europe that finally Turkey and Greece were admitted in February, 1952, to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In so far as Cyprus mirrors differences between Greece and Turkey, it also mirrors the vulnerability of that Eastern flank. One has only to remind your Lordships that when manoeuvres are held in the Eastern Mediterranean to-day, in order to overcome the difficulty of having to place Greek troops or ships under Turkish 270 Command, or vice versa, resort is had to an American. The point is a simple one. It is that the strategic interests of some fifteen Powers are associated in Cyprus, and I put it no stronger than this: that it would therefore not be unnatural if other Powers were asked their views, and if, as the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, suggested, a representative body of the North Atlantic Council regarded Cyprus permanently as its interest—not its responsibility, but its interest. If your Lordships study the previous protocol under which Turkey and Greece were admitted in 1949 to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, you will see that it was signed in Washington, and it reflects a United States interest. particularly, in the entry of Greece, and Turkey into the North Atlantic Alliance. The United States were regarded on that occasion as (shall I say?) the agent of the North Atlantic Treaty Powers.
Turning now to Middle East responsibilities, under strategy here, I think it is quite right to record that the obligations arc mainly British. I make one reservation, which was referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and that is the case of Middle East oil. Her Majesty's Government have frequently reminded us that in order to secure Middle East oil and to make it safe, Cyprus plays an important part. I would remind your Lordships that the safety of the oil is a matter of no less concern to those who receive the oil royalties than it is to those who receive the oil, and, for that reason, a country such as Iraq is deeply interested in the fate of Cyprus. But to put the matter into perspective, it is, I think, obviously a European and a North Atlantic interest. I obtained figures concerning oil from one of the big companies, and this is what they say. In 1955, 145 million tons of oil came out of the Middle East. Of that total 46 per cent. of the oil went to Europe and 16 per cent. came to these shores. Looked at in another way, if you regard Middle East oil as a matter of ownership, 28 per cent. of Middle East oil is owned by British interests, 14 per cent. by European interests and some 58 per cent. by the United States. It can, therefore, legitimately be argued that the defence of oil is the interest of a number of Western Powers.
271 Apart from that one reservation, we all recognise that British obligations are mainly concerned. There are our obligations to the Persian Gulf, which have not been referred to; and there is the 1950 Tripartite Guarantee in connection with the mutual Israeli-Arab frontier. With regard to that Guarantee, I think it would be wise to assume only that the soil of Jordan is not necessarily available to-day. We could previously have regarded a friendly Jordan as an essential element in our ability to position troops in the Middle East for use wherever we cared to use them, whether it he in Iraq, on the Gulf, or in connection with the Guarantee. Without the certainty of the availability of Jordan soil, it is only wise to look elsewhere, and obviously we look to Cyprus. The question then arises whether, for these more limited purposes, where British interests alone are involved, we could not have certain rights reserved to us in a limited area on the Island. Would such a proposition be accepted by a self-governing Cyprus, or not? I know that the General Staff view is that it is not practicable. But if that happened to be the kind of shape of things which Greece, Turkey and Cyprus would agree to, in spite of the obvious military imperfections of such an arrangement I consider that it would have to be regarded as practicable.
Under such an arrangement, would there not always be the prospect of the re-occupation of the Island as a whole, in a great emergency? Your Lordships will recall that the 1936 Treaty with Egypt had such an arrangement. We came out of that country on the understanding that in a grave international emergency we could go back into Egypt, and we did so in 1939. I cannot understand why we should necessarily leave out that kind of development in the case of Cyprus. I have outlined the idea only of a wider participation in the affairs of Cyprus, and for the moment I should like to leave it just as an idea. On July 12, the Prime Minister said thatIt is not the Government's intention to raise the international aspect of the matter with N.A.T.O. now.I think that that might be taken to mean that, in the future international administration, N.A.T.O. participation is not necessarily ruled out. If so, I find the approach (of reservation without commitment) 272 as hopeful as possibly any alternative.
May I pass now to the political aspect of Cyprus and the task of reconciling these two communities? I find it difficult to agree with the noble Earl when he criticised the sending of Lord Radcliffe to the Island. I cannot accept the argument that Lord Radcliffe did not know whom he was going to talk to. May I draw a military analogy? A staff officer is sent on a reconnaissance, which is a perfectly obvious and logical thing to do. If the staff officer were to be told what he was going to reconnoitre before he went, he would rightly say, "Well, why send me?". Lord Radcliffe will doubtless be recalling his experiences as Chairman of the Boundary Commission in India in 1947. On that occasion he had with him four colleagues, two Hindus and two Mohammedans, and he found invariably that they divided all issues equally, the one against the other. I think the lesson was just this—and here I find myself in agreement with one of the few constructive suggestions which the Opposition put up in another place on July 12—that so long as you are attempting to negotiate with the representatives of communities on an island where they are subject to the influence of their own people and their own environment, it is going to be difficult indeed for them to agree. Remove them away from the clamour and the intimidation, and bring them over to the calm of London. Geneva or wherever it may be outside Cyprus, and perhaps one may find then that they can talk to each other as Cypriots who have to live on the same island, whether they like it or not.
In regard to the general trend of policy, I would put in a word of exoneration of the Government. It is quite true that in July, 1954, Her Majesty's Government said that there would be no change of sovereignty on the island. That was announced in connection with the new proposals for a Constitution. It is equally true that, last week, the Foreign Secretary appeared to retreat from that position to a certain extent, and said that he accepted the principle of self-determination but did not allow, for the moment, its application. He made a distinction between the application and the principle. Now I find nothing reprehensible in being not so much able to change your mind as to adjust your policy to changing conditions.
273 Certainly a Government who were unable to do that would immediately be subjected to criticism from the Opposition on the grounds of the familiar clichés about "unyielding obstinacy," "lack of imagination," and so on. Before we indulge in criticism of the Government on this score, I think we should get rid of a lot of muddled thinking as to the meaning of the term "self-determination." If the self-determination of one section of the community prevents the self-determination of the other section of the community, where are we? Self-determination, surely, has a meaning only in so far as it is applied to the community as a whole. I find Her Majesty's Government on very firm ground when they say that they accept the principle but that they have yet to find the method of its application.
We conclude that the Prime Minister made his statement on July 12 in the hope that, in the two communities working together under Lord Radcliffe towards the limited task of self-government, tempers would cool and they would move away from their rigidly accepted positions; that there would he some chance then for self-determination one day, and that it would be placed in the background, awaiting a more favourable climate. Into that political picture, how does this idea of spreading out responsibility fit? I am hoping to convey that there was some logic in that idea so far as strategy was concerned but within the political frame I admit it would be folly to contemplate anything in the nature of a consortium of powers responsible for the internal political affairs of Cyprus and its Constitution. That, surely, would be substituting for the experience of one the inexperience of many. At the same time, I find it slightly unfair to ourselves that we should play out the game on the field, all the time receiving a good deal of criticism from those on the touchline in whose interests we are playing the game. I therefore ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is not some wisdom in a compromise as regards strategy and politics—a recognition of the political future for Cyprus, which is entirely a British responsibility, but that at each stage we seek and receive the declared support of the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty powers: Britain holding Cyprus in trusteeship and, at the 274 same time, searching for international support, leaving the door open if at any time it is found necessary to invoke that support.
I recall the dilemma of the Labour Government in December, 1947, when they were searching their way out of the problem in Palestine. On that occasion the late Mr. Bevin said that if British administration had been left unfettered to handle this problem, agreement could have been reached; that they had got very near to it over and over again, only to have the cup dashed from their lips. That is true, of course, of Cyprus. But there is this to remember: when international intervention did come in the case of Palestine, it came entirely unrelated to the facts of the case. From across the Atlantic the United Nations had not the faintest idea what was happening inside Palestine, otherwise they would never have set up a Commission consisting of Iceland, Guatemala, Poland and others. That Commission, your Lordships may remember, took one look inside Palestine, and they were away like startled rabbits. That must not be allowed to happen again in the case of Cyprus. We must not create conditions by which Europe and others are kept in ignorance and isolation from the affairs of Cyprus. If we do so, we shall find it difficult to invoke their sympathy and support should we ever need it.
I have spoken of ignorance of the events in Cyprus and of ignorance of events in Palestine, and once again I make no apology for drawing attention to this matter of machinery of information. I ask whether the machinery of information is geared up to that pitch of efficiency required these days, when science gives Governments the power to speak over the heads of other Governments direct to the people—because that is what happens in the case of Cyprus. Is the task of political and psychological warfare, which is something much more positive than mere information, being treated as an operation and the necessary complement to military operations in Cyprus? I read Sir John Harding's broadcast to Cyprus on July 12, and it seemed that he knew exactly this language of psychology. I ask only whether, behind his sense of appreciation of the matter, the fight for the mind of Cyprus goes on relentlessly, courageously and with imagination.
275 May I compare the situation in Cyprus with what happened in Malaya? As I understand it, we won that particular battle in Malaya, but you can win it only by technical skill and experience supporting the will to win. I think that those who supported the removal of Archbishop Makarios to the Seychelles would feel far happier about the future if they could be assured that this battle was being waged. That leaves no room whatsoever for doubt as to the advisability or not of jamming the Athens radio. Our only doubt is whether, having jammed the radio, information is going back again. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, drew attention to this aspect and cited the case of what happens to visitors who arrive on the aerodrome at Athens. I took an extract from one of those pamphlets he showed me. After quite truthlessly invoking the great drama of Christianity, there appears this passage:The Praetorians of Harding are torturing our boys in the same way as the hard and cruel Roman soldiers did: after undressing them, they furiously strike with their whips their naked, tender bodies.You will note the technique, which is not just to smooth over but to put a different emphasis on something we have done. It is to tell a direct lie. As I can see it, we can answer it by telling the direct truth. I think our guiding principle might be this:Take care lest thou appear to be what thou art not.With reference to the Archbishop, we have been reminded that his absence is holding up Lord Radcliffe's potential negotiations with the mayors and others in Cyprus. "Blackmail" is a term which has been used in the case of Turkey, but to suggest, under the threat of viclence, that the Archbishop should be allowed to return, is blackmail, if ever there was blackmail. I suggest the one answer is to tell the mayors of Cyprus that if they are ready to communicate with the Archbishop, to induce him to condemn terrorism, so that they in turn can fall in behind his leadership, that will be the day when "a new situation would be created," to use the words of the Prime Minister. I wish the most reverend Primate were here, because I should have liked to ask him whether he, as the leader of one Christian Church to the leader of another Christian Church, 276 had ever asked the Archbishop if he would not face his Christian duty.
I trust that nothing I have said has been interpreted in any way as being embarrassing to the men on the spot. There are times when, in international affairs, the democratic procedure of argument in open debate must sometimes seem a blight on progress and decision. There are other occasions when rigorous condemnation of Government action is demanded. I do not think this is one of those times. I believe it is a time for suggestion and not for criticism t that we should have a little more trust in the men on the spot and a little less apology for our own intentions and our treatment of our own difficulties. There is an Eastern proverb that tells us of the dancing girl who complains about the floor and says she cannot dance. My Indian friends used to delight in reminding me that its interpretation was "A bad workman quarrels with his tools." Surely the corollary is equally that a good workman should be grateful for his tools. This country is not such a bad workman. I suggest that the British carpenter has at his disposal, in Sir John Harding, particularly, and his lieutenants in Cyprus, as fine material and tools as will ever be at his disposal in dealing with this terrible problem.
§ 6.25 p.m.
My Lords, I asked leave to take part in this debate because it seemed to me, probably in my ignorance, that a good deal of the trouble in Cyprus lay within this country. During the recent war, His Majesty's Government received plentiful and quite accurate information from our agents in Occupied France. Those I have talked to told me that they were preserved from the hands of the Germans by the invaluable loyalty, foresight and pluck of the local mayors, the local officials, the police, and all those people who had to keep order under the Germans and were in authority under the Germans in localities in France.
When hostilities in France ceased, all these people—or at least the more fortunate of them—were clapped into prison, where they saw, probably, the plundering or disintegration of their businesses. The less fortunate were handed over to the tender mercies of the Resistance and suffered things which are not generally known in this country but which are too horrible for me to relate to your Lordships. But these things are pretty well 277 known all over Europe. I do not know whether Her Majesty's Government and the noble Earl who moved this Motion, who was the head of the Government at the time, made any effort to get these people released and spared. It probably is entirely out of the recollection of the noble Earl. If he does know about it, I should be grateful if he would tell me so, because it would be a great relief to myself.
Anyway, it seems to me that the position of the ordinary law-abiding citizen in Cyprus to-day is well illustrated by what I have said. I imagine that, if I were a citizen of Cyprus and a law-abiding man, I should be terrified lest a change of Government would expose me to the tender mercies of E.O.K.A., in the same way as these loyal Frenchmen, these loyal servants of France and good friends of this country, were served at the hands of the Resistance and the mob in France. I am no statesman; I am no politician. But I think that, if I had been in this business, I should have approached the leader of the Opposition long ago, to try to get some joint declaration on Cyprus which would make it quite clear to the law-abiding citizen in Cyprus that, whatever Government was ruling in this country, it was quite determined to restore order before anything else happened in Cyprus. Then Sir John Harding could hope to have the information he needs freely given to him; but not until then can the ordinary law-abiding Cypriot citizen be at peace.
The plea that has been made by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to-day for the return of Archbishop Makarios may be, for all I know, wise; but, coming at this time and in this way, it must seem to that law-abiding Cypriot citizen to be like a direct confirmation of his fears. The most reverend Primate (if I may give him his correct title in this House) said that he spoke under a great sense of responsibility because everything he said would be repeated in Cyprus. Of course, that is perfectly true. I wish that that feeling were more obviously present in the minds of all those who, in either House of Parliament, give utterances on this subject of Cyprus.
Cyprus is not the only case. Often during my life in Parliament I have considered certain Starred Questions and certain Private Notice Questions, and wondered what would be the effect on 278 human life of those Questions, especially if they came from anybody who had a high and ancient reputation in politics. If I may say so, without in the least meaning any offence, the noble Lord, Lord Wise, pulled out the vox humana stop about the British soldier. Whenever a Question is asked which I think is indiscreet, I always asked myself: how many soldiers' lives are going to pay for the asking of that Question in Parliament? Freedom of speech may be necessary for our democratic institutions, but I think we should try to work our democracy so that we do not run any risk of incurring, even at such long range, some responsibility for deaths which our countrymen must deeply deplore.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, my intervention in this debate will be of the briefest nature, if only because the points I should have liked to stress have already been put in a much abler way than I can hope to put them. I have never worked or served in Cyprus, but I think that, in a way, I may claim to represent the quite large body of administrative experience of many others like myself; and I am speaking to-night only because I think this is an occasion when those who, by their experience can carry any weight with what they say, ought to say it in public. There is quite enough criticism of the Government, and I think that those who wholeheartedly support them in this instance, as I do, ought to say so.
All my experience tells me that you cannot talk yourself out of an emergency. Even if 75 per cent. of the population of any particular country that may be under consideration is on your side, and there is an emergency of this kind, if the Government do not act firmly and quickly, and leave people in no doubt whatsoever about their intentions, then they will not get, and they cannot expect to get, support and sympathy, even though the bulk of the population may be eternally praying that that should be given. We have bought that lesson all over the world in recent years. I personally deplore the modern principle that the best strategy is to give way firmly all along the line. It is high time that we stood on the things that we believe in. Surely we believe in law and order—it was our great gift to half 279 the world. To say that violence is merely a regrettable symptom of a deadlock, as was stated in another place, seems to me an appalling confusion of mind. If one analyses that statement, it amounts really to condoning murder and violence as justifiable—almost natural—political weapons in those circumstances. I do not think that we can say too strongly that we will not have any truck with that kind of sentiment.
It is noticeable, of course, that if the Government show patience they are accused of vacillation; if they show firmness they are accused of brutality. Obviously, the moral is that they should go fearlessly on the way in which they believe. After all, let us be realistic. There is only one man to-day who, in a few hours almost, could settle this question and could stop the murders and the violence in Cyprus. That man is Archbishop Makarios. If I may say so, I agree with every word that the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, said about the Archbishop and the Greek Government—there is no need to emphasise that any further. My own criticism of our own Government, if I have any to make, is that the Archbishop should have been banished from Cyprus many years ago.
Enough has been said to-day, too, I think, about self-determination. It seems to me, at any rate, obvious that the principle can be and has been accepted; but its application must surely be subject to some of the considerations of common sense and must be related to the circumstances. We are in Cyprus to protect our vital interests, and it is essential to convince Greeks and Cypriots that self-determination is not at the present time "on the cards". The conditions in which it can sanely be given simply are not there. I look forward to an early date when violence has been suppressed there, and when it will be possible to give to Cyprus a Constitution that will give them a large measure of internal self-government. If I may now refer to the remark of the most reverend Primate in which he sent a message to all Christians in Cyprus, and his plea to accept facts which cannot be changed and to concentrate on the measure of agreements, I respectfully say that I heartily agree with him, and I sincerely hope that his words will touch the latent 280 Christianity in the minds of some of the ecclesiastical politicians of the Greek Orthodox Church.
May I conclude by making one reference to the suggestion about N.A.T.O.? Having some experience of that sort of thing, I think that it would be a regrettable step for us in any way to leave what are clearly our own responsibilities and try to make the burdens easier by sharing them with other nations. As for the idea of condominium, nobody who has had experience, as I have had, of trying to run a condominium (I see that my noble friend Lord Swinton nods his head; he also knows about it) would agree with that as a solution. In the Pacific we had a condominium with the French, and I had the frustrating experience of being a Joint High Commissioner with the French High Commissioner. I can assure your Lordships that that system means that nothing whatsoever can be done by either side anywhere; it means that a country is almost bound to stagnate. I conclude, therefore, by saying that I strongly support the action of the Government. After all, first things should come first, and I am sure that it is impossible to do anything in Cyprus until terrorism has been stamped out.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I think this debate has shown, so far as it can (I have missed only one or two speeches) that differences of opinion about Cyprus and about what we should do there are just as varied between individuals as they are between Parties—which is the natural result of your Lordships' independence of mind—and also that there is much more common ground between the speakers who have taken part in this debate than I, at any rate, had expected when I came to the House this afternoon.
There are, I think, at least two propositions about which we can all agree: first, that the internal situation in Cyprus is still extremely bad—the worst symptom being the continuing use of violence; and secondly, that the conflict and tensions which the situation in Cyprus has set up in the Eastern Mediterranean are dangerously weakening the Western Alliance and Western security. I thought that that point was well brought out in the most interesting and thoughtful maiden speech that 281 we had from the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, who said that there was a risk that Greece might adopt a policy of neutrality. There is, I think, a third proposition with which most of us would agree—that is, that neither these domestic nor these international difficulties can be finally remedied without an agreed settlement.
The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, referred to an agreed solution. I think he was using different words for the words I have just used myself. After all, repression and coercion are a palliative but not a cure, so that all of us, on whichever side of the House we sit, want an agreed settlement. Here we come, I think, to a very big difference of opinion between noble Lords on the Government Benches and those of us who sit on this side of the House. When we start expressing our carefully considered views—because this is a matter to which I am sure great thought has been given by everyone who has been concerned about it—there is a big difference of opinion about how a settlement can be reached.
There is just one thing that I should like to emphasise, because it has not been mentioned before, and that is the importance of the time factor. We have no time to lose if we want to get any agreement about the future of the island, if we want to get an agreed settlement. Your Lordships may have noticed that a correspondent sent by the Economist to Cyprus pointed out a few weeks ago that the good will on which agreement will depend is rapidly evaporating. The imposition of collective punishments, necessary though they may be on security grounds—and that is a matter I do not presume to judge—and the general worsening of conditions since the guerrilla warfare began in Cyprus, have turned many neutral or friendly Cypriots into enemies of the British.
We can hope to negotiate a settlement only so long as the Cypriot leaders of both communities can carry their people with them. The time may come—though I devoutly hope it never will—when British rule will be so hated in Cyprus that it can be upheld only by force. If that time were to come, we should have to choose between coercion and "scuttle." That is a choice I devoutly hope we shall never have to make. I 282 am disappointed that the Government have not made a bolder bid for political settlement now. I am afraid that precious months will be frittered away in their half-hearted attempt, which I regret to say I think is almost certain to fail. After this attempt has been made and after it has proved abortive—because, though I hope it will not, I fear that that will be the result—it will be much harder to get a settlement than at the present time.
Let us try to see what the situation is likely to be like in Cyprus in the near future. Perhaps, as we all hope, by the end of the year the organised guerrilla bands in Cyprus will have been broken up, and law and order will, broadly, have been re-established, although I am afraid that political violence of a sporadic nature is likely to continue until some sort of political settlement is reached. It does not follow that, because we have restored law and order, in the course of time we shall get a political settlement. I have already said that with the passage of rime a settlement becomes; increasingly harder to obtain. I know that the Government still believe in the emergence of moderate leaders who will be willing to negotiate. I cannot help feeling that in this case the wish is father to the thought. We all know that there are plenty of moderate men in Cyprus, such as the two distinguished Cypriots who resigned from the Executive Council; but even if those two were willing at any time to negotiate—which is most unlikely, because they would obviously incur the intense resentment of their fellow-Cypriots—they would carry almost no one with them, and an agreement by unrepresentative persons would not be worth the paper it is written on.
I am sure we all hoped, when Lord Radcliffe was invited to go to Cyprus as Constitutional Commissioner, that this would lead to a political settlement. That is what we all want. We all know the noble and learned Lord, Lord Radcliffe. We respect his ability and public spirit, and obviously no person better qualified could have been chosen for this very difficult assignment. But I agree with my noble friend Lord Attlee, that he has been given an impossible task; and even he cannot achieve the impossible. When he returns to this country he will no doubt draft a Constitution that will be liberal in spirit and fair to both communities in 283 Cyprus, but this draft Constitution will not result in a political settlement unless it is acceptable to the majority of the population of Cyprus; otherwise it will be just another paper Constitution. But this, I am afraid, is exactly what will happen unless the Government are prepared to reconsider and change their present policy, and give Lord Radcliffe the tools he needs for his job.
Much of what the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury said about concessions which he thought the Government ought to make for the sake of conciliation was exactly what I am venturing to ask the Government to do. The most reverend Primate said that the draft Constitution should be discussed with Archbishop Makarios, and that would be a most important change of policy, because hitherto the Government have said that there would be no discussions with Archbishop Makarios until he had denounced violence. The most reverend Primate thinks that condition precedent should be waived. He said that negotiations should start before violence has ended in Cyprus. That, again, would be a most important change in the present policy of the Government.
He also said, if I understood him rightly—and I am sorry that he is not here, because I should be most unwilling to misrepresent his views, and it would be only by mistake if I were to do so—that there should be an elected Parliament in Cyprus which would be based on a numerical proportion of the two communities to the total population; and if this were the case, then, of course, there would be an elected majority of Greek Cypriots. I thought that the most reverend Primate's contribution to this debate was extraordinarily interesting, particularly in these constructive proposals he put forward, and it was a most useful supplement to the devastating criticism of my noble friend Lord Attlee, in his opening speech.
I should like now to say, quite briefly, what I regard as the essential conditions of a political settlement. I think there are four indispensable conditions which must be satisfied if we are to secure a settlement in Cyprus. The first is that the new Constitution, when it has been drafted, should be negotiated with the Cypriots who can "deliver the goods"—that is to say, the representative leaders 284 of both communities. In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, said—and I do not think he really adduced any convincing evidence to substantiate his view—I believe, from all the indications of opinion I have had, that Archbishop Makarios is still regarded by the Ethnarchy and by most of the Greek Cypriots as their national leader. It was interesting, for instance, to observe that during Lord Radcliffe's visit to Cyprus the mayors with whom he had discussions would talk only about matters of local government: they would not discuss the political future of the Island, which is the matter in which, obviously, he was far more interested, because in their view that was a matter which could be dealt with only by the Archbishop.
For that reason—and in this respect I am entirely of the same opinion as the most reverend Primate—it is essential that Archbishop Makarios should be brought into negotiations and discussions when the new Constitution has been drawn up; and for that purpose it might be desirable to invite him to London, though the venue is a secondary matter. The Archbishop, together with other representatives of the two communities, should clearly be brought in, not merely for discussions but for negotiations, when the next stage in the preparation of this Constitution has been reached. I hope that the Government will not insist on keeping him in the Seychelles until he has denounced violence. They must know that nothing has happened to make him change his mind. It would be hypocritical for the Government to maintain—they have not done so, and I am glad they have not—that because he has not denounced violence, they cannot negotiate; because they were negotiating with him in Cyprus when negotiations were broken off earlier in the year, while violence was going on.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
They were not a great success.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
They may not have been, but they might have been more successful had Her Majesty's Government persevered further. Negotiations, I suggest, might well be taken up at the point at which they were broken off, and with the advantage of the Constitution which the noble Lord, Lord Radcliffe, is going to draft.
285 The second condition is that in deciding the form of their new Parliamentary Constitution the will of the majority in Cyprus shall prevail. This, after all, is no more than the real basis of democratic government. It implies in Cyprus that the Turkish minority, when their rights have been adequately safeguarded and, if necessary, written into the Constitution (that is a matter on which the noble Lord, Lord Radcliffe, will think very carefully), shall not be able to veto what the majority wants. It follows that if a majority want a Parliament with the majority of members elected by adult franchise, the system in every democratic country, they should not be prevented from having it because the minority do not agree. If there is a minority they must accept the will of the majority.
The third condition (and here I do not think we can escape saying something on self-determination) is that we should declare our willingness not only to accept the principle of self-determination—which Her Majesty's Government have accepted, while boggling at its application—but also to negotiate a date with the Government of Cyprus which will be set up in Cyprus when the new Constitution comes into force. It would be very convenient for us if we were able to postpone indefinitely self-determination for Cyprus while saying that we accepted the principle. If we take that line, we cannot expect the Greek Cypriots to make concessions and agree to other things which we want. We must recognise that that is their main objective, and they cannot he expected to abandon it in order to give us what we want. If we were to do this we should merely be taking up a position that appeared to be satisfactory, both to Her Majesty's Government and to the Archbishop, when negotiations were broken off earlier this year. I am very sorry that we appear to have retreated from that position and now appear to make self-determination utterly remote and uncertain by linking it with future security in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The fourth, and final, condition of a political settlement is that it shall not be subject to the veto, or even the pressure, of any foreign country. Colonial policy is the undivided responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, and in my experience I cannot recollect any Government of any political Party which since the war has allowed its colonial policy to 286 be influenced by the pressure of a foreign Government. We all sympathise with the desire of Turkey for security. Turkey has just as much right to be concerned about its security as we or any other country; arid if there are doubts in the minds of the Turkish Government (and probably such doubts do exist) about guarantees against aggression which, as a member of the United Nations and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Turkey has, then very clearly those doubts should be removed at the earliest possible moment, if necessary, if diplomatic action is not satisfactory, by ministerial contact. Obviously Turkey, on her side, will remember that the protection she should receive in the event of aggression applies equally to any other victim of aggression.
I think it is perfectly clear—and this emerges from any objective study of what has been happening in the last two or three years—that Turkey will not agree either to self-determination or even to self-government for Cyprus. This was the position taken up at the Tripartite Conference in 1955, and it has not changed at all in this respect. I must confess I was surprised that Her Majesty's Government tried this summer to modify the attitude of the Turkish Government. There was a report that Her Majesty's Government had a proposal which was discussed with the Turkish Government. I do not know whether we can be told if that report was correct. At any rate, there were discussions with the Turkish Government, and there must have been some expectation that the earlier attitude of the Turkish Government would be modified. But I should have thought that recent events in Cyprus, and the increase of communal strife, must obviously have hardened the attitude of Turkey in this matter, and that there is little chance of settlement in Cyprus if we bow to the present wishes of the Turkish Government.
I recognise, of course, that it is the firm and most sincere conviction of Her Majesty's Government that facilities for a British and a N.A.T.O. base in Cyprus will be required probably for a very long period of time. I am not going to discuss the merits of a base in Cyprus: for purposes of my argument I will gladly assume that here Her Majesty's Government are correct. But if our strategic requirements in Cyprus, essential though 287 they may be, are to be regarded as a permanent obstacle to self-government in Cyprus, then they will stultify our colonial policy not only there but in other small territories such as Aden and Singapore, which, equally, are of strategic importance to the United Kingdom. Self-government and the needs of defence are not necessarily incompatible. It would be a very dangerous doctrine, and a departure from our policy of self-government for the Colonies, if we were to regard these two matters as incompatible. After all, the United States has no Colonies, but she has bases in many independent countries, both in Europe and in the Far East.
As we all know, the Greek Government would willingly agree to the continued use of Cyprus as a base if ever it should become part of Greece. A lease may he less secure than ownership, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has pointed out what is likely to happen in Iceland, owing to the attitude of the Government of Iceland to American bases there. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, also emphasised the insecurity of a leased base. But surely the risk of insecurity from a leased base is much less than the risk of hostility and enmity from the population of the country in which the base is situated. We had to leave the Canal Zone, our most important base in that part of the world, as a result of the bitter and continuing hostility of the people of Egypt. That was the main reason why we had to abandon this extremely valuable base. If the risks are to be carefully weighed, we must surely take that factor into consideration.
I wonder how many of the 15,000 or so troops in Cyprus at this moment are pinned down because they are needed for internal security. I do not know whether the noble Marquess can tell us—I cannot expect him to do so—but I should imagine that the bulk of our troops there are being used for internal security. Of what use would they be for an emergency in the Near or Middle East? I do hope that, from the purely defence angle, these risks will be weighed carefully, and that Her Majesty's Government will reconsider the attitude they have adopted towards Cyprus.
My last sentence is to beg Her Majesty's Government to reconsider this policy in the light of the speeches that have been 288 made by your Lordships, notably the speech of the most reverend Primate in the course of the debate this afternoon. Her Majesty's Government are altering their policy towards Cyprus, very rightly, and I am not complaining of that. I see no reason why further alterations should not be made. I believe that this reversal of policy is required if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Radcliffe, is to have a reasonable chance of making a success of his Mission and of bringing peace to Cyprus through a political settlement.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, we have had this afternoon a debate that has been in some respects hard hitting, but at any rate admirably good-tempered and, on the whole, objective; and a debate, I feel, which in particular was illuminated by a notably thoughtful and well-informed maiden speech by the noble Earl Lord Bessborough. I feel sure that that speech was heard with very special pleasure by the many friends of his father here in this House.
My Lords, it falls to me to say the last word in this debate on behalf of the Government. May I say at once that I do not complain at all that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, should have raised this subject of Cyprus at this particular juncture, before we go away for the Summer Recess. It is clearly right, I feel, that noble Lords in all parts of the House should have the opportunity of expressing their views on a subject which has, unhappily, raised so much controversy, both national and international. I do not propose, if your Lordships will forgive me, to go again into all the details of this most intractable problem. It has been discussed, as we all know, and re-discussed again and again in successive debates in this House. I want to concentrate this afternoon, if your Lordships will allow me, on the main features which I feel we have to consider in trying to form a true judgment on the issues involved.
The first thing I would say is this. The problem of Cyprus, as I think my noble friend Lord Lloyd said at the beginning of the debate, is not merely the concern of the people of Cyprus—I only wish it were. It has become increasingly, as the months have passed, in the fullest 289 sense of the term, an international problem. What are the broad facts? Cyprus is an island which is of direct concern to two nations besides ourselves. Although we may have sovereignty over the Island, it is of direct concern to Greece en what may be called ethnological grounds, and it is of direct concern to Turkey on geographical and historical grounds. If this international aspect has not come earlier to the fore, I think that it is, in part at any rate, due to the fact that each of these two countries, Turkey and Greece, preferred that the Island should remain in British hands, rather than that it should become part of the territories of the other. But with the passage of time, as we all know, this balance has been upset by increasing pressure from Greece for self-determination, perhaps naturally, since self-determination which is based on purely ethnological considerations is more likely to lead to a decision favourable to her than to Turkey, which depends on more geographical considerations.
For some considerable time, as we all know, successive British Governments—and when I say British Governments I mean British Governments of all Party complexions—have firmly resisted that pressure. Indeed, if I may say so without being accused by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, of "potting and kettling" and by Lord Wise of a rather unfortunate approach to this subject, I would remind the House that the Government over which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, himself presided with such ability, throughout the whole of its tenure of power from 1945 to 1951, maintained unequivocally the position that it could not contemplate any change of the sovereignty of the Island then or in the foreseeable, future. In that I do not see that the noble Earl was taking an unusual tile: he was taking the line that had been taken by all previous Governments of all Party complexions.
At the same time, looked at from one angle, as I think we should all agree, that was a disagreeable, and, it might well seem, an illogical attitude for Great Britain to occupy—as I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, indicated in his speech. We had many years earlier accepted, rightly or wrongly, the principle of self-determination. We had applied it in many other instances. On what grounds, therefore, it was argued by a 290 great many people, was it to be denied in this particular case? That was a view that was strongly pressed, both internationally, in the United Nations, and elsewhere, and, of course, in this country by the Liberal Party, and, I think, certainly by the Labour Party after they had been relieved from the responsibilities of office.
As the House knows, Her Majesty's Government have accepted the principle of self-determination—on that there is no disagreement—and from that moment our efforts have been concentrated on trying to devise a plan which would satisfy certain essential conditions for the practical application of that principle. First, it had to satisfy our own strategic needs. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, seemed to think that Cyprus was of no real strategic value to us nowadays, but that view was, I thought, answered pretty effectively by my noble friend Lord Swinton and I do not think I need say any more on that score.
I would just say one word here to the noble Lord, Lord Wise, who said something on the same tines. He seemed to indicate, if I understood him aright, that we should soon have a hydrogen age, and that in a hydrogen age Cyprus would be utterly useless. No doubt we shall soon have a hydrogen age, but we have not got a hydrogen age yet—at any rate, we have not got a hydrogen war yet. I hope that we never shall have one. Without a hydrogen war we have certain considerable obligations—for instance to Iraq., to Jordan, and, in certain circumstances, to Israel; and we must be able to honour those obligations. In the same way, the noble Lord indicated that we were approaching an atomic age. When we get an atomic age no doubt we shall not need oil. But we have not got there yet, and we do need oil. Therefore, I do not feel that we can dismiss the strategic argument quite so easily as that.
Secondly, as I see it, any settlement must convince the Turks that the change in the international status of Cyprus—if that was to be the result of self-determination—could be achieved without injury to the interests of the Turkish community on the Island, and without drastic alteration of the strategic equilibrium in the Eastern Mediterranean which has hitherto been so happily safeguarded, from their point of view, by British ownership of the island. Those considerations can be 291 stated quite briefly, but they present no easy task. At the same time, I hope it will be conceded by noble Lords in this House who have not agreed with the policy of the Government that no efforts have been spared to find such a plan, if such a plan could be found.
As your Lordships know, the Government first called a meeting of representatives of themselves and the Greeks and the Turks to explore the situation. Unhappily, that meeting proved fruitless. Differences which emerged could not be resolved in that manner at that meeting. They then initiated discussions with Archbishop Makarios—discussions which have been referred to by many speakers to-day—for the purpose of seeing whether the Greek view could be brought nearer to the central point at which agreement would be possible. We continued those talks with patience and resolution, although we had information which showed clearly that the Archbishop was at that time conniving at, and probably fomenting, a campaign of terrorism on the Island which was based on sabotage and murder. But, in spite of all efforts to obtain an agreement which was likely to be satisfactory not only to the Greeks but to us and to the Turkish community, the talks with Archbishop Makarios—as we all know—failed to achieve their object.
Next, and finally, still undeterred, the Government, no adequate advance having been obtained by what might be termed "the Greek approach," decided to see what could be achieved by making some soundings and putting some ideas before the Turkish Government for their consideration. That attempt, too, met with no success. I do not propose this afternoon, partly because it is late, but for other reasons too, to elaborate all the various ideas which have been discussed, either with the Greeks or with the Turks, in or off the island, during all these past months of discussion. I am satisfied that that would be a great mistake, for not the least unfortunate result of the blaze of publicity in which all our lives, public and private, are to-day surrounded is the injury which can be done to very delicate negotiations which have to be carried on before an audience, a substantial proportion of which has probably already made 292 up its mind and is heavily biased one way or the other.
The noble Earl told us that he had been doing some reading, and so have I. In particular, I have re-read a brilliant book on foreign policy by Professor E. H. Carr, who will be well known to many of your Lordships. The book was published in 1939, and, if I may, I would warmly recommend it to noble Lords opposite, especially certain passages which I think are relevant to the issue with which we are faced. One thing which Professor Carr said was:It is clear that relentless Party controversy on current issues of foreign policy makes it almost impossible for the Government t o conduct successful negotiations on any of these issues.He went on to say:Democracy must remain in ultimate control of foreign policy. But some means must be devised by which British interests in vital and delicate negotiations shall not be imperilled by a fire of public exhortation and comment directed at the negotiators.I commend those passages, if I may, to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and to those who sit by him, and even more so to some of their supporters in another place.
I would make this brief and, I hope, anodyne comment on it. What is the lesson to be drawn from these words—which, I think will be agreed, are wise ones? I suggest that it is this: if a negotiation has been successfully completed, by all means publish the details; but if it has not been succesfully completed, do not prejudice the future by premature disclosures. If that is true of formal negotiations, how much truer still is it of the kind of informal soundings with which we are, in this problem, mainly concerned. The only result of premature disclosure of things of that kind would be that this, that or the other section of opinion would have taken up a rigid attitude for or against individual propositions. I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, tended to take up a slightly rigid attitude in some of the propositions he mentioned in his speech just now. Later on, when the situation might have changed, and those propositions might have been revived with far greater chance of success, the market, as it were, would have been spoiled. Therefore I propose to say nothing more on that aspect of the problem to-day, nor, for the same reason, will I go in detail into the interesting ideas put before us by 293 the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, but I can assure noble Lords who put forward suggestions that they will be carefully considered.
What I should like to do is to seek to draw a moral from these protracted discussions between the various interested parties. As I see it, the moral is this: whatever may be the arguments in principle, for or against the application of self-determination in this particular case, in the sense in which self-determination is usually understood, it is perfectly clear that it cannot at the present time be applied in practice in terms acceptable both to The Turks and to the Greeks. I think everybody would agree with that. By all means lot us accept the principle of self-determination as and when it can be applied; but, as the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, said in his speech, do not let us regard it as the one and only consideration to which it is necessary to have regard in dealing with delicate and dangerous international situations. Let us weigh it in the balance with other necessary considerations, with our own strategic and other interests and with the general interests of peace. That, and that alone, is the path of wisdom. Indeed, it is the path which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and his colleagues unremittingly followed while in office. I have sometimes wondered what it was that changed their views when they were no longer sitting on this side of the House.
The noble Earl did not elucidate the point this afternoon, and so far as I can make out up to now, there have been only two explanations by spokesmen of the Opposition. The first, which was put forward in another place the other day, seems to be that an entirely new situation has been created by the fact that both Greece and Turkey have joined N.A.T.O. The point was made, I think, either by the Leader of the Opposition or by another spokesman of the Opposition. Personally, though I may be wrong, I cannot see that that fact in itself has any relevance whatever to the question of the future of Cyprus. Nor, what is much more important, do the Turks think so either. After all, membership of N.A.T.O., an excellent thing in itself, was never intended to override earlier agreements between members, like the Treaty of Lausanne. Indeed, as my noble friend Lord Swinton said, if the Turkish Government 294 to-day had thought that joining N.A.T.O. would prejudice their position over Cyprus, they would not have joined N.A.T.O. at all
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I think I said that they certainly would not have made the Lausanne Treaty. But equally they would not have entered N.A.T.O.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Nor, as I see it, is the other explanation which has been put forward by Labour spokesmen as to the present change of view any more convincing. I think it is right that we should sort these things out good-humouredly. The explanation runs as follows, I understand: "We have accorded the right of self-determination to a number of other places, like India, the Gold Coast and other parts of the world and, on the whole, we have done it with complete success. Why, then, hesitate over the immediate application of the principle to Cyprus?" I lake it that the Opposition advance that argument in all seriousness, but I cannot help feeling that it is a very odd one to find in the mouths of experienced politicians. It is rather as though a card player, having once taken a trick with a certain card, should for ever after, at all times and in all circumstances, whatever the combination of other cards with which he had to contend, insist on always playing that card again, with complete confidence that it would have the same result.
We all agree that self-determination is a very good card to play at the right time—I think that there is no difference about that in any part of the House. But to suppose that because it has been right to apply it to the case of India and the Gold Coast, it is necessarily right to do the same thing with regard to Cyprus at this particular moment, when the situation is utterly different and where, for the moment at any rate—and I hope it is only for the moment—great international issues are raised, which were entirely absent in the other cases, seems to me to show a misunderstanding of the very elements of foreign policy which is so great as to be rather frightening.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Marquess does not wish to misrepresent the views of the Labour Party. It is clear, as I think he will agree, that the Labour Party have 295 never said that they desire self-determination for Cyprus at this particular moment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Am I to understand from what the noble Earl says that if the Labour Party were in power at this moment they would not grant self-determination? It makes a considerable difference.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
What spokesmen of the Labour Party have said is that they would like to fix a date for self-determination some time ahead, but they have certainly made it clear that they do not consider the present moment is the suitable or the right moment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But are they certain that the date ahead would be a suitable moment? One must look ahead a little in fixing dates. If I may quote Professor Carr again—I would recommend this to noble Lords; he is an excellent authority on these points—he said:It is an illusion to suppose, as Woodrow Wilson and others seem to have supposed in 1919, that the values for which the country stands or the principles on which they are based can be docketed and card indexed, so that the task of statesmen in international affairs is merely to turn up the appropriate principle and apply it to the concrete case. There are no simple and infallible rules of 'principle' and 'right' to determine foreign policy in a given situation.That was Professor Carr's view, and I think we should all agree that it is probably the right view. The hard fact, as I see it, over this particular problem is that the gulf between the Greek and the Turkish points of view, as I believe the, most reverend Primate pointed out in his speech this afternoon, is at present too wide to be bridged; and to ignore that is, I submit, to neglect that quality of realism on which all effective foreign policy must always be based
But, at any rate, whatever may be said about that, if we and noble Lords opposite cannot agree as to our treatment of the wider issues raised by this problem, surely we can be at one over the question of constitutional advance within the Island. I should have imagined that that was common ground. It is in harmony with the general policy of this country throughout the Colonial Empire; it is in harmony, as I understand it, with the policy which the Labour Party themselves 296 have always advocated and, I think, where they could, have applied. Nor is it in this particular case open to the same dangers as the immediate application of the principle of self-determination.
As your Lordships have been told again and again this afternoon, the Government have sent out Lord Radcliffe, who is an acknowledged authority on these matters, to see whether he can produce a scheme which is acceptable to the various communities in the Island. I was glad to hear that the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at any rate—and I personally agree with a great deal of what he said on this particular point this afternoon—approves this step. He believes that there is something here which can be done, some advance which could properly be made on these lines. The most reverend Primate indicated at one moment, I think, that he wished the step could have been taken earlier. That is a perfectly fair comment from his point of view. if I cannot entirely share his view over that, it is because I feel that the Government were bound first to explore the full possibilities of self-determination; but that once it was clear that self-determination was not immediately attainable, then this, I believe, was obviously the right line of advance.
There remains the position of Archbishop Makarios. How, to use the most reverend Primate's words, is Archbishop Makarios to be brought back into the picture? The most reverend Primate himself gave an answer on this matter, and I think it is the right answer. The reason why Archbishop Makarios was deported, and the only reason, was that he was conniving at, and, indeed, fomenting, a campaign of violence against our troops and our loyal friends on the Island. Let him publicly condemn violence; let him abjure violence, and a new situation would be immediately created. Then many things might be possible which both the most reverend Primate and Her Majesty's Government, too, would like to see. We must hope that Archbishop Makarios will take that course. But in the meantime, I agree with the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury that there is no reason why Lord Radcliffe should not go ahead with the work of building the edifice of internal self-government. There 297 is no reason why he should not embark on those consultations with the various 'elements on the Island so far as the terrorists make it possible for him to do so.
I still hope that the Party opposite, the Labour Party, will think the matter over further, and will accept the most reverend Primate's advice and give the efforts of Lord Radcliffe their full blessing. I know that the Scarborough Resolution of 1954, on which, as I understand it, the new Labour policy regarding Cyprus was originally based, did require the leaders of the Party to "oppose Tory policy with regard to Cyprus on all occasions." I realise that that might well be read as meaning that the Party must oppose Tory policy over Cyprus, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, whether it is in accordance with past Labour policy or not, just because it is Tory policy; and I suspect that there are some members of the Party who might conceivably read it in that way. But I can hardly believe that the Leaders of the Labour Party could accept such an interpretation as that. That really would be moving too far from what the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, described as the "Bevin position". This is a matter, I submit to them, with all deference, on which noble Lords opposite, and their colleagues in another place, really cannot avoid responsibility, for their attitude may make the whole difference between the success or failure of Lord Radcliffe's Mission. If the Cypriot and Greek opinion were to know—and I think they ought to know—that on this, at any rate, British opinion was united, that might give the Mission a far greater chance of success.
I must confess that I got rather a sad impression of the attitude of the spokesmen of the Opposition in the debate to-day. There was the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who seemed to assume that all Cypriots were anti-British, which I do not believe to be at all true. Then there was the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who said he thought that the Radcliffe Mission was not likely to succeed, which I do not think was a particularly helpful contribution when the effort has just started. I do not believe for a moment (the noble Earl will correct me if I am wrong) that he himself is against an 298 advance in internal self-government on the island of Cyprus. If he is in favour of it, then I feel that he should support this initiative. I do hope that if not to-night—it may be difficult to-night—at any rate in the near future, the Leaders of the Party of noble Lords opposite will make that clear beyond any doubt, so that, even if there are differences of view on the wider aspects of policy which still persist, we, as a united nation, can at any rate help Cyprus to take one further step forward towards that goal which noble Lords opposite themselves so often tell us is so rightly and ardently desired by all the civilised people of the world.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, at this late hour I should not wish to detain your Lordships at any length, tempted though I am by some of the remarks of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I should like to say how interested I was to hear the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, not only for his father's sake, but because I know of the good work he did when I met him at the end of the war when he was working for the late Lord Norwich. I would make only two points. One concerns what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said about the hydrogen age not having arrived. The fact is that the hydrogen bomb is in existence, and it was Sir Winston Churchill who assured me that the reason for the change of attitude as to the necessity of keeping on the Nile was the existence of the hydrogen bomb. With a great reverence for his knowledge, I concluded that what applied to the Nile might equally apply to Cyprus as a base in the hydrogen age.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
This is most important. Does the noble Earl mean by that that he thinks that is the only conceivable situation for which our defence policy should be adapted?
§ EARL ATTLEE
No, I do not; but when someone suggested, "Why not Libya? Why should we stay in Cyprus?", that was the reason given—because of its particular strategic position. I am inclined to question that, and I think it is open to question in the light of modern conditions. The only other point I would make is with regard 299 to that interesting quotation from Mr. E. H. Carr, written, curiously enough, in 1939. I should have thought that 1939 was a bad time to write about the need for a united front in foreign policy. If only other people had had the courage of the noble Marquess, we might have 300 been spared a great deal of trouble. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at twenty-nine minutes before eight o'clock.