§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I was saying before the interlude that The Times correspondent in Cyprus and a number of persons in that island took the view, which was not shared by the Government, that there was a real possibility of agreement at the time when these talks were broken off. Surely, the benefit of the doubt in this matter should have been given by the Government to those who still saw the hope of agreement, however faint that hope may have been. I would only say in passing that the narrowing of the gap which has been going on ever since the negotiations began on the three points of difference must have been largely due to the negotiating skill of the Governor, Sir John Harding, who has shown himself in these protracted discussions to have the qualities of a statesman as well as of a soldier.
The decision—as we think, the disastrous decision—to break off the talks was followed by the decision to deport the Archbishop. The two reasons given for this action have been his refusal to appeal publicly against the use of violence and his direct or indirect complicity in terrorism. The Archbishop's answer to the first of these charges is that an appeal would have been useless; it would not have stopped violence unless he had been able at the same time to offer his supporters a political settlement. I cannot help thinking that the Archbishop is just as well qualified to know what the probable effect on his own supporters of an appeal would be as Her Majesty's Government. Whether or not people agree with the Archbishop's reply to this charge, I think, at any rate, it should be stated, because it was quite clear that in none of the ministerial statements that were made yesterday in another place was there any representation at all of the other point of view.
On the other charge, the Government have adduced detailed evidence to support the complicity of the Archbishop and have stated that he was personally involved in the terrorist campaign. The Archbishop has not yet had an opportunity to reply to this charge, and fair-minded people will at least keep their minds open until they have heard his 496 side of the case. I understand that he denies this charge through those who are entitled to speak for him, but he obviously has not had an opportunity to make any comment himself. But let us assume for the moment that the Government is right and that the Archbishop is in fact a terrorist leader. The question then arises whether he should have been arrested when he was arrested or allowed to remain at large. On the Government's own showing, this was a matter of pure expediency and not of morality or principle. The Government were fully aware of the Archbishop's connections with the terrorists while the negotiations were going on, but they did not wish to prejudice a settlement by placing him under arrest at that time, and I applaud the Government for adopting that policy; I think they were perfectly right.
Now, if the Archbishop had continued to be more useful to the Government at large, it is to be presumed that he would still be free. This makes it all the more culpable that the Government did not foresee and avoid the irreparable damage his deportation is now doing in Cyprus and its serious repercussions in Greece and on the rest of the outside world. There is now no moderate leader left in Cyprus with the authority to resume the negotiations, and we are faced with an indefinite period of coercion and no prospect at all of an agreed settlement. The leadership of this national movement in Cyprus has of course passed into the hands of the extremists—E.O.K.A. and the Communists—and they will continue to answer force by force. The bitterness this action has provoked in Greece threatens to wreck the N.A.T.O. alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean and will certainly impair its effectiveness, as indeed has already happened in the past, for a considerable time. We have also antagonised and shocked a large amount of world opinion. Even our most important and loyal ally, the United States of America, judging from the reactions of members of Congress, has been moved to express its sympathy with Cyprus and Greece. Those of your Lordships who know America will realise how deeply public opinion there can be stirred by manifestations of old-fashioned colonial rule. I only hope that Cyprus will not be in American eyes a symbol of British imperialism—another India, Ireland or Palestine.
497 The only solution that will give us a secure base for our commitments in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and bring back peace and normality to Cyprus is an agreed political settlement. The threefold basis of such a settlement already exists, although it may not last much longer: for the Greek Cypriots, management of their own affairs and ultimate choice of their political future; for the Turkish minority, adequate safeguards in whatever Constitution may be adopted; for us, the use of the island as a military base as long as we require it; and for N.A.T.O. a permanent base in the Mediterranean which, ipso facto, will be shared by Turkey. The only alternative to such a settlement is a continuation of coercion and bloodshed. Our men and airfields on the island will be surrounded by a hostile population, and the people of Cyprus will continue to lack the freedom and security for which British rule has always stood. We cannot therefore agree with the Government that the effort to reach a political settlement must now be abandoned.
It is, I expect, clear—to me regrettably clear—so far as Cyprus is concerned, that the bipartisan tradition of colonial policy has been broken. If we had the authority of the Government we should reverse their policy; the Archbishop would be released and invited to resume the negotiations at the point at which they were broken off. But by that time, if and when it comes, the atmosphere in Cyprus may be so poisoned by hatred that a settlement will be impossible. I therefore beg the Government to have second thoughts now, to try once more for a settlement that will end violence and coercion, and to remember that that is what thousands of ordinary people in this country and all over the world most ardently desire.
I should like particularly to ask the Government to consider the constructive and statesmanlike proposals that the most reverend Primate made at the end of his speech. If I understood him rightly, his main suggestions were that a Constitution could be drawn up forthwith, and that the Archbishop should be released as soon as law and order have been restored in Cyprus. Surely, that is an improvement on the sterile and negative policy of repression which is all that the Government have so far offered us. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government not 498 only to study and examine these proposals with the utmost care and with the minimum of delay, but to communicate the results of their study to the House, because I know that the House was deeply impressed by the contribution of the most reverend Primate and I am quite certain that the whole House would wish to know the result of the Government's consideration of it.
§ 5.53 p.m.
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
My Lords, I hope not to detain the House long in my remarks. May I start by echoing what has already been said in words of welcome to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Like so many other institutions and individuals, this House makes collections. The House of Lords collects Prime Ministers, end we are proud of the latest addition to our list. I am glad that the noble Earl opened his innings by raising a subject of great current importance. All of us must be deeply disturbed by the recent events both in Cyprus and in the Middle East; in particular, the dismissal of General Glubb by King Hussein of Jordan made a deep and painful impression on public opinion—an impression which I personally share. General Glubb had great achievements to his credit which we all gratefully acknowledge. The dust has settled a little since that event, and we certainly should not make premature judgments; but I fear that grave damage has been done which we ought not to underestimate—damage to the Anglo-Jordan Alliance and damage, I fear, to the reputation of the throne of Jordan. Those of us who have had the honour of meeting the King still entertain hopes that he may emulate his eminent grandfather, King Abdullah, to whom Lord Attlee referred. We must not abandon these hopes, and we must still trust that the young King may preserve his country and his dynasty.
The Arab Legion is certainly a matter of grave concern for this country, but I hope noble Lords will not forget that under our Treaty, we occupy two highly important airfields in Jordan—Amman and Mafrah. They are part of the complex of airfields and bases which stretch from Malta, through Libya to Cyprus, and on, under our recent Treaty, to Iraq. I read with great care the Report of the debate in another place on the Middle East and I was glad that the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Gaitskell, recognised 499 explicitly the dependence of the economy of this country, as well as of Europe, upon oil from the Persian Gulf. But I could not join with him when he seemed, as I thought, to view the situation in the light that those States who produce oil must sell to us. I am sorry that the lessons of Abadan have not taken deeper root in the minds of the Opposition. Nationalism and anti-Westernism, Communist-stimulated, could quite easily create such chaos in those States that they will deny oil to this country even at the expense of great misery to themselves and disaster to this country. Therefore, I say again that we ought not to underestimate the part played in the pacification of that area by the air bases which are either occupied by us or upon which we have facilities. They stretch from Iraq down the Persian Gulf and along the Northern shore of the Indian Ocean, in the Aden Protectorate and in Aden colony, and the pivot of the whole complex is the Island of Cyprus.
We know that we left the Suez Canal because we could not maintain a base when we had not the power of internal security. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, following a line of argument with which we must all be familiar, seemed to point to the inevitability of the process of representation in internal government as if it always brought benefits both to the countries concerned and to world peace. Sometimes the power of nationalism is so strong and our power not strong enough so that we have, at the point of insurrection, to concede it. We certainly ought not to seek to be deceived by the results of world peace. There is still violence on the border between Northern and Southern Ireland; in the Indian subcontinent strife is rife in Kashmir, and racial and religious antagonisms abounded when we left there; and in the near East, when we yielded up our Mandate of Palestine and planted it in the lap of U.N.O., we left a legacy of bitterness and racial hatred which still burns fiercely. So let us not seek to be deceived into thinking that when we yield up power in the face of insurrection we are making for world peace.
We have responsibilities in the island of Cyprus quite beyond those particular responsibilities which attach to a British colony. No speaker from the Opposition has thought it worth while to maintain 500 the Turkish position, nor the fact that there are strong Communist elements both in Cyprus and in Greece. Viewed from the Turkish situation, how could they allow the possibility of a Communist-dominated Cyprus, attached possibly to a Communist-dominated Greece? And if we yielded to the demands made without an adequate safeguard to the Turkish minority, without adequate compensation to the fears of Turkey, in our extraordinarily difficult international situation we should do far more harm to the cause of the free world and to N.A.T.O. than we should by possibly offending some Western opinion and opinion in the United States. We cannot abdicate, because of our wide responsibilities, the power of law and order in the Island; and I personally regret that the neglect of these elements in the speeches of noble Lords on the opposite side of the House must have done, and must do, great harm to the cause of freedom.
We have all read with mixed feelings the remarks attributed to the United States Ambassador in Athens. I have not seen an official version of them, but certainly they have given great and justifiable offence in this country, and nothing put out by the State Department which I have read has minimised what I would call the disastrous effect upon the unity of the two leading Powers in the free world. When our greatest Ally treats on terms of equality Great Britain and the Government of Cyprus, which has been pouring out subversion, or at least conniving in subversive propaganda and incitement to violence, I wonder they did not mention a third great friend, the Republic of Guatemala, where, I believe, constitutional government exists entirely free from external pressure. I hope that the United States Ambassador in this country, who is our great friend, will not fail to report to his country the intensity of the feeling here that we have been let down by a friend who should support us.
At the time when I had the honour to be Secretary of State for Air, I did my best to make that partnership, so far as it concerned the Air Forces of the two countries, a reality; and I yield to no one in my belief in the vital importance of continued Anglo-American understanding. I am a deep admirer of the institutions and spirit of the great Republic, but speaking from that point of view I 501 say that we are entitled to expect a far higher degree of comprehension and sympathy than we have received. After all, we have done our best, sometimes under great difficulty, to understand their policy in the Far East and I feel we ought not to mince our words now, when we are supporting, at the expense of blood and treasure, and perhaps of reputation, the power of the free world in the Near East.
I must deplore the fact that some noble Lords and some outside this House, treat on terms of equality the Government of Cyprus and those who are trying to subvert it. And to the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, I would say, with the greatest possible candour, that I deeply regretted not hearing him deplore the murders which have taken place, at least with the connivance, if not under the inspiration, of Archbishop Makarios.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I thought I made it perfectly clear that I dissociated myself utterly and entirely from the terrorism and murder which is in progress there.
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
It is not enough to dissociate oneself. Surely it falls to the most reverend Primate utterly to condemn it.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I thought if one dissociated oneself from such action, one condemned it. Certainly I condemn the Archbishop Makarios for not himself disowning it. I wish to make perfectly clear that I was not at all lacking in condemnation of the terrorism and murders in Cyprus.
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
I am very glad to have elicited that statement, if it was not already in the most reverend Primate's speech, because it is most important at this time that the forces of law and order should restore in the island of Cyprus good and stable government. For I am certain that the views of the Cypriots themselves, whether they are Greek-speaking or Turkish-speaking, can be made known only when fear of violence and murder has been removed. It is, and has often been, the case in situations of this kind that the agitators and those who are prepared to use violence completely suppress moderate opinion, which 502 will not emerge until law and order are restored. We ought not to yield up a position and a burden which we must carry in wider interests, as well as in national interests, because of the pressure of internal or external events. It is because I believe that Her Majesty's Government are doing so that I support them.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I should like to preface a rather short speech by paying my own tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who initiated this debate. It would be impertinent for me to comment on the maiden speech of such an orator, beyond saying that I do not recollect when I heard a speech so easy to listen to. He and I first met twelve years ago in circumstances of Mediterranean strife, when he was Deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition Government. He came out to see the Gothic Line battle and was handed over to an officer, who was myself. I lost my way, and instead of having a distant view of the battle, the noble Earl had a most intimate view—which, of course, was no novelty to him, because among his many distinctions he had extremely distinguished service as an infantryman in the 1914–18 war.
I should like to take up a point made by my noble friend Lord De L'lsle in his remarkable speech. Like him, I yield to no one in my feeling that the future of the free world depends almost above everything else on a close understanding and alliance with the Americans. Almost every speaker has drawn attention to the tremendous impact on world opinion caused by the deportation of Archbishop Makarios. The reaction of American public opinion was unfortunate, to say the least. I do not think it was unfair of a newspaper to plead to-day that His late Majesty, King George III, should be allowed to slumber in peace. When we in this country make a mistake it is not that we have not let rued the lesson, once or many times, but merely that we have learned it but forgotten it. We are a much older country than the United States and, with great humility, I would say that they make a mistake because they are finding themselves in a sphere in which they have never found themselves before, and in which they have no experience. They are still wedded to the belief that it is possible to be a great Power and, at the 503 same time, to be popular. To be popular as a country one requires to have no Army, no Exchequer, and no power, and to be picturesque. Then you can be popular at the price of being utterly powerless.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in his interesting speech, said that much of our position in the world rested on public opinion. I go right with him if by that he meant our position of leadership in ideas in the world. I am sure he would not have suggested, or meant to imply, that public opinion in the world had anything to do with popularity. I would support no Government which shrank from taking a step which they thought right, because they thought that step would be unpopular. Noble Lords who have spoken are naturally disturbed and concerned in their minds, as we all are, about the position in Cyprus. It is tragic that we should be at odds with Greece, to whose classic past our own civilisation owes so much. When one first-class brigade, at just the right moment, prevented Greece from going behind the Iron Curtain, it was a British brigade—a matter of great pride to all of us. This is not a colonial or foreign affairs problem. This Enosis movement has acted as a burning glass on the dry tinder of the ancient feuds of Europe—for there is much dry tinder spread about; and to that fuel has been added by Archbishop Makarios and the Communists. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who is not here at the moment, made great play with an article in The Times, from its correspondent in Cyprus. I put great store by The Times correspondents, but it is only fair to point out that Her Majesty's Government have access to sources of information at least as good, and probably a good deal better, before they make up their mind.
It is rather natural that this debate should narrow its focus, so far as Cyprus goes, on the deportation of Archbishop Makarios. This man's complicity is proved up to the hilt. It is not, I think, a question of saying "We have not heard his side of the story": his complicity is absolutely proved. The most reverend Primate told us earlier that the Archbishop had two capacities: that he was regarded as the political head of the country and as the head of that branch 504 of the Christian Church. That may be. A man may have two spheres to his life but he cannot have two characters, and the deeds committed by Mr. Hyde must be paid for by Dr. Jekyll. I have seen it written thatthe Christian Church is an anvil that has worn out many hammers,and will yet wear out many more. But, my Lords, murder is murder wheresoever and by whomsoever it is committed. If one tries to find excuses of this kind, if Christianity ever compromises on fundamentals, there is a danger not that that anvil will be broken but that it will be eroded.
Archbishop Makarios was only too plainly committed to violence, either as a protagonist or as a puppet. We have given every evidence of our patience and sincerity. We have given him every chance. It was he and not ourselves who turned Cyprus into an armed camp. He cannot now escape his responsibilities. I believe that this ambitious man thought that moderation, let alone agreement, would weaken his position with his followers; and, whether he was a power-hungry man or a mere puppet, he believed that in the end, under the force of terrorism, we should crack. He was wrong; and our task is now to lower the temperature so that we can get back again to reasonable negotiations. When the agitators take hold of a country the moderates fall to a discount, because while you can argue moderation, counsel it, and preach it, you cannot agitate for it; so the agitators have the hustings all to themselves.
I am in agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who said earlier to-day that he firmly believed that some 90 per cent. of the people of Cyprus wished an end to the whole thing; that they wished no part of these to-ings and fro-ings, but wished merely to be left alone to lead their own lives—because when there is violence and bloodshed it is the innocent, far more than the protagonists, who suffer and lose their lives. I feel that many a citizen of Cyprus now, if he could read English and had an opportunity of reading a certain poem of Rudyard Kipling's, might feel the circumstances applied to himself up to the time when the Archbishop left. Let us remember this line:We are not ruled by murderers but only by their friends.505 We have shown, I think, abundant evidence of good will, and we are there to go on with the conversations when any moderate and resolute man will come forward to continue them. As I say, the moderates in this wave of terrorism have gone temporarily to a discount.
Our tasks are these. We have brought impartial justice. We must restore the Pax Britannica and then we must negotiate that last thing, some form of free and orderly government. This is going to take patience and resolution on the part of all concerned, not least on the part of that resolute, gallant, good-natured and most famous Britisher, Private Thomas Atkins and his cousin the policeman. This debate has been conducted with all the temperateness that one expects in your Lordships' House. It has not been so conducted beyond its walls, and our Party has been accused by one Party of madness and by another of folly in getting rid of Archbishop Makarios. That we had to take this step I, and I think all noble Lords on these Benches, shall remember with regret, but without a tinge of remorse.
§ 6.16 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I propose to confine my remarks to Cyprus, and I am extremely sorry to and myself in discord with the son of John Buchan. May I preface my remarks by saying how much I appreciate what Lord Rea said about approaching the whole matter from the international angle, and, if I may do so without presumption, may I add how much I admire the wisdom and statesmanship of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. May I say at once, in case anything I say later may be misunderstood—though I hope it will not be—how profoundly I abhor and condemn the outrages and barbarities now taking place in Cyprus and how deeply I, like the noble Earl who introduced this Motion, feel the terrible position of the troops and the police.
I speak from a rather particular angle. Through my intimate connections with the World Council of Churches, as Chairman of its Central Committee for many years and now as the honorary President, I am necessarily in close touch with the opinion of many Churches of very different characters, reformed and unreformed, in many countries. I am not, of course, speaking here in any way for 506 the World Council of Churches, but I have heard from, and conversed with, officers of that Council, at Geneva and in London, and a personal statement was issued by the General Secretary, Dr. Visser 't Hooft, on March 13. I think it is important to appreciate the reason why the Archbishop, whoever he may be, must (he cannot help it) be the spokesman of the national as well as the ecclesiastical position in Cyprus. It is due to the historic opposition of the Greek Orthodox Church for many centuries to Turkish rule. Doctor Visser 't Hooft says:Even though the activities of the Archbishop as ecclesiastical and as political leader are logically distinguishable, they cannot be separated in the minds of the people. It must therefore be made unmistakably clear to all concerned that this act of deportation against the head of a church is very deeply resented throughout the ancient Orthodox Churches.On various occasions in recent years the World Council of Churches has issued statements and resolutions condemning the actions of totalitarian réegims, and what they have said has been some comfort to hard-pressed Eastern churches. It is not surprising, therefore, that when an action which everybody must agree was totally unexpected from a great democratic Government in the West, what might be described as a thunderbolt from Britain, was launched, there was consternation amongst these Churches, and messages and protests and inquiries came in in a stream. I will not quote the text, for the most reverend Primate has referred to various messages and telegrams to the World Council and to him. I would just call attention to the fact that one of the protesters was the Greek Evangelical Church in Cyprus as well as the Orthodox Church. Perhaps the most disquieting feature of all in these protests or appeals was that in spite of that sufferings of Greece from the Communists, in spite of the great friendship of Greece for Britain, in spite of the fact—and the Prime Minister referred to this in another place yesterday—that it was British troops who delivered Greece from Communist control in 1944 to 1945, in spite of their abhorrence of Communist rule and Communist ideals, nevertheless the Greek Orthodox Church made an appeal to the Church of Russia. How curious! They asked the Church of Russia to show thetraditional protection you have always given the Orthodox Churches.507 Colleagues of the World Council of Churches have spoken of the reaction through the whole world. "Throughout large parts of the world, Christian opinion", they say, "is greatly shocked and troubled by this event". Whilst I know that my view will not be agreed with, I think it is important to know not what I think (that is quite irrelevant) but what outside Churches think of us. They say: "We cannot understand." There is widespread bewilderment abroad, and they cannot understand that an action which, rightly or wrongly, they look upon as by-passing the law should have been taken, above all by Britain. And they would say that the action is an action which, so far as they can see from the facts that have been so far published, is without adequate moral basis. While the British Government may be thoroughly satisfied as to the rightness of this action, nevertheless from the point of view of many people in the international theatre it comes as a blow to British prestige and a reduction of Britain's capacity for moral leadership.
I am very conscious of the strain which is placed upon that fine character and man of ability, Sir John Harding. Everyone must have great respect for him and great sympathy with him in the difficulties of his position in an intense political crisis. There is no dispute that the outrages are horrible, and that they are by all good Christian opinion wholeheartedly condemned. And I can understand the request which the Governor has made and which the Colonial Secretary has made to Archbishop Makarios to declare openly against terrorism. I deplore and condemn terrorism, and I wish with all my heart that the Greek Orthodox Church would publicly condemn it. But before we condemn Archbishop Makarios too vehemently I think we should remember the strength of the nationalist sentiment in Cyprus. It is far from certain that if Archbishop Makarios did make a public condemnation of the terrorist movement that the terrorist movement would cease. The most reverend Primate quoted those words of Archbishop Makarios in which he said that he was sincerely afraid that if there were an official condemnation of these events by himself it would not find, at the present stage, the necessary response, but 508 would involve the risk of exposing him rather unprofitably—
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
If the right reverend Prelate will forgive my interrupting him, I should like to ask him this. Leaving aside the question of whether or not condemnation of terrorism by the Archbishop would be effective, does he think that he ought to have made such condemnation?
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
I am asking the noble Viscount to pause before he is too vehement in his condemnation.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I quoted those words of Archbishop Makarios and I promptly said that in doing that he deserted his duty as a churchman and spoke as a politician.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should like to ask the right reverend Prelate whether he agrees with or differs from the Archbishop in this matter.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
I will in a moment answer the question which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has put to me. First of all, let me say that when Archbishop Makarios made that remark I do not suppose he was thinking of himself and his own personal safety and position, but rather of the effect on his influence—a moderating influence, as I believe—that such a condemnation would have. It is not so simple for Archbishops and Bishops in any country, in times of revolution and war, to take a line which large bodies of their fellow countrymen resent and repudiate. I can speak from personal experience.
I should also like to call your Lordships' attention to the fact that in the time of Sinn Fein the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland did not think they would increase their influence by a strong condemnation of violence there. Nor did the Church leaders during the Nazi occupation of Holland, while Dutchmen were doing acts of violence and sabotage, think they would help the position by open condemnation. I should like to call attention to Archbishop 509 Makarios's statement at a Press conference on March 5, after the meeting of the Ethnarchy Council. The report that I have says:The Archbishop concluded by saying that until the British Government reviewed their position and showed respect and understanding towards the national aspirations of the Greek people of Cyprus the latter must remain cool and equip themselves with persistence and patience for the continuation of their peaceful struggle for self-determination.Those words are restraining words, and the whole emphasis of the paragraph is on peaceful action. So the answer to the question of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House is this. To my great regret, I do not find myself in complete agreement with what the most reverend Primate said, in the precise way in which he said it, during a certain portion of his speech; but I do find myself in agreement (and I am sorry that I agree with one and not the other) with everything that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said in dealing with a very difficult and delicate situation.
Archbishop Makarios is undoubtedly a determined champion of the Cypriot case in negotiations. The real trouble is that there is no common ground between him and the British Government. In my opinion it is misleading for the Colonial Secretary to speak in London on March 5 at the Press conference as though the real issues had been settled and only local problems remained. The Colonial Secretary said that Archbishop Makarioshas refused to use his great influence to prevent violence. And I say of a man who refuses to use his Influence to condemn violence when great issues are out of the way and only small, local problems are involved, he is as guilty of violence as someone who promotes it.I regard that as evidence of a certain inability to see where the heart of a matter lies. The form of the Constitution which the Colonial Secretary described as a "local" problem is the crucial issue. Indeed, the letters of Sir John Harding of February 14 and of Archbishop Makarios of February 25 are completely at cross-purposes. The Archbishop and the British Government want different thing, and clarification at this stage is of little use.
Let me state what I believe to be Archbishop Makarios's position. He asks for self-determination. It is a technical term; the right of a people to determine its own future. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said that Cyprus was never a 510 Greek possession. Cyprus has a history of some 3,000 years. It is a Greek island; it was a free Greek island. It possessed itself for many years as a free Greek island with the free City States. It was a portion of Magna Graecia, the great classical Greece. It was part of the Byzantine Empire. Then there were certain vagaries of control after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire. For 300 years it was under Turkish rule, and for 78 years it has been under British rule. But all the time the people of Cyprus have been a Greek people. They have retained the Greek character and used the Greek language. And all the time there has been, sometimes strong, sometimes weak, but in these days stronger because of the pace of the times, the historic urge to fulfil their destiny in association with Greece.
The position of the British Government at present is very different. To them, Cyprus is a British Colony. And the British Government offer not self-determination, or self-government, but self-government in a limited form, with large areas reserved for British rule; and at the heart of the Constitution there is a complete blank. It is an artificial solution in its present form; it is no solution at all. The Turks supply one-fifth of the total population; the Greeks are four-fifths. The Turkish Foreign Minister in London, in September last, said the guiding principle of any arrangements he would tolerate would be the granting of "full equality for the two groups" in Cyprus.
I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that the British Government's refusal to say what proportion of membership in the Legislative Assembly, in both Houses, should correspond with the proportion of the population in Cyprus, is a matter to be deplored. Certainly it would be regarded by Archbishop Makarios as an ominous sign. I believe that while the Lower House might have a majority in proportion to the population, there is reason to suppose that the Upper House would not have that proportion, for, with some nominated members and some Turkish members, the proportion would not be in favour of the Greeks in Cyprus, the general population. I do not think that this Constitution can he described as a "liberal and democratic Constitution", drawn up "in consultation with representatives of all sections of 511 opinion in the Island". On these terms Cyprus would remain a dependent territory of lower grade for an indefinite period. Our policy at present lacks an adequate moral basis, and a policy without an adequate moral basis cannot succeed. The moral and the real in the end coincide.
Listening to one or two of the speeches, I have wondered whether we are sufficiently alive to the fact that we are living in rapidly moving times; whether we realise that, because of the rapid pace of the times, mistakes come home to roost far sooner than they used to do, and that retribution, still certain, is much swifter than it was before. I believe that the deportation was a blunder, and that it is one of the blunders which the present policy reflects. This policy is out of touch with the realities of the modern world. I believe that Britain, in its own interests, cannot afford to isolate itself from the public opinion of the world and that the whole policy in the Middle East wants reappraisal.
To keep colonialism as a plank in our policy in Cyprus is not consistent with realities, and it supplies an opening for the Communists to sweep in upon a new rift in the Western armour. I believe it is actually a threat to the defence of the West, and that the gravest danger of all from this policy is that we should lose Asia and Africa. Little has been said about the reactions of the Asiatic countries, which matter so much, and I believe that if we lose them, we lose nearly everything. It is not in the military field that our chief peril lies but in the field of ideas, in the whole moral and spiritual field. That is the field in which the real conflict of our day is being waged.
The problem of Cyprus is not insoluble, but it has to be envisaged in its true nature. I do not think that the London Conference provided the right approach. I do not think that the then Foreign Secretary's statement that Cyprus was "the hinge of the North Atlantic and Middle East defence system" goes to the root of the matter, important as the position of that island is. There are perhaps too many pacts; but there is force in what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said about the way in which the hydrogen bomb makes obsolete so many military approaches of the past. With all respect, I do not believe this is the way to preserve 512 N.A.T.O. itself, or to win the confidence of the younger and uncommitted nations, or to advance true British interests. Let us start afresh. Let us make plain, first of all, that Britain is not an autocratic power; that it recognises the new situation in the world; and that it appreciates the desire of peoples striving for national recognition, as it has so often shown. Let Britain declare that Cyprus shall be given effective freedom to determine her future, although it may be by stages. Obviously, safeguards are necessary for the Turkish minority and for defence interests. Bases in Cyprus are wanted. Yet this requirement is laid down, not with any idea of colonial domination, but with proper regard for Turkish as well as British needs, in co-operation with Greece, for a better defence of the West.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, I feel sure that every noble Lord who has listened to this debate to-day will have appreciated the manner in which the Motion was introduced by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I, too, should like to offer my congratulations to the noble Earl on the occasion of his maiden speech. Before I come to a detailed reply to much of the criticism which has been levelled against Her Majesty's Government this afternoon, I want to deal briefly with some of the events that have occurred in past years. I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that there is no necessity to go back very far, and I intend to recall to your Lordships' minds what happened in 1946, during the time when the noble Lord, Lord Winster—who made an effort in that year to introduce a new Constitution—was Governor of Cyprus.
Provision was made to set up a Consultative Assembly in order to consider the question of constitutional reform. That assembly met in 1947, but the right wing Greek Cypriots refused to attend on the ground that a local Constitution was no substitute for Enosis. This Constitution proposed that the new Legislative Council should have a substantial majority of elected members, and that, moreover, there should be three Greeks and one Turkish member on the Executive Council, and they would, in fact, be responsible for certain departments of State. The Consultative Assembly was 513 hardly representative, owing to the absence, as I have said, of the right wing leaders, and the proposals were accepted by only a narrow majority.
The Government at that time, which was the Government led by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, came to the conclusion that, in view of the narrowness of the majority and the composition of the Assembly, further steps should not be taken at that stage to implement the new Constitution. However, the noble Lord, Lord Winster—who I am glad is going to take part in this debate—told the Assembly at that time that if at any time there appeared to be genuine manifestations of public opinion in favour of the proposals, the British Government would take the necessary steps to enable this to be done. That Constitution remained open for six years, but no request came from local leaders in Cyprus for its implementation. I think that here is clear and unmistakable evidence that the late Labour Government and Her Majesty's present Government were both anxious to see a new Constitution implemented, but the Cypriot people had not become co-operative. I want to remind your Lordships that under that Constitution—if I may, I will describe it as the Winster Constitution—the future status of the island could not he discussed, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is quite wrong in thinking that if that Constitution had come into operation the Greek elected members of the Assembly would have been able to discuss Enosis. That was definitely ruled out of discussion.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I agree with the noble Earl. I did not say that the Greek elected members would be able to discuss Enosis. I was closely connected with that Constitution, and I know that they would not have been able to discuss it.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Earl, but I thought he said that they would have been able to discuss Enosis. At any rate, the one thing that is quite clear is that the late Government were no less anxious than the present Government in their desire to see a new Constitution implemented. However, the new Constitution which we hope will come into being on this occasion contains no such reservation about Enosis, and any subject could come up for discussion at any time in this far 514 more liberal Constitution. Here let me say that I do not honestly believe that the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, has ever bothered to read the White Paper which was issued by the Government on the question of Cyprus.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Then I am bound to say that, if the right reverend Prelate has read it, if he would exercise his intelligence in the right direction, he would observe that this is a far advanced liberal Constitution; it is common in many territories throughout the British Commonwealth, and is working extremely well in many of them.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
May I interrupt again to point out that what I said was that the two letter; of Archbishop Makarios and Sir John Harding showed that they were at cross-purposes, and the heart of the matter wad not really dealt with in an adequate way by Sir John Harding.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am coming to the speech of the right reverend Prelate at a later stage, and I will leave my further comments until then. In July, 1954, we announced our intention to introduce a modified Constitution. It had been impossible to make progress when a wave of terror began in April of that year. In September last, as your Lordships will remember, the Foreign Secretary called a Tripartite Conference together in London and laid before them the text of the Government's proposals. I do not agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who said that he thought this Tripartite Conference was a remarkable blunder. There was every reason to believe that it might have been a remarkable success, and, in any event, in the difficulties which were facing us at that time it was well worth trying to see whether agreement could be obtained. There was this meeting in London. The House may recall that important proposals were put to that Conference—namely, for the introduction of a new and liberal Constitution, leading to the fullest measure of self-government which was compatible with the strategic requirements of the present international situation.
515 It is well that the House should be reminded of what has occurred during the last ten years while successive Governments have endeavoured to introduce representative government for all the people of Cyprus. We have made strenuous efforts and great concessions to that end, but so far we have not met with much success. In October last year, the present Governor, Sir John Harding, in exploratory talks with the Archbishop and other Cypriot leaders, attempted to reach some political settlement which would offer prospects of substantial constitutional advance. All the correspondence which took place between the Archbishop and the Governor has been published in the White Paper.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to the first section of that Paper which states the Government's policy on both the short-term and the long-term aspects. That statement was in due course explained to, and discussed with, the Archbishop and with the leaders of the Turkish community, who, as my noble friend Lord De L'Isle has said, must always be considered in any question dealing with Cyprus. The Archbishop informed the Governor that he was not prepared to associate himself with the statement, but that he was prepared, on certain conditions, to co-operate in framing a Constitution. These conditions concerned the form of the Constitution, and the amnesty. That in itself marks a vast improvement and a step forward towards final agreement, because the need to establish self-government was recognised on every side, and the principle of self-determination was therefore no longer a stumbling block. Discussions on the outstanding questions continued, and it soon became clear that the reservation of public security to the Governor for as long as he thought necessary, and the question of a Greek-elected majority and the amnesty, were matters requiring further clarification.
In an all-out effort to try to reach a final settlement, my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary decided to visit Cyprus himself. He saw the Archbishop and told him of certain undertakings which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to give if the Archbishop would co-operate in framing a Constitution and would encourage his fellow-countrymen to do the same. He also 516 asked the Archbishop to make an appeal for the cessation of violence, and to use all his influence for the restoration of law and order. The undertakings which my right honourable friend offered were that there would be an amnesty for all those convicted under the Emergency Regulations, except cases involving violence against the person or the illegal possession of arms, which would in any event come up for review in accordance with the normal rules. The release of detainees would begin at the same time as the amnesty, and all Emergency Regulations would be repealed at a pace commensurate with the re-establishment of law and order.
My right honourable friend further elaborated the Governor's letter of February 14, and he told the Archbishop that we would send a Constitutional Commissioner to Cyprus to frame a Constitution in agreement with representatives of all sections of the population. Foreign affairs and defence, however, would be reserved subjects, and so would public security for as long as the Governor thought necessary. The House will observe at once that at that time foreign affairs and defence were no difficulty whatever: it was agreed by everyone that they should be a reserved subject and under the control of Her Majesty's Government. The control of Departments was to be handed over to Cypriot Ministers who were to be responsible to a Legislative Assembly, and the transfer was to take place as soon as possible. The Constitution was to provide for an elected majority, in which the interests of all the races would be safeguarded.
After prolonged discussion, the Archbishop was still not prepared to accept the Colonial Secretary's statement, and in particular he emphasised that he would not agree to the exclusion from the amnesty of those who had been convicted of carrying arms or the reservation of public security for as long as the Governor thought necessary. The Archbishop also insisted that the composition of the elected majority should be defined to his satisfaction and in advance of the recommendations of the Constitutional Commissioner. Those were the three points upon which agreement could not be reached. They have now become the subject of criticism not only from the Opposition, who maintain that it ought to have been possible to reach agreement, but also from the right 517 reverend Prelate. Indeed, it has been said—and here I quote from the Daily Telegraph of March 12, when Mr. Gaitskell is reported to have said:that the points at issue are much less important than those already agreed, and that they could have been bridged with a little more patience.The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said more or less the same thing this afternoon: that the three subjects were of much less importance. How ridiculous is that suggestion! For a period of five months Her Majesty's Government and the Governor exercised unlimited patience, but whenever agreement appeared to be in sight the Archbishop invariably produced other points which had not hitherto been raised.
Let me deal with them. First of all, let me deal with the amnesty. It had been agreed that, when law and order had been established, an amnesty would be granted to all those who had been convicted of offences under the Emergency Regulations, except those involving violence or incitement to violence or the illegal possession of arms, ammunition and explosives. Sentences for those crimes would come up for review, as I have told your Lordships, under the normal rules. During the discussions with the Archbishop, my right honourable friend, in the hope of reaching agreement, agreed to delete incitement to violence and violence not against the person from the exceptions; but the Archbishop was not satisfied with this proposal. He appeared to believe, this great Churchman, this great Christian, that carrying arms, ammunition or explosives was a harmless occupation and ought, therefore, to be removed from the exceptions.
I venture to think, without fear of contradiction, that every normally minded person in this country would agree that no responsible Government could conceivably agree to give way there. Surely, any person found carrying arms could only have the intention of endangering life or committing murder and assassination. As we all know, security of life has always been an essential ingredient for every community and the first responsibility of all good Governments. To have conceded that point—I think the Opposition, in pressing this, are a little weak in their arguments—would have meant that anyone determined to commit murder to suit his political ends but, fortunately, 518 detected before doing so, would be able to claim the benefit of the amnesty. Surely, to-day, as in years past, the intention to commit murder is one of the most serious crimes known to civilised people. It is impossible to understand the attitude of mind of any man, let alone a Church leader, who thinks along other lines. In reply to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who raised that specific point, let me say at once that we could not and should not be prepared to concede that point.
Secondly, my right honourable friend confirmed what the Governor had already made clear: that he was prepared to repeal all Emergency Regulations at a pace commensurate with the re-establishment of law and order. It must, I think, be clear to everyone that a period of instability might in all probability have followed the cessation of the Emergency, and to abandon the control of internal security might not, indeed would not, be feasible without a serious risk of a further loss of life. Her Majesty's Government's faith in the Cypriot people was so strong that they were prepared to hand over to Cypriot Ministries full control of all Government Departments other than pub-lie security and with the exception of defence and foreign affairs. That is not a limited form of self-government. I wish the right reverend Prelate would believe that that is a very advanced form of self-government for people who have never governed themselves before.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
May I ask the noble Earl to address himself to the basic points which remain unclear, as set out in Archbishop Makarios's letter of February 25, 1956, especially regarding representation in the Assembly?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am coming to that. If the right reverend Prelate will wait, I will deal with all these points. It had always been our intention—and the Archbishop was yell aware of it—eventually to transfer public security to local Ministers, but it was not possible to lay down in advance the time and date when the transfer should be made.
I now turn to the third point, namely, the composition of the elected majority, which was raised by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and also by the right reverend Prelate. We had proposed the appointment of a Constitutional Commissioner 519 to determine the composition of the Legislative Assembly, whilst at the same time safeguarding the interests of all sections of the community. The Archbishop declined to accept what is quite a normal constitutional procedure and demanded instead that the composition of the elected majority should be defined to his satisfaction and before the Constitutional Commissioner even began his inquiry. The noble Earl who introduced the Motion asked me whether there was to be in this Legislative Assembly a majority of Greeks. The Archbishop was told, and indeed it is mentioned in the Governor's letter, that the Constitution would provide for an Assembly with an elected majority. That also affirmed what the Secretary of State told the Archbishop in person on February 29. The Archbishop, on the other hand, was not told whether or not there would be any nominated members, but he was clearly told—and, so far as we know, he fully understood—that there would in fact be an elected majority.
§ EARL ATTLEE
On that point, is it not clear that it would have been possible then to have a majority of elected persons but an actual majority in the Chamber of the minority representatives with the nominated members which would have meant, in effect, no guarantee that the majority people in the island would have had a majority? Surely that is a clear point. What I would ask the noble Earl is: on what principle was the Commissioner to act? He would have to have some instructions. Surely that is a political act and not a judicial act.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
As I understand it, if the noble Earl will read Sir John Harding's letter of February 14 (which no doubt he has) he will there see under paragraph 2 (c):The constitution would provide for an Assembly with an elected majority".and there was to be, as I clearly understand it, an elected majority in the Legislative Assembly, quite apart from any nominated members. In other words, the nominated members could not sway the result either one way or the other.
§ EARL ATTLEE
I am not quite clear on that point. Does the noble Earl mean that there would be representation of majorities and minorities or that it would 520 be impossible for minorities plus nominees to have a majority? We have seen that happen in other Constitutions. I think the Archbishop probably was not clear. I am not clear.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
It is clear that the Archbishop was told that there would be an Assembly with an elected majority, and that is, in fact, precisely what my right honourable friend told the Archbishop as well. He has been told in all this correspondence published throughout this White Paper that there would be an Assembly with an elected majority. But to agree with the Archbishop that the elected majority should be defined to his satisfaction, and before—I am coming back to the matter in a moment—the Constitutional Commissioner had visited the island, would have made the purposes of the inquiry a complete and utter farce, quite apart from the fact that the Turkish community had also to be considered. The purpose of sending this Constitutional Commissioner out there was that he might well decide that it would be a good thing if they had two Legislative Chambers. He might, on the other hand, have wanted certain Bills reserved to the Governor or he might have wanted certain Bills to have a majority of both Greek and other reprecentatives in order that they might be carried into law. I should have thought it was very much better to let the Constitutional Commissioner visit the island and discuss these matters with the Greek and Turkish communities in the island.
May I pass from that matter to deal with the other problem which was also mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Some people—he did not say so, nor do I—may well have asked why Her Majesty's Government ever authorised the Governor to enter into negotiations with the Archbishop when there was every reason to believe that he was personally implicated in acts of terrorism. As Sir John Harding has stated now, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the Archbishop was so committed to the use of violence for his own political ends that he could not, or would not, abandon it. Is it not pertinent to ask whether the Archbishop ever really attempted to extinguish the blaze of assassination and murder? Indeed, did he not really seek to pitch further fuel on to the fire?
However, under the curious position which prevails in Cyprus, the Archbishop 521 was the traditional leader of toe Greek community there; he was their spiritual leader as well. As the noble Earl said in his introductory remarks, he was the only single personality with whom we could deal. This being so, and because it was our earnest desire to reach a lasting settlement, we were prepared to enter into negotiations and go to great lengths to achieve a final and permanent agreement. During all these discussions Her Majesty's Government have made many concessions. The Archbishop has not been, as has been suggested in some quarters, the only person to give way. I have discussed at some length the three outstanding points upon which it was impossible to reach an agreement, and I believe those points were so important for orderly government that no further concessions could be made; and there then was no alternative but to break off negotiations.
Here let me turn to one or two observations which were made by the most reverend Primate this afternoon. I am surprised that the Eastern Church should have thought that the action of Her Majesty's Government was (to use the most reverend Primate's words) "sacrilegious and barbaric."
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Not my words; I was quoting from the telegram from the Archbishop of Athens and the Patriarch.
§ THE EARL on MUNSTER
I agree they were not the most reverend Primate's words; he was quoting them. But we have no desire whatsoever to stifle the Church. All we wanted to do was to stifle the terrorism which was reigning in the island. I should have thought, frankly, that if these great Church leaders of the Eastern Church would read the White Paper to-day they would see that there was every reason why Her Majesty's Government should have taken the action they did. There was, in fact, no attack whatever on the Church in Cyprus or on any other Church throughout the world.
I was very glad to know that the most reverend Primate had communicated privately with Archbishop Makarios about the outbreak of violence in Cypris, but the reply which the most reverend Primate summarised in his speech to your Lordships this afternoon is surely complete and ample evidence that Archbishop Makarios did condone all acts of violence 522 and terrorism. For the political and spiritual leader of the Greek Cypriots to say that his appeal would meet with no response really puts the Archbishop in his true light.
I was also asked whether there would be any chance of introducing a Constitution now and whether, if one were introduced, we should contemplate and consider allowing Archbishop Makarios to return to Cyprus.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
No, I was referring only to the latter part of the most reverend Primate's suggestion.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My suggestion was not that Constitution should be introduced but that a Constitution should be drafted. There is a great deal of difference between the two.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I am sorry to intervene again, but may I repeat my suggestions? The first was that a Constitution should be drafted; there would then be something about which to start negotiations. My second suggestion was that the Archbishop should not return until law and order had been restored, but that as soon as that was restored he might return and negotiations might begin.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Yes; I quite understand the most reverend Primate's views. But one thing is essential: co-operation is desirable if a Constitution is to be introduced at all, and at the moment it is quite clear that there would be no co-operation in the island. As regards the other point, I can give no assurance whatever that Archbishop Makarios would be allowed to return to Cyprus, even in the event of the cessation of violence. However, I will communicate the most reverend Primate's views to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for his consideration, though I am bound to admit that at the present moment I see no possibility whatever of meeting the most reverend Primate's request.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
May I ask the noble Earl whether he would suggest some other way of getting the reconciliation process going?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am coming to that in a few moments.
As your Lordships are aware, Archbishop Makarios and the Bishop of Kyrenia, and two others, were deported from the island last Friday. Her Majesty's Government and Sir John Harding were forced to the conclusion that their deportation was absolutely essential. We had, and we still have, no desire whatsoever to impose restrictions on freedom of movement by deportation further than public security requires; but to leave the Archbishop and the three others who were deported with him roaming the island at large and being able, as they would have done, to condone further acts of violence and terrorism would merely have added still further to our difficulties. As my noble friend Lord Swinton pointed out, the deportations in 1931 were accepted without a word. They were approved by everyone, and I can see very little difference between the deportations to-day and the deportations at the time of which the noble Earl was talking. We are all now aware, every one of us—even, I think, the most reverend Primate—that from first to last the Archbishop's motives were shrouded, until they were uncovered, in a haze of gross insincerity in all his dealings. Neither we nor any British individual have at any time had any craving for revenge. Her Majesty's Government have only an irresistible desire, which has been shown throughout all these discussions between the Governor and the Archbishop, to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.
My Lords, the question has been asked: Where do we go from here? Is there any hope of reconciliation? The future is by no means certain. We have not slammed the door. We have our hopes that, through the restoration of law and order, and of the freedom of thought and expression, others may come forward to bring about the formation of a new and liberal Constitution. I do not believe, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, that power will pass to irresponsible elements; nor do I believe as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that power will pass to 524 the extremists. I think we may well see other people coming forward who up to date, through fear of the terrorism which was reigning in the island, were not prepared to co-operate with the Governor or with Her Majesty's Government. We shall continue to use all our efforts to reconcile conflicting interests, and I hope that these efforts may ultimately achieve success. But there can be no rapid road to reconciliation.
I pass now to deal just for one moment with the observations which were made by the right reverend Prelate who told your Lordships that he was the honorary President of the World Council of Churches. I am bound to admit that I do not think the right reverend Prelate could have been speaking this afternoon for anyone but himself. The views which he expressed were so different from any that I have heard—they were certainly not re-echoed by any noble Lord who spoke to-day; nor, indeed, were they echoed in any speech which I heard in another place last night. I hope that when the right reverend Prelate reads his remarks tomorrow he will realise the disastrous consequences that utterances like that may well have at a very difficult time.
My Lords, I am afraid I did not hear all the remarks made by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester but since he has been denounced in such unbridled terms by the noble Earl I would say that, to my certain knowledge, there is no man in this House who commands a wider respect in this country and abroad.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
That seems to be a very unnecessary intervention because I cordially agree with the noble Lord.
Let me conclude by saying that all noble Lords, on whichever side of the House they sit, will wish to pay their tribute to all the security forces, the permanent officials and the Governor for the restraint and the patience, for the courage and gallantry, they are showing in these difficult and trying circumstances.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, before I go on to the main subject of my remarks I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to refer for one 525 moment to something which I have seen in a publication of the Fabian Colonial Bureau called Venture. I do so only out of a sense of fairness to those officers of the Colonial Service whom I saw doing their duty so admirably when I was in Cyprus. I should like also to say that I regularly read Venture, and have always found it most accurate and moderate in its remarks. On this occasion, however, it has slipped up. The passage that I wish to quote refers to the grant of financial aid towards the £38 million development programme, and it says:There is much to be done in improving communications, water supplies, irrigation, forestry, education and the social services. So much indeed is included in the programme, from trunk roads to technical schools and ports to social insurance, that the main impression is how much must have been neglected.My Lords, that statement is ignorant and ill-informed; it is grossly unfair to the officers of the Colonial Service who have done their duty admirably and have given of their best to Cyprus; and, of course, it is "jam" to those who carry on propaganda against us, especially the Greek newspapers in Cyprus which are never tired of referring to us as oppressors of an enslaved people, whose faces we grind from morning to night. On that account I felt justified in venturing those remarks in regard to that passage.
May I go on to say how deeply interested I was in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. I am acquainted with the history of the island, especially since 1931, and I know that the noble Earl was a good friend to the island of Cyprus and did a great deal for its Administration. I am not entirely sure about the feeling in the country to-day on Enosis. Certainly, in my time—and here I entirely agree with the noble Earl—it was not a matter of great concern to the majority of the population who lived on the land. I have always found that the peasant is the same man whether he is working in my native Westmorland or in Cyprus. His outlook is the same: all he wants is to get on with his work and earn a good living; he is not vastly interested in political questions. But that was a long time ago. Since then these people have been subjected to an intensive propaganda coming out from the towns.
May I remind your Lordships that, at the time when I was in Cyprus, and for 526 some time thereafter, the Government had absolutely no means whatever of replying to that propaganda? There was one small English newspaper, which certainly was not in any way an instrument of the Government; but there were something like forty-seven Greek newspapers which were daily pouring out stuff the nature of which I have just mentioned; and the Archbishop had, of course, got his pulpit and his priests in each one of the 620 villages in Cyprus. To all that intensive propaganda the Government had no means whatsoever of replying, and se it may be that the feelings of the countryside are not quite as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and I remember them. One other thing the noble Earl mentioned which I should like to confirm concerns the Dodecanese Islands. After Greece assumed sovereignty over those islands, there was a distinct and severe economic recession—there was no doubt whatsoever about that.
If I may now refer for one moment to the speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down, I thought it was a characteristic, hard-hitting speech, in which, if he will allow me to say so, he made the best of what I. regard as a rather poor case—but then, of course, in the view of the noble Earl I am hot what he described as a "normally minded person". I must admit that. I should like, with his permission, to check his speech tomorrow against my papers: I am not quite sure that he was entirely accurate in describing the events of 1947. But even if he was not entirely accurate, I have no quarrel with the main substance of Hs remarks, it was the case that the Constituent Assembly which I endeavoured to assemble was permitted by its terms of reference to discuss only a Constitution or the drafting of a Constitution; its terms of reference did not permit it to go outside that sphere. A movement started in favour of discussing not self-determination but self-government, but the Colonial Office decided that they could not go so far as that and that the Assembly must confine itself to its terms of reference; and on that the Assembly broke up.
My Lords, in all that is being said about Cyprus to-day I think there is only one thing which is not in dispute, and that is that the Government, whether through their own fault or not, have got into a real mess in Cyprus. They appear to me 527 to have marched into a cul-de-sac and are now engaged in knocking their head against the wall at the end of the cul-de-sac. Having rolled the stone, as it seems to me, very nearly to the top of the mountain—I think it is fair to say that they had got it nearly to the top of the mountain—they then let it slip and roll down again to the bottom. All has to be done again, and it seems clear to me that the Government have no idea, or very little idea, of how to begin again. I have read and re-read the debates on the subject and the White Paper, but I am still not entirely clear as to why the breakdown occurred. There are still points of obscurity which I feel have not yet been fully explained; but, as I say, I confess to being not a normally minded person—they are probably beyond me.
The Government say that it became impossible to negotiate with the Archbishop because of his proved bad faith and complicity in terrorism. I say this with some trepidation, but I feel that it would be a good thing if the factual evidence on which the Governor's statement was based could be assembled and published, possibly in a White Paper. In my view, much of the evidence was certainly circumstantial. I say that in no way to cast any doubt or criticism upon what the Governor has said, but because this matter has now assumed such international proportions that I feel that a factual statement of the evidence would be a good thing. According to the Governor's statement, which is backed by the Prime Minister and by the Colonial Secretary, we have known all the time we have been negotiating, and for even longer than that, about the Archbishop's character. I knew something about it myself; we have really known about the Archbishop's character for many years. Why the sudden change in attitude towards him? Character really cannot be made a condition of negotiating. Even that great Christian, Mr. Gladstone, had some dealings with Parnell.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Could the noble Lord tell us what he knew about the Archbishop's character?
§ LORD WINSTER
I should be happy to tell the noble Marquess. I will only say that we knew that possibly he was, shall I say, rather a "slippery customer."
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps the noble Lord will submit that to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, the Bishop of Chichester is Bishop of my diocese so I am rather careful what I say. But why the sudden change? Mr. Gladstone had dealings with Parnell; Mr. Neville Chamberlain had dealings with Hitler, and he can never have been in any doubt about Hitler's character; Sir Winston Churchill had dealings with Stalin, and I do not think he can have been under any illusion as to what kind of man Stalin was: and Earl Lloyd-George and Conservative leaders had dealings with the leaders of Sinn Fein. So that to say that character must be a condition of negotiation will not bear historical analysis. I really do not know why we suddenly got so squeamish over the Archbishop. I am not saying that there was not enough to be squeamish over, but we had overcome it for some five months, and then suddenly these feelings surged up. The Archbishop represented someone who could be dealt with on this question and I agree with the letter in the Daily Telegraph which said:To treat a man one day with the utmost respect as an ecclesiastical dignitary and the leader of a national movement and the next to hustle him away tinder guard to exile is hardly calculated to inspire confidence in British diplomacy.It seems to me that for a long time there has been an absence of common sense—I will not say of normality—in our actions generally regarding Cyprus. There has been much neglect, many downright mistakes and many crass stupidities. In consequence, the problem has become so bedevilled that it would puzzle anyone to know how, at this juncture, we are to begin again. But a new beginning has to be made, and Her Majesty's Government have to find someone to negotiate with or else they have no hope of settling the question. With the Archbishop out of the Island and in exile, a great many Greek patriots who are still indifferent to the subject of Enosis will feel very deeply and bitterly about the deportation of their Archbishop. That is my conviction; and it is really no good for the Government to say, paraphrasing Browning:Makarios is in the Seychelles,All's right with the world,529 and leave it at that, with no future plans. We are entitled to be told that there are plans, and to know with whom the Government contemplates beginning to plan.
The noble Marquess, Lord Reacting, once rebuked me, in a most friendly way which aroused no hard feelings, for saying that I sometimes got the feeling that the Foreign Office begin to think about things only when they happen. Two things recently have rather borne out my point of view. It had been known for many months, if not longer, that General Glubb was likely to be dismissed. That was common knowledge. When the inevitable happened, the Prime Minister came down to the House of Commons and said he had nothing to say and no new policy to announce. Now we have this breakdown of negotiations in Cyprus, and one gets, from the White Paper and debates, a clear impression that this also was anticipated; and once again there are no plans to deal with the situation.
I spoke of mistakes and stupidities. The story has several times been told of the maladroit statements by the then Mr. Oliver Lyttelton as Colonial Secretary, and the then Mr. Hopkinson, who was Minister of State; and there was the London Tripartite Conference which, as The Times said, was a blunder, since the British Government had virtually no new proposals to make, so that it did more harm than good. I certainly thought that the proposal for a standing Tripartite Committee to be set up in Cyprus itself was a perfectly hopeless one. I believe the trouble goes even further hack. When the Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary he was in Athens, and my information is that he declined to discuss the question of Cyprus with Marshal Papagos, who was then Greek Prime Minister; and in one of the monthly magazines this month I see that in reusing to discuss the matter the Prime Minister said:There is not a Cyprus question and there never will be a Cyprus question.I wonder whether he thought of those words when he was making his speech yesterday. The question has been there ever since 1931. Surely the Prime Minister has heard of Government House being burnt down in 1931, which was pretty good evidence that there was such a thing as a Cyprus question. The writing has been on the wall for a very long time. There were three unofficial Greek-Cypriot 530 members of the Executive Council: first of all, Mr. Chryssafinis resigned; then a short time ago Sir Paul Pavlides resigned, and now, within the last day or two, the last of them, Mr. Clerides, has gone, so that the Executive Council now consists of the official members and one Turk. A Government speaker yesterday spoke of our Greek-Cypriot friends. Well, we have outworn the patience of those Greek-Cypriots who served us long and faithfully upon the Executive Council, as I have reason to know.
Until these last abortive negotiations began, I do not know precisely what has, been done since 1948. I think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, will not take it amiss if I say I had always hoped that at that time he would appoint a politician as. Governor of an island where a political issue of the first magnitude was quite clearly brewing up. I am sure there was a good reason why the noble Earl did not feel able to do that, but I hoped far it and always regretted that, for some reason, it was not, possible to do it, or it was not done. Instead, he left the Cyprus Colonial Secretary as Acting Governor for six months. I do not know whether he satisfied himself of that gentleman's capacity for carrying out a difficult task of political conciliation. When that Acting Coverner's time came to an end he was replaced by a colonial civil servant. Thought have never put myself out to hear anything or to get information from Cyprus, I have inevitably heard something from the island. The impression left on my mind is that during an interregnum of six years little has been done in the sphere of what I will call political conciliation. A Times leader said yesterday:The Labour Party … must bear the blame of having left the Cyprus question lying fallow during the quiet years.I equally regret these six years of lying fallow but it is only fair to say that the blame must be properly apportioned between Labour and Conservative Governments who have handled Cyprus since that date.
Now let us look at what Mr. Macmillan said on December 5 last, when he was Foreign Secretary. He saidThe only good settlement of the Cyprus problem will be a political settlement.That seems to me to confirm my view that a political Governor would have I been the right appointment for Cyprus 531 in the past. But, in spite of Mr. Macmillan's remark, the Government now seem to have converted a political problem into a military problem: at any rate, if all your Lordships do not look at it in that way I can assure you that that is how the Cypriots look at it. They view it in no other light. Indeed, to-day, since the breakdown in the negotiations, they suggest only a military settlement. Mr. Macmillan spoke ofthe accepted working rule to-day, the principle of self-determination.… We have accepted it in the Charter of the United Nations,but he watered that down by reference to the Austria State Treaty Bill, which, he said,takes away in perpetuity the right of six million people to self-determination.I think a Foreign Secretary, especially in these days, should know better than to talk of "treaties" and "perpetuity" in the same breath. The dusty pigeonholes of the Foreign Office are mute witnesses of the folly of associating "treaties" and "perpetuity." But challenged as to whether he meant self-determination "some time," or "not in the foreseeable future," he said, "Some time and under certain conditions"; and when further challenged as to the "conditions" Mr. Macmillan declined to define them. Then came this passage in that speech:We certainly shall not be the people to move the closure on discussions which might lead to co-operation instead of strife.But that is exactly what the Government have done: they have moved the closure. In their own words:The possibility of negotiation has ceased to exist.I have spoken about the London Conference. What followed that Conference? Following a change of Governors the new Governor came home for consultations with the Government. He came home several times, but the last time he came home he gave a television interview before he returned to his post. In what the Governor was reported to have said—I have only a newspaper report of it—I found no reflection whatsoever of Mr. Macmillan's references to self-determination, vague and half-hearted as those references had been. Instead the Governor stated at some length the 532 military case for not granting self-determination but for staying put. I do not think I am mistaken in my interpretation of the interview because I notice that a commentator in a Conservative newspaper wrote:I felt he had the soldier's rather than the politician's outlook"—this at a moment when what was needed above everything was the politician's outlook upon the problem. It is quite possible, at the same time to feel the highest respect and admiration for Sir John Harding's qualities and character. His handling of these negotiations, though they have been abortive, has been a great tribute to his qualities. Nevertheless, it is fair to ask whether, at this juncture in the disturbed state of the island, a Governor can wear two hats and can switch suddenly from responsibility for political negotiations to responsibility for repressing terrorism.
So self-determination appears to have vanished, and the Prime Minister in his speech yesterday said:We must safeguard the strategic needs of our country and of our allies. Neither N.A.T.O. obligations nor the Tripartite declaration nor the Baghdad Pact can be carried out unless we have the sure and unfettered use of Cyprus.Your Lordships will note those last words—the "sure and unfettered use of Cyprus." What has become of the self-determination of the 5th December in all this? I remember reading of an epitaph over an infant's grave which ran as follows:Since doomed to be so early done for I wonder what I was begun for?Having muttered "self-determination," the Government seems to have repented of its temerity, to have emptied the baby out of the bath with the bath water and to have come down on the side of staying put. The White Paper dismisses self-determination as "not now a practicable proposition." Then why have brought it up in December? Why have taken the step of mentioning self-determination in December if by the middle of March it is no longer a practicable proposition? What hope can there be for self-determination when it is to be contingent on British strategic interests, upon British oil interests, upon allied strategic interests and upon treaties to which Britain is a party? Where does self-determination 533 nose in amongst this series of contingencies? It seems to me that such reservations are designed to give the Government every possible "out" in any possible circumstances where self-determination for Cyprus is not deemed to be present. I see that the White Paper quotes Archbishop Makarios as saying that self-determination had been:made dependent on conditions so general and vague, subject to so many interpretations and presenting so many difficulties as to the objective ascertainment of their fulfillment as to create reasonable doubt as to the positive nature of the promises.I am bound to say that I agree. I think those remarks of the Archbishop were fully justified. Why waste time talking about self-determination when it is hedged round in such a fashion?
My Lords, it was an ambiguous statement of this nature which the Government told the Archbishop "admitted of no alteration or change," and I am hound to say that I think the letter addressed to the Archbishop really had a ring of "Unconditional surrender" about it. He was to make a statement in terms dictated to him which admitted of no change. There was nothing snore to be said. The door was closed to further discussion and he was to sign on the dotted line and without delay. Surely that is very unusual language to address to the man with whom you have been negotiating over five months on terms of equality—I should mention that it was before the breakdown had occurred that he was addressed in those terms. Nevertheless, the Archbishop agreed to co-operate in framing a Constitution "providing it shall be genuine self-government"—he did not say "genuine self-determination" but "genuine self-government". As I understand it, either before or after the breakdown he had stated his willingness to discuss the terms of a Constitution with a Constitutional Commissioner who was to be sent out from this country.
So far all we have been told about the breakdown is that it occurred on three points which the Archbishop considered were, in accordance with our own words, "a wider measure of self-government". He considered that they fell within that framework. The Archbishop wanted an amnesty. He wanted a Greek-Cypriot majority in the Assembly, which would, of course, be in accordance with the proportional composition of the population, 534 and he wanted security to be in the hands of a Cypriot Government when established. My view on this matter is a purely personal view—perhaps I should have explained before that I am speaking in no Party sense or terms, but only out of my great desire to get a peaceful and a good settlement in Cyprus. Nothing else weighs with me for one moment in discussing this problem. My own feeling is that if we could get a firm and satisfactory settlement—really firm and really satisfactory; not something agreed for the sake of getting agreement—I think we should agree about amnesty. After all, these were political crimes. Historically, political crimes have always been treated on a different footing from civil crimes. These were political crimes such as have been amnestied elsewhere. If those of our men who have been killed in this horrible fashion could be asked whether they would want a settlement to be missed because of insistence upon retribution for their deaths, what would be their reply? They would say: "Never mind; go ahead and get your settlement."
Then about this Greek-Cypriot majority in the Assembly, I cannot imagine there being anything but a Greek-Cypriot majority in the Assembly if and when it is set up. I cannot conceive that we intended otherwise in view of the ethnologic figures for the island. I do not see how there could be an honest-to-God Cypriot Government unless the Greek-Cypriots were in a majority. On security, again I would say, "Not yet", owing to the present state of the island and with recent events so much in our minds. But possibly some purely civilian departments of security could be handed over at once to a new Cypriot Government. I am bound to say that I think the decision as to when all security could be handed over ought not to be entirely at the discretion of the Governor: he is an interested party. Also, I think it would have been wise to accept the Archbishop's offer to discuss with a Constitutional Commissioner. It would have kept him in play, instead of breaking the line—if not, indeed, breaking the rod. And between them some suitable and effective compromise might have been found on the Archbishop's three points.
The Times leader to which reference has been made to-day recites the reasons for our retaining Cyprus and includes the necessity for protecting our oil interests 535 in order to preserve our standard of living. Our enemies will certainly pounce upon that as an example par excellence of "colonialism." I would utter a word of caution on the subject of Turkey. This same leader speaks of practical certainty that a settlement in Cyprus will be violently resisted by the Turks and dismisses union with Greece "in the teeth of Turkish opposition" as impracticable. We have heard something on the same lines to-day. There is not time to discuss the Turkish case in detail, but I would utter a word of caution against believing that the Turkish Government will push the Turkish case to extremes. I think it is arguable that the Turks have been used rather recklessly as an argument in favour of our "staying put" in the island. I think that question cannot be taken for granted quite so easily and that it deserves very careful consideration.
THE MARQUFSS OF READING
My Lords, will the noble Lord forgive me for putting this point to him? Has he studied any of the statements that have been made by the Turkish Government—not statements made by us on behalf of the Turkish Government, but statements made by the Turkish Government themselves?
§ LORD WINSTER
I have read those statements, and I have also read the opinion of a highly qualified expert on Turkish matters, to the effect that we must not assume too readily that the Turkish Government will push the Turkish case to extremes.
In conclusion, I ask: what of the future? Nothing constructive emerged from yesterday's debate on the part of the Government. Terrorism is to be stamped out. The Colonial Secretary said very grandiloquently: "We have the resolution and the force". That is a magnificent phrase. Certainly we have the force. We have poured 14,000 troops into an island of 500.000 people, 100,000 of whom are entirely friendly to us. But to stamp out terrorism in Cyprus is not a policy but an operation. It is not a policy. We really cannot hand this matter over to the "Captain Waterhouses" of this world to settle. We shall not settle the real problem that way. The Governor said sonie time ago that the net was 536 closing round the terrorists. That statement reminded me of Mr. Malcolm Macdonald in Malaya. He used to say almost every month that the end was in sight, that victory was just over the hills, and so on. Statements about Kenya on rather the same lies were made. I do not know about the net. What I do know is that you have let the Djinn out of the bottle and you will have a job to get him back into the bottle.
I wonder whether this Government can achieve a settlement. I doubt if it really can take the steps necessary to make a fresh start in Cyprus with any hopes of success. To do that would involve the Conservative Government in "eating" so many words. And, after all, the Government cannot be expected to establish a shuttle service of frigates between the Seychelles and Cyprus playing a game of "In again, out again," with the Archbishop. Considering all that has been said, especially in these recent debates, I find it difficult to believe that the Government will find themselves able to make a new start and effect a settlement. And in all seriousness I am bound to conclude by saying that I feel it quite possible that a change of Government may be necessary before a final settlement is arrived at in Cyprus.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, at this somewhat late hour a conscientious Peer must necessarily ask himself: Why make a speech at all? And great numbers of his noble colleagues will undoubtedly re-echo the word "Why?" I would, I confess, have scratched my entry for this race but for two speeches that have been made in this debate. Those were the speech to which we have just listened and the speech of the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester. Perhaps I may say that I have the greatest regard for the right reverend Prelate because he is, in fact, my right reverend Father in God. I live in his constituency and his business is to point my unworthy soul ever upwards—a task he wisely delegates to a Suffragan. On the other hand, I have a great desire to point the reverend Prelate ever upwards in the political sphere. The Christian Church has two parts, the clergy and the laity. We always dutifully take the lead from the clergy in matters of faith and morals. I wish that the 537 Bishops would sometimes take the lead from the laity in matters of politics.
I have begun on a slightly humorous note at this late hour, but that is not to say that my feelings about this subject are other than deeply serious. The thing which I feel it my duty to emphasise is simply this. I have never been slow to criticise the Government of my own Party when I thought it wrong, but on this occasion I think the only necessary thing, the abundantly necessary thing, for a patriotic Englishman and an unworthy Churchman to say, is that I give the Government wholehearted support in the difficult situation which they are having to face at the present time. I do that not because I am insensitive in any way of the many considerations which have been eloquently urged on the other side, and not because I am not alive to the complexity and difficulty of the situation, but because the real moral and political truth—and I emphasise the morality of it no less than the politics of it—is that the British Government, and through it the British people, have been most shamefully used by their friends, who owe them nothing but gratitude for services rendered in the past, while they were undertaking a difficult, delicate and dangerous responsibility for the people of the world—a responsibility which is, after all, far more important than purely local interests or parochial loyalties. That I believe to be the fundamental political and (if I may say to the right reverend Prelate) moral issue here, to which I am bound to say I was bitterly disappointed that he gave no adequate expression.
About Archbishop Makarios, I will say very little. It is not my business to criticise Archbishops. But I think that I can recognise enough about a political leader to appreciate one when I see him. We have heard read out to-day by the most reverend Primate some words from Makarios: they are closely similar to the words which he wrote to the Governor of Cyprus. A more damning indictment of a political leader I have never heard. We in this country have a tradition of moderate statesmanship. When a moderate statesman refuses to obey the unequivocal duty, I will not say of a Christian, but of an honourable man, to repel and repress the extremism of his own followers, then as a political leader he is utterly worthless. If I were talking 538 about him as an Archbishop, I would remind him that there was a Church of Laodicea, of which the Apostle John said that it blew hot and cold on the subject of morality, of murder and force, and was spewed out by the Apostle. I cannot help thinking that Archbishop Makarios would have been a suitable candidate for the diocese of Laodicea. When, in the place where he has gone, Archbishop Makarios reflects on the consequences of his action, it might occur to him that though, as I recognise, the long and unhappy story of the Greek Orthodox Church has put him in a position where he is equivocally placed as Ethnarch and Archbishop, in the last resort a Christian Bishop can serve only one Master. By speaking with two voices on this subject of murder and refusing to exercise his authority as an Archbishop, Makarios has been serving at least two.
I turn from Makarios to the Greeks. I hope that it will never he thought, in spite of what we have suffered in the past weeks from an irresponsible public opinion in Greece, that I am otherwise than implacably friendly, towards that country. Since I was nine years old I have drunk in the language and culture and literature of Hellas. There is nothing more built into my nature, apart from the Christian religion. There is nothing more deep than my loyalty to that culture, that literature and that people. Many a man has broken his heart by thinking that the modern Greeks are the lawful heirs of that culture, but I shall continue to think so. I think that the Cypriots are part of that culture—indeed I would respectfully have joined issue in one small respect even with the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, on that point. It is not simply, as the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester reminded us, that the Greek language was spoken in Cyprus when Ulysses sailed from Troy to Ithaca, although that is a fact, and has been spoken continuously since that time. When we say that Cyprus has never belonged to Greece, we are saying something which, although literally true, is substantially misleading.
The Greek-speaking inhabitants of the Mediterranean, whether they are to be found in Alexandria, in Constantinople, in Cyprus or in Athens, or, until 1922, on the Eastern Coast of the Aegean Sea, 539 are in fact nothing more nor less than the legitimate descendants of the Greek Christian inhabitants of the Roman Empire. We are apt to forget in this country that the Roman Empire was predominantly Greek in language and culture for longer than it was Latin. For a thousand years it was Greek and Christian under its Basilius in Constantinople. These Greek inhabitants of the Aegean Islands through centuries of persecution have retained the love of their own political unity for which they feel deeply at all times. I hope that I have said enough to show that, whatever else I am, I am not insensitive to the feeling of the Cypriots about Greece. I believe that I have interpreted it correctly. If this were viewed as a long-term aspiration, as an ultimate political ideal, I should have no words of reproach or criticism to offer. Outside this feeling, to my mind, is the undoubted fact that, legitimate as nationalist aspirations may be, they are not the only aspirations in the world, and sometimes they have to take second place.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to whom I should like to join in paying tribute on the debate which he notably initiated, was responsible when he was Prime Minister for granting independence to India. Although opinions may differ about details, there was not a single Englishman of any political persuasion who did not rejoice at that time, if not for anything else, at least for the testimony that was paid to British good faith in dealing with India for over 150 years, promising it self-government, and giving it in the end. We gave independence to India, and we can rejoice. But we gave independence in 1947. We should not have been right to give it when it was no less urgently demanded, in 1942; and we should have been wrong in 1937 to make the same concession. On the contrary, I remember the labours of my noble friend Lord Templewood at that time, which brought self-government nearer but were not based upon an immediate grant. Self-government and self-determination, although perfectly legitimate demands in the abstract, must often take second place to things like the peace of the world.
What was wrong in pressing our strategic needs in 1942 against the legitimate nationalistic demands of India? We should have been betraying our trust as a great Power, as the champion of free- 540 dom and civilisation, if we had not done so, and if we had not resorted to measures of repression to do so. The fact that nationalistic aspirations may be legitimate does not entitle the Power which desires to encourage the irredentist movement to attack its friends with outrage and propaganda. We fought the last war because of what Herr Henlein did in Czechoslovakia, and what Hitler claimed to do because of the irredentist minority in Poland. When one saw on the television the other day the Greeks claiming that the British were equivalent to the Nazis, one wondered whether they had considered the Nazi policy of using an irredentist minority in another country where they did not enjoy sovereignty in order to advance political ambitions. We fought for that principle, and although one may treat our legal sovereignty, which is undoubted, as lightly as one chooses, it is none the less a fact. I must remind our friends that it is the fact that, politically speaking, you cannot disregard legal sovereignty if you want to keep the peace of the world.
When we move from the question of political aspirations in the abstract to the realities of the Cyprus situation, it is here that I part company both with the right reverend Prelate and with the noble Lord who has just sat down. What is really wanted of us in Cyprus? What is it that our American friends demand? What do they expect us to do? Do they want peace between Israel and Transjordan? How is that peace to be secured? Do they want us to remain a party to the Tripartite Declaration, as to what we should do if aggression takes place further away in the Middle East; or do they want us to repudiate our obligation there? If they want us to keep our pledges under the Tripartite Declaration, how can we get out of Cyprus now? How can we do other than hold our base securely, as the Foreign Secretary said? What is it that it is claimed we are doing wrong? Our duty Ito world peace is to remain in Cyprus at the present time. Are we, therefore, to be assailed as oppressors and tyrants, and to have our soldiers and policemen murdered? Cannot our Bishops speak out at least as boldly on these lines as they do when they are so anxious to explain that our Government are wrong? To me this is just as much a moral issue as a political issue.
541 I do not believe the British nation can afford to betray the peace of the world. If the Almighty has a part in human history, it is our destiny at the present time to try to ensure that peace, and to attack us and let us be vilified and attacked because we have done no more than try to do our duty as civilised and Christian men is to miss the whole morality and politics of a complex situation. I say this, with respect, to our American friends. "Mr. Facing Both Ways" does not get very far in this world. It is all very well to talk to this country as if we were the greatest friend of the United States. I am half American. My mother was an American: I love America, and I always shall. But when, in a situation such as this, I see them attacking my country, for no other reason than that it has sought to discharge the share of responsibility which it bears for the maintenance of security in the world, when the world situation is manifestly deteriorating, I am hound to say this to the Americans. I agree with the noble Earl who initiated this debate. We have got to pay a great deal of attention to public opinion these days; and I hope that I always shall pay great attention to the opinion of other countries. But there is a factor which other countries, essentially in the free world, have been rather apt to neglect in the last ten years; and that is British public opinion. The Americans must clearly understand that what we think of them is just as important as what they think of us; and they must clearly understand, too, that the demarche of their Ambassador in Athens has left a nasty taste in the mouths of many good friends of the United States which it will take many long years to wipe out, and something much more, and much less equivocal, than President Eisenhower's statement of yesterday.
I turn from America back to the subject that is being mainly debated to-day. I agree that in the course of long and legitimate negotiations it is always difficult to know the point at which it has become impossible to negotiate any longer. There is always a point, if the negotiations are going to break down, at which one asks: "If I had gone on another five minutes, could it have been better?" The guarantee, to my mind, quite apart from Party politics, that this has not happened here, is the known, 542 demonstrated patience of Her Majesty's Government in these particular negotiations. They have not hesitated to negotiate with Archbishop Makarios: I agree that they were right to do so. But there comes a point when one is bound to say to a political leader with whom one is negotiating: "Are you prepared to repress terrorism in your extremists, or are you going to allow them to continue?" The Archbishop did not agree to repress them, even after the seriousness and importance of it had been brought home to him again and again. It was therefore legitimate for Her Majesty's Government to break off negotiations and to treat him as a person upon whose word no reliance could be placed.
Of course, we have to think of the future. I do not believe that the atmosphere is such as to encourage an immediate resumption of negotiations, but I hope that that unhappy situation will not persist very long. The sooner that an atmosphere of security, an atmosphere wanting in the hysteria which has characterised the Greek attitude towards Britain, is re-established, the better it will be both for them and for us. In the meantime, though the Government cannot, I think, negotiate at the present time—I believe they have demonstrated that—I hope they will not cease to try and think oat some new formula, and to publish it, if they find it possible, difficult as it may be.
I myself was never quite certain whether the absolute insistence upon the word of sovereignty was well advised. It may have been, and I do not say that it was not; but I rather doubted it at the time. After all, what we want is control of the base and security in Cyprus. We do not want the word of sovereignty, as such, although we may be legally entitled. I remember Mr. Amery—for whose memory I entertain a deep affection—many years ago, in reviewing this very problem, suggesting a system of dual nationality so that both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots should be able to enjoy a kind of nationality with their parent country. I feel certain that if the defence and security and foreign policy of the island could be controlled firmly, as it will have to be, some kind of working arrangement could be made under which Cypriots of both religions and of both races could live peaceably together and determine their own future. The 543 present situation is not one which is particularly hopeful for that end. But I should certainly rejoice if Her Majesty's Government found it possible to initiate some new political idea or formula which stood a chance of success. In the meantime, I fear in a rather lengthy speech, I felt it only right to give the reasons which I had for supporting wholeheartedly the painful and desperate course which Her Majesty's Government have felt compelled to take.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
My Lords, the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, draws attention to the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East. May I say a few words about the Middle East? The situation there is certainly far from satisfactory, and it is due in no small degree to the fact that successive British Governments, including the noble Earl's Government, have not realised that, whatever other mistakes may be made in dealing with Orientals, there is one which we can never afford to make, and that is to be or appear to be—and that is much the same thing—weak. Orientals get the idea that under continuous pressure we shall always give way in the end. There are notorious and recent examples. There is the example of Abadan, as bad as it possibly could be in its management by the British Government; the example later on of another Government dealing with Egypt and the Sudan, and now the example of Cyprus. I venture to say that we must learn to be firm and, where it is necessary, learn to say "No" in no uncertain terms.
Egypt, which was a source of strength to us in the past, is now a great source of difficulty. We administered it extremely well, and it is partly because we missed an opportunity that we are suffering now. When the Neguib and Nasser coup was brought off not so long ago, that was a revolutionary Government, and we were bound by no sort of obligation to that Government. We should have taken advantage of that fact and put our affairs and our relations with Egypt on a different footing. There is only one thing respected in the East, and that is strength. There are good reasons for being strong in the Middle East—and not only strategical reasons, important though those are. With regard to the strategical 544 value both of Cyprus and our position in the Middle East, I would say let nobody think that the hydrogen bomb has made any sort of operation impossible. The hydrogen bomb is a deterrent which we must have, and which undoubtedly our opponents have; but it is only a deterrent, and it is only men—troops and the air force—who can deal with events on the ground, as we may have to do. That is the reason why we have to be strong in the Middle East and, under present conditions, strong in Cyprus.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, mentioned The Times leader about Cyprus, but I am not at all sure that that leader was not referring to the Middle East in general—I have not had time to refer to it—and not particularly to Cyprus. Undoubtedly, we must not think only about the strategic situation, but we must think about the supply of oil to this country—the vital supply of oil, I would call it. Again, as in other things, we must expect reasonable co-operation from the United States. But American oil interests are powerful, and they have not much sympathy for us in our desire to get any oil at all out of the Middle East. I think I may say that those American oil interests are definitely hostile to British interests. At any rate, no adequate support in that matter has been given to us by the American Government. I venture to repeat that the supply of oil to this country from the Middle East is an essential for this country, and is vitally affected by our Middle East policy.
Then there is the policy in Jordan. Apart from the Baghdad Pact, there is the recent and notorious case of General Glubb. Dismissal in the particular manner in which General Glubb was dismissed was in fact an affront to this country, as, indeed, it was described in another place by the Prime Minister. I agree that it is difficult to know what to do. To act strongly and to break entirely with King Hussein would be a mistake, and General Glubb himself urged that we should not, as he expressed it, "get tough" with Jordan. Possibly the right thing to do might be to point out that dismissal in such a manner was an affront, not only to General Glubb, but to this country, and that he should be restored to his position and be allowed to remain on leave until the due date for his retirement, which I 545 understand is not far distant. That would be a different matter entirely. Then it has to be recognised that feeling, against Israel is very strong in all the Arab States. We must reckon with this and expect, again, support from the United States of America in this matter, because they have always supported Israel, although they refused a mandate to administer that country and left it to us to undertake—reluctantly, I think.
Now to turn to Cyprus. In the first place, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Swinton, Cyprus has never belonged to Greece. By the Treaty of Lausanne, this former Turkish-owned island was ceded to this country, having been for many years occupied by us. Incidentally, Greece was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Lausanne. A large section of the Cyprus population—there has been some argument as to the proportion—is Turkish; and these Turks are not friendly to the Greeks and certainly would not wish to serve under them. Apart from all this, the strategic imporance of Cyprus is very great. It is closely adjacent to the Turkish coast—I think this point has not been brought out to-day—and the Turks take a great interest in the occupation of Cyprus. Moreover, its general importance to the Middle East is considerable and has been much increased since our evacuation of the Suez Canal. In this respect we should be able to count again on American support, instead of the ill-informed criticism which has taken place and the action of the American Ambassador in Athens.
Undoubtedly, the object has been to push us out, thinking that we should give way to pressure in the end. I believe that, in spite of the opinions both of the right reverend Prelates and of the Opposition, the Government, to the relief of the great majority of the population of our country, have resorted at last to action and have deported Makarios. The noble Earl who introduced this Motion was against deportation and against, so far as I gathered, strong measures. So was the noble Lord, Lord Winster. What they never said, and what the right reverend Prelates never said, is what they would suggest as a method of dealing with this matter.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Did the noble Lord say "Prelates" in the plural?—because I did suggest a method.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
I apologise to the most reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, but I did mean it in the plural.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
That is quite a different matter. Being ineffective is one thing, but to say that did not suggest a method is another thing.
§ LORD JEFFREYS
I apologise to the most reverend Primate. At any rate, it is certain that the noble Earl who introduced this Motion did not suggest any means of dealing with it. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, practically suggested giving Makarios all he wanted, but I hardly think that that is a course which would commend itself either to Her Majesty's Government or to the people of this country. As I say, I believe that the people of this country are relieved that at last the Government have taken action and have sent the Archbishop to another sphere where he can talk as much as he likes but will not have any influence. Many people are asking why he was not put out long ago. Although he is a nominally Christian Prelate, he has constantly incited to violence, and has not only not condemned but has encouraged murderous assault. The Governor's statement which was published was about as strong and convincing as any statement could possibly be.
In this connection, many of our own newspapers have been too mealy-mouthed and have refrained from even using the word "murder"; for murder it has been—Murder with a very big "M," Murder most foul. We ought to condemn it; we cannot condemn it too much. It is amazing to me that some of our newspapers and some of our people do not condemn it as murder ought to be condemned. I venture to say that any troops but British would not have stood what they have had to stand in Cyprus—often doing police duties unarmed against mobs armed not only with stones but with grenades. They have had to suffer terrible and considerable injuries. I do not think it is fair to ask them to go on doing this and to take no steps against the leaders of the other party.
547 Then there are youths and schoolboys who have used not only stones and other missiles but more dangerous weapons, such as hand grenades and firearms. I venture to suggest that the proper treatment of these youths and boys is to give them sound thrashings, which should be both painful and ignominious. It would do them a great deal of good and would have a considerable effect in stopping this campaign of stone-throwing and outrages by youths generally. Every possible step should be taken to stamp out the E.O.K.A. terrorism. It is time to talk about giving Constitutions and so forth when there is peace in the island and the people are law-abiding. It is absurd to talk about granting responsible government to people in the present condition and frame of mind of the Cypriots. There has been too much of such experimentation of late. What may be good for the people of Britain is by no means necessarily good for people of a more excitable nature, with less sense of responsibility or civilisation. I say it is most unfortunate that the United States, who know little or nothing about either the Middle East or Cyprus, should have taken up a positively hostile attitude as regards Cyprus.
Again, it is necessary and desirable to remind the Greeks that it was this country and not the United States which came to the rescue of Greece and saved it from Communism in 1944 and 1945. It is necessary that that should be remembered. They ought to be grateful for it. It is to be hoped that the Government will support the Governor of Cyprus in restoring law, order and safety before any other steps are taken, and that there will be no more discussions or any question of self-government for Cyprus until peace, quiet, and decent behaviour have been full restored.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, one of the curious features about finding oneself, through the luck of the draw, low down in the batting order is that one rises to find that most of the runs have already been scored. That being so, I find myself relieved of the obligation to say much about Cyprus. I would confine myself to one comment, and that is this. In all the negotiations that have taken place over these last few months in Cyprus, it 548 seems to me that up to now no Greek Cypriot leader and no Turkish Cypriot leader have yet met face to face over a table and talked about the future. Your Lordships may recall that, when the late Sir Stafford Cripps went to India in 1942, he sadly had to admit that he had gone 5,000 miles to meet the Indian leaders, and that the Indian leaders had not moved across the road to meet each other. All I am meaning to imply is that, if and when we reach the stage when the Constitutional Commissioner arrives to thresh out the Constitution, I trust that the talks will not be bilateral talks as between the Constitutional Commissioner and the Turk and Greek representatives, but that it will be a round table conference affair. If the round table conference principle is established at the beginning, there may be some hope. As I see it, it would be hopeless to proceed and then find that these leaders had not met each other, and that consequently months had been wasted and we should be faced with an entirely different situation.
With regard to the wider aspect of Middle East affairs, I find it fairly simple to differentiate between the situation in Jordan and the eternal riddle of the relationship between Arab and Jew. As regards policy for Jordan, when we learned of the treatment that had been meted out to General Glubb, the nature of that treatment was so conflicting with all one's ideas of Arab manners that I was one of those whose immediate reaction was that this was only the beginning and that in a few weeks' time all British officers would have disappeared from Jordan and we should then be faced with a quite new situation. It may be of assistance if I remind your Lordships of the purposes for which we conceived the Arab Legion. It was established in 1921. At that time, Jordan was a young and weak kingdom. There was the Wahabi raiding, there was the Bedouin raiding, and it was to give stability and strength to this young, inexperienced kingdom that the Arab Legion was conceived.
Time went on and it has grown and expanded. In 1941 it was used outside Jordan in connection with crushing the Raschid Ali rebellion in Iraq. It was used in the Syrian campaign. So there is a precedent for the use of the Arab Legion outside Jordan territory. Then, as we all remember, in 1948 it was the 549 spearhead of the Arab attack on Israel. Later on it came to be regarded as Jordan's sure shield against aggression. It is in that light that we have always viewed it: as a weapon against aggression. It is in that light, as I believe, that General Glubb conceived it: a weapon against aggression rather than the spearhead of the future Arab potential attack.
I have elaborated, as I see it, the rôle of the Arab Legion only to emphasise that apparently now, if it is used, it will be in an entirely different rôle from that which we originally conceived for it and, indeed, from that for which we have hitherto given a subsidy of £9 million. One's immediate reaction was that it would perhaps be folly to continue giving this subsidy: on the one hand we should be paying out of the British taxpayer's money a considerable sum; and on the other hand, under the tripartite guarantee British troops might conceivably have to he ordered to resist that Arab Legion which we were supporting. That was by no means a logical situation, and so the temptation was there to cash is on the Egyptian-Saudi Arabian proposals. One wonders how they would have liked to dole out some £9 million—or £12 million, if the economic aid is included. It is a lot of money, even for an Arab country such as Saudi Arabia; it is about one-tenth of their income from oil royalties. Even so, one knows that in any case oil wealth is no necessary guarantee for internal and economic stability when it comes to Saudi Arabia. So the temptation there was to cease paying out this money.
Then, having read General Glubb's extremely balanced and generous letter in The Times, I confess one had to modify one's views. Yet I do claim there is a difference between a policy of "getting tough," as General Glubb put it, and a normal right of merely asking the Jordanians that the money should be spent not in conflict with the principles in support of which we anticipated the Arab Legion would be employed. What I suggest is that in the Arab Legion we have a card in our hand and at the moment we should just retain that card; we do not play it. Apart from the subsidy there is another aspect of our relationship with Jordan. We have the 1948 Treaty and, as the noble Viscount, Lord De L'Isle, reminded us, we keep an armoured regiment on the Gulf of 550 Akabar; we keep there a squadron of the Air Force; we have two aerodromes at Amman and Mafrah. Presumably that is of some interest to those who have to plan under the terms of the Baghdad Pact. The question arises, therefore, whether we should not cut our losses entirely: perhaps move the aerodromes 150 miles only to the East where they would be on the more healthy territory of Iraq; perhaps abrogate the 1948 Treaty and therefore anticipate a move which we have always understood the Jordanians themselves were anxious to make; to end what might he termed a penny-packet kind of policy.
Yet, on reflection, I still come back to the conclusion that there is greaser wisdom in a slightly different approach. The days are gone, of course, when British officers will continue to command formations or units of Arabs. But as to the further consideration of the Treaty with Jordan, I suggest that the paramount consideration now is what exactly it is that Jordan wants—and that refers to a subsidy or anything else. A recent visit to Jordan made me certain of only one thing, and that was the uncertainty in Jordan's own mind. The Prime Minister is, as I see it, attempting to walk a tightrope of neutrality—a kind of projection of Indian neutralism into the Middle East. I wonder very much whether he can go on doing it. It seems to me that, sooner or later, Jordan will have to make up her mind on which side of the fence she sits; but that decision must come from within Jordan, without any prodding from us or anybody eise.
Now that means adopting a go-slow policy. It is not often that one finds oneself advocating a policy of "Wait and see," and yet I find that that is the right one in this particular case: a readiness either to abrogate the Treaty or to go on with it; either to send troops or to take them away, just as the Jordanian's require. To some extent I find that policy of waiting on events to be the right one to apply in the wider problem of Arab and Jew. I assure your Lordships that I put this in a spirit of inquiry, but I find myself always encountering the same problem as to the interpretation of the tripartite guarantee.
Now Her Majesty's Government have on many occasions recently reaffirmed their firm intention to stand by the 551 guarantee, and it has been reaffirmed, I think, by the noble Marquess this afternoon. Yet when I study this guarantee I find myself asking this question: Is any American dispensation really going to move against Israel? Is a British dispensation really going to move against the Arabs? They are awkward questions, and they may be embarrassing questions to ask; but with reality apparently round the corner the thinking citizen is bound to ask these questions. A situation that paradoxically I believe would suit us the best would be to find a kind of "mix-up" in which it was extremely difficult to determine who was the aggressor. From the political point of view that would be the easiest kind of situation to deal with, as I see it.
In view of all these difficulties I am wondering whether Her Majesty's Government have really set aside all prospect of international participation in the guarantee—only in the guarantee. Mr. Dulles, whose somewhat acrobatic handling sometimes of Middle East affairs leaves us a little bewildered, was quite right when, on February 24, he said that the State of Israel was a United Nations creation and to that I would add that, whether one agrees or disagrees with that creation—and I was one who at the time did not agree—one cannot see the United Nations, even in its more ineffective moods, permitting Israel to be swept into the sea.
The Foreign Secretary on January 24 seemed to play with the idea of international participation. He spoke of the prospect of some bodies of United Nations' derivation being introduced to keep the peace. Now the arguments against international participation are well known. If action were taken within the Security Council, it would be subject to the Soviet veto. Alternatively, if action such as not to merit the Soviet veto were taken, it could mean only the inclusion of perhaps forces from the Soviet bloc within the terms of the tripartite guarantee, which would effectively ensure international confusion added to a situation already fairly well saturated with trouble. If, in contrast, the United Nations push on without the Soviet bloc, the Soviet, it is said, would exploit their opportunities in the Middle East. I suggest that whatever we do or do not do will not make the slightest 552 difference to the Soviet or to their intentions. We have seen them, now perhaps trickling into the Sudan; they have already achieved a treaty of friendship and a trade agreement with the Yemen, which indicates that they do not much mind whether the nation of their choice is a young nation struggling to assimilate democracy, or perhaps a primitive feudal anachronism.
Your Lordships will recall that the Tripartite Declaration speaks ofpreventing the violation of frontiers within or outside the United Nations.When I was studying this matter I tried to discover exactly what was the advice that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had to give. It was not very helpful. He held a Press Conference recently, on February 27, on his return from his visit all round the Middle East. He made it clear that, so far as he was concerned, he did not want United Nations action to come from within. He was asked this straightforward question:Do you, in your opinion, consider the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 within the framework of the United Nations?I should just like to read an extract from his answer. He said:Is the system of regional pacts compatible with the United Nations Charter? On that point I have given one and the same reply every time.…I would not like to express here and now a personal opinion.… I note that a majority of the members of the United Nations consider it to be in conformity, and I find personally that the decisive factor is not primarily a legal one, but one concerning the aims and purposes, the guiding motives of these various arrangements. That is to say, I do not see any contradiction between a guarantee or a regional arrangement, to broaden it to that question, if the policy of that regional grouping or guarantee is compatible with the obligations of the member nations taking part in it under the United Nations Charter.My Lords, if we follow the legal implications we shall not be able to "see the wood for the trees"; but the reply of the Secretary-General seems to indicate, in broad terms, first, that initiative must come from the Tripartite Powers, and secondly, that if action outside the United Nations is taken by those Powers and it is in sympathy with the Charter then there is nothing to prevent such action from being taken. That being so, the number of Powers associated with the Tripartite guarantee could be increased, and such increase could be regarded as in the 553 interests of the maintenance of the principles of the United Nations Charter.
I have no doubt that practical physical assistance from outside is probably not practicable, but I suggest that there may he value in a formal form of moral support. Could not the three Powers canvass the United Nations members with a view to obtaining signatures to add to the Tripartite guarantee—to this effect: that any unpleasant move that had to be made in connection with this guarantee would have their full support? It may be said that would be a meaningless gesture. I suggest that moral support, expressed openly in a formal understanding, can have effects quite unpredictable in scope. In any case, should we not welcome the opportunity to remove the focus of responsibility and the blame a little away from our own shoulders and spread it on to the wider shoulders of an international dispensation?
There are those who take the rather tragic view that perhaps the power of oil is irrevocably linked with tins problem of Anglo-Israeli-Arab relationships, and that the flow of oil would be jeopardised. If it is a question of a global war, of the Baghdad Pact Powers being called into operation, then of course oil is in danger; but in a, purely Arab-Israeli war I suggest that such a war can be localised. The sources of oil are far removed from the zone of operations. The oil of Northern Iraq, the Kuwait oil and the oil of Southern Persia could have little political connection, and in geography is far away from a possible showdown around the frontiers of Israel. One asks oneself: would Syria jeopardise her pipeline royalties in such a position? I suggest that though possibly the movement may be in doubt, the sources are perfectly safe.
If Syria did not permit oil to flow, then that oil would have to come round through the Canal, and people would say "Well, there is Egypt in a dominating position on the Canal. With a war going on, the oil will not get to Europe." We need not differentiate between the power of the Egyptians to prevent ships from going to Israel in a situation in which the Egyptians have always said "This is not a peace; it is not an armistice leading to a peace, but just a lull in a war," and their preventing tankers from going to Europe. If the Egyptians were so 554 foolish as to prevent tankers from going through the Suez Canal in the course of a war, they would bring upon themselves the odium and abuse of the whole world. They would have contravened the 1888 Convention to which they subscribed again when, in 1954, we negotiated with them the new arrangements; and they would also probably endanger their prospects for taking over the Suez Canal finally in 1968.
Finally, I refer to Soviet penetration—a process that is relentless, not really, as I see it, over-concerned with this or that particular situation but always perfectly prepared to exploit an opportunity. There is one weapon to meet either Soviet penetration or Egyptian or Saudi-Arabian misrepresentation: it is a weapon that we have not yet fully exploited—namely, the voice on the air. We may regard the Arab as illiterate. He may not be able to read or write, but he can and does listen. No modern invention has had a more profound effect upon the Middle East, either in the political field or the social field, than the wireless. Every Arab sits in the coffee-house and he knows how to listen; yet for our own purposes this medium has been comparatively neglected. I am reminded of the old man who, when asked what he is doing, says, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." We all know that Her Majesty's Government, if they are sitting, are certainly doing a lot of thinking as well. The point is that other people do not know it, and I think the time has come when we have to show exactly what we think and why we think it, otherwise we are never going to meet such a challenge as is offered to us by "the Voice of the Arabs" from Cairo. When I was in the Middle East it was put to me that there are ways and means of developing this weapon.
My Lords, that is the only positive aspect of policy which I would advocate. For the rest, I would say that flexibility must continue to govern all our thinking. There is reason to believe, I am told, that perhaps what we are watching in the Middle East is a kind of shadow boxing exhibition; that Nasser does not really wart to go to war, and that he realises just what it would mean if he did. If that is so, then time is on the side of peace. Perhaps, under those conditions, one day, not this year or next year, but 555 perhaps in two or three years' time, Arab leaders and Israeli leaders may be prepared to meet. Some of your Lordships may have read that book Lord M., and I am sure the noble Marquess will confirm that passage when Melbourne is extremely irritated with a friend who thumps the table and says always: "This must be done," and Melbourne turns to him and says: "Whenever I hear you thump the table and say that, I know you are going to do something damned silly." Some of the measures that we have heard proposed as remedies for the Middle East remind me that perhaps Melbourne's comment on the clear-cut but over-hasty decision applies.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, at this stage in the debate I do not wish to speak for more than a few moments. I wish to say just a few words, because I want to deal with a subject that has not, so far as I know, been touched on in the debate so far. First of all, I wish to mention the question of Cyprus and to say how much I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, when he condemns most strongly the terrorism on that island. On the other hand, I cannot help feeling that a certain amount of this terrorism is the result of the refusal of the Government to grant the principle of self-determination. First of all they said, quite categorically, "Never"; then they shifted the position slightly and said "Perhaps"; and now they have gone back on their tracks and have said that they admit the principle of self-determination but this is not now a practical proposition.
I think there have been mistakes on both sides, and while I condemn most strongly the terrorism, on the other hand, we Liberals on these Benches take the strongest exception to the repressive measures to restrict liberty that have been taken by the Government. I think it would not be an exaggeration to describe these measures as almost draconian. May I remind your Lordships that Cypriots are not allowed to read reports of debates in your Lordships' House and in the other place; newspapers are not allowed to publish articles advocating Enosis; and Athens radio has been jammed. I notice that that causes a certain amount of hilarity on the Government Front Bench. 556 I wonder what we in this country would think if we were not allowed to read newspapers that were critical of the Government's policy, or if during the war we had not been allowed to tune in to the German radio.
I think it is clear that the great majority of Greek Cypriots desire Enosis, and that was borne out by what the noble Lord, Lord Winster, said. I think we must try and understand their point of view. I heard with great interest the words of the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, said that Cyprus has never been a Greek possession. That, of course, is perfectly true. On the other hand, the Cypriots do not desire union with Greece on historical grounds but because they feel strong racial and cultural ties, and also because they speak the same language. The diplomatic correspondent of The Times of August 27 last year said that:The Greek speaking majority feel, however, that the island has never lost its Greek character; that they share a cultural heritage with Greece; that the island is the last Greek-speaking territory since the Greek War of Independence which has yet to be united to modern Greece; and that Cypriots would acquire Greek citizenship as full equals with a real chance, as one observer has said, of becoming Prime Minister and not merely of becoming a prosperous restauriant proprietor.One has a good deal of sympathy with those aspirations when one thinks of all that Greece has meant to our civilisation. The Cypriots feel, whether rightly or wrongly I do not know, but they feel very strongly, I think, in their breasts, that they are the heirs of this great civilisation which, in the words of Gilbert Murray, has never been surpassed and rarely equalled.
The noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, has said that Greece owes us a great debt for our help to her in opposing Communism in 1944. I thoroughly agree with him. On the other hand, may I remind your Lordships that Greece also stood alone with us in 1940 and 1941. She fought the Italians and the Germans in the same passes in which she had fought the Persians, and I know that at that time she identified herself very much with her ancient civilisation. These ties between Cyprus and Greece I think were recognised by the British Government when they offered Cyprus to Greece in 1915. 557 I admit, as several noble Lords have said to-day that there is at present a deadlock, but one hopes that some day a solution will be found.
Perhaps in time the Turkish minority on the Island will come to feel that if Cyprus passes to Greece, they will be accorded the same liberties and privileges as are now enjoyed by the Turkish minority in that part of Greece which is Western Thrace. Perhaps Turkey one day may come to feel that, although Cyprus is only forty miles from her coastline, nevertheless, there are other islands, such as Chios and Samos, which are part of Greece, and which are nearer; and, furthermore, that surely an island which has a British base cannot be a menace to her security. The British Government even may come to feel, if Greece should grant her the use of bases in Cyprus, that this would be more of advantage with a friendly population than retaining those same bases in the face of the hostile opposition they are having to contend with now. But, as I say, at present there is a deadlock.
I wonder whether it is not possible to consider an alternative to this problem. For instance, is Cyprus the only base in that area? Is it not possible for the. Government to consider the possibility of another base? I am myself one of those who think that when we left Suez we perhaps made a mistake in establishing our base in Cyprus. I think it would have been better if we had entered into an agreement with Israel to have had a base at Haifa. The harbour there is much better than any in Cyprus, and such a base would have the advantages of land communications which are denied to an island in the sea. There would be the additional advantage of a friendly population. I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government that it might be possible to approach Israel now as an equal and to enter into a bilateral treaty with her whereby a second base could be established in Haifa. I cannot see that this would be counter to the Tripartite Declaration, because the Anglo-Jordan Treaty is not. From such a Treaty would surely flow, as a corollary, a supply of arms to enable Israel to keep parity with those received by the Arab States. I cannot agree with the Minister of State when he says—as he did in another place—that a balance of strength has been main- 558 tamed to date. I find myself much more in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition in another place who said that this reminded him of our nonintervention policy in the Spanish Civil War. I feet that the advantage of this second base would be that it would strengthen our strategic position, would afford Israel greater security, and would surely have a stabilising effect on the Arab-Israel dispute.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, when I look at the clock I think that the best thing I can do is to be as brief as possible. I have sat through most of the speeches which have been made to-day, and some of them have been quite long. I am bound to say that we on this side of the House have immensely enjoyed the opportunity which has arisen for the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to make his maiden speech on a really memorable occasion; and we have not been disappointed in what has happened in that connection. We shall hope to have the noble Earl with us on many occasions, speaking with all that wisdom and clarity for which he is so well known. The debate is approaching its end, and I am sure your Lordships are anxious to hear it wound up by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. I should not presume after the manner in which the various points have been deployed and explored during the last seven hours or so to go over them all again, but there are one or two things to which I want to make sure the noble Marquess replies.
My noble friend's speech in opening this afternoon gave a masterly survey of the Middle East, and I appreciate that it will be quite impossible to have a general reply to that to-night. I understand that the Foreign Secretary is only just back in this country, and no doubt it will he thought desirable to have a few consultations. Nevertheless, there is one point raised by my noble friend Lord Attlee upon which I think it is essential to have some statement—I refer to what he said upon the situation with regard to the security of Israel in the light of the arms race which has now been launched. I think that my noble friend put the matter very quietly and fairly, and without undue incitement to either side, in suggesting that Israel ought now, in view 559 of the changed situation in the arms race, to be supplied with quality, and modern quality, weapons sufficient at any rate to give her some security against a sudden attack upon her. I do not wish to ask any further question on the general side, as I understand that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House wishes to leave the subject of the Middle East in general to another occasion.
With regard to Cyprus, may I say that I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. He and I are old friends. We often disagree, but when it comes to matters of strategy and the value of bases or equipment, one has to sit up and listen to him carefully to make sure whether one agrees with him or not, for he has great experience in these matters. When he talked about Cyprus as a valuable base to-day in spite of this being the atomic age, I began to wonder how much better a base it could have been than Egypt, which was evacuated under the assurances of the then Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, that there was no need to stay there now because of the hydrogen bomb. That factor must be taken into account (the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, has already referred to this) if the Government are looking at it merely as a position of strength from which to go to the assistance of Israel, on the one side, or an Arab people, on the other, under the Tripartite Declaration. And is it not clear that we ought to remember in our discussion that if the negotiations had been carried a little further the Government could have had within Cyprus the base they wanted for that sort of purpose in spite of the fact that they would have been granting the main national aims of the Cypriots? That is a thing to be remembered when talking about bases.
Now I come to a point of substance put by my noble friend Lord Attlee—a point which has been touched upon by later speakers, and more firmly than anyone else, I think, by the most reverend Primate, but it has not been effectively answered in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Munster. I refer to the question: Where do we go from here? Now that Archbishop Makarios and the Bishops have been deported, where do we go from here? That is the kind of question that we should have answered in the speech of the noble Marquess the Leader of the 560 House. I hope that when he makes his final reply he will deal with it. I should like to make my own personal position clear. I am not here to defend any part of the actions of Archbishop Makarios. I personally hold that many of his actions have not redounded to the possibility of a co-operative and amicable settlement. If there has been any condonation on his part of the violence which has been exercised in the campaign in Cyprus, that, of course, is something which is reprehensible—no weaker term could possibly be used to describe it. And I think my noble friend Lord Attlee said as much in his speech.
The point is that, because of the practice, apparently quite widespread, in the unreformed Churches like the Greek Church and the Roman Church of having hierarchies in which the leaders of the hierarchies can be both political and religious leaders, this sort of thing inevitably happens. They are unable to exercise to the full the Christian doctrine and the Christian spirit which they are charged to uphold because of the fear of what might happen in the political field. That seems to have happened in this case. So you have to look at the political side and see, when you have deported these people, what happens.
The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury made a threefold suggestion—it has been referred to as twofold, but as I remember it it was a threefold suggestion. It was suggested that proper steps should be taken to get an alternative (and I put these words into the suggestion), perhaps an even more progressive, draft of a Constitution, which should be considered to see whether we could make progress with it. It would be essential, in the second place, that there should be a joint appeal by the Greek and Turkish leaders in Cyprus to their people to refrain from further violence whilst negotiations were going on. In the third place, I understood that the most reverend Primate was anxious to secure that it should be known in advance that the deportation of the Archbishop would be for a limited period, which might vary according to the period which was taken to bring about a cessation of violence. I think that that is the most substantial suggestion made in the debate.
I think that something, more than has yet been said by the Government speakers 561 is due from the Government. Though the noble Earl, Lord Munster, took this point up to a certain extent, I did not feel reassured by what he said. Let us face the alternative. We might have to face the kind of campaign we have lad in other countries where we have not been successful in keeping those countries within their previous form of control, either within or without the Empire. It seems clear that negotiations prior to the deportations had broken down, for reasons which can hardly now be justified in the light of the history of negotiations in other countries where there has been a nationalist uprising for freedom. My noble friend Lord Pakenham pointed out to me this afternoon some references in Sir Winston Churchill's book The World Crisis and the Aftermath to the Irish dispute. I have not time to quote them now, because I do not want to take long, but they show how foolish it would be for the Government, however reprehensible the violence has been, to take the line that we cannot consider an amnesty which would be complete enough to meet the needs of those negotiating on behalf of the movement seeking liberty. I hope the noble Marquess will not think that I have nothing else to say about this subject. I have a great deal to say. But I feel it essential that he should be given time to-right to deal with this matter more adequately than it has been dealt with by the Front Bench. That is the only reason why I sit down now and leave it to him.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I rise to speak at the end of what I am afraid has been a very long debate. I have sat through practically every moment of it, and therefore propose to be as brief as I can. In any case, your Lordships 'have already heard two speakers from the Front Bench. You have heard my noble friend Lord Munster, who spoke on behalf of the Colonial Office and who dealt with recent events in Cyprus; and you have heard my noble friend Lord Reading who, speaking for the Foreign Office, dealt with the great problem of the Middle East. I rise merely to say a few words with regard to these two topics in the light of further comments that have been made in the debate.
As we all know, Her Majesty's Government have been the subject of certain 562 pretty violent attacks in another place over Cyprus in particular, though to a much lesser degree in your Lordships' House. In this House, it was the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who was chosen to open the attack. Before I go any further, I should like to say, like other noble Lords who have already spoken, how happy we are to welcome so distinguished a new Member to cur debates. It is a special pleasure to me, for I worked so much with the noble Earl in the past during the war. I could not help feeling a little sorry for the noble Earl on account of the occasion which had been chosen by his Party for his debut before your Lordships, because even in this House a maiden speech is supposed to be non-controversial. I am sure he did his best, but no doubt it was asking a great deal of him to expect him to be impartial at these two topics; and, if he did go a little beyond the uncontroversial, in the circumstances one cannot blame him. In any case, he tackled these matters with such skill, charm and moderation that I think he won the approval of even those noble Lords who do not altogether agree with him.
If I may be so allowed, I do not propose to follow the noble Earl and other noble Lords who have spoken in those portions of their speeches which have dealt generally with the Middle East. For one thing, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has already spoken on that topic: and, moreover, so far as the noble Earl was concerned at any rate, I found little cause for disagreement. Over the policy which the Government had adopted over the Baghdad Pact, the noble Earl was in broad agreement with us, so far as I could make out. Over the policy with regard to Jordan, I do not think he agreed so entirely, but he made two definite recommendations. The first was talks with the Jordan Government, and the other was closer co-operation with the United States. I de not quarrel with either of those suggestions: indeed, they are almost the identical policy which Her Majesty's Government are trying to apply at the present time. I should have liked to say a good deal more about Jordan, particularly in view of the important speech made towards the end of the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood. I hope he will understand that if I do not go further to-night into the 563 suggestions which he raised, it is not because they are not of great importance, but because time is short. But I can assure the noble Lord—and I know I am speaking not only on behalf of myself but also on behalf of other Members of the House—that what he told your Lordships will be read with interest and studied, as we know that he speaks with special authority on this subject.
Now I cone to the subject of Israel. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, skated so skilfully over this topic that I hardly knew exactly what policy he wished the Government to adopt. But he made one specific proposal with regard to the supply of arms to Israel, and perhaps I ought to say something about that, especially in view of the further appeal I have had from the noble Viscount. Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said that in his view the specific proposal, to which I shall refer in a moment, would not constitute an arms race. What exactly constitutes an arms race is almost a metaphysical argument, into which I do not intend to enter to-night. I think it can be said that in a race the object of each competitor is to get ahead of the other. If, therefore, the purpose of one party to an arms race was only to keep level with the other, then, in the strictest sense of the term, it could not be said to be a race. I suppose that that is technically true, but, in fact, in a competition of that kind, both parties inevitably become more and more heavily supplied with arms. A pace would be set for both of them by each other which neither could keep up beyond a very limited time, and at the end of that time there is very liable to be explosion—at least, that is the lesson of past experience.
In a modified degree, I think that that consideration is applicable even to the less extensive proposal of the noble Earl, which is, as I understand it—he will correct me if I am wrong—that Israel should be supplied, not with unlimited arms, but with certainly selected arms. Of course, I will pass on that particular proposal to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary who, as your Lordships know, is just back in this country. In the meantime, I feel certain the noble Earl will not expect me to say more to-day, except this. In the ultimate event—and I think it is important that we 564 should remember this— I am certain it will not be the arms in the possession of Israel which will deter Egypt from invading that country if she really wants to fight. If she is to be deterred it is the knowledge that by doing so she will bring in the signatories of the Tripartite Agreement—and Britain and the United States are two of those signatories—who, with the means at their disposal, would be able, if they were forced to do such a thing, utterly to crush her. It is that fact, of which the Tripartite Agreement is the written pledge, which is, to my mind. Israel's main safeguard, and I think it is right to say that to your Lordships.
§ LORD HENDERSON
If I may interrupt the noble Marquess, what I should like to get at is this. I asked him whether any result had yet been reached in the consideration of what the Prime Minister called "the nature of action to be taken." The important thing is not that action shall follow after aggression has been committed, but that aggression shall be stopped; and unless all sides know that the three major Powers are in a position, ready and willing, to take action to prevent aggression, then the lack of arms to resist aggression would lead them to be sadly knocked about in the first twenty-four hours.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I appreciate that, and I agree about the importance of the point that the noble Lord has made. But it does not alter the general import of what I said. I am not ruling out or prejudicing in any way the proposal of the noble Earl—that is a matter which has to be properly considered—but I do not think a proposal to supply arms to Israel would, by itself, be important. As I say, I will bring to the notice of my right honourable friend, the Foreign Secretary, not only the point made by the noble Earl, but the further point made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. In short—and this is really the only thing I want to say about the Middle East; I am afraid it is very little, but it is the most I can do before I pass to Cyprus—I believe that our policy in the Middle East should be based, first, on the Baghdad Pact; secondly, on the Tripartite Agreement of 1950, properly interpreted; and thirdly, on a continuation of our friendly relations with the Hashemite Kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan. I believe that that policy, in the difficult 565 circumstances in which we are placed, is the only wise one, and I hope it will continue to be pursued by all Parties in this country.
I am now going to turn to the question of Cyprus, with which the greater part of this debate has been concerned, and especially I feel I ought to say something about Archbishop Makarios and his deportation, to which so much reference has been made from all sides of the House to-day. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in the speech with which he opened the debate, painted an agreeable picture of the Archbishop, from which I think any ordinary listener without other sources of information might have got the impression that he was a perfectly respectable, God-fearing, law-abiding person. The noble Earl actually used in this connection the words—I thought it was slightly odd—that he was a constitutional leader. I did think that was painting him in rather more agreeable colours than was justified.
There are, however, certain plain facts about Archbishop Makarios, about his negotiations with the Governor and the reasons for his deportation, which, in view of some of the things that have been said here and elsewhere, I feel I must bring once more before the House. The first is this—and it has not been said this afternoon. The Archbishop is, in fact, a British subject. He has enjoyed throughout his life the advantages of British citizenship; he has possessed, and, for all know, still possesses, a British passport, with all that that implies. He has held strongly, as he is perfectly entitled to do, certain views with regard to the future of Cyprus. I am not suggesting for a moment that that is anything improper; I am not even going to complain—and I say this to the most reverend Primate—that it is improper that he should hold such views as a Churchman, who perhaps should not be interested in active politics. In the British Commonwealth and Empire it is, as we all know, open to anyone to hold any views he likes, so long as he remains within the law. Indeed, as the noble Viscount. Lord Hailsham, rightly pointed out this afternoon, the very fact that the Governor, with the full approval of Her Majesty's Government here, has continued to negotiate with the Archbishop, in spite of those known views, is, I think conclusive proof of that fact.
566 But what I think no one can excuse, either in a Churchman or in a layman, is that he has used his British nationality, which throughout he has made no attempt to discard, and the special position which attaches to his religious rank, not only for subversive purposes—which, in itself, I think, is not very agreeable—but, far worse, for the fomentation of violence and terrorism which has resulted in the death of many innocent people. The Governor's statement, which your Lordships will have read and which was issued at the time of the Archbishop's arrest, gives ample evidence of this. I will quote one or two sentences from that statement, because I do not think it would be right to forget these things It says:Over the past two years information has been received from a number of different sources indicating that the Archbishop has personally supplied funds to agents in Greece for the purchase and supply of arms and explosives for use in terrorist operations in Cyprus.The second sentence I quote is this:He has remained silent while policemen and soldiers have been murdered in cold blood, while women and children have been killed and maimed by bombs.— His silence has understandably been accepted among his community as not merely condoning but even approving assassination and bomb-throwing.It has been suggested that Her Majesty's Government have not established complicity. I can assure noble Lords that there is no doubt about the fact as exposed in this statement. If the sources are not given it is because, purely for security reasons, they cannot be given. But I believe that neither the Governor nor anybody else who knows the facts has any doubt about it. That is the man whom the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and even more strongly the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, has charged the Government with treating far too harshly.
I must confess—I only wish he were here; I know that he had to leave—that I listened very sadly to the right reverend Prelate this afternoon. He has the respect of us all we know that he has complete intellectual integrity, and I am not in the least suggesting that there was any derogation from that. But he talked of the British Government as bypassing law and order in deporting Archbishop Makarios. Your Lordships have heard, and the right reverend Prelate must know, what Archbishop Makarios has 567 done; and if the right reverend Prelate had been here I should have liked to ask him: Does he regard Archbishop Makarios himself as having by-passed law and order? Does he think he should have been allowed—and that was the alternative—to continue with immunity to foment and organise terrorism and the murder of British soldiers? Does he think that? He did not put forward any alternative, and yet that is the problem which the British Government and the Governor had to face, and that is the problem which I feel we all have to face. Whatever our views, we cannot blink those facts. It is not a question in this matter of violence as an abstract principle—"Is it ever justified or is it not?": the sort of debate we used to have in our school debating societies. It is a question of plain bleak murder—murder of men and women.
I was driven to the conclusion, as I listened to the right reverend Prelate—and I do not want to misrepresent him—that he cared so desperately about the World Council of Churches, and the continuation of that great movement, that he subordinated everything else to it; that nothing mattered to him but that. That is really (I do not want to use an unpleasant term), applying ecclesiastical politics. It is merely thinking in terms of expediency; and that. I thought, if I may say so, underlay every word he said. There must be many of us, I hope good Christians, humble members of the Church, who simply could not accept the union of Churches at that price. The union of Churches must represent to us a high standard of conduct, as I am sure it does to the most reverend Primate.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
May I say that I entirely agree with the noble Marquess on this matter? I am very sorry that the right reverend Prelate quoted the Secretary of the World Council of Churches, who I think exceeded all his rights in issuing this statement at all.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am grateful to the most reverend Primate for what he has said. Your Lordships may feel that I have said too much. If so, I express my regret; but this is really a matter about which I feel extremely strongly. Frankly, I do not think I have ever been more shocked by any speech 568 than I was by the speech of the right reverend Prelate that I heard this evening. Archbishop Makarios has not been treated too harshly. On the contrary, I should have thought there were few examples in history of such tolerance being extended to a man who was known by the authorities to be plotting secretly to overthrew by violence the established Government of his country, and in the interests of another State.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, expressed fears that the firm steps that have been taken by Her Majesty's Government had had, and would have, more unfavourable reactions in other countries, and notably, I think he said, in certain circles in the United States. As your Lordships know, I have been, and I shall continue to be, the most ardent champion of a close understanding between Britain and the United States. I believe that on that depends not only future peace but the survival of Western civilisation in this sadly distracted world. But perhaps for that very reason I may be allowed to say this. If a man of American nationality—and the Archbishop, I repeat, is of British nationality—had, in a territory under American sovereignty, condoned and even fomented, in the interests of another nation, a campaign of violence and terrorism which resulted in the death of American soldiers, I do not believe that the attitude of American opinion would be quite so detached as it has been on this occasion.
I may be told that no doubt, strictly speaking, Her Majesty's Government were within their rights in taking the action they have taken. But the Government have been asked this afternoon: Was it wise to break off negotiations with the Archbishop when there was still a chance of a successful outcome? Had the main difficulties not been surmounted? Were the remaining difficulties so important? That I understood to be the view of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, this afternoon, and I know that it is widely held, especially by members of his Party. But it is necessary to remember what I think is often forgotten: that there were limitations to any negotiations with Archbishop Makarios at the present stage. If we were under a moral obligation to try to find a solution to this terrible problem that was acceptable to the Greek community in Cyprus, we were equally under a moral obligation, as my 569 noble friend Lord Swinton rightly said, to try to find a solution which was acceptable to the Turkish community. That was our undertaking, not only to the Turks in Cyprus, but to the Turkish Government as well. If we had not observed this we should have been guilty, and we should have been regarded by the Turks as guilty, of a breach of faith with them.
The purpose of these talks with Archbishop Makarios, which were in a sense preliminary, was to get as far as we could in the direction of an agreement, so as to ensure the co-operation of the Greeks and Cypriots in the later negotiations, in which the Turkish community were also going to take part, for a self-governing Constitution which should precede self-determination. That was the object of these talks. They were never intended to take the place of those later negotiations. They could, in the nature of things, not do that. That is the cardinal fact which, I submit, should never be forgotten, for it is the real criterion, and the only real criterion, as to whether the outstanding issues on which the talks broke down were important or unimportant.
If we use that criterion, two of them, at any rate, I should have thought, were of the first importance. The first is the point that public security must be reserved to the Governor of Cyprus so long as he thinks necessary. That is, of course, a wider issue than what I may call the Turkish issue. That, as the Prime Minister emphasised yesterday, affects the Cypriot community as a whole. But, in particular, it was necessary to safeguard the Turkish community until experience showed that the steps that Her Majesty's Government were proposing to take would leave no danger to them. That, to my mind, is an important point, and yet it is one which I do not think was mentioned at all from the Opposition Benches to-day. Secondly, there was a point made in the Secretary of State's last statement to Archbishop Makarios on February 29, 1956. I will quote the last two sentences:The Constitution would provide for an elected majority in the Legislative Assembly and would safeguard the interests of all sections of the community. It would he for the Constitutional Commissioner to recommend what arrangements should be made for this purpose, including the precise composition of the elected majority which he would define in accordance with normal liberal constitutional doctrine.570 Clearly, Her Majesty's Government could not agree to decide by negotiation with the Greek Cypriots alone the form and the composition of the Legislative Assembly before the opening of the negotiations, under the Constitutional Commissioner, in which the 'Turks were also to take part. Yet am afraid that was just what Archbishop Makarios wanted. He wanted everything signed, sealed and delivered before the Turks came in at all. Can anyone say that those two issues which I have described are minor differences? They are fundamental differences.
Finally, there is the question of the amnesty, to which I think the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred. Of course, it is a matter of opinion how important that particular issue was. But I should have thought, that the Governor and Her Majesty's Government went a very long way to meet the Archbishop. They were ready, as I think my noble friend Lord Munster has said, to grant an amnesty to everyone who had committeed offences under the Emergency Regulations before a certain day, except those involving violence against the person and the illegal possession of arms. Cases under those two heads were to come up for review in accordance with the normal rules. I cannot agree that, in a great emergency, where murder is being done, those provisions were very savage. And yet the Archbishop refused even those. In any case, of course, even if there had been agreement on that point of the amnesty, the other two would still have remained. If the Archbishop wanted agreement he could have had it by deferring those outstanding points until the negotiations with the Turks. We could go no further at the present stage without a breach of faith with the Cypriot Turks and with the Turkish Government. Indeed, the Turkish Government, as I think your Lordships will have seen from a statement they published only a day or so ago, thought they had already gone a little bit too far. That was the position with which Her Majesty's Government were faced, and I cannot believe that it ought to be seriously contended in the light of the facts which I have tried to expose that the Governor broke off negotiations on flimsy grounds. Indeed, contrary to what has been said by some noble Lords, it was not the Governor who 571 broke off the negotiations at all; it was the Archbishop.
With the final and lamentable failure of these talks, the Governor was of course, faced with a new situation. He knew, from the information which was already in his hands that the Archbishop was already actively fomenting terrorism. He had condoned that, while any hope of an agreement remained, although it must have been a very difficult decision for him to take. I gather from what he said that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, thought that on that point he was right to give every chance for the success of the talks. But was it possible for him any longer to defend leaving Archbishop Makarios at large in Cyprus, sitting in his archiepiscopal palace planning sabotage and fomenting terrorism? I do not believe that any Governor, or any Government, worthy of the name could, in fact, have taken that course. I am certain—I have enough respect for noble Lords opposite—that, if they had been in office, they would have found it necessary to adopt exactly the same course. Could they let him go to Athens and then refuse him the right to re-enter Cyprus? That is one suggestion that has been made. But that would have left him free to foment rebellion and terrorism on just as large a scale from Greece. The only course was to place him where he could do no harm. That the Governor decided to do, as your Lordships know, after consultation and in full agreement with Her Majesty's Government. I believe that in doing so he, and we, took the only course that in these unhappy circumstances was open to us.
I have been asked: What about the future? The question was asked, I think, by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and others. The answer is—and I think the most reverend Primate himself mentioned it—that, first of all, law and order must be restored. And then, with the coming of more normal conditions, we firmly believe that there will emerge more moderate leaders, who certainly exist but who have been driven out of active politics by the extremism of recent months. I am sure they are there. I saw a letter given to me to-day from someone who has just been in Cyprus which gave quite a different 572 account of Cyprus from that given by the noble Earl. Lord Listowel—a great friendliness on the part of the population, even open expressions in some quarters, of the dislike of the methods adopted by what are known as the gangsters. In such circumstances as those that have existed during recent weeks and months, one cannot expect moderate leaders to show themselves. It is as much as their lives are worth to do so; but we are hoping that, with the return of law and order, these people will become available. I can assure the noble Viscounts, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough and Lord Hailsham, who also mentioned this question, that there is no desire at all on the part of Her Majesty's Government to sit still and do nothing. That would be a futile policy.
There must, no doubt, be some delay while things become normal. I cannot say how long that will take, but so far as I and, I am sure, all my colleagues are concerned, the shorter that period, the better. I know that there are those in the Party of noble Lords opposite—I do not say the noble Lords themselves but in the Party of noble Lords opposite—who would have preferred a different policy. There were those who would have liked to hand over Cyprus immediately to Greece, relying on the terms of some treaty, without considering what would happen in the present inflammable state of the Middle East if another Government came in in Greece, possibly a Government of the extreme Left which did not feel itself bound by the treaty obligations of its predecessors. What then, in those circumstances, would happen to the safeguards of the Turkish community? What would happen then to the security of our base? We have had exactly that experience once already in Egypt. Is it really suggested that we should repeat it while things in the Middle East are in their present state of turmoil?
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested that in the hydrogen world Cyprus was no longer strategically important. I could not, any more than the noble Lord, Lord Jeffreys, could, accept that for a moment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In a major war. But would the, noble Earl say the same about a cold war?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is it. The cold war is what we have got. That is why it is so important, in our view, for us to be there I am quite certain that our friends in Asia, the Turks, the Iraqis, the Jordanians and the Jews, would all be very sorry if there were no British forces within reach at the present time. Are we to imperil all these important things by a policy of what I can only describe as ignominious scuttle? I hope sincerely that that is not the view which will be taken by your Lordships' House. I do not believe for a moment that it is the view of the British people. I believe that the news of the firm action which has been taken with regard to Archbishop Makarios has been received with a sigh of relief throughout the whole country.
This afternoon the most reverend Primate, in, if I may say so, the movingly sincere speech which he made to your Lordships, advocated an alternative course. I did not know, of course, what the most reverend Primate intended to say. I have had no time, as he will understand, to consult my colleagues, so I am sure he will not take it badly if I cannot give him any definite answer to-day. The main feature of his proposals, as I understood them, was that a draft Constitution should be drawn up which could be submitted to the Greek and Turkish communities. That proposal is nor widely different from what has always been the intention or policy of Her Majesty's Government. We have always envisaged consultations, as a result of which a draft should be prepared. The real difficulty up to now, as I tried to explain earlier in my speech, has been that Archbishop Makarios required substantial concessions to be made before those negotiations began at all. That was really the main difficulty. If other leaders now emerge who are willing to adopt a less rigid attitude, a new and happier situation will, of course, begin. Constitution-making could start and there could be agreement on a Constitution which might he followed by the grant of self-government; and that, in turn, would lead to a situation in which self-determination might be considered as and when the strategic situation allowed.
Those are the stages which have always been envisaged by Her Majesty's Govern- 574 ment. But first, of course, everything must depend inevitably on the restoration of law and order. Clearly, to bring back the Archbishop in his present mood, and after all that has happened, would not accelerate that process—it would, indeed, put off any advance. There, if I may say so, I profoundly disagree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who also, I think, made the same point. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, said that the Government had got into a cul-de-sac. It would he far truer to say that the. Government had removed a road block: that represents much more accurately the present position. I cannot, therefore, give any undertaking at all about the date for the Archbishop's return. The question of his future plans, as I am sure the most reverend Primate himself will appreciate, must depend on the course of events.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, after giving a good "dressing clown" to Her Majesty's Government, also complained that nothing had been done in the days of the late Labour Government. Of course, we too regret it: if something had been done at that period, perhaps the country would not have been faced with the difficulties with which it is now confronted. But I do not propose to threw any stones at the Labour Government tonight. NO one cart pretend that a solution of the problems of Cyprus which is to be satisfactory to all concerned is going to be at all easy to find. But I am convinced that the policy on which Her Majesty's Government have embarked gives, in the long term, the best chance. I believe it is the only way in which freedom—and by "freedom" I mean ordered freedom as opposed to anarchy—can be preserved in the island itself; and I believe it to be the only way that accords with our responsibilities, political and strategic, in this most troubled and vital part of the world.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, at this late hour I should not think of inflicting any further observations on this House. I should like to thank many noble Lords for the kind things they have said about me. I should also like to thank the noble Marquess, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, for correcting an obvious slip on my part. For the rest, I am bound to say that I leave this debate in rather 575 a feeling of gloom, thinking that Her Majesty's Government's attitude represents a triumph of hope over experience. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.