HL Deb 11 April 1957 vol 202 cc1250-321

2.41 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Henderson, That there be laid before the House Papers in regard to the Middle East.


My Lords, in resuming this debate I have no wish to traverse the ground covered so very fully by my noble friend Lord Henderson. I always think it is a mistake to try to say in less well-chosen words what has already beer well said. I will try to resist also the inclination to recriminate about the past, though that, perhaps, is rather a hard task. I thought that a quite outstanding speech was made in your Lordships' House yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Strang. It seemed to me to have in it the wisdom of a ripe experience. In particular, I was impressed by his recommendation that we should go carefully and not get into panic measures. I think that there has sometimes been a tendency to panic in connection with these matters. I am quite sure that what we require in dealing with the problems of the Middle East is a very great deal of patience.

I cannot help thinking of the many debates in this House that have beer held over the course of years concerning this area of the world. In past days it was called the "Near East". Now, for some reason, we call it the "Middle East". I always imagine that the shade of Disraeli—I should say, in this House, the Earl of Beaconsfield—should be present at our proceedings, as we are considering two of his chief achievements; the Suez Canal and the acquisition of Cyprus. Perhaps, too, the Earl of Balfour might look in, having regard to the way in which Palestine enters into all our discussions. Looking back over those debates, one sees that there are many actors who have disappeared from the scene. The old Empire of Austria-Hungary has gone; others, like Turkey, have changed. But there remains always Russia. And when one looks at Russian policy, one feels that new commissar is but old Tsar writ large.

Practically all the countries concerned owe their freedom, to a greater or lesser extent, to Britain; and, though I am aware that it is generally said that there is no gratitude in politics, I do think we are entitled to some gratitude on the part of some of those whom we have freed. I have in mind particularly Greece, who, with less cause than any other of those who carry on controversy in this region, is proving particularly difficult. At the same time, we need to bear in mind the changed circumstances in this region. It is a great mistake not to recognise, for instance, that, with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, the old strategic position of this area has changed. We have to rid our minds of strategic conceptions that belong to the era of navalism. I believe that that applies not only to us, but also to the Government of Turkey, who seem to imagine that the island of Cyprus is a pistol pointing at them. I intend to refer to that matter again later.

Many noble Lords in yesterday's debate referred to the influence of nationalism in all its forms. The whole of this area, when it was called the Near East, was plagued with nationalism; and the nationalism that rose up in the Balkans has moved farther East. We were there in the days of Gladstone and Disraeli, and I think that we have always to bear in mind the historic rôle of this country in regard to nations struggling to be free. There are still those who talk too much of Britain and British interests. This area is of interest to the whole world. I hear talk of "Britain's lifeline"; but the Suez Canal is equally important to the rest of the Continent of Europe, and to Asia.

It is therefore a mistake, in considering the Suez Canal problem, for it to be discussed merely by the prime users of the Canal and those who have an historic interest in it. We ought to bring into consultation the Continental nations whose goods go through the canal, if not always in their own ships, and also, and particularly, India, Pakistan and Ceylon and the rest of the peoples of Asia; because it is important to remember that one of the features of nationalism is anti-colonialism; and when these matters are taken up by, say, Britain and France alone, it gives occasion for the nationalists to raise the bogy of "colonialism." I believe that from the start of this trouble we ought to have taken much fuller consultation with the Asiatic nations.

Should there not be wider consultation to-day? My noble friend Lord Henderson suggested that there ought to be discussions with Russia. Most of the speakers in the debate have regarded this trouble as part of a world attack on stability by Russia. But we have never made an attempt to bring Russia into discussions. It is probably true—that the Russians find it convenient to make disturbances in this area; but I do not believe that the Russians want a world war. They know as well as we do of the danger that a conflagration in this area might spread; and while they support nationalism, it may be that they are beginning to learn that nationalism has its dangers for Communist despots as it had for the imperial despots of the past. They have found that to be true in Europe, and they may well find it in Asia.

Egypt undoubtedly holds the key of the Suez corridor, and it is equally important to the consumers and to the producers of oil. It is unfortunate that our action has temporarily elevated Colonel Nasser to be the leader of the Arab world, and even of Islam; and yet the interests of the Arab States are not the same. The interests of the people who have to pass through the corridor and of the person who holds the key are not the same. And it may well be that by a policy of more patience we could get more than by a policy which, in my view, has tended to consolidate the Arabs against us.

I do not want to say much about the Palestine situation. It was said yesterday that there are two rights—right on each side. I think that there are also two wrongs—wrong on each side. I believe that the Israelis have done wrong to the Arabs, and the Arabs to the Israelis; neither Jew nor Arab is blameless. We have frankly to recognise this violent animosity; I do not think it is any good shutting our eyes to it. But surely there ought to be an endeavour to stabilise the position. My noble friend Lord Henderson asked what the views of the Government were with regard to settling the boundaries. Until the matter of the boundaries has been settled it is impossible to deal properly with the other great problem, that of the refugees. Surely, it is time that the world in general came down strongly and warned both these combatants that they will not stand either for the elimination of Israel by the Arabs or for any extension of the Israeli domains at the expense of the Arabs. There must be a stabilisation. The boundaries should be fixed, and they should be guaranteed by international agreements. The Arabs must face the fact that the Jews are there to stay; and the Jews must recognise "Thus far and no farther."

As I have said, we owe the Suez Canal to Disraeli. Cyprus is another of his legacies; whether you see it as a faded laurel from his crown or a damnosa hereditas is a matter of choice. But here I think the position has been bedevilled by false strategic conceptions held by us and by Turkey. I think they are obsolete and of the past. When I was Prime Minister and we had to deal with this position, we still had our base in Egypt. I always regarded that as extremely unsatisfactory. In modern times you cannot get an effective and secure base in a foreign country where the people are not wholeheartedly in favour of you. It has been suggested that, having moved out of Egypt, we should make Cyprus a base. I have never believed that we could do more, at the most, than make it a command post. It is too small; it does not really fit into the strategy of the hydrogen bomb age. I notice in the White Paper on Defence that bomber squadrons capable of delivering nuclear weapons are to be based on Cyprus. Cyprus is to be an advance site for launching weapons of mass destruction. This, of course, makes Cyprus a sitting target for the receipt, of weapons of mass destruction, and I cannot feel that the Cypriots will welcome that privilege.

I do not believe that Cyprus is the right place. If you want a site for launching weapons of mass destruction, it should not be in a small island; it should be in some place with a wider hinterland, where possibly your weapons can be moved from place to place. I believe that we are right in having that outer core created by the Baghdad Pact. But in fact the only really strong par: of that is Turkey. I believe that that is the only place where there can be an effective base. The Baghdad Pact should be strengthened by the inclusion of Greece, because that would complete the circle round that area; and if Greece were in the Pact, one would perhaps overcome those mistaken (as I consider them) apprehensions of the Turks of an attack launched against Turkey from Cyprus. That, in the long run, might mean that you were not obliged to put an absolute veto on the possibility of some future international status for Cyprus. That is the external side of the Cyprus question, which is difficult. But here, again, I think the Turks and the Greeks—and particularly the Greeks—should be expected to show a degree of reasonableness.

I very much welcome the return to common sense in the release of Archbishop Makarios. I am bound to say that I have the melancholy satisfaction of recalling what I said in the past. In the first speech I made in your Lordships' House, in 1956, I said: [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196, col. 459.] The result of that sort of thing is a period in which there will be executions and murders of our troops…And, in the end, you will have to go back and negotiate somehow or other. That has happened. Now we have to consider what steps the Government are going to take. I am aware that there are some people who think it is a shocking thing to shake hands with a murderer. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said yesterday: [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 202, col. 1219.] We must not shake the bloody fingers of these murderers. My Lords, that is just what was said about Michael Collins at the end of the Irish troubles, but I am sure that if the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, had had as much experience in government as I have, he would realise that in the modern world you have to shake hands not only with retail murderers but with wholesale murderers.

I remember that my late colleague, Mr. Ernest Bevin, used to say to me: "Of course, I have to meet Mr. Molotov, but I do not like doing it. I believe that he was responsible for the murder of a million peasants, but I have to meet him." Of course, he did. Unfortunately, you have to meet neighbours of the world with whom you do not agree; but it does not mean in the slightest that you condone murders. I have noticed that there is a tendency not to go right out to the full in these talks. I believe that if you once decide you have got to talk, it is no good haggling and niggling over details; saying that the Archbishop must not go to Cyprus and so on. You must make up your minds to do the thing in a big way, if you are going to do it.

In my view, the Radcliffe Constitution does provide an acceptable interim Constitution, at all events. It gives the Turkish minority all that they can expect. Minorities generally ask for much more than they are entitled to. I know well, from my experience in going round India, that by the time one has heard all minorities in a Province, and their demands for representation, the poor majority do not get a chance. A reasonable, satisfactory protection of the Turkish minority is right. Having got that, then I think there must be a period before there can be discussion of any change or of any union with Greece. It is my belief that if one could get a Constitution working, if the Cypriots found the joy of running their own affairs, they might quite possibly not want to link themselves with Greece. It depends a little on the financial position of the two parties. But in entering into these negotiations we should recognise that the problem we have to face is that of the future of the Cypriots. I do not believe that we have to-day a great imperial interest in Cyprus.

My final word is this. I would offer the suggestion that we should beware of taking any line anywhere which suggests that we are out for our own selves and which raises the possibility of the cry of "colonialism." This area of the Middle East is important to Europe, and it is also important to Asia. One would like to think that there was a possibility some day of internationalising these great waterways—Suez, Panama and the rest. That may be in the future. Meanwhile, do not let us get rattled. One hears a great many stories about Russian penetration, and so forth. But remember that the Russians have their own difficulties. There is always a danger of imagining that all goes quite well on the other side of the hill. It does not. And I should have said that at the present time Russia was in no position to take violent aggressive action, whatever she may do in the way of subversion.

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, I am going to devote my speech to one aspect of this Middle East debate, namely, Cyprus, and in that respect I should like to say that I find myself in agreement with much of what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has just said although, of course, there were certain aspects on which I do not think he would expect me to go the whole way. I have no doubt that to-day many noble Lord: will raise questions on Cyprus and no only expect definite answers to those questions but also expect Her Majesty's Government to make clear just what they propose to do and, in a sense, announce a pat solution. I am afraid I shall disappoint such hopes. Much of what I shall say will necessarily be indefinite and for that I make no apology. At times like this it must often be right and wise to, as it were, feel one's way. In other words, as the noble Earl. Lord Attlee, and the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said, we should not panic.

There are, however, some things which are definite—for example, the need for order and freedom of expression in Cyprus, our determination not to fail our friend and ally Turkey, and the fact that we stand by our statement on December 19, made when Lord Radcliffe's Constitution for Cyprus was published as a White Paper. There have been too many hasty and ill-considered things said by various parties to the Cyprus problem. It occurs to me that there is not much point in taking up positions beforehand, and for people to say what they will or will not do. Such positions can only lead to deadlock, and the sequel is often the sort of solution which is most distasteful to those who have made the statements and who have taken up the original positions. I think that that is a lesson which could well be borne in mind by all concerned, whether it be the Greeks, the Turks or the Archbishop.

Much of what I have to say about Cyprus will not be new. But what is new, or more or less new, since our last debate? First of all, there is the U.N.O. resolution. The important part of that is the expression that the United Nations believe that the solution of the Cyprus problem requires an atmosphere of peace and freedom of expression. Then we have the N.A.T.O. offer for conciliation. There is the real success of our forces in Cyprus against E.O.K.A. There is the suspension of terrorism by E.O.K.A., and there is the release of Archbishop Makarios. It has been asked by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, and others why the latter was released, despite his making only a conditional appeal. As was said at the time we made the statement, it was a conjunction of the foregoing events which led Her Majesty's Government to judge that we could now so act, bearing particularly in mind the Governor's advice that the restoration of law and order had made sufficient progress to justify this step. The subsequent relaxation of the emergency measures by the Governor adds proof to this. There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, ail the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. I believe that this may be such a tide and we should take it.

It is worthwhile going into some detail about the relaxation of the emergency regulations. Under the amendments, the death penalty has been abolished for all offences except those categories for which it is imperative to retain it for the time being—namely, the crimes of discharging firearms or carrying one without lawful authority, or throwing a bomb or other explosive with the intention of causing death or bodily harm. The regulation concerning the control and circulation of publications has been revoked. I believe that that will give many noble Lords particular satisfaction, as I understand it has given the Press satisfaction. We are very happy that the Governor has decided that he will be able to do this. It is also worth remembering that even before that, he undertook to look into the question of whether, if he had to continue the Press regulations, they could not be given what I call a judicial form. In addition, various detainees have been released, and the Bishop of Kitium and the Secretary of the Ethnarchy have been released from house detention. Other steps have been taken to create more normal conditions, such as relaxing the control of movement of taxis or the use of bicycles. The Governor has said that he will, when possible, take still further steps to amend and relax the existing regulations.

It was my privilege to meet the Governor for the first time when he was over here a short while ago. Many noble Lords know him well, but to those who do not I would say, with all sincerity, that seldom, if ever, have I met a man more liberal in spirit, more ready to do the generous thing and to take a chance in the doing. He, for example, was very ready to offer a safe conduct to Grivas and others, believing that there was a chance that this would lead to a quicker peace and the avoidance of bloodshed. It must always be remembered that we want not only the end of terrorism, but also an atmosphere in Cyprus where the inhabitants can freely and without fear express their views, and where demo: racy can flourish.

At this moment, when we are hoping to get talks started again, it may be useful to look at some of the lessons of the past year or so. First and foremost, we have shown that we accept our responsibilities of having to govern in British territories. We have shown that we will not tolerate force as a substitute for democratic rule, and we have made clear that the rights of minorities must be recognised in any Constitution that is finally drawn up. It is important that all concerned ponder these lessons, remembering that our present moves, including the release of Archbishop Makarios, are made from, strength and not from weakness. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested that we should have gone the whole way and allowed him now to go to Cyprus. I think the noble Earl should ponder the risks there might be of trouble and further bloodshed at the present time. May we leave it at that?

What of the future? There are two problems to be solved, the internal and the external. They are both, but particularly the first, our responsibility. When Her Majesty's Government judge that the time is opportune, it is their intention to invite representatives of all communities, including the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, to a meeting in London to discuss the internal problems of Cyprus. Their present thought, if I may so put it, is that the Radcliffe Constitution will be the agenda. If certain potential representatives go on making the sort of statements they have been making, it seems to me that the meetings will have to take place in at least two rooms, with the representatives of Her Majesty's Government running between one lot and the other. Unhappily, the sort of statements that have been made by Archbishop Makarios have led others to follow suit—for example, Mr. Kutchuk. With the greatest respect, though I know what provocation Turkish Cypriots have endured, I hope that they will continue to show moderation and wisdom.

There is the ever-present danger of a spark setting off communal strife. Archbishop Makarios has made many other statements and has raised many other issues. I do not propose to try to deal with them in detail, but the general comment must be made that they may stir up trouble and, if taken literally, would be tragic. It seems to me that they are not the words of a statesman or of one desirous of a settlement for Cyprus. They ignore the lessons of the past year—that not one interest but many interests are vitally concerned in the future of Cyprus. They hinder things, rather than help them forward.

While I have touched on the internal problems and how we intend to pro-cede, the external problem is at least of the same importance. Here, of course, a start on a solution of it could be made straight away, if only the Greek Government would agree to avail itself of the good offices of N.A.T.O. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, mentioned that the Greek Government might consider the gratitude it owes us for the past. I think that the Greek Government should consider well this advice. Indeed, I appeal to its friends to give the Greek Government what is surely good advice—that is, to start talking. I well remember my father, who was very experienced on this sort of thing, urging the value of talks. He always said, "You must get talking. Without talking, without contact, there can be no progress." Our great anxiety is to make such progress.

The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and others have made certain remarks about the present strategic value to us of Cyprus, and whether its importance has been changed in the light of developments of the last month—Suez, the atom bomb, and so forth. Noble Lords will have seen the Defence White Paper and can draw their own deductions on how very important it still is, despite the interesting suggestions made by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Let it be remembered that strategic problems are only one facet of the whole. To take up a point made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in our last debate, he suggested at that time that we might send a Parliamentary mission to Cyprus to talk with the people there; to get, as it were, a first-hand impression and to show that we, as a people, were still vitally interested in their well-being. I cannot at the moment give the noble Earl any definite answer on that suggestion, but I want him to know that it is one that we have very actively under consideration.

My Lords, this is no Party issue, and the debate is, I believe, of value in so far as it shows to the world our community of purpose, which is to find a solution doing justice to everybody. Any suggestions to this end which are put forward this afternoon from noble Lords will be valuable and will be most carefully considered. I would end with an appeal to those who may have influence with any of the parties to the dispute. Get them to come and talk and ask them, while there are talks, to do nothing to inflame tempers, but rather to seek to carry out the appeals of U.N.O. and others for discussions in a peaceful atmosphere. The British Government have made their contribution. It is now for others to show their willingness to play. The talks, once started, must embrace an attitude of give and take on all sides. That, of course, is one of the reasons why we, for our part, do not wish to strike definite and rigid attitudes. With feelings raised as they are, and bearing in mind the potentially explosive nature of the problem, great patience will be needed on all sides. The problems of Cyprus—which, let us never forget, is a British territory—are exceedingly difficult. In the last resort, ours alone is the responsibility for their solution. Ours alone is the responsibility for doing what we deem right That we will not shirk.

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to speak only briefly about Cyprus. I am happy to think that I shall do no more than endorse some of the things already said by the noble Lords who have preceded me. In earlier speeches on Cyprus, my only concern has been to promote, so far as I can, reconciliation where there is now distressing variance. Therefore, I do not look backwards; I do not attempt to analyse the political or the international aspects of the problem. Least of all do I attempt to assign praise or blame or degrees of responsibility to one party or another; and, in the spirit of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, I do not attempt to judge any person's behaviour. I only look to see, at each fresh stage, what can best help towards a burial of the past and a renewal of that kind of good will and discussion without which no settlement is possible. The long and close ties of friendship between the Church of England and the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Cyprus lay upon me a special obligation. I know that my words are scrutinised with great care in Greece and Cyprus and I try to speak with sympathy and restraint.

A new stage has been reached, now that our own Government have released Archbishop Makarios without condition, save that at present he shall not return to Cyprus. I believe that that was a wise and generous action. As the noble Earl has just said, political calculation no doubt entered into that action, but the figures involved could not, by themselves, necessarily add up to the conclusion that he should be released. I believe that there entered into the action a true element of sheer generosity which goes beyond a mere calculation of figures—a desire to take risks, to overlook rights, to go beyond a nicely calculated less or more in order to create a new start. That the Government have done. The next move in those discussions must come from all the other parties to this dispute, and I think that we should ask them, along with us, to concentrate upon three things.

As to the first, I have already been anticipated by the noble Earl. We must hope that Archbishop Makarios, along with all other parties, will restrain himself from any further public statements until he has had time to consult with friends and advisers in Greece, from this country and elsewhere. Some things have already been said—and not only by Archbishop Makarios—which, in the circumstances, can be regarded only as unhelpful. I do not wish to apportion too much blame for this. Public men to-day are often put into impossible situations by our modern methods of publicity. Politicians are expected to comment on events almost before they have happened, and to answer hypothetical questions that are far better left unanswered—and, indeed, unasked.

It is to be hoped that the Archbishop, as well as others, will refrain from further utterances until consultation can take place, because almost anything said now by a responsible person will endanger a constructive development by nailing some local flag to the mast, and so removing freedom for manœuvre. It should be remembered, in this connection, that the Archbishop has, perforce, for over a year been almost entirely isolated from the current of events and the changes in climate of opinion; and, in fairness, he ought to claim (though perhaps he does not want to), or if he does not claim he ought to be given, a full opportunity to catch up on events and to think them over quietly before he speaks.

Secondly, my Lords, I hope that all will recognise that the liberation of Archbishop Makarios was, and was meant to be, a generous, a healing, a reconciling act, and one that must now be matched with similar acts from the Greek, Cypriot and Turkish sides. To say, or suggest, at this stage that objectives are unchanged, that union with Greece will now be quickly achieved, that the British Government have capitulated, is not only wrong-headed but is terribly wrong-hearted. There must be determination to do as our own Government have done: to make calculations of moral and political advantage, and then to go beyond the answer reached in a positive and constructive offer of good will.

In this field, the way to that is obvious and plain. The question of self-determination in Cyprus, already granted in principle, is postponed, and the international side of the dispute referred to N.A.T.O. Here is the chance for the Greek Government to make their constructive action of good will, by enabling the matter there to be discussed. The Radcliffe Report provides lines along which fruitful progress may be made without delay. Our hopes must be that all parties in Cyprus will accept this as a basic fact not to be questioned. If generosity is thus met by generosity, agreement can be reached. The objective, historical facts of the situation are the same for all of us, in all Parties, and are well known. The attempt to alter them by force has failed. They and all others must accept, at least for the time being, that we can live together only by give and by take. The British Government have given something and must now be ready to take from others as much as the historical facts permit. The Archbishop himself has received from us what is at least a gesture of significance, and he must be ready now to give to a solution as much as those same historical facts will permit.

Thirdly, I would say (and I hope not hereby to make the situation more dangerous) that unless this good will is shown, the worst thing of all will befall. I believe that partition in Cyprus would be the sign of final and total failure to find a solution: it would be a counsel of despair. I am sure that Archbishop Makarios detests the thought of it as much as I do; but I fear, remembering how these things so often happen, that if Archbishop Makarios and his advisers, or any others, fail now to take a positive attitude of co-operation and compromise, if they fail to work for agreement and brotherhood, and instead go back to barren iteration of unyielding demands, then this deplorable result (as I should regard it) of partition, which solves nothing, may become inevitable. So at this crucial moment I, for my part, would encourage our own Government to continue in generosity, despite any possible discouragements yet to come; and I trust that all others, Turks, Greeks and Cypriots, will rise in a new spirit to a new opportunity by which the people of Cyprus can be saved from the misery which they have so lately experienced.

3.27 p.m.


My Lords, in one of our debates on Cyprus the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, addressing the Opposition, asked what it was that had changed our views on Cyprus. Well, I can of course speak only for myself, but I agree that my views have changed, and I think that the challenge which the noble Marquess threw out was a perfectly fair one and one which should be taken up and answered. For my part, I am quite ready to give some of the reasons which have caused me to alter my views on Cyprus most radically.

First, I would put an increasing realisation on my part of the depth of conviction and sincerity with which the Greek Cypriots hold their political views. Secondly, I would say the altered strategical value of Cyprus in view of the development of nuclear weapons. That has been pointed out by Sir Winston Churchill in regard to Egypt and the Suez base, and I think that the arguments which Sir Winston advanced in that respect apply with equal force to Cyprus as a base. Then, there is a growing conviction in my mind of the uselessness of hanging on to a system of government in Cyprus which has broken down, which quite clearly cannot be restored as it was, and which has been for some time now involving the good name of our country in very serious criticism indeed. Finally, I have a conviction that a régime which has had to be upheld by the methods which have been adopted by Her Majesty's Government, I am sure with the deepest reluctance, for I do not imagine for a moment that any Government could enjoy employing such methods as have been employed in Cyprus, must have something wrong with it which calls for alteration. That is my answer to the very fair challenge which the noble Marquess threw out; but here I speak only for myself.

I confess, however, that the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has very considerably altered several things which I intended to say this afternoon, because I gathered from the noble Earl's speech that plans are now shaping for the resumption of negotiations in respect of both the internal and the external situation affecting Cyprus. That certainly is welcomed by me with all my heart, and largely alters what I had intended to say; for, as the noble Earl will recollect, my chief complaint and anxiety has been that over a long time and until to-day I have been unable to detect any coherent plans for setting on foot new negotiations.

While I welcome that, I must agree with the passage from an editorial in The Times at the end of last month which said: The whole history of Cyprus has been one of delay, blunders, bloodshed and mounting suspicion. That, unfortunately, is a completely accurate description of the past. In a debate in your Lordships' House last July the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said of Cyprus [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 199, col. 288]: It has been discussed…and re-discussed again and again in successive debates in this House. So it has; but, during all these years, while it has been discussed and re-discussed, Her Majesty's Government have failed to produce a solution, and it is true to say that since negotiations with the Archbishop failed a year ago last December until the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, to-day, no coherent plan or programme of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government has emerged though many things have been put forward.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will pardon my interrupting him, may I say that I am not sure whether he has not perhaps read too much into my words. What I said was that when Her Majesty's Government judge that the time is opportune, it is their intention to invite representatives of various interests to come together. I was not holding out at this moment any completely definite programme.


My Lords, that is how I interpreted the speech of the noble Earl, but I feel that what I have said is true: that Her Majesty's Government have to-day indicated that they have a plan in mind. And when the noble Earl says "when the time is opportune," I am sure we can take that as meaning that Her Majesty's Government will do it with the least possible delay and that they will be searching for a way to make the time opportune. I entirely accept what the noble Earl has said and I do not read into his speech more than he wishes me to.

To-day we have in the air the Radcliffe draft constitution, the United Nations resolution, the offer by N.A.T.O. to use its good offices in negotiations and the proposals associated with the release of the Archbishop, such as the E.O.K.A. truce offer. All these ideas have been floating about in the air, but I have been able to trace no effort to weave them into a coherent, constructive plan. Certainly I am bound to say in regard to the release of the Archbishop that, while nothing has been gained by his deportation, it remains to be seen whether anything is going to be gained by his release. I do not feel very hopeful on that account.

There is one matter about which I am quite clear: that Her Majesty's Government having sponsored the Radcliffe Constitution, we are clearly committed to direct negotiations with the Cypriots on that Constitution. While N.A.T.O. may have a very useful part to play in this matter it cannot play a part to the exclusion of direct negotiations with the people of Cyprus. The draft Radcliffe Constitution binds us in honour to such negotiations, and I welcome: the statement recently by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that Her Majesty's Government now declares the Archbishop to be an acceptable negotiator on behalf of the Cypriot people. I feel that that statement by Her Majesty's Government, given in reply to a Question a few days ago, is a great step forward.

I feel that behind all this there is a matter on which we are entitled to question Her Majesty's Government. What do Her Majesty's Government to-day consider are our requirements in Cyprus? The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, who I am happy to see is to take part in this debate, once replied to something I said in a debate in these words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 199. col. 211]: Our own position is well known. Cyprus remains essential for the maintenance of British interests and the discharge of British obligations, both under N.A.T.O. and in the Middle East…it is related to the Protectorate oilfields…. We cannot accept any doubt about the availability of facilities in Cyprus as and when we need them…. That is our position. That statement was made before the events in Suez. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government, after the events in Suez, how much of that reply by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, holds good to-day. Even as a base, Cyprus has been rather blown upon by those events in Suez; and I am sure your Lordships will have observed the remarks attributed to Field-Marshal Auchinleck in which he said that, as a soldier, he is extremely doubtful that Cyprus has any value as a base.

On the question of our obligations to N.A.T.O. and the Middle East, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, I would ask: has N.A.T.O. ever defined what are considered to be our obligations to N.A.T.O.? Are there on record any statements by N.A.T.O. on those obligations? In a debate the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 199. col. 290]: We have certain considerable obligations—for instance, to Iraq, to Jordan, and, in certain circumstances, to Israel ". Do any obligations which we may have to Iraq really rest upon the retention of Cyprus as a base? And is it to-day considered that while we have Cyprus as a base we are in the letter and in the spirit fulfilling our obligations to Israel?

I noticed with great interest what my noble friend Lord Lucan said yesterday: how very much he wished a statement might be made that we do not intend to see Israel destroyed, and that he felt it might be a great step forward to peace and security in that area of the world if such a declaration as that were made. But we are bound in the letter and in the spirit by our obligations to Israel. Is it considered that the fulfilment of those obligations depends entirely upon our retention of Cyprus? What to-day are our obligations to Jordan of which the noble Marquess spoke—Jordan, a country which since has treated us with contempt and for which, as we have seen to-day, a very short life is prophesied? Are we holding on to Cyprus in the interests of Jordan? I think these are things which we have a right to ask. Exactly for what specific reasons do we feel that we must maintain our present position in Cyprus?

One thing is painfully clear, and that is that we have really no power of initiative in the Middle East to-day. Does that fact affect what has been said in the past about the retention of Cyprus? I should have thought that it does. But Sir Anthony Eden, talking on this subject, once said that the situation was governed by British oil interests. From the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, and from Sir Anthony Eden we have had these very frank statements that British interests and British self-interest have priority over the interests of the Cypriots. Are our British oil interests really guaranteed by our retention of Cyprus? I should have thought that that was a very doubtful proposition indeed. No doubt Sir Anthony Eden may have regarded the island as essential to his Suez policy, but we know what has happened to that. Frankness is always commendable, and these statements about British oil interests are very frank and clear indeed, but it seems to me they make nonsense of the statement made by the Prime Minister when he was Foreign Secretary, that this country recognises the right of the Cypriots to self-determination. It seems to me to be very doubtful morality to talk about upholding that principle while at the same time making statements about British interests and their requirements which make nonsense of the principle.

I have a few words to say on the question of Turkey, but they will be very brief indeed. It seems to me that we have allowed Turkey, in effect, to veto the Prime Minister's declaration on self-determination for Cyprus, and in that respect, as I have said before in debates in this House, I have been unable to find any substantial reason for submitting to Turkish pressure in this matter. Again, what exactly are our obligations to Turkey? Turkish Cypriots are 18 per cent. of the population; Greek Cypriots are 80 per cent. of the population. I would say that what we owe to that Turkish minority are religious and racial rights—complete security for those racial and religious rights. They are entitled to political equality, to seats in the Legislative Assembly in proportion to their percentage of population, and to a certain number of portfolios in a Cypriot Government, should one be formed. If the Turks are anxious about these rights for their minority, I would have thought that the position could have been met by asking for a United Nations Commissioner for Minorities to be appointed for the first years of any Cypriot Government which may be formed. It might be possible to give them, within the framework of N.A.T.O., an absolute guarantee of security for Turkey itself. These things I feel Turkey and the Turks are fully entitled to. But I do not feel that they are entitled to veto a British Foreign Secretary's declaration of British policy.

In the past the Government have closed their ears to all advice which has been offered in the course of the debates on Cyprus. We get such statements as this, which we had once from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury: I can assure noble Lords who put forward suggestions that they will be carefully considered. I have noticed—and I am sure that other noble Lords on this side of the House have noticed also—that there have been few signs of any such consideration being given, and certainly none of suggestions being acted upon. For instance, the Government were strongly advised to concede the point about a Greek majority in the future Legislative Assembly. It was only common sense to recognise that there would have to be such a majority. But the Government shut their ears to the suggestion, and, in fact, negotiations with the Archbishop, largely if not entirely, broke down on that very point. When the Government asked Lord Radcliffe to draw up a Constitution, one of the things he immediately included in his Constitution was that there should be a Greek-Cypriot majority in a future Legislative Assembly. Yet negotiations which appeared to be nearing success were allowed to break down on that very point which the Government subsequently conceded.

Then there was the deportation of the Archbishop. The Government were advised against that. Again the Government have had to give way. Then there was the hanging of youths, the Emergency Regulations and the press laws which are all being gradually eased. Collective fines have been dropped. I think it is fair to say that it has been a case of "blow hot, blow cold", forcible-feeble, advice being rejected only to be subsequently adopted, but under conditions less favourable than the conditions would have been had the advice been taken much earlier. If I may say a personal thing, I think that in discussing a matter of this nature, if one takes a great interest and tries to play a part in it, always it is fair to say what one would do one's self. I confess that I have been sorry to note in many Opposition speeches here and in another place what I consider omission in that respect—failure to put forward a clear, coherent policy from the Opposition. That may not be entirely so, and I hope that I am not being in any way unfair in saying that; but that is the impression left on my mind.

I have consistently advocated certain things in this matter. I thought that the Radcliffe Constitution should have been put before the Archbishop by someone with certain minor powers of negotiation, instead of its being put before him merely by emissaries with powers of exposition and nothing else. I should have liked to see the Constitution put before the Archbishop and certain offers made to him. For instance, I have always thought there ought to be a 100 per cent. amnesty. I think a conditional amnesty is a complete mistake in this matter. I believe that a 100 per cent. amnesty will have to be granted in the long run. I cannot think of anything more extraordinary than offering a safe conduct to Grivas, the head and forefront of the whole of the terrorist campaign, while at the same time retaining 1,100 of his followers in prison, followers who have been represented to us as men who have been deluded by Grivas. I would have conceded that point and I would have made some concession on the point of internal security; because if there is to be self-government in Cyprus, a Government which has no police at its back is no Government at all. It is a negation of government, if a police force is denied to it.

I would have pressed upon the Archbishop the desirability of working self-government for a period of five years, and given an undertaking to then negotiate the question of self-determination between the two Governments, the British Government and the Cypriot Government. During those five years the Cypriots would discover a great many things about government which they do not know today, and the Greeks and the Turks would discover a great deal about how they can work together. I would have put these offers to the Archbishop in connection with the Radcliffe Constitution, and had he shown himself willing to negotiate upon a basis of these offers and to condemn violence—which I think is a perfectly fair thing to ask from him—then I would have been in favour of returning the Archbishop to Cyprus and starting negotiations at once. I believe that in the long run the Government will be reduced to concede something like this, because I think that, as in the case of Colonel Nasser, they will find that the strong cards are held on the other side.

My final word is this. The Times has said that the statement of the Archbishop on his release …should open the way to fruitful talks between the British Government and Cypriot representatives. I hope that there is no longer any intention of making it a condition that the N.A.T.O. negotiations must precede such "fruitful talks"—and I believe that there is the possibility of their being fruitful. But I am sure that the Government must realise two things. The first is that they cannot by-pass the Archbishop. This myth that the Government have been clinging to, of those moderate Greek Cypriots who are going to come forward when E.O.K.A. is finally destroyed— believe me, it is a complete illusion. I do not believe that moderate Cypriots who have remained in hiding while times are difficult will appear when Limes ease. I think that that is a delusion. It is the Archbishop who rules the roost where any negotiations with the Cypriots are concerned. The second thing is: I beg the Government, with all earnestness, to realise that partition is a completely hopeless policy; there is no future for it at all. If they begin to look at the future from these two points of view—that the Archbishop cannot be by-passed and that there is no solution in partition—then I feel that there is hope in the prospects of the future which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has given us this afternoon.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I am afraid that what I have to say this afternoon may strike a note which is rather discordant, in comparison with the speeches which your Lordships have just heard, and that I may incur the disapproval of the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; but since I believe in the truth of what I am going to say, I feel bound to say it.

I confess that it was with considerable surprise that I heard the announcement of this new initiative by Her Majesty's Government, because it seems to me to be a very definite reversal of policy. Until recently, the attitude of Her Majesty's Government was that there could be no question of the Archbishop's release until he had denounced violence; and I do not think that anybody who has read the Archbishop's statement can really believe that it amounts to sincere denunciation of violence. It was qualified by words which were quite unacceptable to Her Majesty's Government, and I cannot see in that statement the kind of denunciation which the Government obviously intended they should receive.

It seems to me that the Archbishop has conceded very little and, since he has obtained his release, it must appear to the world that it is Her Majesty's Government who have had to climb down. I do not say that this is so, but it must appear to the world that the Archbishop has gained a notable victory. Alone and unaided, he has defied Her Majesty's Government, and despite all they have said, they have been compelled to release him. I feel, equally, that in a sense the Archbishop could have no better vindication for the policy of intransigence which he has pursued. What concerns me more, if this appears to the world to be a triumph for the Archbishop, how much more must it appear to be a triumph for the things for which the Archbishop has stood, and notably the achievement of one's political aims by the use of violence. It seems to me to be a dangerous example which, unfortunately, might well be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested by other aspiring politicians in colonial territories.

Again, it seems to me that to the world this decision must appear calculated to discourage the Turkish Government, who over these difficult times have been consistently friendly to us, and to encourage the Greek Government, who, so far as I can see, have adopted a very different attitude. When we consider the vital rôle which Turkey plays, both in N.A.T.O. and in the Baghdad Pact—a point which has been raised by several noble Lords—it is a serious matter. These are some of the obvious disadvantages which arise from the new policy of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore it appears to me that this new policy can be justified only if, for reasons which are not immediately apparent to the man in the street, Her Majesty's Government have cause to believe that this moment is opportune for the resumption of negotiations with the Archbishop and the Greek Government; and, more important still, that they have real reason to believe that such negotiations stand a much better prospect of success than the previous ones which broke down completely.

I gather that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to negotiate with both the Greek Government and the Archbishop. I do not expect them to say—and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said that it will be impossible for them to say at the present moment—the precise form these negotiations will take. I accept that. I understand that N.A.T.O. is to be brought in at some stage, and that the Archbishop is to be a member of a Greek delegation—I gather this from the statement of the Colonial Secretary in another place. On this point I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Winster. The Government suggest that the Archbishop is to be cast in some minor rôle, but I think that here they will be proved wrong, because in any Greek Cypriot delegation it is perfectly clear that the Archbishop will be the dominating character. Obviously, in any negotiations with the Greek Government the Archbishop is going to play an important rôle behind the scenes.

Here again, I must say something which I fear will not be approved of by all noble Lords. I am bound to say that the Archbishop is not the sort of man with whom I would choose to do business. I consider his record to be deplorable. It would be deplorable in a layman, and in a priest it is particularly unattractive. Nevertheless, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said on a previous occasion and repeated to-day, there are times when however much you may disapprove of the actions of a certain person, it becomes necessary to negotiate with him. I agree with the noble Earl. If, in the past, I have opposed negotiations with the Archbishop, it was not on account of any squeamishness on my part about negotiating with him, but because I felt then that further negotiation had little chance of success.

I feel that we must once again consider for a moment the fundamentals of this problem. The present troubles in Cyprus, as I see them, are caused by the demand of the Archbishop, backed by the Greek Government, for self-determination. Equally, whatever the Greeks may feel, it is clear that that demand for self-determination is rigorously opposed by the Turkish minority and by the Turkish Government. None of the actions of E.O.K.A., or the propaganda from Athens, has done anything, I think, except to stiffen Turkish resistance against this idea. Those are the facts. I know that it is the view of noble Lords opposite—I think the noble Lord, Lord Winster, said it this afternoon—that, since the Turks are a minority, their wishes cannot be allowed to frustrate those of the majority. But whatever the merits, on theoretical grounds, of that particular argument, I do not believe that it is practical politics at the present time to give self-determination to the Greek Cypriots in the teeth of Turkish opposition. I say that for this reason. I do not believe that such a policy would bring peace to Cyprus. On the contrary, I believe that it would almost certainly unleash a fresh wave of communal violence. And I do not think the effects of that violence could be limited to Cyprus; they would strain the relations between the Greek and Turkish Governments to a pitch which might well wreck N.A.T.O. in the Eastern Mediterranean and rock the Baghdad Pact to its very foundations.

I should now like to say a word or two about our own position. In a previous debate, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, took the view, which he again expressed this afternoon, that the existence of a British base in Cyprus is an anachronism, a thing of the past and out of date. I am not a military expert, but I have always taken the view that the noble Earl is wrong about that—and I have a certain amount of military opinion on my side. However, I do not think that matter is particularly important in this context, because it seems to me that, even if we withdrew from Cyprus, lock, stock and barrel, to-morrow, it would do nothing to solve the problem to which I have just been referring. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it is only our presence in Cyprus that has hitherto prevented a serious breach between Greece and Turkey. Therefore, I do not believe that it is our strategic requirements which constitute the problem; and if it were possible to solve the question of self-determination, I do not believe that the question of a British or N.A.T.O. base in Cyprus would present much of a difficulty.

However, I come back to something which was said by the most reverend Primate recently, and repeated to-day. I do not believe that it is possible to deal with the problem of self-determination in the present atmosphere of tension, hatred and bitterness. If I am right, then it seems to me to follow logically that any prospect of successful negotiations now must depend upon the willingness of both the Archbishop and the Greek Government to shelve, at any rate for the time being, the whole issue of self-determination.


If I may interrupt the noble Lord, that is what I said in my speech.


I do not think there is anything between us. I was intending to say that that is what the most reverend Primate said in his speech. It seems to me that that is the whole crux of these negotiations.

I had hoped that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, might be able to tell us that the Government had some definite reason to believe that all parties were going to change their minds. I say that advisedly, because the difficulty in this world is that, once people have got themselves into the position where they had taken up attitudes as violently as have the Archbishop and the Greek Government—and indeed, the Turkish Government also—it is difficult for them to get out. The Archbishop and the Greek Government have made self-determination the main plank of their platform. It is the mast to which they have nailed their flag more securely than any flag has even been nailed. Therefore I confess that I have considerable doubts (I hope I may be wrong) about the prospect of these negotiations. I do not know the present attitude of the Greek Government, but the public pronouncements of the Archbishop fill me with considerable apprehension. I do not propose to dwell upon what he has said, because, as the most reverend Primate remarked, it does not help to repeat what people have said. But I confess that I find extremely disappointing the attitude he has so far evinced, and I do not find it one which could possibly give one cause to hope that he has had a change of heart.

Now I should like to say a few words about N.A.T.O. Her Majesty's Government, I gather, have considerable faith in this idea of conciliation by N.A.T.O. Here again, I sincerely hope that they may be right. I would only say that the proposals seem to have had a very rude reception from the Greek Government—and perhaps the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will be able to say something about that matter in his reply. Possibly this difficulty may be overcome; I hope so. But even so, I wonder how N.A.T.O. is going to be able to resolve the fundamental problem of the international status, to which I have been referring, any more easily that we, who have been labouring to do precisely this for the last three years. I should have thought that in some ways N.A.T.O. might find it even more difficult than we have done. As I say, although Her Majesty's Government, so far, have given us no reason, so far as I can see, to suppose that these negotiations are likely to be any more successful than past negotiations, I continue to hope that they may be right, and that they may be able to produce from these negotiations the solution for which we have all been waiting for so long. I say that with very sincere feeling—for this reason. It seems to me that if Her Majesty's Government fail to produce a successful solution as the result of these negotiations, then the prospect is a bleak one indeed.

The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, on a number of occasions has seen fit to compare the situation in Cyprus with the situation that obtained in Ireland. When I was sitting on the Government Front Bench, he used the Irish analogy and urged it as a reason for negotiating with Archbishop Makarios. He pointed out that, despite everything that had happened, in the end the British Government of the day had to negotiate with the leaders of the Irish Rebellion. I saw the force of his argument, but I always felt that he might have carried the analogy a little further and reminded your Lordships that these Irish negotiations did not lead to unification but to the partition of Ireland. He might also have reminded the Archbishop that Michael Collins was assassinated—but that is by the way. I myself feel that there is a grave danger, as the most reverend Primate said, that if we cannot get a solution now, partition will be the only answer. Perhaps the threat of partition at the present moment may be one of the most salutary ways of bringing all parties to their senses. King Solomon, I believe, found it effective in deciding the ownership of a baby many years ago.

Partition is never a very satisfactory solution, politically or economically. It is particularly unsatisfactory in a small island like Cyprus, which is only just viable even as things are at present. Partition of Cyprus would present much greater problems than the partition of Ireland. In Ireland, there was the homogeneous Protestant community in the north, whereas in Cyprus the Turkish community is spread out evenly over the whole island; so that in the event of partition, transfer of population would be inevitable. This, however, is not impossible, because there were large transfers of population after the First World War. Nevertheless, nobody wants partition if it can be avoided. That is the reason why I personally have always hoped that, if self determination could be shelved, some bi-racial solution might be achieved. It seemed to me that if terrorism could have been eliminated, and the Cypriots, Greek and Turk, left free to work side by side to make a success of the Radcliffe Constitution, a new independent Cypriot nation, owing allegiance neither to Greece nor to Turkey, might have emerged. I feel that that would have been the best solution of all.

The difficulties of such a policy are very great, owing to the communal pressures built up and to the fact that, inevitably, over a considerable period, self-determination had to be shelved. But what I do say is that I believe that by our action in releasing the Archbishop, we have killed stone dead any prospects of that policy. The Archbishop will now be free to travel anywhere, and he is certain to push demands for self-determination in Athens, London, Washington and at U.N.O. He has already begun a campaign to return to Cyprus. In such circumstances, what hope is there of shelving self-determination? Therefore I say that the policy has been killed stone dead. Unless these negotiations can succeed, partition seems to me inevitable.

I regret that the Government should have left themselves, as I see it, with so little room for manœuvre—for that, I feel, is the effect of their releasing the Archbishop in these circumstances. The Prime Minister described this new initiative as an act of generous statesmanship. Certainly it was an act of generosity, but I must be forgiven if I have some doubts about the statesmanship. I hope I am wrong. I hope that out of this new initiative will come a solution for which we have all waited. If, by any unhappy chance, I am right, and if partition does become inevitable, then I hope, equally, that Her Majesty's Government will get on with the job of partition as quickly as possible, because, whatever good will we may have towards the people of Cyprus, I suggest to your Lordships that there are at stake at the moment even more important issues than merely the island of Cyprus. For the future of N.A.T.O., the future of the Baghdad Pact and the future of peace in the Middle East, we cannot afford indefinitely to have this running sore in the Eastern Mediterranean. We cannot afford to drift along indefinitely with this situation. Therefore there must be a cure before long, and I hope that it may come out of these negotiations. If not, and partition seems the only solution, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will pursue such a policy with determination and with speed.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, I think your Lordships will agree that the noble Lord's speech was a refreshing example of the freedom which a seat on the Back Bench gives to a noble Lord who has been for a long time a Minister on the Front Bench. Party heresy, when it is sincere and well informed, always adds to the spice of our debates. I think, at any rate, the Government are to be congratulated on avoiding so narrowly the loss of two Ministers instead of one over the release of the Archbishop.

I should like to say a few words about Cyprus, which has been the main theme of the debate this afternoon. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, pointed out that I asked the Government in the last debate we had on Cyprus whether they would consider sending an all-Party Parliamentary Mission to the island. I am grateful to the noble Earl for having given thought to this suggestion and for saying that the Government are still giving it careful consideration. At any rate, I think I can assume from the noble Earl's reply that it is not turned down. But I should like to point out that such a Mission, owing to the developments since February in the island, has, I believe, become even more opportune than it would have been at that time. Since the E.O.K.A. truce offer in March, there has been a lull in acts of violence and a suspension of terrorism. The door is open a lot wider than it was a couple of months ago.

As the noble Earl pointed out, the Government of Cyprus have also relaxed some of the most irksome and contentious security regulations, and certain important detainees and other persons have been released. These are all factors making for an atmosphere favourable to negotiation, which is the atmosphere we want to create. I still strongly believe that a gesture from the United Kingdom Parliament, which, after all, has the final responsibility for Cyprus at the present time, would contribute considerably to the right atmosphere for talks between us and the Cypriot leaders. Although, in this matter of timing, clearly the Government alone are in a position to decide, and the advice of the Governor will weigh heavily, I hope that there may be a favourable decision and that this will come as soon as possible, because I think it would do more good in the near future than if it were postponed.

I wish to ask the Government a question of which I gave notice—and I believe the noble and learned Viscount will be good enough to reply when he winds up—relating to Archbishop Makarios. I will come to the question in a moment. I take the view—and I think the only noble Lord who has expressed an opposite view is the noble Lord who has just spoken—that the release of the Archbishop offers the best chance of a negotiated settlement since violence broke out in Cyprus about two years ago. I believe that that view was shared by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when he quoted the famous lines from Julius Cœsar. This chance will be surely lost unless all the parties to the dispute, Greek, Turkish and British, are prepared to throw something more than they have thrown at present into the pool for the sake of agreement. If I understood the most reverend Primate rightly, the gist of his moving appeal was that all parties should make a further constructive contribution towards a settlement. But, however that may be, the major responsibility rests with the British Government, and it is for them to take the initiative and to make the next move. It will do the Government nothing but credit if they are prepared to make another concession which will open the door to negotiations, whether or not the negotiations which ensue ultimately succeed.

I suggest that the right move to make next—indeed, to make now—would be for the Government to declare their willingness to start immediate talks in London with the Archbishop and other leaders of both communities in Cyprus. The noble Earl went very near this, but what he said was not, by any means, as I interpreted it, the same thing. He said that the Government would invite a conference in London at an opportune moment. I thought that the really important words in his statement were the qualifying words "at an opportune moment ". Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount, The Lord Chancellor, when he winds up, will be good enough to give some further clarification of the meaning of those words. I should like to say why I think this matter of timing is very important. I hope that the Government will not continue to insist on inter-governmental talks under the auspices of N.A.T.O. as a prior condition of talks with the Cypriot leaders. Nothing that the noble Earl said this afternoon suggested that they had decided to waive this condition which was laid down quite clearly by the Secretary of State when he spoke fairly recently in another place.

Let us look at this N.A.T.O. conference which I and many speakers this afternoon think is desirable. Obviously, it cannot take place unless all the Governments concerned are willing to participate. At present, as several noble Lords have pointed out, the Greek Government has refused to take any part. I hope—I know that the hope was expressed by the most reverend Primate, whose influence will be much greater than mine or that of any other noble Lord who speaks in this debate—that Greece will change its mind about this conference and decide to join with the other members of N.A.T.O. After all, Turkey may also change her mind, and Turkey has received a serious blow by the release of the Archbishop. We must not assume that one Government will change its mind and that another Government will adhere to a decision that it has already taken. It is therefore uncertain—I think everyone will agree with this—that this N.A.T.O. conference will in fact take place. But even if it does take place, and even if, which is even more uncertain, the parties at this conference succeed in reaching agreement—and I say it is uncertain because the difficulty of agreement between Turkey and Greece emerges from every effort that has been made to bring these two countries together in the past few years—there will still be no valid reason for such a long delay in the start of talks between Her Majesty's Ministers and the Cypriot leaders. The situation in Cyprus is much too urgent for such a delay to be justified.

I think the ideal would be for the two conferences, the N.A.T.O. conference and the British-Cypriot talks, to be concurrent and not successive. This would be possible only if the Government were prepared to waive a prior condition which they have so far attached to negotiations with Cyprus. The other change that is required in policy—I think it is a change that has been made and, if I have interpreted the noble Earl rightly, I am grateful for it—is that the Radcliffe Constitution should be regarded as a negotiable instrument. The attitude which the Government have taken up hitherto has been that these proposals are, if the most reverend Primate will forgive this particular use of the expression, something like Holy Writ, in the sense that they must be either accepted or rejected in toto.


Will the noble Earl allow me to intervene? I do not think that anything I have said this afternoon should be interpreted as meaning that it was negotiable if that means in a wide sense. It is a nicely balanced document, and nicely balanced documents are always open to discussion; otherwise there would be no point in inviting discussion which we have always said we were ready to have. I think we should leave it at that.


But what is the point of discussion unless you can modify a document in the light of comments and criticism? Otherwise, it is quite out of the question for these discussions to take place. It rules them out from the start. What I should like the noble Earl to say is that minor amendments could be made to the Radcliffe proposals in the light of the comments that both the Turks and the Greeks may make. I do not know whether the noble Earl would like to reply to that now or would prefer to leave it to the noble and learned Viscount when he winds up. What seems to be absolutely essential and indispensable, if the Government are serious about these talks with the Cypriot leaders, is that the Radcliffe proposals should be at any rate susceptible to some measure of alteration in the light of the arguments that take place at the time. If the Government are willing, as they evidently are, to consider direct talks with the Cypriot leaders at whatever moment may be convenient and suitable, the next step should surely be a meeting with the Archbishop in London.

That is why I am asking a second question. This is the only question of which I have given prior notice because it is of some importance and I realise that I could expect an answer only if the Government had had time to give their minds to it. The question is this: would the Government be prepared to meet the Archbishop and discuss the future of Cyprus with him if he were to come to London after his visit to Athens? It seems to me that some sort of informal preliminary talk with the Archbishop is essential to pave the way for the formal talks which the Government say they are prepared to have with the Cypriot leaders. It would give an opportunity to deal with the conditions under which these formal talks could take place and to draw up and agree some sort of agenda for a conference.

At the moment, the Government, the Archbishop and Mr. Kutchuk, the Turkish leader—I was glad to hear the noble Earl refer to the difficulties from that side as well—are far from agreement about the conditions under which any formal conference could take place. It is obvious that concessions are required on all sides. But the way to obtain these concessions is surely to discuss the differences and difficulties in a friendly and informal way. I hope that the Archbishop may be willing to modify his attitude. He naturally and rightly is anxious to discuss the Cyprus situation with his friends in the Ethnarchy, to bring himself up-to-date with events that have taken place while he was away in the Seychelles. I think everyone will agree that that is a reasonable desire. The possibility of meeting his friends in Athens instead of in Cyprus should not be ruled out. I hope he will consider that alternative, if this can be arranged. The Archbishop would then be in a position, without any serious disadvantage, to accept the Government's view that he should not for the time being return to Cyprus.

Again, I think that the Archbishop might well reconsider his views about discussions with the Turkish Cypriots: and, of course, the Turkish Cypriots should reconsider their views about discussions with the Greek leaders. It ought to be made absolutely plain—and it is particularly important that this should come from our side—that no British Government could disregard the right of the Turkish minority in Cyprus to be consulted about the future of the island. But it might be helpful to consider this and it might be practicable and convenient to deal with these two sets of talks quite separately and to conduct them separately—that is to say, to have one set of talks with the Greek leaders and quite separate conversations with the Turkish leaders. This has been referred to by the Archbishop, and I hope he will listen to the appeal of the most reverend Primate to him, as it is from a fellow Archbishop, that these public utterances are perhaps better deferred. As this matter was mentioned by him, I think it ought to be raised. The political amnesty and the ending of the state of emergency, which, of course, are of vital importance to people in Cyprus, are surely matters that must await the outcome of negotiations for a political settlement and cannot be dealt with immediately.

My Lords, the really vital thing is that these negotiations with the Cypriots should get under way at the earliest possible moment. If both the Archbishop and the Government, and the Turkish leaders, are prepared to climb down from certain public utterances about the conditions they are stipulating before talks can begin, it will even then still be necessary to agree about the subject matter of the negotiations. I think the Government should open the door as widely as possible, while trying to exclude topics on which disagreement is almost certain.

The main subject for discussion will clearly be the Radcliffe proposals. These are the ideal basis for an interim Constitution which could provide Cyprus with a representative Government, to which, later on, we could transfer power. But I do not think we can rule out—we certainly could not get agreement to rule out—a further discussion of some of the conditions of self-determination. Other wise, it might be impossible to get any measure of agreement about what is going to happen in the interim period. Obviously, it would be highly desirable for all the parties to accept the view that the particular form of independence—whether it is partition, or union with Greece, or independence inside or outside the Commonwealth—should be left open for decision in Cyprus, after a representative Government is well under way and has been firmly established.

But I think we must be more definite than we have been about suggesting a date for the transfer of power. I know the difficulties and risks about fixing a date. I should not like this to become our usual practice in dealing with dependent territories. But we have done it before in exceptional cases—we did it in India and, much more recently, we did it in Nigeria. Cyprus is certainly an exceptional case and therefore merits exceptional treatment. I think that Cyprus should be allowed to decide about its own future within a definite period of years from the start of an interim Constitution. An offer of that kind would be much more likely than any other to make such an interim Constitution acceptable. This, indeed, would give the people of Cyprus the best and the only possible incentive to prepare themselves, in friendly co-operation with us, to exercise the supreme responsibility of determining their own future.

I cannot see any reason why the initiation of British-Cypriot talks should deflect the Government from their present purpose of enabling inter-governmental talks between the N.A.T.O. partners. I am sure that that would be a good thing, because the problem of Cyprus is obviously of vast importance to other countries; it is an international as well as a British problem. We should spare no effort to avoid further serious friction, leading possibly, at the worst, to armed conflict between Greece and Turkey. It would certainly be helpful to peace if Greece would recognise the Turkish security interest in Cyprus and be willing to discuss with Turkey and her other N.A.T.O. partners the feasibility of arrangements that will allay the Turkish fear, which is most genuine, that the island may be used as a base for an attack on the mainland of Turkey.

If in this way Turkish security is guaranteed by N.A.T.O., and the rights of the Turkish minority in Cyprus are effectively guaranteed by the safeguards in the Radcliffe Constitution, then surely Turkey could no longer have any valid objection to a constitutional advance in Cyprus as the immediate aim. One would also hope that the Turkish insistence on partition as the only long-term solution might be withdrawn. But I think we ought to bear in mind, because it is absolutely essential to the possibility of agreement, that while we should do our utmost, and continue to do our utmost, to obtain the consent of Turkey to what we propose for the future of Cyprus, we must not allow the disapproval of Turkey, or indeed of any other country, to prevent us from doing what we think is right. The future of Cyprus, like that of any other British dependency, is our responsibility; it is a domestic matter between us and the people of the island. I cannot believe that our country has sunk so low that we would ever accept the veto of any foreign Power in the discharge of this responsibility.

For whatever reason (if one looks at things from the worst and most disastrous point of view) this opportunity for a political settlement may elude us, I hope the Government will remember that the alternative to a settlement of this kind is not a resumption of the peaceful and orderly direct British rule that obtained in Cyprus before violence broke out. We can never put the clock back and return to what happened more than two years ago. The only alternative to an agreed political settlement is a resumption of bloodshed, and, on our side, a continuation of coercion. I believe that this would do our country more harm in the eyes of the outside world than all the good we are doing by giving dependent territories their freedom. I am afraid it is the defects rather than the qualities of colonial countries that are most underlined in the outside world, and I hope that reflection on this grim and really terrible alternative will be sufficient to induce the Government to take a fresh initiative and to make another move towards a peaceful settle-in Cyprus.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, after the many notable speeches we have heard on this subject to-day, I do not want to detain your Lordships for long. There are, however, one or two points that I should like to put before you. First of all, I want to say that I welcome most warmly the action of Her Majesty's Government in releasing the Archbishop—a step in the right direction. I also welcome the spirit of the speech to-day of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the new opportunity which he sees opening.

Next, I would put it to the House that there is one fundamental question which we are now much better placed to assess than on previous occasions when we have debated Cyprus; that is, whether Cyprus is still vitally necessary as a British base. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Lord, Lord Winster, have already touched on this aspect. It is a question which needs reassessing in the light of Suez and in the light of the White Paper on Defence. We are not now debating the Defence White Paper, but I would note that it states, in paragraph 10, on page 2: The defence of Britain is possible only as part of the collective defence of the free world. This conception of collective defence is the basis of the North Atlantic, South-East Asia and Baghdad Alliances. I should have thought that the Suez operation had proved conclusively, once for all, that Cyprus has no longer any value as a purely British base. The base is not needed any longer to protect British troops in Jordan, whilst the policy of using it unilaterally, or even in conjunction with the French, to protect the Suez Canal, or for intervention in Middle Eastern affairs, has been proved to be politically disastrous, if not also militarily ineffective. As we have seen, our Baghdad Pact obligation is a joint one.

On the other hand, it would seem that if Cyprus now has a military and strategic value at all, the need there is for a N.A.T.O. base. It is at the heart of the Mediterranean area, which the southern extension of N.A.T.O. is designed to protect. If that is so—and I submit that it is a matter for calm and dispassionate reassessment—the main reason for the continued presence of Britain as a Colonial Power in Cyprus falls to the ground. As we know, the great majority of the Cypriots want Enosis—union with Greece. The Turkish minority of 18 per cent. alone want the status quo. That is really not a reason for Britain to remain there indefinitely as a policeman, at the cost of bloodshed, great expense and general odium—a situation, moreover, which involves us in dispute with our old friends in Greece, the most faithful friends we have had in the Mediterranean, and which weakens the N.A.T.O. structure in a vital sector and places Britain permanently "in the dock" at the United Nations.

One of the worst features of our Cyprus policy is that it distorts and defaces our fair record for statesmanship throughout all other parts of our Empire. It will be said that we have offered Cyprus the Radcliffe Constitution, and no doubt that is a perfect instrument, so far as it goes. I feel that all parties involved—Cypriots, Greeks, Turks and the British—are under a deep debt of gratitude to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Radcliffe, for what he has done. But the stubborn fact remains that the majority of Cypriots do not want self-government. They want Enosis. We are rather in the position of offering a man something which, however perfect, he simply does not want. Owing to the fumbling policy we have hitherto followed, relations between Greeks and Turks—up till then excellent, both in Cyprus and between Greece and Turkey—are now so exacerbated and tense that any immediate radical solution on the lines of Enosis is impracticable. I believe that all reasonable opinion in Cyprus, as in Greece, now recognises this fact. Enosis now would lead to fresh bloodshed in Cyprus, and to grave peril to the respective minorities in Greece and in Turkey. The only hope is for an intermediate solution: to put Cyprus in a kind of cold storage, in an intermediate position between a British colony and independence, neither bond nor free.

Here, I believe that we can find some help in N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. is the one international body directly interested, not only in the efficient maintenance of the base but also in peaceful conditions in the Island, and it is a body of which Turkey and Greece, as well as Britain and the United States of America, are members. It seems to me that the first step would be to consider turning the British base into a N.A.T.O. base, thereby removing our exclusive responsibility for its maintenance and security. I believe that that would remove also some of the sting resulting from the excessively military character of our present administration. But that, obviously, is only a first step. The next is clearly to try to restart civil government with the widest possible measure of Cypriot responsibility, on the lines of the Radcliffe Constitution which I feel all must accept as a starting point, not on a "Take or leave it" basis, but as a basis for serious and reasonable discussion. I feel perfectly satisfied with what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, with regard to that.

Here, however, no progress is likely unless we are ready to include a definite undertaking, providing for self-determination at the end of a stated period. I maintain that it has been the failure to do that up to now that has wrecked all our previous discussions. I believe it to be absolutely essential, and that without it we shall again get nowhere. In the light of the new military situation, can we not now reach agreement with the Greek Government and the Archbishop—for obviously they must both be brought in—on such terms as a N.A.T.O. base and the Radcliffe Constitution plus provision for self-determination, with all reasonable safeguards for minorities and perhaps demilitarisation, after a definite period? Surely it should not be beyond the wit of man to devise a formula to cover that and even, if necessary, to include a provision that the actual date of self-determination could be reviewed at the time by some impartial authority.

If we cannot reach agreement with the Greeks or the Cypriots on such a temporary system of government which all are honestly prepared to work, I maintain that it is intolerable that we should continue to saddle ourselves indefinitely with a burden which brings us no good. Failing agreement, I see only one possible alternative to a return to violence and bloodshed. That would be to invoke again the aid of N.A.T.O. and ask them to consider the possibility of assuming temporarily the civil as well as the military responsibility for the Island. It is an alternative that I should regret, and I believe that our Greek friends, too, would regret it. I think that they would prefer to have us there, rather than anybody else except themselves; but it would at least be better than renewed violence and bloodshed.

If the worst comes to the worst, it should be possible to devise a system of temporary government, based on the Radcliffe Constitution, under a N.A.T.O. High Commissioner, such an authority to run the base and be responsible also for the government of the Island until such time as passions cool and some more permanent solution becomes possible. There is a precedent for such a High Commissioner. The Powers appointed a High Commissioner for Crete, after her revolt from Turkey, in 1899. I myself believe it was unfortunate that Cyprus was not handed over to Greece after the First World War, when Turkey fought against us and the Greece of Venezelos was our Ally: or again just after the Second World War, when Greece was our Ally once more—one of the first and one who suffered most—while Turkey remained throughout, to say the least of it, extremely neutral, and after which the Dodecanese were handed over by Italy. But those golden chances were lost and now we are in a mess. So simple a solution is not now possible.

I maintain, however—and here I would humbly support what has been said by the right reverend Primate—that to talk of partition is quite misplaced. Partition is a word with very unhappy associations in recent history—Ireland, India and Pakistan and Kashmir. Greece has always had a particularly good record for the protection and toleration of her minorities, as for example in Western Thrace. It is now up to Greece to renew once more the statesmanship of Venezelos and bring about a fresh rapprochement with Turkey. Meanwhile, let us do our utmost to negotiate a workable and acceptable plan with the Cypriots and the Greeks for the temporary continuation of British rule; and if we cannot honestly achieve that, let us have recourse to N.A.T.O. Above all, let us not go back to bloodshed and repression.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with great respect, and I hope appreciation, to the speeches that have been delivered during this debate this afternoon; but I have to admit that the only one with which I can express complete agreement is that of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. I hope that during the course of what I have to say I may be able to make clear some of the reasons why I do not feel that the very generalised attitude towards this problem of Cyprus is adequate. I feel that such an attitude may induce an atmosphere of unreality: in rising to the height of great faith and very high principles, one may get completely out of touch with the real facts of the situation. I am concerned naturally with what happens in Cyprus itself, and what is to be the future of the people of Cyprus. I do not wish to deal with the high realm of high policy for the moment; I want to deal with those conditions, out of which high policy should spring.

I suggest that it is no good beginning at the top with high policy. Your high policy must evolve from study and a knowledge of the facts on the ground. May I illustrate this by one point? The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, at the conclusion of his speech, said he hoped that in the end Cypriots would have the joy of running their own affairs. But that is precisely what Archbishop Makarios has no intention of ever allowing them to do. He has no intention of allowing them to run their own affairs. Why is he killing them? Why are most of those who are killed, or who become casualties, in Cyprus, Greek Cypriots? Because they are people who do not agree with Archbishop Makarios. That is the way of the Archbishop and his friends of dealing with dissent. Why does he not wish to have any Constitution put forward? Because under any sort of Constitution which a British Government would sponsor the power in Cyprus would pass out of the hands of the Orthodox Church and its Archbishop and the Ethnarch and into the hands of the Prime Minister. That is precisely what the Church has no intention of permitting.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, looked, I thought, with some favour on what, to me, is the appalling idea of sending out a Parliamentary delegation to Cyprus. In view of the present climate of opinion in Cyprus, I think that would be at best a waste of time, and in all probability it would be a disaster. It could not do any good until the real problem, the establishment of some sort of good will, has been dealt with. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, asked why the Cyprus Government had broken down. It was, I suggest, because of a lack of competence on the part of the civil authorities in Cyprus over the period of the last generation. Lord Winster also said that he could not see what claim Turkey had to be considered in this matter. He must know the history of this area as well as I and your Lordships do. For the last 2,500 years Cyprus has been an essential part of the mainland of Asia Minor, and until a short time ago—fourteen years or whatever it is—when the British Government had sovereignty conceded to them, the Power owning Asia Minor had always owned Cyprus.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but could he tell us what language the majority of Cypriots speak?


My Lords, at the present moment the majority of Cypriots speak a kind of Greek dialect peculiar to Cyprus. That has not always been so. If the noble Lord will study the history of Cyprus, he will learn that the ethnic distribution has varied over the centuries. There has not always been a Greek-speaking majority in Cyprus. It is true that in modern times that has been the case. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, also deplored methods of combating violence. I do not know what methods the noble Lord would use to combat violence. You cannot combat violence with kid gloves. There is only one way in which, in these conditions, you can do it successfully, and that is by the use of force. I hope that what I have to say will make clear some of these points.

I do not propose to waste any time in crying over spilt milk. As I have said, the situation which impelled the British Government, two years ago, to send a distinguished soldier to restore the rule of law illustrated in Cyprus the failure of civil government—its failure in foresight and in firmness over a past generation. May I say at once that I have the highest respect and admiration for the patience and ability with which the distinguished soldier has throughout pursued his task—a task rendered no easier by the sentimentalists in this country who forget that you cannot fight violence and organised murder with kid gloves. In no period of history have they formed effective weapons. Nor am I in any way attacking, or wishing to attack, the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, whose sympathetic understanding of colonial problems has wrought such miraculously successful results in other spheres.

I just do not know what wave of optimism it was that submerged the judgment of the British Government in granting the release of Archbishop Makarios without the unequivocal renunciation of violence which had hitherto been their simple condition for his release. With great respect, I suggest that such a virtually unconditional release is not an act of "generous statesmanship." It seems to me a gamble based on reckless optimism and a disregard of the known character of the man concerned. Surely the time for magnanimity in a struggle of the kind going on in Cyprus is when the terrorist organisation is beaten and helpless. Then is the time for magnanimity. The Government now have the appearance of suing for terms, rather than of dictating them. And the behaviour of Archbishop Makarios since release is that of a victor laying down terms of surrender, rather than that of a man who has learned that the true interests of the Cypriot people are not served by terrorism and violence.

To appreciate the obduracy of Archbishop Makarios one must appreciate the standards of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus. Enosis has been fostered by a Church whose standards are those of mediæval Europe. It has established almost a monopoly control of secondary education and has been busy implanting in the younger generation an outlook the lamentable consequences of which are visible to-day, when teachers are caught laying mines with their students. In 1953 Archbishop Makarios declared in Church: We shall accept support from every hand,—even from dirty hands. He also said: We are prepared to accept assistance from East and West in our efforts to break from our imperialist masters. And what are the principles of this Church which claims to stand for freedom? It denies freedom of thought to its own followers, even on secular questions. It owns immensely valuable property and some 50,000 acres of land in Cyprus. It lets its land on lease for two or three years, and the tenant has no security of tenure unless he complies with the temporal and spiritual dictation of the Church. The Church exercises all the power of superstition and blackmail over a susceptible and ignorant rural population. In baptism, in marriage, in divorce, in burial and in the use of excommunication as as political weapon, it holds men's souls, as well as their property, in complete thrall. Its hold on the people is that of both landlord and priest. It has also plotted, in conspiracy with Greece, to strengthen its hold by dominating the minds of the young. All teachers in secondary schools recognised by the Greek Ministry of Education receive pensions from the Greek Government, whether they are Greeks or Cypriots who are British subjects, but those entitled to pensions must produce satisfactory certificates from the eccleciastical authorities in Cyprus before they can draw their pensions. The managers of the campaign of violence, chief among whom was Makarios, threatened teachers who were disinclined to become their accomplices with the loss of their pensions. The teachers are either Greeks or Greek Cypriots trained in Greek universities, and Cypriot educational certificates qualify for Greek university education. How long will it be before the Colonial Office appreciate these things? We have had this situation over education in Malaya, with Chinese schools staffed by men sent from China, with a curriculum that was settled not in Malaya but in China. We saw the same thing with Jomo Kenyatta schools in Kenya—for years they had a free run in preaching sedition to the young of Kenya. Now we have a similar situation in Cyprus.

The Archbishop is Ethnark of the Ethnarchy Council, and this body dominates all the Orthodox Church members of the Legislative Council. In the days when the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, was Secretary of State for the Colonies, he made it clear that the Church's activities in the political field would not be tolerated, and the chief offender, the Bishop of Paphos, gave a full undertaking, filed in court, never to offend again. But in 1947, with mistaken tolerance, the British repealed the law whereby the appointment of the Archbishops had to be approved by the Governor, and from then on they have exploited the position for seditious ends. I suggest that it would be a good thing if the British Government imposed a ban on the Church's participation in politics and reorganised the educational system so as to break this vicious link with Greece, so that the Cyprus Government could be master in its own house.

I feel that I ought to say something about the vital interest of Turkey in the fate of Cyprus, and of how, because of the clash between Turkey and Greece, the Cyprus question corrodes the future of N.A.T.O., and even throws a shadow on the Baghdad Pact. It is also a lamentable fact that the Cyprus question has become a political issue in Greece between the Government and the Opposition. The Opposition are trying to make political capital out of the charge that the Government are not being "tough" enough on the Cyprus issue, so that the Government are forced into a position which they might not otherwise have taken. All the time there is an attempt by the Opposition to create an atmosphere in which reasonable discussion between the countries concerned becomes impossible.

It cannot be too often repeated that Cyprus is an off shore island of Turkey, the mainland home of 25 million Turks, whereas the mainland of Greece is 700 miles away. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 for the purpose of ending the futile bloodshed and tragedy in the relations between Greece and Turkey. The cession of sovereignty over Cyprus by Turkey to the United Kingdom was bound up with the balance of many other settlements of the time. Cyprus had then been under Turkish sovereignty since 1571—for 352 years. Greece has no claim, modern or ancient, to sovereignty over Cyprus. That, too, cannot be too often repeated in this connection. That is why the idea was evolved of disguising this claim to sovereignty under the cry for self-determination—the popular modern cry—and then forcing the Enosis policy upon the Cypriots by incessant propaganda and, finally, by the campaign of blackmail, murder and violence of every kind.

The fate of Cyprus (this is elementary history) has always been linked with that of Asia Minor—for 2,400 years, back to the days of Alexander the Macedonian. It is of vital importance to the defence of Turkey that Cyprus should never fall into hostile hands. I listened with interest to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, saying that the hydrogen bomb had altered everything to-day. Whether he is right or wrong, I feel that that view is premature, though I know there is a tendency to-day to solve all difficult questions of this kind by saying that the hydrogen bomb has altered everything. If the country which holds all the Western approaches to Turkey is also given control of Cyprus, which controls the southern approaches to Turkey, then it has Turkey encircled. No country can be expected to submit to this fate without a fight. The present population of Cyprus is half a million, and of these 100,000 are Turkish in origin, language and culture. In past history, the predominance of the Greek Orthodox faith and the Greek dialect has not always been as it is to-day in Cyprus. There are 386,000 people in Cyprus to-day who speak the Greek dialect. The ethnic composition has varied considerably over the centuries.

However, to return to the present composition, 42 per cent. of the land in Cyprus belongs to Turks, who are predominantly farmers, and, in addition, the religious foundations belonging to the Turkish population have been valued by the official authorities in Cyprus at over 28 million dollars. But Makarios does not admit any right of the Turks to be heard or to take part in negotiations. My Lords, if this new and convenient cry of "Self-determination" is a principle which must override all else, why do we condemn Hitler's action in the Sudetenland and at Dantzig? Why is Austria forbidden to think of any union with Germany? Take the case of the Aaland Islands, between Sweden and Finland. These Islands have a Swedish population, and in a plebiscite in 1919 90 per cent. of the population voted to join Sweden. In spite of this, the League of Nations decided to reject the claim for self-determination and to recognise the sovereignty of Finland on geographic, strategic and other grounds.

On the other hand, the Enosis movement in Cyprus is, in essence, a conspiracy by a small and militant minority, maintained by threat, intimidation, terror and cold-blooded murder, including the slaughter of women and children. These are the people that we are asked to meet now and to let bygones be bygones. Even if we did let bygones be bygones, what is the probability of their behaviour in the future? The chief objective has not been the British or the Turks, but those Greek Cypriots who are not in favour of Greek annexation. Nothing has been considered too immoral, too shameful or too cowardly. Archbishop Makarios and his Church have for years used the threat and the practice of excommunication, the refusal of marriage rights, of the baptism of children and of Christian burial as weapons in eliminating opposition. Their organisation has murdered a greater number of Greek Cypriots than it has of British and Turks combined. The victims have included eminent personalities in the community. Some murders have taken place in a monastery and in a church during a religious service without evoking any protest from the officiating priest or from Archbishop Makarios. As the Turkish Ambassador said on February 18 of this year, when speaking to the Committee of the United Nations: What kind of national movement is this that exterminates its own children? What kind of liberal, ideological aspiraton for self-determination is this that asserts itself by terrorising and murdering those who are supposed to express their free will? We all know about the plebiscite carefully organised under Archbishop Makarios in 1950, when two books were placed in the churches and the people were gathered in by special messengers: the priests urged them in, and they were made to come, and in public every citizen had to write either in one book or the other. In one book it said: "I am in favour of annexation by Greece." In the other it said: "I am not in favour." Funnily enough, 95 per cent. of the population voted in favour. I can only say that I express my great admiration for the 5 per cent. who risked their lives by voting against it. I can think of countries where the vote is 99.99 per cent. in those circumstances.

There is no time to go into detail about the part played by the Greek Government. Greek Army Colonel Grivas was seconded for this grim work. Appalling vilification of Turkey is going on every day and every week in the Greek press and radio. In face of this, how can any idea of a Greek guarantee to Turkish Cypriots be taken as worth anything at all? On May 15, 1956, Colonel Grivas, in his proclamation threatening Greek Cypriots if his boycott was not obeyed by them, said, amongst other things: When water and fire become intimate friends and when Hell and Paradise unite, then and then only shall we be the sincere friends of the Turks. Perhaps, my Lords, the strangely sentimental attitude towards Greece of some of our leading politicians and public men is a hangover from a classical education. The glory that was Greece has not been enhanced by this discreditable modern affair of Cyprus.

So I come back, in conclusion, to where I began. What can the Government hope to build but disappointment, disillusionment and moral defeat on the shifting sands of such a misjudgment of the character of Archbishop Makarios? I, personally, deplore this tendency to trade in old principles in exchange for beautiful, glossy, chromium-plated expediency. The Archbishop is quite unrepentant. Whatever may have been the wisdom of locking him up in the first place, instead of just banishing him from Cyprus, I suggest that such action should have been taken much earlier, and, that having been done, it was unwise to release him until E.O.K.A. was finally crushed or until he made his unequivocal public renunciation of violence, which he has so pointedly failed to do. The timing of Government action seems to me to have been wrong at all crucial stages in this matter.

I should like to conclude by quoting a passage from the Christian World of August 30, 1956, which, incidentally, was also quoted to the United Nations at their meeting in February of this year. The paper said: There was always hope of a peaceful and agreed settlement of the whole question of Cyprus. Yet while discussing these matters over the conference table, the Archbishop was secretly planning acts of violence and murder against the nationals of the Power which was treating him with respect and courtesy as a recognised plenipotentiary. My Lords, I sincerely hope that history is not going to repeat itself. Is there any more that can be said? I hope that Her Majesty's Government will stand firm in their refusal to allow the Archbishop to return to Cyprus; that they will continue to take all necessary measures to stamp out terrorism in the island; that they will continue to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement on the basis of the Radcliffe Report, with or without the help of N.A.T.O., and, lastly, that they will deny to Archbishop Makarios the facilities for wrecking such negotiations.

I agree with every word that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, this afternoon, and I see, with other noble Lords, that the only final end to this tragic business will be partition. It is not an end which any of us would wish to see, but if matters take their present tendency that is the inevitable end. The man who has it within his power immediately to change the atmosphere of the whole thing is Archbishop Makarios himself, by a few simple words of repentance or regret—call it what name you like. I personally deplore this tendency to say that the next move is up to the British Government and to appeal to us to do what does not lie within our power to do.

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, it is in no traditional or formal sense that I say that the House is deeply indebted to my noble friend Lord Henderson for having raised this two days' debate. The fact that we have heard so many speeches from eminent persons on both sides of the House whose views are always worth listening to is an indication of the importance of this debate and the justification of my noble friend in having raised it. To-day we have heard a number of speeches from persons whose views are worthy of the greatest consideration. It is almost an impertinence to congratulate my noble friend Lord Attlee, but he made a speech of the greatest value and importance this afternoon. I must also refer to the excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, with every word of which I disagreed, but who, I thought, was certainly worth listening to. I should like to refer particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, who made a speech with which I fundamentally agreed—but it was none the worse for that.

I am in some difficulty in a debate of this kind on foreign affairs, because far-reaching events are taking place under our very eyes and it is difficult for us on this side of the House to have full knowledge of what is happening. I readily admit that there may be some difficulty for the Government to give us full knowledge of what is taking place. We are placed, therefore, in the dilemma of having to speak on inadequate information, of keeping silent or of blindly supporting the Government, whether we think they are right or wrong. On the other hand, if by any chance we feel that they are wrong, then we are criticised for acting or speaking against our country's interests, as we have been before, and we find ourselves in the greatest difficulty in doing our duty in debates on foreign affairs. I am glad to see that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, shakes his head, but we did suffer from that sort of thing during the debate on Suez, when those of us who took part in the debate felt that we had a duty to say what we honestly thought about things, and we were then almost accused of treachery to this country. The position is not as bad as that to-day; indeed, so far as I know, nobody has spoken in violent opposition to what is being done by the Government at the present moment.

The debate in these two days has ranged round the closely interconnected problems of Egypt, Suez, Palestine and the Arab States—which my noble friend Lord Attlee says should more correctly be described as the Near East, but which we to-day call the Middle East—and also on the problem of Cyprus. So much has been said in the course of the debate that it is difficult for anyone making the final speech from this side to say anything very fresh. All one can do is perhaps to underline some of the things that have been said, or to impress upon the noble and learned Viscount who is to reply that he is to make quite sure that he deals with a point which we fear may have been overlooked.

I should like first to refer to the question of the Suez Canal. Here, our information is in my view exceedingly vague. We know that six principles in the interests of users were laid down by the United Nations resolution of October 13. We know, of course, of the intervening events which have rather deferred a solution of the problem, but we now know that, as a result of the intervention by Mr. Hammarskjoeld, a draft memorandum has been given by the Egyptian Government to him which the Prime Minister informed another place was unsatisfactory. Now, so far as I know, this statement of the Egyptian Government has not been made public, and therefore none of us in this House or anywhere else is really in a position to pass any comment on whether the reply is unsatisfactory or not, whether it affords any opportunity for negotiations, or whether there is any possibility of arriving at any satisfactory solution. I do not know that I wish to quarrel with the Prime Minister's judgment on this reply of the Egyptian Government, but I think it would be better if we could have some information about this statement. I wonder whether the noble and learned Viscount can give us any further information. I know the, noble Earl, Lord Home, dealt partly with this matter yesterday, but I wonder whether the Lord Chancellor could, in addition, give us any information about the statement of the Egyptian Government.

In the meantime, so the Prime Minister said, British shipowners have been advised not to use the Canal, and similar advice has been given by the United States Government. I gather from what the noble Earl said in his speech yesterday that that advice has been largely followed by shipowners from this country. I do not know whether he referred to the advice given to United States nationals. I wonder whether the noble and learned Viscount could say generally what is the reaction of shipowners to the advice that has been given by this country and by the United States, and whether he can tell us what is the position about dues. Are dues being paid in full, or are they being held back by those shipowners who are using the Canal?

Then I should like to ask once more whether we have any policy or plans in the event of our being satisfied that the Egyptian reply continues to be unsatisfactory. Here again, the noble Earl, Lord Home, thought it was an unfair question to ask; that it was an hypothetical question and that he should not be tied down to any reply at the present time.


NO, not an unfair question. I thought it was a most natural question. I was not able or ready to answer it yesterday.


That rather encourages me to inquire whether it can be answered to-day. I appreciate that it is difficult to answer a question of this kind, and I do not want to press it too hard. What I do want to feel assured about is that we really have in our minds a course of action that we should follow in the event of the Egyptian policy being unsatisfactory. Unfortunately—and I am bound to say this—in the past few months our policy, if we have had one, has been rather one of drift and uncertainty. We have not had a definite and clear line. If we have started something, we have retracted from it and run away from it, whether it was right or wrong. I myself believe that, if you have a policy, you should stick to it and carry it out, and not run away from it; but we seem either to have run away from the policy that we have had or to have had none at all.

I should like to be assured, if the noble and learned Viscount can assure me, that we really have a policy, that we really have applied our minds to this question, which is not a remote hypothetical one but a real question that is likely to be with us in the very near future. I recognise, of course, that in this question of the Suez Canal, as in almost every international question, we cannot to-day act alone, or even in conjunction just with France or the United States of America we have to act through the United Nations. But we can, of course, make our influence felt if we act in agreement with the United States of America and France. I think there can be no doubt that if we know what we want to do we still have together considerable influence in the councils of the United Nations.

Then I should like to say a word about the position of oil. We are told—and it is perfectly true—that the oil of the Middle Hast is vital for our very existence. Not only is the oil that we get to-day vital, but we shall need it in increasing quantities as time goes on. Therefore, it is true, as the Prime Minister said in another place on April 1, that the peace and stability of the oil-producing areas must be preserved. I would comment on that by saying that it is not merely the peace and security of the oil-bearing areas in the Middle East that are vital to us; it is the whole of the Middle East, because it is impossible to insulate one particular small area. If trouble arises in the Middle East at all, it will undoubtedly affect the Canal, and even the oil pipelines, as it did before.

In the course of his speech, the Prime Minister made one rather curious remark. I wonder whether the noble and learned Viscount can explain it. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 568 (No. 84), col. 42]: …. we recognise the importance of the friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The importance to whom? So far as I can judge—and it is difficult without knowing all the facts—I should have thought that friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia at the present time, however important it might be, was not likely to be of great advantage to us. We are having our troubles in Aden and the Yemen. I should have thought that these troubles were being instigated by Saudi Arabia and that friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia was rather an encouragement to Saudi Arabia to carry on her existing conduct. I wondered, therefore, what the Prime Minister meant by his words, that he recognised "the importance of the friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia". If the noble and learned Viscount could explain that, I should be most grateful.

I want now to turn to the Gaza peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba. The United States Government and ourselves agreed at Bermuda that the continued presence of the United Nations Expeditionary Force was essential in that area if any solution of permanence was to be achieved. We agreed that the United Nations force should not leave until its mission had been completely fulfilled. I ask myself, what is its mission? Surely, it is, as the Prime Minister has stated, to achieve a permanent solution. It surely means a permanent solution of the difficulties that exist to-day in Palestine. It could mean nothing else. That is the very purpose of the existence of this force in that area. And yet the Prime Minister went on to say, almost in the next breath (col. 42): We "— that is, the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower— also considered the longer-term problem of a Palestine settlement, and here we both had, regretfully, to conclude that while our common interest continued to lie in bringing about a permanent settlement the chances of achieving this are not at present too hopeful. Of course, we all recognise that the chances of an early settlement are indeed very remote. Does that mean that the United Nations force is to remain there in this area until a settlement has been arrived at? That is what I understand by the statement that has been made as a result of the Bermuda Conference.

If I am light in believing that to be the case, and that that is the intention of both the President and the Prime Minister, then I would ask whether we have really considered the consequences of that. For instance, is it likely that the nations contributing the existing United Nations Force, which at the moment merely consists of forces from different countries owing their allegiance to their own countries and not primarily to the United Nations, would be willing to allow their nationals to remain in the Gaza Peninsula for an indefinite, and admittedly long, period? I doubt it very much. Therefore, this stabilising force, which it is believed is essential for the purpose of preserving the peace, may be withdrawn at any moment at the will of any of the countries who are at the present time sending their own forces to this area.

I should like to ask the Government (and I should be grateful if the noble and learned Viscount could make some comment on this) whether it would not be possible to take advantage of this fact by constituting a United Nations force, possibly using the same individuals as at present, if they were so minded, that would be directly under the command of the United Nations and also directly answerable to the United Nations—thereby, in a way, taking the first step towards creating a United Nations Police Force? I think that if we could really achieve that we should have gone a long way towards putting "teeth" into the United Nations Organisation—obviously, it is a small step in the beginning—and thereby enabling decisions of the United Nations to be properly carried out. I feel that we have an opportunity, if it is properly pursued, of doing something to create this Force, and if we met with any success at all, then out of this awful tangle and dangerous situation something good might come.

In the meantime, is there not a grave danger that events may overtake us, and that in the near future we may be faced once more with a serious international crisis? My noble friend Lord Henderson dealt with this matter yesterday, I thought most forcefully. I imagine that the Government are alive to it, but I should be grateful if the noble and learned Viscount could say whether anything is being done. We seem to be in the position of watching this crisis gradually developing, as if it is something inevitable, something that we cannot possibly do anything to prevent. I do not say for a moment that we are watching it with complacency, but at any rate we are watching it with a sense of helplessness. We have to realise that if a conflict does once more break out in the Middle East, the consequences may be far more serious than they would have been on the last occasion. I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government are not only fully alive to the gravity of the situation, but are taking active steps to see that it is prevented so far as that is possible.

My noble friend Lord Attlee counselled patience. I fully agree that patience is always a virtue in these matters, but I feel that he would be the last person to say that we ought to sit back at this moment and watch events taking control over the situation. Is there anything we can do immediately to alleviate the situation? I do not take the view that it is necessarily hopeless, or that a solution is as remote as appears to be the view of the President and the Prime Minister. I recognise that at the present moment the Arab States refuse to admit the existence of the State of Israel, let alone recognise it. Nevertheless, there are concrete things which I think would help to alleviate the situation—for instance, if over a period it were possible to avoid any incidents. These constant incidents on both sides create a constant atmosphere of crisis. If these incidents could somehow be stopped, for even as long as twelve months, it would go a long way towards creating a new atmosphere in which some kind of conversations might become possible.

There is the question of the refugees. That problem must be settled. I personally have had the opportunity of talking privately to various members of the Arab States who do not take such a hopeless attitude when one talks to them as they have to do publicly. Publicly, they put on a very different face towards things than represents their own private views. I think a solution of the refugee problem would go a long way. But we have to make some contribution. I do not think that either the Arab States or Israel alone can solve the refugee problem. To a large extent, it is a matter of money. Nobody suggests that it is possible to resettle the vast majority of the refugees in the State of Israel. The Arab States themselves recognise that that is not possible, even though publicly they may claim that that is their objective. If the necessary funds could be provided internationally—if we were prepared to play our part and take serious steps towards a start on resettling the refugees—I think that a new atmosphere would be created. Then there must be a willingness to give economic aid to the Arab States. If tension in that respect could be removed or lightened, again it would be of great help.

Finally, we must do everything possible to prevent another arms race. I recognise that there are difficulties if the Soviet Union is once more supplying arms to the Arabs. I would associate myself with what I think my noble friends Lord Attlee and Lord Henderson said: that, difficult as it may appear, an approach to the Soviet Union might be worth while. After all, they have no desire to start a world war or to see it come about. If they realised that their provision of arms to one side would be countered by the provision of arms to the other, which would result in another arms race, with the possibility of conflict breaking out at any moment and all the subsequent repercussions, it might be (I would not say for a moment that I can speak with confidence) that they would be prepared to moderate their ideas about providing arms to the Arab States. I admit that all this is by no means a certain method of bringing about peace between the Arab States and Israel, but I think it is worth while trying, and I feel that there is a much better chance than one is led to believe, from the statements of the President and of the Prime Minister, that they may succeed.

Finally, I want to say a few words about Cyprus. There is a complete conflict between the two sides on this question. There is the intransigent view, extremely well expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Lloyd and Lord Milverton and, diametrically opposed, the view of the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh. There is not very much that I can say on the release of the Archbishop. When the other day I ventured to suggest that the Archbishop might be allowed to go back to Cyprus I was met with loud cries of horror from the Benches opposite, I still think that I was right. Noble Lords opposite may have some doubts, as I have myself, as to the wisdom of releasing the Archbishop at all; and I can well understand the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, and others taking the view that he ought not to have been released—certainly not unless he had given definite assurances about his conduct. That is a perfectly intelligible point of view.

I am bound to say, however, that, having decided against that point of view, I can see no good reason for not letting him go back to Cyprus. Obviously Her Majesty's Government decided to act with generosity and to make a serious gesture which they hoped would lead to beneficial results. But they must have realised that to restrict the Archbishop from going back to Cyprus would defeat the very purpose that they had in mind; for he will take everything that is given to him and still have a grievance. Had I personally decided that it was right to release him I should not have given him the grievance that he is not allowed to return to his own country, that he can go anywhere else but to his own country. To that extent I have some sympathy with the views of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. I feel that this matter has been handled rather ineptly.

Having released the Archbishop Her Majesty's Government will in the very near future be forced to allow him to go back to Cyprus, for I cannot see how they can seriously resist that, especially if negotiations begin. They cannot then say that while they recognise the Archbishop as an important, if not an essential, person in these negotiations, those negotiations are to be carried out anywhere but in Cyprus, for that is, of course, a perfectly untenable position. We shall therefore find ourselves being forced to do that which, if we were going to do it at all, we should have done right at the outset.

Questions have been raised as to the importance to us or to N.A.T.O. of Cyprus as a base. I should be the last to form a judgment on this question. I have never been to Cyprus, but even if I had I should hesitate to form a judgment on a matter of that kind. But on the assumption that Cyprus is no longer of any importance to us as a base, what is our justification for hanging on to it? Does it not really turn on this question of its importance to us? We can have no other justification. Is it not logical and sensible to allow the people of Cyprus to decide for themselves what they want?

Noble Lords may criticise the propaganda that is occurring in Cyprus, as the noble Lord. Lord Milverton, has done, and the way in which the minds of the young are being perverted; but that is how we always describe propaganda with which we do not agree. The minds of the young are always being perverted in one direction or another. I sec no great difference between the kind of thing that, according to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, is being taught in the schools of Cyprus and the things that were taught to our children about the British Empire in days gone by. Children were then taught to believe in the virtues of the British Empire, which I do not at all dispute; those virtues existed and there was a good deal to be said for the British Empire in the days when it existed. But the fact remains that it was definite propaganda. Children were not encouraged to judge for themselves objectively on the virtues or otherwise of the British Empire. They were taught to believe that it was something fine and noble and that they ought at all costs to support it. Every country, naturally, does the same and I see nothing in that.

I feel, however, that unless we have some definite interest which justifies our remaining there, then there is no justification for the bloodshed which has been caused, not only of Cypriote but of our own people, in retaining a hold in Cyprus. If I am going a little further than some of my noble friends would go I am sorry, but we are here to say what we really think. I suppose everyone in this House would recognise that at some time or other we have to withdraw from Cyprus. No noble Lord—not even the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd—has suggested that we should stay on there for ever. The noble Lord went so far as to say that in view of the circumstances (the circumstances being the bloodshed that has recently taken place) we ought to postpone discussion of the date of self-determination; but nobody has suggested that there shall not be self-determination.

I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount what is the case for staying on and postponing self-determination indefinitely, except on the basis that we need Cyprus as a base. If that is the view of Her Majesty's Government I can understand it and can understand their difficulty in fixing a definite date; but in that case we should say that so long as we need Cyprus as a base we cannot agree on any date for self-determination. We have never said that to the Cypriots. We have always said that we will not fix a date until peaceful conditions are established; that only then will we discuss the question. The basis has never been that we have to remain as long as we need Cyprus as a base. I should like to clear my own mind on this very difficult subject.

May I offer one word of counsel to Her Majesty's Government about negotiations? Sooner or later there will have to be negotiations, and as one who over many years has had to earn his living by negotiations I would respectfully suggest that the worst way in which to enter them is to start off with conditions; for if you make conditions, so does the other fellow. If you say that the Radcliffe Constitution must stand except in minor details, because it is a perfectly balanced document and if one portion of it were upset the whole thing would collapse, I do not accept that. The most perfectly balanced document is capable of amendment, and amendment in more than detail. It can be amended in important respects. At any rate, to go into conference and say that you will amend the Radcliffe Constitution only in minor respects or so as not to interfere with the balance of the document is, in my judgment, going about the matter the wrong way. If we go into negotiations, let us go into them and give the other side the fullest opportunity of stating their case and making recommendations for amendment.

Then I would say, also, let us not stand on our dignity or try to save face. I do not think it matters who makes the first move. I think it was the most reverend Primate who said he thought that we ought to sit back and wait for Archbishop Makarios to make the first move. I see no particular virtue in waiting for the other side to make the first move. Is there any tactical advantage in it? I do not know. I do not think we ought to bother about getting tactical advantages. What we ought to do, if we are going to negotiate, is to negotiate as soon as possible and in a manner likely to give us the most satisfactory results. I agree completely with the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, that it is a great pity that Cyprus was not handed over to the Greeks at the time when that could have been done graciously, with advantage both to us and to the Greeks. However, it is too late to talk about that.

But the best thing we can do now is what we did in Palestine. When we found that our possession of the Mandate was untenable we just gave it up. It is true that that resulted in conflict; but I wonder what would have happened if we had remained the mandatory authority. We should have been far more involved in all this trouble to-day. We should have been parties to the dispute, which would have been far worse than merely having a dispute going on. Exactly the same would have been the case with regard to India. If we had hung on to India, we should not have saved ourselves trouble; we should have been involved directly in the troubles. I think we might well take a lesson even from Palestine. I see the noble Earl opposite smiles. I think, even so, it was better to do what we did than to become directly involved.

We on this side of the House have endeavoured to make our contribution to a peaceful solution of our difficulties—which I hope are temporary—and to make such suggestions as are open to us to make with the restricted knowledge that is available to us. I do not complain that this knowledge is restricted It may not be possible on all occasions and in all circumstances to make public knowledge which is available to the Government. Nevertheless, that does not exonerate us from making such suggestions as we can on such knowledge as we have. I hope the House will recognise that we have done this—as other noble Lords who have taken part in the debate have done—in a responsible and helpful manner I hope that the Government will speedily find a solution to the great difficulties and dangers that confront us. It would be a great mistake to minimise those difficulties and dangers. I, for one, certainly wish the Government well in dealing with the almost intractable problems that confront them.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, I have had the great good fortune of being present for every minute of this debate, and therefore of hearing every word of every speech that has been made. I am sure that your Lordships will envy that happy opportunity which occurs to the occupant of the Woolsack. I should like, if it is convenient to your Lordships, to divide the remarks which I have to make into two parts. First, I should like to pick up the points that have been made to-day, really in furtherance of our general discussion yesterday, and then pass on to the Cyprus situation. May I say one word to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who asked yesterday about Governmental statements on the frontiers and borders of Israel and the Arab States? I should be very grateful to the noble Lord if he would have another look at the statement made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on March 14. I do not want to read out long extracts to-day, but I should like to say to the noble Lord that if he finds difficulty with that, I shall be happy to discuss it with him. Then perhaps we could find another opportunity of clearing it up.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount. I am very familiar with the passage to which he refers me. I will look at it again, and I will discuss it with him. Then I should like to put down a Question to obtain a specific reply. I think the statement made by the Foreign Secretary still remains equivocal, and I should like to see something a little more precise stated officially and publicly.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I think he will agree that tins is the most convenient way of doing it We can, by following the course I have suggested, focus attention on the points with which he has difficulty, instead of covering the whole matter to-day.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, set out a considerable cross-examination for me on various points in regard to the Middle East. On the first of these points—namely, the question of the negotiations with regard to the position of the Canal—I am sorry that the passage of twenty-four hours has not enabled me to go beyond what was said by my noble friend Lord Home. I should like, however, to say this to the noble Lord. He wanted to know whether we were anxious about the position and were considering it. I should like to give him the assurance that it is one of the most important points which Her Majesty's Government are considering at the present time.

The noble Lord then asked me why my right honourable friend the Prime Minister had welcomed the friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. As I understand the position, the reason was this. As we have heard in this debate, our hope of stability among the Arab States has been Iraq, which has had a progressive policy with regard to the use of the oil revenues and a long friendship with this country, with which we are all familiar. One of the difficulties in the Arab world is the continuance for so long since the original campaign of the late King Ibn Saud against the Sharif, in, I think, 1921 or 1922, of the hostility between the ruling Houses of these two States. If their friendship can be restored through American influence on Saudi Arabia and the friendship of both the Americans and ourselves with Iraq, I think that that would be a stabilising factor of great value, as I believe noble Lords who know the Middle East will agree. I think that was what was in the mind of my right honourable friend.

With regard to the two points that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made on the United Nations Force and the opportunity for the United Nations, I think that even those who are most critical of the action of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Suez have admitted, as I certainly claim, that the two outstanding benefits of that policy were, first, that it caused the United Nations to take an active interest and employ an actual force in that area; and secondly, that it has pointed the way to the position which I have often heard my friend Sir Anthony Eden say he desired and the absence of which he so deplored—namely, that the United Nations should have effective "teeth" to carry out its objectives and functions in the world.

I was interested to hear the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, begin his speech by a profound observation, which he has made before in your Lordships' House, on the continuity of Russian foreign policy. He said, in effect, that their foreign policy to-day was the foreign policy of Peter and Catherine the Great. In continuing the noble Earl's line of thought, I would put forward the view that this policy was basically that of a cordon sanitaire, with "probing to weakness" in countries Russia found suitable; and I would ask the noble Earl to consider whether the best answer to a policy which includes "probing to weakness" is not to get rid of the weakness. That is the object of our policy in the Middle East at the present time. It is essential to do that, because as long as weakness is there, the temptation is there.

Coming to the question of Cyprus, again I know that your Lordships will forgive me if I try to deal with what seemed to me to be the most important point in the many interesting speeches that have been made. I should like to preface my remarks by saying how much I welcome the helpful speeches that have been made, and the helpful tone in which so many of them have been uttered. Logically, I think I should first consider the difficulties which were expressed by my noble friends Lord Lloyd and Lord Milverton on the change in the situation that caused the release of Archbishop Makarios. I want to approach their difficulties on what I think will be common ground with them. They will believe, and I would not dispute, that it was not possible at any time during the past two years to come to terms with Archbishop Makarios on any other basis than abdication, sooner rather than later, to the demand for Enosis; and it is wishful thinking to suppose that the necessary conditions existed for any reasonable accommodation between ourselves, the Turks and the Greek Cypriot leadership. These conditions had to be created and—here I make my first answer—that is what we have been doing and what the Governor, Sir John Harding, has been doing during the past year, and especially in the past few months.

If there was ever to be any reasonable settlement or, indeed, any normal political life again in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots had to be convinced that terrorism would be outfought and mastered. I should have thought that all that was common ground between the noble Lords and myself, although others might disagree with it; and it is because we believe that, on all these points, progress has been made and the position changed, that our policy has altered. The changes in the circumstances were, first, the very definite success of the security forces, and the fact that there has been virtually no recrudescence of terrorism since the E.O.K.A. statement; and, secondly, the statement of the Archbishop which, although conditional, does include an appeal for the ending of violence. In the view of Her Majesty's Government, the conjunction of these two events enables us to take this further positive step towards a peaceful solution.

I have put the matter bluntly, on the basis that after a period during which there was no difference in our situation, when these changes came, the Government had to reconsider the position and weigh it up. As has been said clearly, both in the statement which your Lordships heard and in the letter of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, our decision has had the full support of Sir John Harding and is part of what is deemed to be necessary for our general policy in the Island. But it has not stood alone in this matter. My noble friend Lord Perth mentioned the other factors which had come into existence, and I suggest to your Lordships that they are worthy of consideration.

First of all, we were indebted to my noble and learned friend Lord Radcliffe for his constitutional proposals which, if I may say so—and I have had some experience of Constitutions—are an admirable and imaginative solution of the problem with which they have to deal. Her Majesty's Government regard them as a balanced whole, fully capable of safeguarding all the interests concerned, including those of the minority in Cyprus. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, were rather anxious about what we had said with regard to the realm of discussion and change in these proposals. What my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary said was that the Government would pay the greatest possible attention to any suggestions; but he did say that we regarded it as a balanced whole. I appreciate what noble Lords have said; but if the objective of a Constitution is to give protection to minorities, and if, to take an example, a suggestion were made that there should be no protection for minorities, that would completely ruin the proposals of my noble and learned friend. Therefore one has to make clear that the basic contents must remain and that the area of discussion must not include suggestions which would destroy their ultimate and most important purpose.

Then I should like to remind your Lordships again, as my noble friend Lord Perth did, of the Government statement of December 19, where we made an absolutely clear declaration about the future application of self-determination and the conditions under which it can come about. I think it is worth pausing for a moment to consider what we then said. As I have stated, the statement clearly set forth our position, both on the introduction at the earliest moment of a Constitution on the lines of the Radcliffe Report and on the conditions on which self-determination by both communities in Cyprus can take place. Your Lordships will remember that; the Turkish Cypriot leaders have already discussed the Report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Radcliffe, with the Governor. The Turkish Prime Minister, M. Menderes, said on December 20 that my right honourable friend's statement, considered as a whole includes points of departure which could secure the final solution of the Cyprus problem. We will, of course, continue in close touch with those friends of ours. The Greek Government has, so far, maintained a negative attitude; and the Greek Cypriots have at best been non-committal. However, I feel at the moment that we are entitled to have some hope for the future; and, of course, we shall keep in touch with them.


Perhaps I might ask the noble and learned Viscount one question arising out of his remark about the agreement with the Government of Turkey. Did Her Majesty's Government give any undertaking in regard to a modification of the Radcliffe proposals, in the light of representations made by the Turkish Government? Was there any understanding on that subject before this agreement was reached?


Not as far as I know. What I quoted was the statement of welcome which M. Menderes made the next day. I certainly have no knowledge—and I think I should know if there were anything—that there had been any modification. If the noble Earl will follow the line of thought, I do not see how there could be; because there is the Radcliffe Report, and the Government could not alter it. As I have said, it was the Radcliffe Report and the statement of my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary, couched in the terms that I have really quoted to-day, on which M. Menderes's statement was made. I hope that that satisfies the noble Earl.

The other factor which we had to consider is the offer of the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. for conciliation on the differences which exist between the three Governments chiefly concerned. That we accepted. I hope your Lordships will bear with me if in that regard I deal with one point which I feel is important. Your Lordships will remember that there was, first of all, a United Nations resolution which said: The General Assembly, having considered the question of Cyprus, Believing that the solution of this problem requires an atmosphere of peace and freedom of expression, Expresses the earnest desire that a peaceful, democratic and just solution will be found in accord wth the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and the hope that negotiations will be resumed and continued to this end. I quote from the statement of the Archbishop, which really states both his view and that of the Greek Government on that resolution, where he says: We understand this resolution as an expression of the wish of the United Nations for bilateral negotiations between the British Government and the people of Cyprus. With the greatest respect, I do not see how that resolution could be so read: and we have not been able to accept that interpretation. In fact, the United Nations have said that the solution of the Cyprus problem requires an atmosphere of peace and freedom of expression… This represents, practically and precisely, the view from which Her Majesty's Government have never departed, and the action which they have taken is designed to achieve this end.

The United Nations resolution says nothing, as Archbishop Makarios suggests, about bilateral negotiations between the British Government and the people of Cyprus, but the resolution, which we supported, and which was passed without dissent, recognises the complexity of the problem and leaves the three Governments principally concerned free to resume negotiations by such means as they may find appropriate. Surely, after all that has been said in the last few months about the duty of member States to the United Nations, there is a duty on everyone concerned to try to put that resolution into effect by securing peaceful conditions and then a settlement of Cyprus, if they possibly can.

Now that is the background of the position. I want to say just one or two words about the position of the prospective talks, and I will deal with the point of which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was good enough to give me notice. We have been asked more than once in the debate whether talks on the Constitution are visualised, and when and where they will take place. As has been said, not only by my noble friend Lord Perth and myself but by many speakers in the debate, it would be unfortunate if any party to this difficult problem tied themselves down by over-precision at the present time. I remind your Lordships of what my noble friend Lord Perth said on March 28 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 202, col. 878]: …we have frequently said that the Radcliffe Constitution can be discussed, and so can other internal matters, with any representative body of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. It is really for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to choose their own representatives when the time may come. I do not doubt that Archbishop Makarios will be one of the representatives for the Greek Cypriots, but clearly any representation, if we are to get down to worth while discussions, must be broadly based. In saying this, I do not overlook the things that must be achieved first. But I should like to say, as was said by the most reverend Primate in the course of his very helpful remarks, that we shall not get very far if the Greek Cypriots, or anyone else, adopt an attitude of intransigence towards other sections of the population. We must remember that the Radcliffe proposals are for a unitary State, which means that all communities must be ready to work together for the good of the whole community. It will help very greatly with the constitutional problem if there is first an understanding on the international aspects which might be achieved through the acceptance of the offer of the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O.


May I ask the noble and learned Viscount a question on this point, because what he is saying is particularly important? Does he mean that these N.A.T.O. talks must take place before any talks with the Cypriot leaders, or does he merely mean that it would be helpful and useful if there could be N.A.T.O. talks before talks with the Cypriot leaders?


The position at the moment is that we have had the invitation from the Secretary-General and we have accepted it. I hope that, in the changed circumstances, as everyone has said, the Greek Government will change their preliminary view. The Turkish Government have said that they will accept the invitation, I very much desire that nothing should go out from this House which would minimise or reduce the importance of these N.A.T.O. talks. I hope that we shall make clear that it is the unanimous view—including, I think, the view of the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, who made the most strongly pro-Greek speech in this debate—that the Greek Government should accept that invitation. I believe that it is most important that we should get that instrument towards a solution on its way. I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, not to press me on a pessimistic hypothesis, because he knows very well from his own great experience that if once you get into discussions on pessimistic hypotheses they are taken as actuality very soon. On that point, may I leave the matter there.

The other point which the noble Earl asked me was: would Her Majesty's Government be prepared to see Archbishop Makarios if he came soon to London? As I have indicated, the Government have recognised that when the time comes for talks with representatives of all Cypriot communities on Lord Radcliffe's proposals, Archbishop Makarios would certainly be one of the Greek-Cypriot representatives. But the Government are not prepared to accept Archbishop Makarios as the sole representative of Cypriot opinion. Thus, in present circumstances, the Government would see no purpose in receiving him; and, indeed, if the Press statements of what the Archbishop has been saying are correct, that would hardly cause him surprise. I do not want to introduce a strain of flippancy into the matter, although it is difficult, when people make statements, not to refer to them. The difficulty is this, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will realise. The delicacy of the whole problem is the balance between the Turkish and the Greek interests.

I am not going to follow my noble friend Lord Milverton into the history of the island, but this, I think, one should bear in mind. As he said, the balance of populations has altered—I think I am right; he will correct rue if I am wrong—certainly in the last seventy years, from a slight majority of Turkish to the present majority of Greeks. There is the Turkish historical basis, there is the considerable number of Turkish people who are still there, and there is the geographical fact, which speaks more poignantly than the historical one, that the island is forty miles from the Turkish coast, as we have heard in this debate. In that situation, we are dealing, as I have said, with a delicate problem, and one in which it is very easy for any party to work up feelings which I am not going to use any adjectives to describe. That is the situation which we have to face. If we took the course of taking the Archbishop as the representative of the whole range of people of the island we should, I think, do immense harm. That must be avoided; and therefore I repeat, what has been said over and over again, that he can be one of the Greek Cypriot delegation, but he cannot be the sole delegate for the island.

After all your Lordships have heard in this debate I need not point out of what inestimable value a Constitution on the lines of that proposed by Lord Radcliffe would be to the people of Cyprus. We realise that as a Government, and in our efforts to achieve this end we have been prepared to take the risks that lie in the release of Archbishop Makarios from detention. But we took them in the belief that the circumstances warranted them and that it might make a contribution towards a settlement. It is a matter of opinion. A Government can only form its opinion and act on it. I need not say to any of your Lordships who are here how deep is my personal regret that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, should have taken a different view. Our friendship goes back a long time and our association has been very close; but, as I said, in the viewing of problems of this kind one must form one's opinion as to the right coarse to adopt and then one must follow it, however regretful the consequences may be. There are three stages, therefore. There is the cessation of terrorism, there is the international consideration and there is the discussion of the Constitution. I can only give your Lordships my opinion that I think we are greatly nearer a profitable solution for Cyprus and for this country through the steps that have been taken, and it is on that view that they have been presented to your Lordships to-day.

May I say one final word? I have not been able to deal with all the points raised, but I hope your Lordships will agree that I have tried to deal with the main points that have emerged. I want your Lordships to consider for a moment the wider aspect of this matter. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said that we should not give too much consideration to British interests. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, "Why not?" Unless you are satisfied on the question of the base, then you ought to clear out.

On the first point, I should like to remind your Lordships that there has been quoted in this debate what my noble friend Lord Lloyd said as a Minister with regard to the position of Cyprus as a base, and one must approach it to-day on that understanding. But I ask your Lordships, and through your Lordships I ask the world, to consider the problem that Britain faces in these fortress bases at the present time. They are there for the protection and safety of the free world; therefore their defence and foreign policy must be the defence and foreign policy of the free world. It cannot be their own. That follows unless we are going to give up the conception of a united defence of the free world and all we have been working for. The noble Earls, Lord Attlee, Lord Listowel and Lord Perth, all worked with me on that problem in relation to Malta, a problem which must be faced, where the rôle of constitutional development and independence has always the limitation on it, that so long as the condition of a fortress base exists, the foreign and defence policy must be that of the free world. That is a problem which we have had to face—and when I say "we" I do not mean in any Party sense: the Government of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, had to face it, just as we have had to face it. But do let us make this clear. Surely no one in the free world can object to our stating that it is their business and their objectives that we are trying to carry out as well as our own.

I want to mention only one more thing, because it has been referred to once or twice in this debate. It is this. Some noble Lords have used the term "colonialism" (in quotation marks I agree) as if it were a term of abuse. Surely we are entitled to point out the immensely great achievement in trusteeship and training which we have carried out with no Party differences at all. Certainly in the twenty-two years that I have been in Parliament, there have been no differences in the policy of trusteeship and training for our Colonies. In the past year I have tried to help my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary for a great proportion of my time in working out and advising on Constitutions for emerging territories where we have not faltered, as many said we would, at the last stage of independence. Whatever we may disagree on, let us hold the line determinedly on that: that we shall never regret that colonialism, as exemplified by British colonial bipartisan policy over the last fifty years, is something at which the finger of scorn cannot reasonably and honestly be pointed.

6.49 p.m.


My Lords, we have come to the end of a two days' debate. I think it is generally agreed that it has been both useful and helpful. I was greatly impressed by the Lord Chancellor's statement that he had heard every speech in this debate. I calculate that the debate has lasted ten hours, and I wondered, when the noble and learned Viscount told us this, whether he was worried by a "pessimistic hypothesis" that I might make another speech in withdrawing the Motion. I have no intention of doing that. I think I shall be much more popular if I say simply, "My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion."

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.



Returned from the Commons, agreed to, with Amendments; the said Amendments considered and agreed to.