§ 3.8 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, beg to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to carry out the undertaking given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies on December 6, 1956, to examine the drafting of three new emergency regulations in Cyprus.]102
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords, as regards one of the three regulations, namely, the Emergency Powers (Control of Sale and Circulation of Publications) Regulations, these have recently been amended in such a way as to put beyond doubt that fair and honest comment or criticism regarding the Government's policy and actions will not expose the publication to suspension. Copies of the amending regulations are to be found in the Library. Noble Lords will recall that the other two regulations concerned are one extending the scope of the death penalty, and one requiring the consent of the Attorney General of Cyprus to certain prosecutions of public officers. So far as these regulations are concerned, the Governor was sent full details of the discussion in this House on the 6th December last, and his legal advisers are now considering, in consultation with our legal advisers, the desirability of amending them to meet the points raised then by the noble Earl and other noble Lords. I will inform the noble Earl of the result as soon as possible.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his reply, and also say how delighted I am that he has made it. I should like particularly to thank the Government for amending the Press Regulation. May I also ask the noble Earl whether he will be good enough to answer another Question when the Government have decided what action, if any, to take as a result of consulting their legal advisers on the drafting of the other two regulations.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, before I put a supplementary question to the noble Earl, may I congratulate him on taking his seat on the Front Bench, and express the hope that in answering my question he will display the liberal attitude that he has inherited from his father who for so long sat on these Benches? My question is this: In view of the fact that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in 1950 and ratified by us in 1951, was extended two years later to cover forty-three British Colonies and territories, including Cyprus and, further, in view of the fact that the derogation of some of those rights in Cyprus 103 under the escape clause of the Convention is at this moment being investigated by the European Commission of Human Rights, and that the Commission, as is its duty, is endeavouring to secure a friendly settlement, will Her Majesty's Government take special care, in any new regulations that may be issued by the Governor of Cyprus, to avoid any further derogation of the rights in the Convention?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for the kind words that he has said, I am glad to be able to give the answer: most certainly we will take special care to observe these points.