HL Deb 30 January 1964 vol 254 cc1244-6

3.7 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement of policy on the replacement of British Forces in Cyprus by contingents from NATO countries.]


My Lords, after the opening session of the Cyprus Conference my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary held a series of separate meetings with the representatives of Greece and Turkey and of the two Cypriot communities, with a view to finding a basis for the discussion of a settlement of the Cyprus problem. However, it soon became evident—and this was not unexpected—that the task of reaching agreement was going to be difficult and protracted. In the meantime the situation in Cyprus has been growing extremely tense, which inevitably increases the danger of a renewal of the earlier disorders. In these circumstances we felt it desirable that the present peace-keeping force should be enlarged by the participation of additional countries. Negotiations to this end are now proceeding. I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I do not go into greater detail at this juncture. I will make a further statement as soon as practicable.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. May I ask him two short questions? First, was consideration given to the transfer of a British Division from Germany to a NATO commitment, obviously more immediate than the existing German commitment, and, if so, why that was not given effect to? Secondly, is it true, as I hope it is, as reported in The Times to-day from Washington, that the United States Administration requires Britain to remain in command of the peace-keeping Division, and does that mean that the force commander will be a British commander?


My Lords, with regard to my noble friend's first supplementary question, I said in my original Answer that we felt it desirable that the present peace-keeping force should be enlarged by the participation of additional countries. As that is so, I do not think that his first supplementary question arises. With regard to the second, this will, of course, be one of the matters to be discussed in the negotiations.


My Lords, I should like to ask the Leader of the House whether Her Majesty's Government will give special consideration to the second supplementary question of the noble Earl. For, of course, though we all welcome the participation of other countries in a problem which certainly has wide international implications, Cyprus is still part of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they would not think it appropriate that, even if there are other contingents, the actual command should be in the hands of someone belonging to the Commonwealth.


My Lords, the point which the noble Marquess has made will be borne very much in mind.


My Lords, I should like to say to the noble Leader that we were very satisfied in general with his first Answer, and I think that at the present moment of negotiations I do not need to put any further questions.