HL Deb 27 January 1975 vol 356 cc310-2

2.58 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 any assessment has been made of the present needs for technical assistance of the island of Cyprus as a whole : whether they consider such a survey would be helpful for the economic reconstruction of the island and, if so, what steps they will take to arrange for a survey to be made either by bilateral or multilateral means.


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are fully alive to the necessity for a survey of technical and other assistance for both multilateral and bilateral help for the economic reconstruction of Cyprus. When a political settlement has been achieved, the scale of the needs are likely to be such that the problems will best be approached on a multilateral basis. Her Majesty's Government will wish to play a significant part.


My Lords, while I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that Answer, may I ask whether Her Majesty's Government have yet taken any steps to achieve a multilateral survey?


Yes, my Lords, we are in constant consultation with our friends and allies and, above all, with the inter-national organisations which we hope will be involved in this matter.


My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the de facto occupation and division of the island of Cyprus into two, with the hardships inflicted not only on Greek Cypriots but on Turkish Cypriots, makes it very difficult for those who want to believe in our friendship, both with Greece and Turkey? Will she do what she can to urge the Turks to take some steps towards an understanding, in which case the economic aid which we can give will be forthcoming quickly?


Of course, my Lords, it goes almost without saying that this is true. I should like to point out to your Lord-ships that we have already spent £750,000 in giving sanctuary to both Turkish and Greek Cypriots. We have already spent £50,000 towards the initial appeal from the Red Cross and £500,000 in the relief programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


My Lords, to follow up the question of the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, in any future economic considerations concerning Cyprus will the Government bear very much in mind the fact mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, that the Turks at present occupy 40 per cent, of the island, representing 70–80 per cent. of the island's productive capacity, while the Turkish community represents only 18.4 per cent. of the total population, and that the daily loss of production is currently valued at £2 million? Does not this strongly highlight the need for a political solution to be actively sought, a factor which is underlined by the statement of Archbishop Makarios yesterday that no progress has been made in talks with the Turkish Cypriots?


My Lords, I rather think that my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts will be answering the noble Lord on the more political aspects of the matter on the Question which follows. I should like to point out that, in this tragic situation, Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the need for technical aid and assistance of every kind; and, in spite of the difficulties we still have two technical assistants in post in Cyprus. We are trying to re-start the project on desalination. Let nobody think that Her Majesty's Government are unaware of, or unsympathetic to, the needs of the people of Cyprus.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether Her Majesty's Government have any information about the likely re-opening of Nicosia Airport? If not, are they able to consider making the Akrotiri base available for civil aircraft, as they did for the Turkish airlift?


My Lords, I am afraid that that is completely outside the original Question. I should only mislead the House if I attempted to answer the noble Lord.