HC Deb 30 July 1974 vol 878 cc110-1W
24. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what talks he has had with the Turkish Defence Minister about the Cyprus situation.

Mr. Mason

I was present with the Turkish Defence Minister in his capacity as Acting Foreign Minister at discussions led by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 17th July. Since then I have kept a close watch on developments. My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has been in close and regular contact with all parties concerned in the situation and is currently in Geneva for talks with the Greek and Turkish Governments.

25. Mr. Woodall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the rôle of the British forces in the collection and evacuation of British civilians from Cyprus.

27. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many foreign nationals, and of what nationalities, were rescued by British forces during the recent Cyprus emergency.

Mr. Mason

In the last 10 days the United Kingdom Armed Services have successfully conducted one of the largest and most complex civil evacuation operations which they have undertaken since the last war. Her Majesty's Ships "Hermes", "Devonshire" and "Rhyl" and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary "Olna" rescued over 1,500 people from the north coast of Cyprus using helicopters and ships' boats. Convoys, escorted by service vehicles, brought some 4,500 civilians from towns in the Republic to the shelter of the sovereign base areas where, in total, some 23,000 people, including 13,000 dependants of Service men, were given refuge.

The Royal Air Force has flown about 8,000 people from Cyprus to the United Kingdom, including some 2,000 from 49 Commonwealth and foreign countries. Some 70 survivors from a Turkish destroyer, which had sunk off Cyprus, were also rescued.

In these operations, valuable assistance was received from the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. Generous tribute has been paid to the work of the Armed Services for their calmness, efficiency and kindness.

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