§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I beg to move, That Subhead B.1. Cyprus (Grant in Aid), be reduced by £100.
I move this token reduction of this Vote to mark our view that the inflexible, rigid approach of the Government to the problem of Cyprus is betraying the true interests of the British people. I shall bring some evidence during the course of this speech to show that this is so, and I want to use the opportunity to ask supporters of the Government particularly to reconsider their attitude on this matter.
As the life of this Government staggers to its close amid a welter of increased payments and burdens placed upon the people, here is one unnecessary burden which they are being asked to bear. This year, we are being asked to pay £2½ million in respect of the emergency in Cyprus. The Governor of Cyprus, in introducing his budget last week, anticipated that next year the total cost of the emergency, if it continues at the present rate, will be £7 million, of which the taxpayers in this country will be asked to pay one-half. So we can look forward, next year, to another £3½ million being borne 218 directly by the British in respect of a situation in Cyprus which need not arise, and to which there is a solution on an honourable basis for this country.
It is our profound belief that it is because of misplaced considerations of prestige and dignity that the Government have found themselves unable to move towards a solution in Cyprus that would appeal to all reasonable men. Since we had our last debate on this subject—the last of many—there has been the Government's intervention in Suez. That should surely have affected the thinking, or rethinking, of a great many hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, I trust, members of the Government as well, about this problem.
There have been other matters, too. We have had Draconian Press laws introduced by Sir John Harding. These have been of such a character that the Council of the Commonwealth Press Union, whose president is Lord Astor, has commented that, after studying the regulations dealing with the Press, it is convinced that no internal emergency could justify such arbitrary powers, and deplores this serious invasion of the freedom of the Press in a Commonwealth country. Other hon. Friends of mine will want to comment upon this matter.
I would merely say that among the other issues which have arisen since our last debate has been the grave one of inter-communal rioting between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The Times of Cyprus has been warned in no uncertain terms by the Governor of the island that it will be closed down if, in his view, it incites, encourages, or even condones those who are engaged in this inter-communal rioting.
I have read all the articles on which the Governor relies, and so, I take it, have Lord Astor and the Commonwealth Press Union, and I cannot find any justification at all for the attitude taken by the Governor of Cyprus in the matter. It has reduced the editor of The Times of Cyprus—other hon. Members may also have received a letter from him—to the position that it is the opinion of his legal advisers that the newspaper should no longer hazard any attempt to print and discuss the reasons for communal strife or criticise those who instigate it or condone it. I read The Times of Cyprus 219 every day, and there is no reference in it to these issues.
The free Press in Cyprus is being suppressed. There is a Press censorship in Cyprus today. Other Emergency Regulations in Cyprus bear so heavily on individual citizens that it is sufficient to be convicted of certain offences against the Emergency Regulations for the death sentence to be made mandatory, no discretion at all being given to the judges in Cyprus.
There was a case briefly reported in The Times the other day. It concerned a shepherd, a young man called Kutchuk. I do not want the name to be confused with that of the leader of the Turkish Cypriots. This young shepherd had, so the evidence went, found a revolver in a field. He was arrested, charged with the crime and sentenced to death by the judge, although evidence was produced that he had previously found bombs in the field where he had been shepherding his flocks and had handed them to the police. The judge said, "You may await a review of your sentence calmly, because the Governor will know of these factors." What a state we have reduced the island to when the death sentence is made mandatory in circumstances like those!
In Cyprus men and women can be, and are, imprisoned without trial. There is suppression of opinion. Indeed, there is no doubt that many of the aspects of the regime which is being conducted in the name of the people of Britain are totalitarian in every respect. They are the sort of elements in the conduct of a State that we would all condemn and have condemned when they have occurred in Nazi Germany or the U.S.S.R. In our name, exactly the same aspects of policy are being followed in Cyprus as have been followed in totalitarian countries.
I preface what I have to say by commenting on that, because I think that the House of Commons should know the problem with which we are dealing. I am not accusing hon. Gentlemen opposite of willingly desiring that these things should happen. I accuse them of something else: that this is the natural consequence of the policy that they are following. It is in an attempt to try to alter the 220 course of the Government's policy that we have asked for this debate.
It was not our intention that the debate should coincide with the debate in the United Nations. We expected that the debate in the United Nations would have taken place last week, but, alas, we cannot control affairs there. Also, the number of days that are allocated to us are limited. However, I think that the Colonial Secretary could have avoided this debate at this time if he had been ready to come forward with a statement about the situation in Cyprus. We have asked him for such a statement. On one occasion I endeavoured to move the Adjournment of the House to get a statement from him, but without success.
Although I regret that our debate coincides with the debate in the United Nations—it is an accident which is inevitable—I do not think that it need affect us, because from the report of the first day's proceedings in the United Nations Assembly, what is going on there is a backward-looking debate. It is also a debate in which Her Majesty's Government claim that they are dealing with a situation which is the internal responsibility of the Government and the House. As we are, perhaps, here to look forward in this situation, and as we are dealing with a matter which Her Majesty's Government claim is an internal one, I think that we can all assume that our debate will not embarrass anyone who may be taking part in our affairs in the United Nations.
It is nearly a year since Archbishop Makarios was deported from Cyprus. He was deported because his presence on the island, we were told, led to violence and prevented peace and law and order from being established. I am bound to say that if his presence resulted in that, his absence has made no difference at all. Violence, disorder and terrorism have continued and have grown. I think it is true to say that in the eleven months since the Archbishop was deported, about 180 Cypriots, British Service men and British policemen have lost their lives.
We have made no progress at all, as far as I can see, in getting a fresh start in the affairs of this island, except perhaps for one brief glimmer of light which the Colonial Secretary almost immediately extinguished. I refer to the Radcliffe Constitution. I believe that that gave an 221 opportunity—I hope it still gives an opportunity—to make an advance towards full self-government for the people of Cyprus, but I believe that the Colonial Secretary did a very great deal to extinguish the glimmer of light in December when he referred, in the very same statement in which he hoped for the inauguration of a new era, to the possibility of the partition of the island. That was a very grave blunder indeed.
Both publicly and privately, the Opposition have urged Greeks and Turks to negotiate on the basis of the Radcliffe Constitution. We have expressed our view that this should be the next step forward for the island, but we want one more clear statement, clearer than we have yet had, from the Colonial Secretary if our good offices in the matter are to be of use. The right hon. Gentleman must indicate clearly that the Constitution is not the last word and that amendments can be made to it.
It has been suggested in authoritative quarters that the Radcliffe Constitution is an organic whole and that one cannot interfere with one part of it without wrecking the remainder. I simply do not believe that, any more than that the draft Constitution of Ghana was an organic whole which could not be altered. The Colonial Secretary, who played a very constructive role in the alteration of the Ghana Constitution in its final stages, will, I hope, not be deterred by anything that may have been said about the organic unity of the Radcliffe proposals from altering their conditions if he is convinced that it would be right to do so.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not forget that the main achievement, if I did, in fact, have an achievement in the case of the Gold Coast, was to reassure minority opinion. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will apply the same consideration to the problem of Cyprus, where the Turks are the minority.
§ Mr. Callaghan
That, of course, is true. I also remember, in the case of Ghana, that the Colonial Secretary was able to say to them that they were achieving the right of self-determination, and they opted to remain inside the British Commonwealth when they had secured their independence. Is not there a lesson for us in that? Do we really think that we can 222 go on cajoling and coercing men and women to remain inside the British Commonwealth against their will? We cannot coerce them much longer. We have to win their assent if we want them to remain inside the British Commonwealth, and not force them to do so at the point of a bayonet.
I say to the Colonial Secretary that if he will say now that the Radcliffe proposals are negotiable he will do a great deal to help those of us who would like to see further discussions take place and a settlement reached on the basis of the Radcliffe Report. There are difficulties about it. It is not our job to indicate in detail what those difficulties are. Paul Pavlides, who was a very eminent member of the Executive Council, has indicated some of the difficulties of transplanting our form of constitutional government into an island, where, as he rightly says. the Governor is himself of alien blood to those whom he is governing.
The conventions and traditions which we take for granted in the relationship between the Crown and the House of Commons cannot be replaced with the same confidence in the island of Cyprus, especially as actions which have characterised our administration over the last 12 months have resulted, I regret to say, in British administration being cut off completely from the people of the island.
We are now living in a small enclave, so far as the administration is concerned, in a hostile territory. I think that it justifies a Motion of censure on the policy of Her Majesty's Government, when we are reduced to a situation of that kind.
I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary whether he will tell us what is now the position of E.O.K.A. How far has terrorism been cleared up? We have had a great many statements about this. Usually, they reach a crescendo immediately before a debate, when we are assured that the last remants of terrorism are on the point of being suppressed and that it will only be a very short time before law and order will be restored. We then find that there is a diminuendo after the debate and then, I regret to say, the terrorism, murders, killings, the bullet in the back and the shootings continue.
We have had both such statements during the last 14 days. It was only a week or so ago that I endeavoured to move the 223 Adjournment of the House on the basis of an announcement by the Governor of Cyprus that a new series of indiscriminate murders was to be launched. Now I read in the Press of the last two or three days inspired statements from Cyprus which tell me that it is now nearly all over. I must say that we become very mistrustful of these reassuring statements.
There is nothing that I should like better than to feel that this is all over and that we are likely to emerge into a new era in Cyprus. But on the basis of our previous experience we are really very suspicious of these inspired statements from the Administration of Cyprus which would lead ordinary men and women, if they had no knowledge of the background of this dispute, to believe that terrorism had been put down in that island.
I should also like to ask the Colonial Secretary whether it is true that order has been restored in that island. Whether it is restored or not, politically we are in a blind alley, and this is the most important and serious matter with which we have to concern ourselves. Because we are cut off from the people of Cyprus and because, since Archbishop Makarios was deported, a leader has not emerged to take over the political leadership of this island, we have put ourselves in a position in which we cannot go forward. We can design the most cleverly constructed constitutions, but if there is no one willing to work them, they are not worth the paper on which they are written.
I ask the Colonial Secretary: where is the political leadership in Cyprus today upon whom he is relying, or which he expects to see emerge, which will be willing to take over the leadership of the island? Does it exist at all? Let me ask him this specific question: with what leaders of Greek Cypriot opinion has he had conversations since the publication of the Radcliffe Report? We know that he has seen Professor Erim, the Turkish Cypriot leader, because he came to London, and saw the right hon. Gentleman and was also good enough to give us the benefit of his views. But even when the Colonial Secretary has won the complete confidence of the Turkish minority, he is no nearer securing any element of political democracy in the island of Cyprus.
224 I therefore ask him whether there is anyone but Archbishop Makarios to whom he thinks he can turn to implement anything that resembles the Radcliffe Constitution—is there anybody? From what I can make out, reading the Press of that island every day and very thoroughly, all the possible leaders of political opinion in Cyprus have specifically declined to put themselves into a position of leadership because they say that this role must be fulfilled by the Archbishop. I am not referring now merely to those who may be construed as having a natural affinity with the church.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Of course they do not want a bullet in the back; I fully appreciate that. What I am saying to the Government is that if they cannot put this down by force of arms and by the strength of 18,000 British soldiers in that island, then they have to find some other way. Heaven knows, we have not been singularly successful in that so far.
The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) gives me my case. Apparently it is not possible, a year after the deportation of the Archbishop, for anyone to come forward, because law and order have not been restored in the island. How much longer is this going on? Is there any way out of this blind alley, except to go on pouring in more and more troops, while young men of 15 or 16, whose lives are cheap and who have little fear of the consequences, rush about the streets on their bicycles with home-made bombs and throw them at British soldiers and civilian men and women? How are we going to put that down?
I believe that there is only one way. We have to circumvent this by taking a new political initiative, and it is this appeal that I am making to the Government this afternoon. I beg hon. Members opposite to put aside their considerations of pride or prestige and to look at the possibility of getting an honourable settlement of this matter. What prevents the Government from taking this new initiative? So far as I can see there are three reasons.
225 First, there is the position of the Turkish minority, which can be construed in another way as being the desire of the Government not to offend the Turkish Government. The second reason which prevents us from breaking out of this blind alley into which our policy has led us is the refusal to negotiate with the Archbishop, the refusal to recognise the obvious. The third reason which prevents us from getting out of this maze is what I might call the conflict in the minds of hon. Members opposite between the right of a people to self-determination, on the one hand, and the belief, on the other, that Cyprus is a strategic British interest.
If I can make a division between the two sides of the Committee on this matter, we on these benches tend to labour with more emphasis the right of every people to self-determination. We believe that it is an inherent right of men and women. The Government, while they accept this in principle, nevertheless believe that the vital and inescapable strategic interest of this island in British hands is such that they cannot accept all the principle. That is a fair division between us.
If that is so, I want, especially in the light of what happened in Suez last November, to take a cold, clear, hard look at the value of Cyprus in British hands as a strategic base at the present time. If I can achieve that, I might get hon. Members opposite out of their psychological trauma and get them to look at this problem again through more liberal eyes. It is believed that Cyprus is needed to defend British interests which are outside N.A.T.O. and which are not commonly shared by both Greece and Turkey. That is the argument which has been used by the Colonial Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister and nearly every hon. Member opposite who has spoken on this subject.
Let us consider what these commitments are and examine them in the light of the post-Suez situation. There are, first, the Bagdad Pact, which is not a N.A.T.O. interest; secondly, the Anglo-Libyan alliance; thirdly, the alliance with Iraq; fourthly, the alliance with Jordan; fifthly, the Tripartite Declaration to safeguard the frontiers of Israel and Egypt; lastly, the defence of our oil. I have summed up every one of the vital and inescapable British interests which have 226 been put forward from the benches opposite as representing why we cannot afford to grant the Greek Cypriots the self-determination which they are claiming.
Let us take them in turn. The Bagdad Pact. What is this other than an extension of N.A.T.O., a pact created because the Americans, when it was being formulated, refused to move further into the Eastern Mediterranean? The Bagdad Pact is a child of the same policies as N.A.T.O. and it would come into play in the same circumstances. In other words, it is designed—I am not concerned with whether it will be successful—to safeguard the frontiers of the countries which abut on the U.S.S.R. or its satellites.
Now, with the power vacuum which has been created in the Middle East by the oh-so-foolish adventure in Suez, last November, we are seeing more and more clearly that what is happening in the Middle East is that N.A.T.O. and the Bagdad Pact, in their planning and in their consequences, are bound to become more and more intertwined. I do not now believe, nor do I think that hon. Members opposite believe, that from now on the Bagdad Pact is specifically a British interest from which everybody else is excluded. We can dismiss that as a reason for holding on to Cyprus as a British base.
Now the Anglo-Libyan alliance—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I have very clearly followed what the hon. Member has said. Would he say that if Cyprus were under Greek sovereignty either N.A.T.O. or the Bagdad Pact could survive? I ask that to elucidate the thought running through the hon. Gentleman's mind.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Both Greece and Turkey are members of N.A.T.O. and Turkey is also a member of the Bagdad Pact. I do not see why exclusive British sovereignty over that island is necessary to give a secure interlocking of those two pacts. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) has reminded me, Greece has liberally offered bases if Enosis comes to pass, but I am not discussing Enosis this afternoon.
The Anglo-Libyan alliance is another reason. I understand from the Press that Libya has asked us to withdraw part of our forces from that country. In fact, there are negotiations about that going 227 on at present. We have embarrassed Libya by our attack on Suez. That is another consequence of the Suez operation. British troops are no longer welcome in Libya as they were before. Even assuming that the Anglo-Libyan alliance survives, is it necessary to hold Cyprus to reinforce Libya? Can it not be done equally well from Malta? The Colonial Secretary is always inviting us to have a look at the map. If I had to reinforce Libya, I would sooner do it from Malta than from Cyprus. It is unnecessary to hold Cyprus as a British base for that purpose.
The Anglo-Jordan Treaty was one of the arguments which used to be advanced by the Colonial Secretary and Sir Anthony Eden as a reason for a necessary strategic British hold on Cyprus. I need say no more about the Jordan pact. We are very properly coming out of Jordan. It was a useless base in the political situation which hon. Members opposite have created in the Middle East.
Today, who will rely on the Tripartite Declaration for safeguarding the frontiers of Israel and Egypt? Is that a reason, a necessity, for condemning 18,000 British troops to holding down the people of Cyprus? I am staggered at the inflexibility, immobility and lack of fresh thinking which characterise the Government on this matter. They are not—and I mean this very sincerely—defending the proper interests of the British people today by their attitude to Cyprus, this muddled mixture of pride and prestige. Yesterday, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs tried to rattle the dead bones of the Tripartite Declaration, but he will not breathe life into that He has to start again.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. David Ormsby-Gore)
I was not try to rattle bones. I was asked whether it was in force and said that it was.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I do not ask you to comment, Sir Charles, but what can you make of a Government like that? Right up to the time of the armed conflict with Egypt we were told that one of the pillars of our foreign policy in the Middle East today was the Tripartite Declaration. When we failed to invite the co-operation of the United States, at a time when it was suspected—I put it no higher—that 228 there was a possibility of a conflict between Israel and Egypt, we, of our own volition, slew the Tripartite Declaration; and afterwards, when we put this to them, they said, "No, it was never really in force, because Egypt did not accept it, so we never really were basing ourselves on it at all." Now, this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, yes, it is in force again." But not for Egypt, is that the point?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore indicated assent.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I should like to ask the Minister of State this question: for which countries is the Tripartite Declaration in force at present? Do the United States accept that it is in force?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
What I have already said is that the United States accept that it is not in force for Egypt.
§ Mr. Callaghan
At least we know what it is not in force for; it is not in force for Egypt. Cannot the Government get out of the habit of talking all the time in double negatives on this question? Cannot we get a single positive assertion about it? Is it in force today for Jordan? Is it in force for the Lebanon? Is it in force for Syria?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore indicated assent.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
It is up to the United States Government to say that. So far as I know, they certainly accept it.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Leaving Israel out of this for a moment, I am bound to say that were I a resident of one of those three countries, and were I asked to rely upon a Tripartite Declaration of which, as I am told by the Minister of State, the most powerful partner has still to say whether it is in force, I should place very little value on it at all.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I did not say that. I said that it is for the United States Government to speak for themselves, as I cannot speak for them. But our understanding is that the United States Government regard the Tripartite Declaration as being in force.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Well, in the interests of peace in the Middle East. in the 229 interests of safeguarding the frontiers of these countries, I say that it is vital that the Government should make a plain and clear declaration of policy on this matter; not that the Minister should merely interject in the middle of the speech of another hon. Gentleman. Let us know where we stand. I ask the Minister of State and the Colonial Secretary; is Cyprus necessary as an essential British base for this purpose? That is the question to which I wish right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to address their minds. We know that it is not.
What about oil? We were told at one stage after another by Sir Anthony Eden that the possession of Cyprus as a strategic British base was vital to the protection of our oil. I make this comment. At present oil is not flowing from Iraq through Syria to the Mediterranean. We understand that 11 million tons might be flowing from Iraq through to the Mediterranean, via Syria, even without repairing the pumping stations in that country—at a reduced rate of flow. What is preventing it? Political considerations in Syria? Does the fact that 18,000 troops are chasing terrorists in Cyprus enable us to get the oil flowing? The plain truth is that Cyprus is useless as a means of getting oil from the Middle East today.
I will give the Government only one consideration to which they might cling in arguing that Cyprus is still essential as a strategic base; that is in connection with our treaty with Iraq. Even so, I hope that they will not try to reinforce Iraq from Cyprus. I should prefer that they examine the suggestion, made some time ago by the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser), that if there is to be any reinforcement of Iraq, if we are to call in our relationship with that country. it should be done via the Persian Gulf. That would be a much more preferable way of doing it than tying us down in Cyprus.
I am spending some time on this strategic aspect of the question. I think it vital to get the Government supporters out of their delusion that this is a strategic necessity to us. Last week the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) said:What is the good of Cyprus as a military base if we cannot operate from it? On the occasion of the Suez operation, we could not use it as a military base because it had no 230 deep-water port. We could not use it as an air base, because we had not the transport aircraft to carry weapons heavy enough to cope with tanks."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1957; Vol. 564, c. 1343.]The hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) said:… as far as Cyprus is concerned either we have to face the fact that it is quite useless as a base, because it does not have a deep-water port, or we must spend an enormous amount of money, and very quickly, in making it into a deep-water port so that it may be used as a base."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 13th February, 1957; Vol. 564, c. 1356.]
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
The hon. Gentleman has quoted me quite correctly, but I did say, a little later in the debate, that the second fault which made it no use as an operation base at the time of Suez—that we had no aircraft to carry an anti-tank gun—was a matter which the Minister of Defence should and could rectify. The hon. Gentleman should bear that point in mind, because without it the sentence he quoted is put out of context.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am bringing the hon. and gallant Member with me. Is that a necessarily exclusive British matter? Are not the circumstances envisaged by the hon. and gallant Member, in which the air base in Cyprus would be brought into use, those covered by 1192 in the N.A.T.O. Pact? The hon. and gallant Member knows they are, and, of course, they are. That is the whole burden of my case. If Cyprus still has a military purpose for us, it is in respect of the N.A.T.O. and Bagdad Pacts, and not in respect of any exclusive British military interest.
In any case, it was never intended as a base. It has been misused as a base. When he made his declaration about the withdrawal from Egypt, Sir Anthony Eden said that he did not intend that Cyprus should become a base. It was to be a headquarters. He said that the base was to be in Egypt and our troops were to be redeployed in Jordan and Libya. A strategic reserve was to be brought home, and Cyprus was to be regarded as a headquarters. Sir Anthony knew, and the military advisers of the Government knew at that time, that it could never become a base.
When we had the folly of Suez, a seaborne operation came from Malta, and we had something from Cyprus endeavouring to support that. What a 231 muddled way to conduct an operation. If hon. Gentlemen opposite will put aside their prejudices and their preoccupation with prestige, and consider the matter afresh, they will come to the conclusion that what the Colonial Secretary called this vital and inescapable strategic purpose of Cyprus is a myth which is costing us a great many men, which is costing the Cypriots their liberty and which is costing us our international good name.
Now as to the Turks. In company with some of my hon. Friends, I met Professor Erim, and we fully understood their desire to safeguard the interests of the Turkish minority. In the situation which has arisen, I understand the very real fears of the Turks. But I say publicly what I have said privately. If the Radcliffe solution were to be set in motion, I believe that it would provide built-in guarantees and that the Turkish minority need have no fear. I beg the Colonial Secretary, in whatever he has to say today, not to lead us further down this path of partition. I can think of nothing worse for that island. It is impossible to devise a scheme of partition between Greeks and Turks in the island which would bear any sense at all.
The right hon. Gentleman must use his endeavours—he will be failing in his duty if he does not—to persuade these people to live together. That is where their future lies, not in having a partitioned island, with the armed forces of a foreign nation dividing it up between them, and with the frontier incidents, bloodshed and strife which would follow. That is no part of statesmanship and I beg the Colonial Secretary to put it behind him.
We ought not to say to the Turks that we are ready at this stage to concede partition, and that the time to determine what issues are to be decided by the people of the island will come when self-determination becomes a practical issue. We believe that, because of the policy which has been followed and of the practical results which have emerged from it, it is impossible for self-determination to take place now. There must be a period of constitutional government between the present system and self-determination. I believe that that view is widely accepted by Cypriots in many parts.
232 What is needed is for the Colonial Secretary to affirm that there is a complete intention by the Government to enable Cypriots to determine their own future and, in the very interesting suggestion that Mr. Averoff, the Foreign Secretary of Greece, put forward a couple of months ago, to try to embody, if we can, in the Constitution itself the mechanism for determining at what time the right of self-determination should be invoked. Let there not be decided now what questions should be put to the inhabitants of the island to answer, neither in form nor in principle. If a constitution of this sort were put in force a great many changes of opinion could take place within a comparatively short period of time.
I do not despair of arriving at a solution of the problem. We are left with one stumbling block, the person of the Archbishop. That is the one final stumbling block with which the Government find themselves unable to cope. It is a year since the Archbishop was deported, no one has come forward to take his place, and no one seems likely to do so. So far as I know, the Government here have no alternative leader in mind. What are they going to do to break this political deadlock? They must answer that question. It is their duty to the people of this country to answer it.
Two simple acts could transform the whole situation in Cyprus. One is a positive declaration by Her Majesty's Government of their belief in the right of self-determination. The other is for the Government to bring Archbishop Makarios into a position where he is enabled to discuss with them the future constitution of the island, simultaneously inviting him to ask and, indeed, getting his assurance that he will ask—I do not know whether he is in a position to command; the Government say that he is—that violence on the island should cease in order to enable negotiations to go on in a calm and judicial atmosphere.
Is it impossible for the wit of the Colonial Secretary to do these two things at once if he wants a solution? Goodness knows, he is an agile manipulator. I do not believe that it is impossible for him to do it. Unless he has any other solution to offer us, it is his duty to try to achieve both those steps, which could transform the situation and could alter 233 the whole atmosphere in the island overnight. I hope that we shall get a clear statement from the Government. I know what we may get: a resumé, a history of the violence in the island, an indictment of the Archbishop and a tie-up between him and violence. We all know it. We have all accepted it and we all understand it. We all have to live with it, and so have many of our constituents—
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
I was a little alarmed at the implications which might be drawn from my hon. Friend's words. He and I see eye to eye on this question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It might be thought from all he said that he was swallowing lock, stock and barrel the kind of propaganda put out by the Government.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I do not know what my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) accepts or what he does not accept. I am trying to put my view as I see it. Although we have had no opportunity of hearing the answer of the Archbishop to the charge that he was implicated in violence, there is very clear evidence that he was. Do not let us try to dodge the realities of the situation. The whole of our approach to the problem is to get the Committee to face up to the realities.
It may be more difficult for the Colonial Secretary to accept these suggestions than anybody else, but, even assuming that there is an implication, is the right hon. Gentleman going finally and for ever to refuse to talk to the Archbishop about the future of the island when there is no other way that he has suggested of emerging from the deadlock? I want to face very clearly the implications of what my hon. Friend has said. If we were sitting in the Government benches we would do what we think the right hon. Gentleman ought to do, namely, whatever the implications of the Archbishop or the Church, to undertake negotiations with him in order to achieve an honourable settlement. That is the step that the Colonial Secretary ought to take, and which would be in the best interests of the people of this island.
I believe we would then get a settlement of the whole problem. It would enable the people of Cyprus to live in peace and enable us to bring all our troops home from that island, and it 234 would put an end to the long and troublesome problem which must anguish every one of us who has time to pause and consider it.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)
This debate comes at a time which may well prove to be a turning point in the troubled affairs of the island of Cyprus. All of us must earnestly hope that this will be so and that events may now take a course which will restore peace to the people of Cyprus and friendly relations between our two allies, Greece and Turkey. Not least, we must all hope that the time may be coming when British Service men and civilians in Cyprus will no longer live in danger of their lives and when families at home will no longer be fearful of what news the postman may bring them.
There are two reasons why I start on this note of hopefulness. One is that in recent weeks the E.O.K.A. terrorists have suffered some very heavy blows. As hon. Members may have seen, the Observer correspondent reported last Sunday:The final destruction of E.O.K.A. terrorism is simply a question of time.Hon. Members will no doubt recall that during recent events the Observer has not been unduly optimistic about the policies of Her Majesty's Government.
The second reason why we can look forward with some hope is that this week the United Nations is debating the affairs of Cyprus. The result of that debate will soon be known. I will return to these points a little later.
If the Committee will permit me, I would like to set out, as lucidly as I can, what seems to me to be the real crux of the Cyprus problem. Quite briefly, it is this. On the one hand, the Ethnarchy, the terrorists and the Greek Government are at present taking the line—and have done all they possibly can to persuade the Greek Cypriots to follow suit—that they can accept nothing short of union of Cyprus with Greece. On the other hand, the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots would be prepared to go to any lengths to prevent such a union from taking place. The problem that we have to solve is just this—how to find a way of reconciling these at present mutually inconsistent attitudes and to reach a 235 peaceful accommodation between them. That is what Her Majesty's Government are trying to do.
It is sometimes suggested—and, indeed, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), to whose very fair speech the Committee has just listened with great interest, made the suggestion himself—that the one thing standing in the way of a solution to the Cyprus problem is the existence of a British base on that island. The argument runs that if it were not for the existence of this base, or if Her Majesty's Government were prepared to make some other arrangements about the base, we could simply hand over Cyprus to Greece, give the union our blessing and, hey presto, the Cyprus problem would be solved.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I hope that I did not give that impression at all. I certainly never suggested that we should hand over the island to Greece—I did suggest that we should agree to the right of selfdetermination—nor did I say that the possession of the British base was the only obstacle. I said that in the minds of right hon. and hon. Members opposite it seemed to be the chief obstacle. I mentioned what I thought were the other obstacles.
§ Mr. Profumo
At any rate, the hon. Gentleman admits that he did suggest that in the minds of my right hon. and hon. Friends this was one of the chief obstacles.
§ Mr. Profumo
Whether or not he meant in the speeches of my hon. Friends, that was his suggestion. He says that he did not suggest that we should hand Cyprus over to Greece. The fact is that we cannot. And the difficulty is that things being as they are at the present time, the Greeks and Greek Cypriots will accept nothing short of union. How nice it would be if the matter were quite straightforward and if we could take the hon. Gentleman's line. Unfortunately this simply is not the case, and we have to face facts as they are.
We have to be responsible about all this, and the facts are that, in present circumstances, the union of Cyprus with Greece would have only one result; it would risk turning over the whole island of Cyprus to communal violence and 236 bloodshed on a large scale and setting our two allies, Greece and Turkey, at one another's throats. This is a very harsh thing to say, but it is the stark truth. Such an outcome would be not only abhorrent to this Committee, but also disastrous to N.A.T.O. and for the power of the Western world to defend itself in the Middle East. The Committee will agree that we know only too well that the threat of Russian ambition in the Middle East has not been growing smaller in recent months.
The crux of the Cyprus problem is to reach an agreement, or at least a modus vivendi, between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the island, and the Greek and Turkish Governments in the international sphere. That is the basic fact of the situation, and we shall achieve a peaceful settlement in Cyprus only if we do not forget that fact. It is to this end that Her Majesty's Government policy has been and will continue to be directed.
The first of our tasks, as we have always said, has been to stamp out terrorism in Cyprus. In the past two or three months the security forces there have struck some very hard blows against E.O.K.A., from which it is unlikely that it will recover. Hon. Members will remember that in December the Governor was able to announce the arrest of 44 terrorists in the Limassol area, and of eight in the Larnaca district. Thirty of those arrested in Limassol were either members or close associates of murder gangs, and this amounted to almost a complete sweep of murder gangs in that area. The others were concerned in an arms smuggling ring.
Last month, even more spectacular success was achieved by police and troops operating in the Troodos and Delphi forest areas against mountain gangs. Twenty-seven hard-core terrorists were captured in January, including three of the five or six top men of E.O.K.A. Large quantities of weapons, ammunition and equipment were also captured, including a number of light and submachine guns. These successes represented a very severe blow to E.O.K.A. It is considered that nearly half of the known E.O.K.A. hard-core leaders were captured or killed during that month.
More encouraging even than these successes themselves is the fact that the operations were based on intelligence, and 237 that they have yielded still further intelligence which will be useful in the future. Captures of terrorists, arms, ammunition and equipment, though they have not been so spectacular as they were in January, have steadily continued during the present month. Hon. Members, I have no doubt, will have seen in this morning's newspapers that in the last two days one important terrorist has been killed and another captured.
§ Mr. Profumo
I would not like to hazard a guess, but I am sure that they did not come from this country.
While there is great encouragement to be drawn from the successes in the last month, I must emphasise—and I think that this is a point which the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East himself made—that the potential of E.O.K.A. for violence still remains, and that it is too soon to think of any relaxation in the struggle against these brutal and often indiscriminate killers. Equally, it is futile to talk of giving the Cypriots self-government unless we mean also that we are first to give them internal security.
These remarks on the internal security situation in Cyprus at present would be incomplete without a reference to the recent communal disorders. Until the middle of last month there had been happily no recurrence of the rioting and counter-rioting of Greek and Turkish Cypriots which took place between February and April of last year. On 19th January, however, after a bomb attack by a Greek Cypriot on Turkish Cypriot police constables, there was rioting by small bands of Turkish and Greek Cypriot youths, in which damage was done to property, members of both communities injured, and one Greek Cypriot killed.
The security forces have acted promptly and effectively to bring these disorders under control, and the Governor made a personal appeal for restraint and order by radio on 3rd February, in which fie appealed to all responsible Cypriots, irrespective of race or religion, to keep calm in the face of provocation, and stated that the security forces would carry out their duty of maintaining law and order without fear or favour. I am 238 happy to say that there has been no recurrence of these disorders in recent weeks.
The hon. Gentleman made reference to the Emergency Regulations—
§ Mr. F. Noel-Baker
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves this very grave point—and I am sure that it will be agreed that it is a very grave point—could he say just a word about the extremely serious allegations that have been made to the effect that, in some way or other, these acts by Turkish mobs were directly or indirectly encouraged by or welcome to the British authorities on the island? It is because these claims have been very widely made that I think that perhaps he might take an opportunity of answering them.
§ Mr. Profumo
My only comment is that that is entirely and absolutely untrue. I take this opportunity of saying that, but my right hon. Friend will be prepared to deal with it in greater detail when he winds up.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Would not the hon. Gentleman recognise the contribution that was made by Greek and Turkish leaders in the island, who also appealed to their communities for self-restraint? Would he not agree that this was a very courageous appeal for those leaders to make?
§ Mr. Profumo
Yes. I am very glad that the hon. Lady has intervened. I am only too glad to associate myself with her remarks about the contribution which that appeal has made.
The hon. Gentleman made reference to the Emergency Regulations. As he will probably remember, these were discussed in an Adjournment debate on 21st December last. Since then the Regulations relating to the control of publications have already been amended so as to put it beyond any doubt that they are not intended to apply to fair and honest comment. The present position in relation to these Regulations is that suggestions for certain Amendments have been received from the Government of Cyprus. As the Committee will realise, these involve somewhat intricate legal points, which are now being considered by my Department's legal advisers. I know 239 that the Press Regulation has been criticised because it bars access to the courts. This is not a thing which we desire, and we are quite prepared, in principle, to amend it if it is legally practicable. I am glad to tell the Committee that Sir John Harding shares this view.
Allegations have been made of brutality by police and interrogators against Cypriots in detention. I must say straight away, that every alleged case is carefully examined and proceedings will be taken against anyone who is found at any time to have exceeded his duty. But these allegations have been very widely exaggerated indeed. I repeat that in all cases the Governor is taking the most strenuous and urgent action to invesigate any point of this sort which is brought up.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
Would the Minister be kind enough to say in how many cases cruelty has been proved?
§ Mr. Profumo
So far as I am able to say at this stage, I know of no case so far where cruelty has been proved. Recently, when the writer of an article which appeared today in the Manchester Guardian was in Cyprus, he himself did have talks with the Governor, and in every case which they discussed it was possible to show that the allegation was unfounded or that the complaint was still under investigation.
§ Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)
Surely the Minister must have heard of the case publicised only yesterday of the young man on trial for murder. The judge dismissed the charge because he believed that the man had been so beaten up in order to make him sign the declaration that, as the judge said, the only evidence against him, which was his own testimony against himself, could not possibly be accepted. Surely, that is a case which has been proved?
§ Mr. Profumo
I think it would be wise if my right hon. Friend dealt with any specific cases which hon. Members may bring forward during the course of the debate. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy), by his intervention, has really made a point which demonstrates that the rule of law does obtain. [Laughter.] I do not think it is wise for the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) to laugh at this. I do not 240 know what the hon. Gentleman wishes to suggest; he is only at this moment coming into the Committee.
Even in the present time of emergency in Cyprus the onus of proof is on the prosecution, and, in a case like this, particularly a case demanding the death penalty, it surely is right, as all hon. Members will agree, that if the prosecution is not able to make out its case then, according to the rules of justice, the case should not stand. But, as I say, my right hon. Friend will certainly deal with any specific points when he comes to wind up.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Although technically I was not in the Chamber, I have listened to the whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech. Surely, he must be driven back to a bad case when he categorically states at the Box that there has been no proven charge of cruelty and then, when one is brought out from this side, he avoids the issue by saying that his right hon. Friend will deal with that specifically. I know he has a written brief in front of him, but he really must tear himself away from it and address himself to the subject, namely, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).
I have not got a written brief in front of me to the extent that I have not departed from it when there have been interruptions. Indeed, I waited until the hon. Member for Leeds. West came into the Chamber so that he might have an opportunity, if he wished to do so, of continuing his conversation. I have no doubt that if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye later, Mr. Williams, he will elaborate his case. I have already said that my right hon. Friend will be glad to deal with it in more detail when he winds up.
However, I do not wish to let this matter pass without saying that, as I have said, I know of no case yet which has been substantiated, and I do not admit that this case has been. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] All I am saying is that the onus is upon the prosecution and, as it was not possible to establish its case, in a case of murder it is perfectly right that the law should take the course it did.
§ Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)
Will the Minister at any rate deal with the first of 241 the two cases mentioned in the article in the Manchester Guardian today? Has he in mind, or, if his right hon. Friend is going to deal with this later, will he have in mind, that there are two cases mentioned? The second of them was dealt with before the courts, but the first of them apparently was not dealt with before the courts. I have no knowledge whatsoever as to whether the assertions in the article are well-founded or not, but will both the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend have in mind that, if they are able to give a full and adequate explanation of what did take place in those cases, they will reassure very large numbers of people in this country and outside who must be profoundly uneasy at reading what is stated in that article?
§ Mr. Profumo
I will gladly answer the right hon. and learned Gentleman. So far as I am aware, in the first of the cases mentioned in the article to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred, the information about the pregnant lady was based on false assertions. That is my information, and I gladly give it now, because I and my right hon. Friend fully recognise that assertions of this kind do cause widespread alarm and despondency. However, I say again that my right hon. Friend will deal in detail, if he thinks fit, with this and other accusations of that kind.
If I may come back to the point again, I do not wish to let it pass without making clear, as, indeed, did the writer of the article, that many of these cases are grossly exaggerated, probably for reasons to do with the sides taken in Cyprus. Therefore, we simply must not believe at first sight all we see. We must all remember that the Governor has got an immensely difficult job to deal with out there and is trying to deal with it in an emergency in a way which he thinks is fair to all.
§ Mr. Callaghan
This is a very important matter, and I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Does he not realise now what damage was done to the good name of British justice because the Field Marshal took the point he is making and said that he was not ready to investigate these cases because, in his view, many of them were mischievous; and it was not until there was much private and public pressure, by the Bar 242 Council in Cyprus and by members of the House of Commons, that eventually and reluctantly some investigation was made?
§ Mr. Profumo
I think the hon. Gentleman would wish to wait until I have finished my sentence. Otherwise I might repeat his charge and say, really what manner of Opposition is this?
§ Mr. Profumo
I rather doubt whether the hon. Gentleman can argue any of the facts I have so far put forward.
§ Mrs. Jeger rose—
§ Mr. Profumo
I must answer one hon. Member at a time. I wanted just to say that I am sure the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East is not on purpose being unjust to the Field Marshal; but it is not correct to say that he has not been following a continuous process of examination of all these cases.
I have had the advantage, as the hon. Member, I believe, has not, of serving in the war on the staff of Field Marshal Sir John Harding, and I think this would be an appropriate moment for me, on behalf of the Committee, to pay a tribute to the way in which Sir John Harding is dealing with an immensely difficult and extraordinarily complex problem in Cyprus with boldness and statesmanship. It would, I believe, be wrong for me to allow this occasion to pass without making that tribute.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am obliged to the Under-Secretary for giving way again. I do not want to do the Field Marshal an injustice at all, but we are not writing his obituary notice at this time. The facts are simply these, that the Field Marshal, to my certain knowledge, to the knowledge of many members of the Bar Council in Cyprus and to the knowledge of English lawyers in this country, refused to investigate these cases because, he said, many of them were mischievous. That was the damage which was done. It was not until pressure was brought to bear 243 that at about the beginning of January he agreed to do something. Does the Under-Secretary dispute any of that?
§ Mr. Profumo
I do dispute that. That is why I say that I think that, unwittingly, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East was being more unjust than he intended to be. Indeed, I am well aware that we are not writing the obituary notice of Sir John Harding, but I think that if we were we would get somewhere nearer to the truth of these events than some people in this country, in the Press and elsewhere, might make it out to be. I am glad that in a debate of this sort the Committee does feel that a tribute should be paid to Sir John Harding at this time.
Does the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Leger) wish to intervene?
§ Mrs. Jeger
I am sure that the Minister would not wish to mislead the Committee, but is it not wrong to say that there have been no proven cases at all of cruelty? There was during last year, was there not, the case of two officers who were court-martialled, found guilty, and dismissed the Service on these very charges?
§ Mr. Profumo
Once again, I have to thank the hon. Lady, the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South for intervening, and that is why I was ready to give way. I said in my answer earlier that was the case so far as I was aware. As a result of the hon. Lady's intervention, I can now correct that; she is, of course, absolutely right in saying that there were those cases, and I ask the Committee to forgive me. I did not mean purposely to overlook that. I really had in mind the more recently publicised cases. I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for her intervention, because I certainly did not wish to mislead the Committee.
Perhaps I might pass to another extremely important figure in the Cyprus controversy, who was mentioned, naturally, by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. I refer to Archbishop Makarios. The hon. Member earnestly entreated Her Majesty's Government to bring the Archbishop back into play again. Hon. Members opposite have often said that the Archbishop is the only 244 key to the situation and that we shall get nowhere without him, because he is the only person who speaks for the Cypriot community.
But have hon. Members opposite considered why no one else will speak? It is because they have been terrorised. Have hon. Members opposite considered where we should be likely to get with Archbishop Makarios in present circumstances? He is the man who has made it his aim to unite Cyprus with Greece. He is the man who supported Grivas and gave instructions—[Interruption.] I did not say that there was any crime. When I want to make a charge about a crime, I will preface my remarks by saying so. Archbishop Makarios is the man who supported Grivas and gave instructions to the terrorist gangs. He is the man who has had countless opportunities to condemn violence. If it is true that he is the leader of all Greek Cypriots, his condemnation of violence would surely have led to its end, but he has steadfastly declined to take such action against terrorism.
It may well be true that the Archbishop has a part to play. I know that if he were to renounce and condemn terrorism, peace could be more quickly restored to Cyprus, and so does the Archbishop know it. Until he has done so, however, until the Greek Cypriots are convinced that Archbishop Makarios will not continue to support violence and terrorism as a means towards achieving the union of Cyprus with Greece or until terrorism is finally stamped out, I believe that a resumption of any kind of negotiations with Archbishop Makarios could not help towards a peaceful settlement in Cyprus.
I consider, in fact, that a resumption of negotiations with Archbishop Makarios would only encourage the terrorists and the Greek Government in their intransigence and thereby put off the day when we could hope for a restoration of peace. I believe with all honesty and sincerity that the terrorists and the Greek Government find encouragement and support for their present policies every time that a cry goes up in this country for the reopening of negotiations with Archbishop Makarios and for his return to Cyprus.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
If the Government have made up their mind 245 not to negotiate with Makarios, what was the purpose of sending representatives of the British Government or of the Cyprus Government to see him in the Seychelles, apparently to put to him the Radcliffe Constitution and, I assume, to ascertain whether he would be prepared to discuss a settlement on the basis of that constitution, which, I thought, was a wise thing to do? We have heard nothing more about it except that representatives were sent. It was, however, a decision of the British Government.
It has, therefore, been concluded, not only on this side of the Committee, but in the country, I think, that that was a hopeful sign that the Government were seeking to ascertain whether Makarios would be prepared, and, if so, under what conditions, to discuss a settlement on the basis of the Radcliffe proposals. Is that the view of the Government? If not, what was the purpose of sending representatives to see the Archbishop?
I will try to answer the right hon. Gentleman in a jiff, if I may. I apologise that I am taking so long, but I have given way to a number of hon. and right hon. Members.
Our first line of approach, then, is the elimination of terrorism, and the second is constitutional advance; for although we cannot in present circumstances contemplate the application of self-determination, Her Majesty's Government are determined to go ahead with internal constitutional development in Cyprus in order to give Cypriots, Greek and Turkish alike, a greater opportunity of running their own internal affairs.
As all hon. Members will know, Lord Radcliffe submitted his Report to my right hon. Friend some eleven weeks ago. The Radcliffe constitutional proposals were published widely among all sections of people in Cyprus, who were, as hon. Members know, eagerly awaiting them. The proposals were well received by the Turkish Government, who are studying them closely, but they produced an immediate negative reaction from the Greek Government. I think it is fair to say that the fact that the Greek Government rushed in like that, before the people of Cyprus, who were those principally concerned, had had a chance to see the proposals and form their views on them, was thoroughly resented by the Cypriots.
246 The Radcliffe Report was, as the House knows, shown to Archbishop Makarios in the Seychelles by Lord Radcliffe's secretary and an official of the Cyprus Government. They explained that the sole purpose of their mission was to give the Archbishop any elucidation which he might require of Her Majesty's Government's constitutional proposals and to transmit to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State any observations that the Archbishop might wish to make. The representatives informed him that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to provide the necessary facilities should he wish to see a representative group of Cypriots or, indeed, someone from Greece.
The officials' stay in the Seychelles was prolonged beyond the original intention because informal conversation with the Archbishop appeared to give ground for hoping that he might be reconsidering his attitude towards making a statement opposing violence. That hope, however, proved to be unfounded. Archbishop Makarios said that he understood Lord Radcliffe's Report but was not under present conditions disposed to discuss any question relative to the future of Cyprus.
I believe that when terrorism has been stamped out and is no longer encouraged by the Ethnarchy or by the Greek Government, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots will both be willing and eager to co-operate in running the internal affairs of the island on the lines, although not necessarily exactly the precise lines, proposed by Lord Radcliffe.
§ Mr. Kenneth Robinson(St. Pancras, North) rose—
§ Mr. Profumo
I had better finish my speech. The hon. Member will, no doubt, be allowed to make his speech later.
The third way in which we have to approach the Cyprus problem is in its international aspect. As the House knows, the United Nations is debating the Cyprus situation this week. Our case, which has been fully supported by evidence, is that the Greek Government has carried out an active campaign aimed at the annexation of Cyprus. There has been a vicious propaganda offensive by Athens radio which has incited the people of Cyprus to violence. The Greek Government has supplied arms, ammunition and money to the E.O.K.A. terrorists.
247 Greek army officers have trained a number of Cypriot terrorists in the techniques of terrorism and a number of Greek nationals have gone to Cyprus to take part in the E.O.K.A. movement.
I will not go into details now—our case has been put yesterday at the United Nations by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs—but it is our hope that this complaint by Her Majesty's Government will receive extensive support at the United Nations and that the debate will bring home to the Greek Government that its support for terrorism in Cyprus cannot succeed and that it can bring nothing but harm to any and all parties concerned.
Considering the long traditional friendship between our two peoples, it must be a matter of the greatest regret to all of us that relations between ourselves and the Greek Government have come to this pass. I can only say how much we all hope that wiser counsels will prevail and that the friendship between our two nations will be speedily restored.
I do not wish to detain the Committee much longer, because I know that there are many other hon. Members who wish to make speeches, but I would say this. I believe that if we can convince the Ethnarchy, the E.O.K.A. terrorists and the Greek Government that terrorism cannot succeed, we shall be well on the way to a peaceful introduction of internal self-government in Cyprus. To put it another way, if the terrorists—E.O.K.A.—denounce terrorism, and certainly if the Archbishop himself were to support such an announcement and to make it perfectly plain to the world, I believe that a new situation would be created which would get us much closer to the introduction of internal self-government in the island.
As Her Majesty's Government have said, we do not rule out self-determination for the peoples of Cyprus when the time is propitious. That time, however, it not yet here, and the first step towards self-determination must be the cooperation by Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the managing of their own internal affairs. Hon. Members opposite have thrown up their hands in horror at the idea of self-determination coupled with partition. Of course, partition would not be the most satisfactory outcome of the 248 present trouble for the inhabitants of Cyprus. My right hon. Friend has made that perfectly clear. On 19th December, he said in the House:… none of us would regard partition … as the best solution of the many problems there."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December. 1956, Vol. 562, c. 1277.]Nevertheless, the fact remains that partition must be a possibility if Turkish Cypriots are to be allowed to exercise the right of self-determination as well as Greek Cypriots and if they choose to become a part of Turkey.
Let us, however, make it quite clear that it lies in the power of Greeks and Greek Cypriots themselves to avoid the unsatisfactory alternative of partition. Greek and Turkish Cypriots used to live together in peace. If Greek Cypriots can satisfy their Turkish fellow-countrymen that there is nothing to fear from the application of self-determination there is no reason why self-determination should necessarily lead to partition of the island.
While my right hon. Friend and I welcome this debate as an opportunity for the expression of constructive thought on the future of Cyprus, and although we appreciate that an Amendment to reduce the amount of the Vote is only a customary means of instigating such a debate, I hope that the result of our deliberations today will show that there is much common ground between us in all parts of the Committee. The one thing which would be harmful to our cause, to the country, indeed, to the future of Cyprus itself, would be for differences of opinion to be magnified so as to portray to the world at large a deep division of purpose or a deep cleavage of policy. I do not believe it exists.
My right hon. Friend has purposely elected to wind up in order that he may be in a position frankly and fully to answer proposals and misgivings alike and thereby to narrow the gap that may divide us on a problem so acute as to deserve a truly national policy.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
The hon. Gentleman referred very briefly to the suppression of the freedom of the Press, which is causing grave concern and which is doing very real harm to Britain's reputation. Is it the intention of his right hon. Friend to deal with that matter in more detail when he winds up?
§ Mr. Profumo
Yes. If it is the wish of the Committee, my right hon. Friend would be prepared to deal with that in more detail.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. John Parker (Dagenham)
The Under-Secretary of State seemed to be surprised that in Cyprus the Greek Government and the Greek Cypriots are carrying on violent propaganda for the union of the island with Greece and that assistance is going from Greece to the Greek Cypriots for this purpose. How does he imagine that the Kingdom of Greece came into existence or that the Greeks came into possession of the island of Crete unless in the past the Greeks had carried on violent nationalist propaganda of that kind and sent arms and other assistance to rebels to try to bring about the unity of all the Greek-speaking areas into one Greek State?
I am not condoning the violence which has taken place in Cyprus, but I do say that we must regard that kind of activity as inevitable when there is strong nationalist feeling and when there is no effort made by the rulers of the territory in any way to meet the feeling of nationalism. Nationalism is very much the strongest of political feelings in the world at present. It is the basis of the Hungarian resistance to Russian control, and it is the basis of Greek Cypriot resistance to our rule. The Government should recognise the force of that nationalism and try to come to terms with it in any policy which they draw up.
Partition seems to me to be one of the most important issues at present in Cyprus. It is widely believed, rightly or wrongly, that the antagonistic feeling between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus has been partially at any rate stirred up in the past by the British Government. The old idea of divide and rule is well known when there is an imperial and colonial Power trying to keep control of a territory.
There was a very strong feeling in India that antagonistic feelings between Muslims and Hindus were stirred up by Britain. Ultimately India was divided to try to obtain a peaceful solution between Hindus and Muslims. This division of the sub-continent of India was made on the basis that there were considerable parts of the sub-continent in which 250 Muslims were in the majority, in the Punjab and Sind and the Indus Valley and Baluchistan and part of Bengal. In Ireland also it was possible to find a part in which there was definitely a local majority of the people who objected to Home Rule, and so there was the creation of the political entity of Northern Ireland.
Cyprus is altogether different. There is no part of the island in which there is a Turkish majority. In common, I think, with most other Members of the Committee, I have had sent to me frequently propaganda from both sides on Cyprus. Here is a very interesting booklet sent me recently by the Turkish Embassy in London. It contains a map which shows all the villages of the island, Turkish and Greek, the Greek being marked in grey and the Turkish in red, and it is easy to see from this that there is no part of the island which is predominantly red, and in which, therefore, the Turks are in a majority.
In the towns the same applies. There is one town, a small one, in which there is a Turkish majority, but even though the Turkish minority is larger than in the countryside the Greek majority is overwhelming in the towns. As in the countryside, there is no place but one in which there happens to be a Turkish majority. So I would say that the position in Cyprus is quite different from that which existed in India or in Ireland. There is no part of the area in which the minority has a substantial local majority and, therefore, there is no basis for carrying out any kind of partition.
When the Colonial Secretary put forward the idea of partition as a possible means of solving the differences in the island the Turkish Government welcomed it. Their suggestion was that the only satisfactory way of partitioning the island was by giving the whole of the northern half of the island to the Turks. That is the part where there is the least Turkish population, although it happens to be the part nearest to Turkey. It would mean that 17.9 per cent. of the population of the island would be given 50 per cent. of the area.
Partition would in any case mean exchanges of population within the island, tearing Greeks from their homes and tearing Turks from their homes and exchanging them. It would be inevitable if partition were to create any area with a 251 Turkish local majority. We do not want to see people torn from their homes and exchanged in this way if we can possibly avoid it, but if, however, people are to be torn up from their homes there is a very strong case indeed for saying to the Turks, "Go back to Anatolia." After all, the Turks originally came from there when they conquered the island from the Venetians. Turkey is under-populated. There are extensive areas in which there are no people at all. Greece and Cyprus are over-populated.
There have been exchanges of Greeks and Turks in the past to solve quarrels between them. Following the war between Greece and Turkey in 1921 and 1922, it might have been possible to have had an exchange of population with a fair division of territory in accordance with the size of their respective populations. That was not done because Greece was the loser of the war, and a large number of Greeks were expelled from Asia Minor, while a much smaller number of Turks were taken from Macedonia, Crete and other parts of Greece and sent back to Turkey.
Some years ago I had the interesting experience of visiting Turkey and seeing many of the villages where the Turks who had returned to Turkey had settled down. I remember one particularly in the Plain of Cilicia. It was marshy country. The people who had been settled there had been brought from the hill country of Thessaly in Greece, and more than half of them died in the first eighteen months. For one thing, the country was malarial, but in any case it was quite different from the country to which they had been used in Greece. The survivors become acclimatised some years later. They are successfully settled there now, but the point is that if we really want to tear people up from their homes, which is what partition means, the best way of doing this in Cyprus is to say to the Turkish minority that they should go back to Turkey, to settle there, where there is plenty of room for them.
Personally, I would rather have no such tearing up of people from their homes at all. It means an enormous dislocation of their whole lives, and we ought to find a solution which will prevent anything of that kind from occurring.
252 Partition will in any case bring an exchange of populations between the different parts of Cyprus. It must be avoided. If, however, people are to be forced to leave their homes I would rather that the Turkish population went back to Turkey.
It seems to be an extraordinary argument that 17.9 per cent. of the population should be enabled to dictate to the great majority of the population. Let us consider Scotland, 12 per cent. of whose population, I am told, is Irish or of Irish origin. If this Turkish proposal is valid for Cyprus is there not a case for giving a part of Scotland to Ireland because 12 per cent. of Scotland's population is Irish, is descended from people who went into Scotland within the last hundred years or so and settled there? It is quite preposterous to allow a minority of the population arriving in the country later than the majority to be given dominant overriding political rights.
Another point that should be borne in mind is that, in the time of the Ottoman Empire, the conquering army of Turks moved over enormous areas which it conquered, and Turks settled there. As its frontiers receded, so the population moved back to Anatolia. When the Greek revolt took place in 1821 it was accompanied by a very big exodus of Turks from the mainland of Greece itself. There had been a big Turkish minority there in the past, but they then moved out, and that happened in Crete, Macedonia and right away through the Balkans. The Turkish minorities have moved back as the frontiers of the Turkish State have moved back, and if there is a very strong demand from the Turks in Cyprus to be Turkish and to be in Turkey, then there is plenty of room for them. They can go back to Turkey and settle there.
I think that in this discussion we have to try to find a solution which will both prevent partition and the tearing up of populations. I do believe that, given good will and a lead from our Government here, that solution can be found giving the Turkish minority all the reasonable guarantees which it wants. Greece already has a Turkish minority living in Western Thrace, and there is a Greek minority living in Istanbul. The one in Western Thrace has declined a 253 little in the last twenty years, and many of the Turks have moved back to Turkey, but they have their own schools, freedom of religion and so on. One cannot say that the Greek population in Istanbul has always been treated very well in recent years; there were the very unfortunate anti-Greek riots of a few years ago.
If a lead can be given by our Government, and an agreement made by it with the Greek and Turkish Governments guaranteeing the rights of the Turkish minority in Cyprus, as well as those of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace and of the the Greeks in Istanbul, and particularly if the base has been retained in Cyprus and handed over to N.A.TO., and if foreign troops are stationed there for guaranteeing the carrying out of any minority treaty on behalf of the Turks, that would be a very satisfactory solution. It could last for many years, while we sought to give self-determination, followed possibly later by full union between Cyprus and Greece. Personally, I should be strongly against the removal of foreign troops from Cyprus during a long intermediate period, because it is very desirable that such troops should be retained there in order to see in the transition period that the minority guarantees worked.
I think that if the Government give a lead on these lines, we can find a solution of this problem which will give the Turkish minority in Cyprus all reasonable rights, guaranteed internationally as well as between the Turkish and Greek Governments and the British Government. I think we should then find that co-operation between races would come about again and that they would live happily together, as they have done in the past.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
We have heard the Under-Secretary discussing the future of Cyprus, and the sudden introduction of the threat of partition. I hope the Committee will bear with me if I continue my efforts, conciliatory though they have been, both in my maiden speech and at the various conferences on the future of Cyprus. I have had the good fortune to live in Cyprus, and, though I will not detain the Committee very long, I wish to put forward the various problems of both the Greek and Cypriot peoples which seem to me 254 to be rather lost in the verbiage of diplomatic exchanges and through conversations in official channels.
Last year, I took the trouble to see both the Governor and also Archbishop Makarios before he was deported, because it seemed to me interesting to hear from the Archbishop himself what he really thought about the future of the Cypriot people, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. After all, it is all very well for the Greek people and the Cypriot people to talk about Enosis, but what were the practical steps which the Archbishop or any other Cypriot had in mind? I thought that this was an important thing to discover, because everybody still believes that Enosis means union with Greece, the end of any connection with Great Britain, and, obviously, the Turkish minority coming under Greek Cypriot control.
Therefore, the following questions were put to the Archbishop. Do you imagine that if you had union with Greece the people of Cyprus would be anxious to join in doing Greek national army service? Can you tell me in what form and how mall taxation you would expect this island to pay towards Greek taxes? Can you please tell me what would be the position of the Communist party in Cyprus? Would it suffer the same disabilities as it suffers in Greece? The Archbishop replied in the very remarkable expression that, when the people of Cyprus had found their constitution, all these matters could be arranged. Therefore, the next problem was to try to find out what he thought was the ultimate destiny of Cyprus, and he said it was a free and independent State within the Greek union, and, probably—and this is now over a year ago—within the Commonwealth.
It seemed to me at that particular time that there was every hope that, if our Government could possibly make that gesture towards the people of Cyprus, we could find that some form of joint sovereignty would be evolved. Therefore, there are, to my mind, only two people in this world who can solve the Cyprus problem, once terrorism has died down. They would be the Archbishop himself and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. They are the only two people who, to my mind, can bring peace to this troubled island.
255 The Archbishop is the only person with whom the British Government could possibly try to find a solution which is fair to this country, to the Greeks and to the Turks; but, at that time, the Government were suffering and labouring under a great difficulty in that the Chiefs of Staffs were determined that the sovereignty of Cyprus could not be compromised and could not be divided. I would also add that the Archbishop said "I have never, nor has the Greek Government ever, disputed that there should be a N.A.T.O. base on Cyprus which Britain could use."
However reluctantly, I must say that I came to the conclusion at the end of my visit that Her Majesty's military advisers, thinking about operations which were never likely to occur, but did in fact occur, believed that Cyprus would be necessary as a military base. Spokesmen experienced in military matters, including Field Marshal Auchinleck, have pronounced on the effectiveness of Cyprus as a military base. Therefore, from now on one can rule out that underlying problem of the adamant demands of the Chiefs of Staff that the island must remain a British base under British sovereignty. Therefore, there is hope now that the Government can possibly reopen negotiations.
There was a most unfortunate occurrence last year when it became known that Archbishop Makarios was believed to be involved in terrorism. [An HON. MEMBER: "Believed?"] It is not necessarily true, because the Government will not bring him to trial. If it were possible to bring this British subject to trial it would be a good thing. We have refused to bring him to trial. Yet he may well be implicated in this matter. According to the Cyprus Government, he was implicated and, therefore, he was removed from that scene. That was a mast regrettable action for Her Majesty's Government to have taken. Anybody with experience of the island and with any experience of the Orient should have known that nobody else would come forward to offer assistance to any of Her Majesty's advisers. Therefore, it was most regrettable that the Archbishop was sent into exile in the Seychelles.
The whole future of Cyprus causes very grave concern to anyone who has any real 256 interest in the island or in N.A.T.O. or in our ancient friendship with Greece and in our undertakings to Turkey. On two occasions methods of solving the problem have been suggested by allowing the Legislative Assembly at a distant date to send Turkish-Cypriot representatives to Ankara and Greek-Cypriot representatives to Athens. We must give the Cypriot people a definite undertaking that we do not intend to block self-determination for ever and that self-determination will be carried out, as suggested by the Greek Foreign Minister, by the decision of N.A.T.O., with the agreement of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Yates
Naturally, Turkey, being a member of N.A.T.O. would be automatically included. For myself, and for the Colonial Secretary who has been on the island and knows a great many people there, this matter is a great tragedy for Aphrodite's Isle. The sooner we try to swallow a certain amount of pride and show humility the sooner we shall re-establish ourselves as a good, trustworthy, honest nation and leader of the free world.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)
I am sure that the Committee will have listened with much interest to the speech of the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates). It only shows that there is on both sides of the Committee a great deal of agreement on many aspects of this very difficult problem. We ought to try to see whether we can secure agreement on this vital question and not make party politics out of it. It is a vital international matter and we must try to seek agreement where we can. That does not mean that I am not prepared to disagree very much with the Government on certain foreign affairs, as I did over Suez, but here is a matter where division is less clear and where, with a more reasonable chance of success, we can try to get a solution.
The Committee is asked to vote a sum of money to deal with the emergency in Cyprus. I think that we have no option but to do so, not that I would be against reducing the sum by £100 because I was not satisfied with everything said by the 257 Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, although I agreed with a great deal of it. If the Colonial Secretary, in winding up the debate, gives me a little more hope, I shall have to consider the possibility of abstaining from voting, to show that I want to secure as much agreement as I can.
I was in Cyprus last autumn and I formed the opinion that no improvement was possible without the Grivas gangs being first suppressed. That is a sine qua non, the first thing that must be done. I entirely agree with the Government's policy in that respect, and they seem to be getting somewhere with it. I went to a village on the edge of the forest in the Troodos Mountains and found that a large number of Greeks in the village were frightened to co-operate with the Government although they wanted to do so and told me so. They were frightened of being murdered.
I went to lunch in a restaurant with a party. The woman restaurant-keeper, who had two daughters who were married to British private soldiers, and was proud of it, told me, when we asked to have lunch outside, under the trees, that she would prefer that we did not, because there might be people in the forest who might see what she was doing and she would be in trouble. So I realise very well that until steps are taken to get rid of these gangs we shall not be able to get a fair expression of opinion by the Greek Cypriots. When I flew back and touched down in Athens for a short while I saw on the airport official Greek propaganda accusing our troops of atrocities in Cyprus. It is quite clear from the way that they behave that the Greek Government are responsible for this sort of thing. Foreigners have their minds poisoned by looking at this propaganda in the airport.
But we are entitled to ask Her Majesty's Government, "What now?" We are entitled to ask them to think what is to be their policy for the future. It is important that when the Greek-Cypriots are free from this terror there should be someone who will speak for them. It would be nice to think that there are other people besides Archbishop Makarios who would come forward and speak for the Greeks. I believe that the Archbishop has been implicated in terrorism in one way or another. I regard 258 him as a shifty Greek priest who is not to be trusted. But the tragedy is that I do not believe there is anyone else who is capable of speaking for the Greeks today. Makarios is, in fact, the natural Greek leader, and I hope that once the influence of Grivas and his gang is removed he will see that his game with terrorism is not worth the candle.
Unfortunately, the Colonial Secretary has to deal with something which is the fault of nobody, that is, the history and tradition of Cyprus. There is on the island the old Ottoman tradition of the so-called "Millet" system—that is the Turkish word for "people". The old Ottoman Empire "peoples" accepted the suzerainty of the Sultan. And Cyprus has only been out of the Ottoman Empire for seventy-nine years. That is not the case in Greece proper, which has been out of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 130 years. However, the "millet" system, which has existed for hundreds of years since the Turks took Constantinople in 1453, has made the religious leaders also the political leaders, and it is an historical fact which we have to realise.
Since Cyprus has been so recently within The Ottoman Empire, it is difficult to find anyone else, even if we remove Colonel Grivas and his gangs. I know that the authorities in Cyprus seem to think that they can find someone, but I think they are wrong, because they underestimate the historical traditions of the island.
I believe that the Colonial Secretary was right to exile Archbishop Makarios last year, but I do not think that he is right to continue it. The right hon. Gentleman must now consider ways and means of bringing him back, because all evidence is to the effect that terrorism is being suppressed. So, in the absence of finding anyone else, the Colonial Secretary will have to find a way by which that can be done. If Makarios will not renounce terrorism openly—and one can understand that it is difficult for him to do so, because it would affect his dignity and self-respect—some way must be found to enable him to do it.
The position rather resembles the position today between Israel and Egypt over the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel wants guarantees and yet, technically, she is the aggressor. So a 259 legal way has to be found, and it is the problem of the United Nations and of the United States to find it in order to solve the conundrum. That is also the problem of the Colonial Secretary. I must say that I do not envy him, because it will not be easy to solve. I personally wish him every success and I have given my humble opinion of the way it must be done.
We have spent this money to fight terrorism, and the Committee is also entitled to know the intentions of the Government about the future system of government in Cyprus. I hope very much, as do all my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee and many hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Radcliffe Constitution can be put into effect, and that as a next stage there will be self-government in the island. That would give the Greeks a chance to play an important rôle in the internal affairs of Cyprus. It would also give the Turks what they have every right to demand, guarantees for the rights of the minority. The reserve powers of the Governor over foreign affairs, the Army and the police are a further guarantee for Turkish rights.
That is essential in this next immediate stage. Of course, the Greeks do not like that, because they want all the Governor's reserve powers to be removed. Theirs is the simple philosophy that because they are a majority, they are entitled to rule the island. But the simple right of self-determination cannot be granted to one people, even the majority, if there is a minority there which does not agree. I am afraid that many people do not understand this.
The Charter of the United Nations refers to rights of the freedom of "peoples" in the plural, not just "people". How often have we had cases where self-determination has been granted to a majority who immediately start to bully a minority. That must not be allowed. Each people has a right to self-determination, including a minority. That is important, also, when we consider the more distant future. The Government have agreed to self-determination in principle but they cannot mean, I hope, that Greek sovereignty, pure and simple, is to be established in the island even in the distant future. The Turkish minority will not accept it. One hon. Gentleman opposite said this would mean civil disturb- 260 ances in the island. It would mean civil war. Other considerations must modify the rights of self-determination, namely, the strategic and economic interests of neighbours.
Unfortunately, when President Wilson put forward his Fourteen Points, at the end of the First World War, he spoke of self-determination, but it was never defined. I repeat that the interests of neighbours must be considered also, both economic and strategic. How can one accept Greek sovereignty on the island, even with a N.A.T.O. base, unless the Turks have a strong guarantee for the protection of their southern coast, where the great port of Iskanderun, the most important military port of Turkey for the defence of her eastern frontier, is there in sight of Cyprus?
As I have said, the right of self-determination must be conditioned by the social and economic interests of minorities. There are the social and economic interests of the Turkish minorities in Cyprus and the strategic interests of the neighbouring republic of Turkey. These cannot be satisfied by allowing Greece to be the sole sovereign in the island.
Unfortunately, the relations between Greece and Turkey have so deteriorated in recent years that no confidence exists between them. Less than ten years ago, I was present in the Taxim Maidan Square, in Istanbul, at the anniversary of the Battle of Sakaria. I saw the parade of the Turkish troops before the President and I would not have known from the Turkish Press of Istanbul that day who was the enemy. Greece was not mentioned, so good were the relations then. Alas, how easily have the century-old fires of the old Turkish-Greece animosity been stirred up again. I have my own ideas as to why that has happened, but it would take too much of the time of the Committee if I gave my reasons why that animosity has boiled up within the last few years.
I feel that if ultimately self-determination is granted to the island, there must be something other than pure Greek sovereignty there. Even the creation of a N.A.T.O. base is not enough. N.A.T.O. cannot give a political guarantee to the Turks about their status. Moreover, the Turks feel that a N.A.T.O. base on the island, with Greek sovereignty, would not give them security because they say that 261 N.A.T.O. exists legally only for twenty years. We hope it will go on, but they say that, legally speaking, that is not sufficient guarantee for them.
On the other hand, I feel it is very important that the Government—I hope the Colonial Secretary will tell us something about this—should give up the foolish idea that we can any longer hold Cyprus as a British base. I should have thought that the fiasco of Suez would have shown us that that was so. The idea is as dead as the dodo.
There must be other ways in which we can satisfy the Turkish claim that, ultimately, if self-determination is agreed to, there shall be some solution other than that of pure Greek sovereignty on the island. Personally, I favour the idea of a Condominium. I believe that, ultimately, sovereignty might be held jointly by this country, Turkey and Greece. I do not believe that it would be possible for Greece and Turkey to hold it together, because the present relations between the two countries are too bad and, one never knows, although we hope they will improve, historical forces may always well up again.
Difficult though the solution may be, I also hope the Government will give up the foolish idea of trying to partition the island. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has said, that is not possible. But I did not agree with my hon. Friend that the Turks must be turned out of the island. That will not do at all; they are perfectly entitled to stay. We must find some other solution than that, but partition is not possible. One has only to go about the island a little while to see that the movement of the population from one side to the other would mean a great deal of difficulty, trouble and unhappiness. We must try to get the people to live together in one way or another.
It is also no use our thinking that the creation of a N.A.T.O. base will help to solve all the problems. It will help to solve only one problem. It may make Turkey less fearful about her great port of Iskanderun. But it will not dispel the fear of the rest of the Turkish islanders that if Greek sovereignty is established they may not be given a fair deal. These people must be given some guarantee, and the only ultimate solution that I can visualise is some form of condominium. If 262 we remain there, we shall be able by our influence, which I hope we shall retain, to keep the two peoples working together.
I hope that we may still find some common ground between both sides of the Committee so that we may all regard the great Cyprus question with objectivity and understand the traditions and history of the island and its peoples. If we do that, I believe that we can, with patience, reach a solution and we must always remember that we cannot solve international questions without patience.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said he hoped that this debate would not have much effect on the debate taking place in the United Nations. I took this to mean that he was conscious of the fact that there is normally a division of opinion in the House about our attitude to Cyprus and that he hoped that that would not have any influence on the debate on the other side of the Atlantic.
If every speech from the Opposition were like that of the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price), we should show a fairly united front in our attitude to the problem. To be fair to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, his speech was a great improvement on the usual Opposition Front Bench speech, a great improvement, for instance, on the speech one might have expected if the deputy Leader of the Opposition had opened the debate.
Even so, there were a few expressions in the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East which were unfortunate. He said that what we were doing in Cyprus at the moment amounted to totalitarianism. How does anybody expect terrorism to be suppressed without using fairly ruthless methods? What are the methods of the terrorists but totalitarianism itself?
§ Mr. G. Thomas
Would the hon. Gentleman explain when patriotism ceases to become patriotism and becomes terrorism? He lauds the response of local nationals against foreign troops in Hungary. Does he not expect the same in Cyprus?
§ Mr. Russell
That is a little different. Foreign troops have invaded Hungary. We have been in Cyprus by agreement 263 with the Turks and the Greeks since 1878. The Treaty of Lausanne, between Turkey and ourselves, was agreed to by the Greeks. The situation is entirely different from that in Hungary.
§ Sir F. Soskice
The hon. Gentleman has made a most important point. Are we to understand that he is advocating the use of totalitarian methods in the repression of the terrorists? Is it his argument that it is the consequence of Government policy that totalitarian methods have now to be used?
§ Sir F. Soskice
Then might I explain it? The hon. Member asked what one could expect except the use of totalitarian methods to repress terrorism. There is terrorism. Does he, therefore, advocate the use of totalitarian methods to repress it? Further, does he accept that the use of totalitarian methods is the effect of the Government's policy?
§ Mr. Russell
I fully agree with the methods which the Government are using to suppress terrorism. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman, or any other hon. Gentleman opposite, likes to call them "totalitarian", he is entitled to do so, but I do not think that any Government in any part of the world has ever succeeded in suppressing terrorism without using fairly drastic methods.
The Labour Party used fairly drastic methods in Malaya when the terrorist campaign there broke out in 1948. Unfortunately, as with so many other examples of the policy of the Labour Government in dealing with matters of that kind, the Labour Party did not use drastic enough methods, and it failed to suppress the campaign. It was left to the Conservative Government eventually to adopt rather more drastic methods, and now terrorism in Malaya has more or less been wiped out. No right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite will dispute that. The number of acts of terrorism now taking place in Malaya is very small compared with a few years ago. The same applies to the Mau Mau campaign in Kenya. That has been done by using firm methods.
What I cannot understand about the members of the Labour Party is that they 264 seem to condone terrorism. At least, they are very reluctant to condemn it. Their attitude seems to be that one can do nothing about it and must give in to it. As I said in an Adjournment debate on the subject just before Christmas, there seem to be only two alternatives for dealing with the problem of terrorism in Cyprus. One is to give in to it, and the other is to try to suppress it. Hon. Members opposite have to choose between those alternatives only. As far as I can make out, there are a good many hon. Gentlemen opposite who would like to give in to it.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that there is a third alternative, which is to remove the causes of terrorism?
§ Mr. Russell
No. How can one remove the causes of terrorism except by giving the terrorists what they want? That means giving in to terrorism.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East spoke about 18,000 British troops holding down the people of Cyprus and costing the Cypriots their liberty. The only people who are being held down by 18,000 British troops and their methods are the terrorists. Law-abiding people in Cyprus are not very much inconvenienced by the methods employed by British troops. In any case, what other methods would hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest to combat the terrorism, unless they did not want to combat it but wished to give in to it?
What I also cannot understand about the attitude of the party opposite is this. When they were in power from 1945 to 1951 they took exactly the same attitude as we on this side take now about the question of self-determination in Cyprus. When this matter was raised at Question Time, on 21st June, 1950, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who was then Minister of State, said:It has repeatedly been made clear that no change in the sovereignty of the Island is contemplated.He also went on to say—and this is quite an illuminating remark:Very large numbers of people in Cyprus can, and do, see for themselves that they are very much better off under us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1950; Vol. 476, c. 1279–80.]That was a fairly definite and firm statement of policy by a responsible Minister 265 speaking for the Socialist Government on the attitude of self-determination in Cyprus.
What has happened since then to make them change their attitude? It is only the campaign of terrorism and the violent campaign of Enosis from within the island and from Greece. Indeed, the only reason that they have changed their policy is that there has been a campaign started by the Greek Government and by the Greek Cypriots in Cyprus, backed up by terrorism. Nothing else has happened since then that has made them change their policy.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
The hon. Member must be fair. The policy which has been pursued for many years by this party was adopted officially long before terrorism started in Cyprus.
§ Mr. Russell
—from the attitude adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich, speaking on behalf of the Government in 1950.
No explanation has been made by any right hon. or hon. Gentleman, so far as I can remember, in any of the debates that we have had on Cyprus for that change of policy, except that they want to give in to the aspirations of the Greek Church and a comparative handful of terrorists. I am sure that there is no more desire, if the inhabitants could express their opinion, on the part of the mass of the population of Cyprus for union with Greece than there was seven years ago during the time of the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Russell
It is impossible to give them a chance until terrorism has been abolished and people can vote freely without any fear at all. Half the problems can be solved by removing the fear of a bullet in the back which any Greek Cypriot expects to get if he is in any way disloyal to or professes against the Greek Church.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Does the hon. Member remember that the terrorist campaign 266 was called off and there was some peace? It was only when Field Marshal Harding offered his terms of surrender, which were terms offering to mutineers complete and abject surrender, that the terrorist campaign was begun again.
§ Mr. Russell
I think that the only way to suppress terrorism completely is by demanding complete surrender.
§ Mr. Russell
It was not stopped in circumstances which were thought satisfactory to the Governor or the Government.
Another thing which I cannot understand about the attitude of the party opposite is its complaint about the lack of freedom to the Press or to the public in general, considering some of the measures of which it approved when it was in power. In June, 1950, about the same time as the previous statement which I quoted, it was regretted that six out of eight members of the town council of Limassol were imprisoned for ignoring the law governing a very simple subject, the changing of the names of streets. If the party opposite can approve a law which allows members of the town council to be imprisoned for infringing a law like that, surely it has no right whatever to grumble at laws which are made to stop the infringement of much more grave matters.
I cannot understand the change of attitude that is taking place over this. That imprisonment was upheld by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich in just the same way as the party opposite upheld so many things that we uphold now that we are in power. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will not accede to the request of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East to have the Archbishop back unconditionally in order to open negotiations with him. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire, West said, the first step is to suppress terrorism and then we can think about bringing back the Archbishop. I am sure that it would be absolutely fatal for us to bring him back until terrorism has been suppressed.
§ Mr. Philips Price
What I did say was that, having suppressed terrorism, or having nearly done so, we should then 267 find a way for bringing him back which would in no way undermine his dignity in certain respects. The business of the Colonial Secretary is to find a way of doing it.
§ Mr. Russell
I am sorry if I misrepresented the hon. Gentleman. I will not quarrel with him on that point, but I hope that he will agree that before we can have the Archbishop back terrorism must be suppressed, unless the hon. Gentleman condones violence. I cannot understand why an Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church, or for that matter of any Church, cannot quite simply condemn violence, unless he is grossly implicated in it.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Why the Archbishop cannot condemn violence is because if he did so it would be thought that he was doing so under duress.
§ Mr. Russell
The Under-Secretary of State gave a short account of the case being made by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the debate in the United Nations. What he did not say, which I saw reported in at least one newspaper this morning, was that the terrorists are being supplied by the Greek Government with arms carried in the diplomatic bag. If that statement is correct I think that it is monstrous that the Greek Government should be violating normal diplomatic custom, and I hope that that will be broadcast all over the United Nations, particularly in the debate that is taking place there now.
Finally, I think that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West mentioned—it certainly was not mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East—the strategic importance of Cyprus to Turkey. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are often apt to forget the Turkish point of view in this and that it has been repeatedly stated by the Turks that they cannot allow Cyprus to be handed over to Greece because of the threat to Turkey itself from an island so near to the shores of Asia Minor being in possibly hostile hands.
This brings up the whole question of whether the N.A.T.O. base is useful or not. I will not argue that, but what is to happen if Cyprus did unite with Greece and a Communist Government took control in Greece and, therefore, in Cyprus 268 as well? That is a point which no hon. Gentleman opposite has faced up to and it is another reason why we cannot give up Cyprus in response to this terrorist campaign.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
Most of my hon. Friends will have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) with profound distress. His argument about how to deal with terrorism reflects very accurately the point of view which has been responsible for twelve tragic months in Cyprus, with a mounting death roll, growing misery, hatred and anger since the time of the deportation of Archbishop Makarios. If the hon. Member thinks that the way to deal with terrorism is either to succumb to the terrorists, or eliminate them, then I am afraid that I must part company with him straight away.
I should like to take the debate to a slightly different level and start by reminding the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State that it is almost exactly a year since he and I were together in Nicosia, he to try to secure a settlement of the Cyprus problem, and I at the joint request of the Archbishop and the then Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden. It would be quite unreasonable of us on this side of the Committee, particularly today, to expect the Secretary of State to come before the Committee, as many of us on this side of the Committee think he should, in the guise of a penitent, who has at last recognised the tragic folly of many of the calamitous mistakes which he has made in the last twelve months.
We do not expect that. We should like to see it, but we realise that the rôle of a penitent apologising for his mistakes is not one particularly well suited to the right hon. Gentleman. We know that whatever his private thoughts and misgivings on this matter—and he must have had many in the last twelve months—he has suppressed them when he has come to the House, because his party's fortunes are at their lowest ebb at the moment, because his own political fortunes have suffered their worst set-back, because he is responsible for the terrible deadlock which persists in Cyprus.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd rose—269
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member to speak with his foot in the Gangway?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I think that we can take it that the Secretary of State is big enough to protect himself against me.
I shall explain why we understand the Secretary of State's reticence in this debate. One of the most important—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
There is nothing curious about it. If I can finish this part of my argument, the Secretary of State can say anything he likes.
We expected the right hon. Gentleman to be particularly sensitive today—indeed, he is showing that he is very sensitive—for the further reason that this question is now being debated by the United Nations. He has the unhappy task of putting as bold a face as he can on the manifest bankruptcy of the policy which he and the Government have been pursuing in Cyprus for the past twelve months. We sympathise with him very much in his predicament. Some of us are sorry for him and others think that he deserves everything that in due course he is going to get.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Member has long since passed from the point to which I wanted to direct his attention. He said that I must have had some doubts about the action I took when I authorised the deportation of Archbishop Makarios Whatever doubts I have about any action I have taken in any part of the Colonial Empire, of this I am certain: our action in deporting the Archbishop, as the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) has said, was correct, the only possible action that we could have taken, and I shall never regret the action we took.
The only alternative to deporting the Archbishop was arresting and detaining him in Cyprus itself. It would have been impossible to take any action against 270 lesser offenders in Cyprus unless action had been taken against the Archbishop. Equally, it would have been imposing on the Governor of Cyprus and the security troops in Cyprus an intolerable burden if they had had the Archbishop locked up in the island. Of the two alternatives, we took the only possible one, and I suggest that any responsible Government would have done the same.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
All I can say is that I am saddened to hear the Secretary of State, once again, repeat what I think is a totally unjustified point of view. He knows very well why I cannot agree with him. One of the reasons I feel sorry to hear it said again is that it only makes greater the humiliation which he will suffer when Archbishop Makarios comes back triumphantly on the Cypriot scene.
If the right hon. Gentleman will not accept, as, of course, we do not expect him publicly to do, our contention about the calamitous mistake he made twelve months ago, at least he has to admit that every move he has made since that time has proved to be wrong, every one of the forecasts he made at that time has been falsified by events, and almost every result he expected has been shown to be misjudged since that tragic day when he walked out of the meeting in the house of the Anglican Archdeacon of Nicosia at the end of his discussion with Archbishop Makarios, twelve months ago.
Things are now so bad in Cyprus, in the Levant and the Middle East that one hesitates to indulge in criticism of the past, however exasperating it is to us and to those who see the spectacle of the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary blundering on with their patently ludicrous efforts to justify their many calamitous mistakes. I will put only these questions to the right hon. Gentleman. When he kidnapped and deported the Archbishop and imprisoned him without trial in the middle of the Indian Ocean, he claimed that by removing the effective leader, he would stop the terrorist campaign. Has terrorism decreased or increased since the Archbishop was removed? Did the E.O.K.A. campaign collapse or did E.O.K.A. intensify its work? Did support for E.O.K.A. on the Island of Cyprus get less or steadily stronger every day? Have fewer lives been lost in Cyprus or more? Is Cyprus now more peaceful or more drenched in anger, bitterness and blood?
271 Surely, with the death roll steadily mounting, with new incidents every day, with nearly 30,000 troops and police in action in Cyprus, there is only one answer which the Secretary of State can give to those questions.
What of his claim that the removal of the Archbishop would make way for moderate political elements to come in and take his place? Where are those moderate political elements today? Can the right hon. Gentleman point to a single Cypriot group, party or body of people, a single Cypriot individual of any prominence or standing whatever, who has not publicly and unreservedly lined himself behind the leadership of the Archbishop since the deportation, men ranging from Communist mayors on the extreme Left to Sir Paul Pavlides and Mr. John Clerides, former members of the Executive Council on the Right?
Has not the effect of deporting the Archbishop of Cyprus been to make him more influential, more authoritative, more powerful than ever before? Has it not made it absolutely certain that when we get a political settlement in Cyprus, the one triumphant figure in the settlement will be Archbishop Makarios III? Did we not warn the Secretary of State of this privately and publicly over and over again? Has not every one of the predictions which we made twelve months ago, when the Archbishop was deported, turned out to be perfectly true?
I turn to the shabby and undignified campaign of villification which, to justify their own mistakes, the Government have let loose against the Archbishop, making sure, meanwhile, that the Archbishop is gagged and stifled, having his mail censored and sometimes stolen, held incommunicado in the middle of the Indian Ocean and with no possible opportunity to reply to the slanders and libels flung against him. In passing, I should like to say that this shocking and thoroughly un-British personal campaign of calumny has left him completely unmoved, as it has left the Greeks of Greece and Cyprus unmoved.
I am still convinced that we would and could have reached agreement with the Archbishop twelve months ago. The Secretary of State knows very well my reason for saying that. I am convinced that it is still the Archbishop, and only the 272 Archbishop, with whom we shall reach agreement, or else we shall never reach a settlement. I am unconvinced by the degrading, cheap and dishonest pamphleteering to which the Government of Cyprus has been reduced. Three days ago the Secretary of State authorised the publication of a leaflet which was apparently printed in December, and about which I wish to say a word in a moment.
Before doing so, however, I should like to explain my attitude to the Archbishop. I have no particular reason for defending or supporting the Archbishop. The Secretary of State knows how hard I tried to do everything I could—with his authority and with the authority of the then Prime Minister—to persuade the Archbishop to be more flexible in the negotiations which took place in the same way as I pleaded with the right hon. Gentleman to show greater flexibility.
At one time the Secretary of State spoke of the distaste which he claimed he had felt during the period of the discussions with the Archbishop in Nicosia. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had not said that. It casts a very unpleasant shadow on his own position during those negotiations. It would be a temptation to use similar language now and to say that we on this side of the Committee find it profoundly distasteful to associate ourselves politically in any way with a Minister whose policy has brought such disaster and misery on the people whose lives and welfare it was his responsibility to protect.
We deplore and despise those policies, but, nevertheless, we believe that a fair and peaceful settlement is more important than any party or other consideration. If we saw any sign of a real change of heart and a genuine attempt to end this bloody deadlock in Cyprus, the Secretary of State knows that he could count on us giving him all possible help and encouragement.
I wish to refer for a moment to the extraordinary, cheap and shoddy little pamphlet which was published last Friday by the Government of Cyprus. I wish to ask these questions of the Secretary of State. What is the purpose of this ludicrous little production? Who is the intolerable humbug who writes with such self-righteous smugness of impiety and blasphemy and then has the effrontery to print the Ten Commandments on the 273 back cover of this dirty little piece of paper? When was it written? Why does it carry the date, 15th December, on the inside cover? Why was it produced out of cold storage only three days ago? Was it to startle the Scandinavian delegates at the United Nations? Or was it to encourage some of the disgruntled, half-hearted back-benchers opposite. What was the reason for it?
I put these points to the Secretary of State in all seriousness. If the vile implications in this smear campaign against the Archbishop are true, why does not the right hon. Gentleman publish the documents on which they are based? Why does he not publish the text of the letters to which he refers here? Why does he not publish the papers which he took from the Archbishopric nearly a year ago? Why produce this tendentious and vile document without producing the evidence on which it is based? If these grave allegations—they are grave allegations—which the right hon. Gentleman makes against the Archbishop are justified—I have often pleaded with him to do this before—why does he not have the decency and courage to repeat them in a court of law, and allow the Archbishop an opportunity to reply?
Is it not monstrous by any standard that lesser men should be tried and hanged for crimes, of the real responsibility for which the Archbishop is now accused; given no chance to answer and not even charged with any offence? This is, perhaps, the shabbiest part of the whole of the Government's policy, the meanest aspect of the whole miserable business. The Government must make up their minds whether the Archbishop is a criminal with whom they will have no further dealings. If that be so, will they hand him over to the processes of the law? Or do they admit, as, of course, they do, that their whole approach to the Archbishop was wrong, full of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and that one day the Archbishop is bound to come back triumphant to Cyprus; and that their mean and spiteful smear campaign is only adding to their eventual humiliation?
Of course, their mean-minded policy towards the only Greek-Cypriot leader has been calamitous from every point of view. Its only effect upon the Archbishop himself has been enormously to 274 increase his prestige, authority and power. While everyone else, the Greek and Turkish Governments, ourselves and the Government of Cyprus, have been making blunder after blunder, the Archbishop has been carefully protected from making even the smallest miscalculation. So, on any basis, the policy of exile and deportation is ludicrous. In many ways the Archbishop himself will be profoundly grateful in the future for what the Secretary of State has done to him during the past twelve months.
Now I turn for a moment to a little less thorny ground. I wish to say a word about two other men who have played an important, but I feel a difficult and unhappy part in this tragic problem. I hope that what I say will not be thought to be impudent or disrespectful, because I have the highest regard for both of them. Bitterly though I disagree with the policies they have had to carry out, I think that some expression of that respect should come from this side of the Committee.
First, I wish to refer to that loyal, able and most courageous ambassador, Sir Charles Peake, our representative in Athens, whose hard duty it has been to pass the last few years of a distinguished diplomatic career in one of the most disagreeable and difficult situations it is possible to imagine. Throughout his years at Athens, and over and over again, he has given the Greeks evidence of his cordial friendship for them. His philanthropic work and that of his wife has included selfless help to many philhellenic causes—earthquake relief, in particular—from the restoring of the beautiful palace of St. Michael and St. George, at Corfu, to ceaseless efforts, within the strict limit of his duty, to serve the real interests of Greece and Greek-British friendship.
At times, most deplorably, our Ambassador in Athens has been the victim of scurrilous, offensive and wholly unjustified insults in the Press. Some foolish Greeks have even thought that one way of showing their disapproval of British policy was by being discourteous to the British Ambassador and his staff. It must be a satisfaction to him to know how many Greek friends understand the difficulties he has been through and admire the courage and patience which he has shown.
275 I should like also to say a word about another central figure in the tragic story of contemporary Cyprus; perhaps the most tragic figure of all, although he himself would never give any indication on the subject, for he is a man—as the Secretary of State knows—who keeps himself and his thoughts very much to himself. His treatment by the Secretary of State is perhaps, on the personal level, the saddest story of all.
Sir John Harding is a most distinguished soldier, a man who quickly earns the respect and admiration of everyone who has had the good fortune to work with him in any way. Nobody could possibly doubt for a moment his good faith, his high principles and his fundamental humanity and understanding. Bitterly though I disagree with the policies he has had to implement; lamentable though I find the results of what he has had to do, I have never for a moment wavered in my respect and regard for the Governor.
I hope that nothing I say today will seem personally offensive to him. But from the first day I called on him at Government House, in Nicosia, I felt a grave distrust at the unfair way in which he had been treated by the Government in London. He was plunged into an immensely complex political problem with no political advisers; with a woefully inadequate administrative staff; with no real contact with the people he was asked to govern, with no proper policy or guidance and no constructive ideas from the Government in London. What a monstrous situation into which to throw a respected field-marshal at the very peak of a long and distinguished military career.
Perhaps the Secretary of State does not have the Archbishop of Cyprus very heavily on his conscience. He has no need to, because in the contest between them the Archbishop of Cyprus has come out on top. One thing is certain: unless the right hon. Gentleman has a dramatic and complete change of heart very soon he and his colleagues will have good reason to have Sir John Harding on their consciences for many years to come.
The present situation of the Governor of Cyprus illustrates very clearly the basic mistakes of our policy throughout 276 recent years. On this side of the Committee we do not seek to justify everything that has been done by previous Governments. But today one thing is certain. The Governor of Cyprus, in Government House, on the hill outside Nicosia, surrounded by barbed wire and protected by paratroops with machine guns, is totally isolated from the people he is asked to govern.
With the Greeks who make up three quarters of the population of the island he has no contact. Indeed, throughout his term of office and for many years before, it has been lack of contact which has made the British in Cyprus seem to many Cypriots the uninterested and unwanted alien rulers of their beautiful island. A little more contact, a little more understanding, particularly among British officials in the island and, in the past, a higher standard among Governors themselves, and how different the situation today might have been. Fundamentally, we have only ourselves and our own failings to blame—this applies to both sides of the Committee—for what is happening in Cyprus at the present time.
In saying that I do not excuse successive Greek Governments for their many foolish and exasperating actions, or for the reckless way in which the late Field Marshal Papagos plunged his country into the ill-timed Cypriot adventure, or for the feeble way Greek Governments tolerate, and are mesmerised by, the filthy propaganda—there is no other word—of most of their Press, which is an insult to the highly intelligent Greek public. Nor can we excuse the disastrous—from their own point of view—propaganda which goes out daily from Athens Radio. These and many other foolish acts have done much to weaken the cause of Greek union with Cyprus, but they do nothing whatever to justify the British Government's failures or the recent rash and dangerous moves which have been taking place in Turkey.
It is my belief that Greco-Turkish friendship is of vital importance to the stability and security not only of the area, but of the Turks and Greeks themselves. It is a tragedy that efforts which were made only a few years ago, and which seemed to be meeting with such success, to build up Greco-Turkish friendship and alliance should be brought to naught very largely because of the actions of the British Government.
277 One thing which is certain is that the eventual settlement in Cyprus must be acceptable to the Turks as well as to the Greeks, but I do not think that we have to tolerate a Turkish veto on anything that we propose. I have many Turkish friends, and I am proud to include among them the present Prime Minister, Mr. Menderes, and a number of his close advisers. I know that they will not resent it when I remind them that it is a major interest to their own country to get the Cyprus problem solved quickly, and that intransigence and violent language do not help Turkey any more than they help Greece.
Unfortunately, the world has not forgotten, and many thousands of Christians in particular have not forgotten, the lamentable events which took place in September, 1955, in Istanbul, and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) referred in his excellent speech. That was a chapter of shame for Turkey, for the new nation founded by Kemal Attaturk and it has sullied Turkish reputation and prestige. I refer to it now only because in recent weeks there have, in certain quarters, been sinister threats that similar outrages might take place once again in Istanbul, threats against the Greek community there and even threats against the Oecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. I hope that the Secretary of State will take the opportunity of urging his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to make it very clear that any such move against Greek and Christian minorities in Turkey would be viewed with the gravest concern by the British Government and our allies.
I hope that the Turkish Government realise that if such threats persist then Greece may be forced to look squarely at the whole problem of minorities in the two countries and to face up to an eventual exchange that would mean the departure to their homelands not only of Greeks from Istanbul, but also of all the Turks who are still living peacefully in Greece and of the Turks from Cyprus. I doubt very much whether an upheaval of that kind would be anything but a disaster for either country. It certainly would be a calamity for Turkey.
I will say only a brief word about partition. What a tragic thing it would be, if three generations of British rule should 278 end in the calamitous confession of failure which a partition of the island would be.
I turn now to the present state of Cyprus and I would put four short questions to the Secretary of State. First, can he deny that in the past twelve months there has been a terrible deterioration in the situation, and that anger, bitterness and hatred have grown so much as to threaten very seriously the hope of future co-operation between Greek Cypriots and the British?
Secondly can the right hon. Gentleman deny that there has been a series of the gravest allegations against troops and members of the police, particularly the special branch and the police interrogators and members of the mobile reserve, and that these allegations are widely believed and have done our reputation and the prospects of a settlement most serious damage?
Thirdly, can the right hon. Gentleman deny that with every month that has passed since the Archbishop was sent away from Cyprus Cyprus has become more and more a police State? The hon. Member for Wembley, South complained of talk about totalitarian methods. What other name can we give to the situation in Cyprus at present, with its emergency regulations, imprisonment without arrest, special Press laws, and all the other paraphernalia of old-fashioned, reactionary colonialism at its worst?
Finally, can the Secretary of State effectively deny—I hope he can—responsibility for the grim, new spectre which is now haunting the streets of the towns and villages of Cyprus, a spectre which many people believe we have had a hand in creating and letting loose? I refer to the appalling outbreaks which have taken place in Nicosia and Famagusta in recent weeks by Turkish mobs on the lives and property of the Greeks on the island. For all these things—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
If the hon. Member really believes the generous words he used about Sir John Harding, he should know that any such suggestion as that to which he is now referring is monstrous and scurrilous, and that no Government for which Sir John Harding was responsible could have conceived, started or encouraged inter-communal riots. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both 279 ways. He cannot give those praises to Sir John Harding and then link his name with the allegation that he might have tolerated such a gross abuse of power.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I must ask the Secretary of State to withdraw that remark. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Gentleman should withdraw."] I am not making allegations. I am telling the Secretary of State that these things are widely believed in Cyprus and in the rest of the world. The right hon. Gentleman should face the facts that I am giving him, and which affect the good name of Britain.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Gentleman might well have followed up his observations by saying that he knew that the allegations could not be true of any Government headed by Sir John Harding, to whom he has just paid such a lavish tribute.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I follow up my observations by saying that, as the result of bitter experience, it is not enough for the Secretary of State simply to get up and say that something is monstrous. We want facts and a proper refutation of the allegations that have been made. The right hon. Gentleman will find that British interests are far better served not by losing his temper, but by having a proper investigation of the allegations.
The Secretary of State has a terrible responsibility. The things of which we have been speaking are the direct consequence of his failure to reach the political agreement which he could and should have reached a year ago; of his decision at that time to shoot it out; to force the Cypriot Greeks, by curfews and searches, by detentions and executions, by military operations and military Government, by brute force, by stifling the last vestiges of freedom, by all these terribly degrading and degraded means, to reach agreement with him on his terms.
The Greeks are not like that. They do not respond to out-of-date, reactionary, nineteenth century Tory methods. They do not react in the way that the Secretary of State expects, nor, for that matter, did the Irish, or the Indians, or the Africans, or the Malays. Twelve months ago, when the Secretary of State started on his present policy of brute force, there was a phrase current in the Colonial Office, and in Cyprus, which was used to justify his 280 terribly mistaken decision. In those days they spoke about "the light at the end of the tunnel."
The light at the end of that tunnel went out many months ago, and the Secretary of State is now plunging about in the darkness, clutching at shadows, determined, it seems, to go on and on along a path that leads to nowhere but to misery, hatred and bloodshed. The Cypriot people cannot stand misery, hatred, and bloodshed very much longer—nor can our own people. That is why we make a last appeal to the Secretary of State, and say to him, "Your policy has failed utterly; it has brought nothing but disaster. Change it, or, for God's sake, go."
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
If I were to mention all the things with which so many of us on this side disagree that have been spoken by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), I should not only take up the time of the Committee until ten o'clock but I should also bore everybody very much. I would, however, like to remind him that a bad case is not made any better by the number of abusive adjectives and nouns that are inserted into every sentence, nor by merely repeating, time and again, a series of carefully-worked-out and, doubtless, checked-in-the-dictionary epithets against the Secretary of State. That is not to make one's argument any better nor to make any positive contribution to this debate.
As regards the tributes which the hon. Member paid to various individuals, he knows probably better than any one how much regard Archbishop Makarios will pay to them. I have no doubt, particularly after my right hon. Friend's intervention, that the Governor, too, will be well able to assess at its proper value the rather tarnished tribute paid to him by the hon. Member. Really, at one stage to go into flowery phraseology, in which the Governor is hailed as one of the greatest men of all time, and then, a few minutes later, by inference through question to suggest that he could be guilty of things of which we all know no British Governor could be guilty, made the tribute rather nauseating.
My understanding, which was rather confirmed by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary earlier, was that after all the 281 debates we have had on the subject we would today concentrate rather on trying to put forward constructive suggestions. That was certainly my understanding of the spirit in which this debate would be conducted, and I should like to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) who made a speech which, although naturally critical of the Government, was very much a positive contribution. I suggest that the hon. Member for Swindon might have followed the same policy. Indeed, as one listened, one could not help but feel that in later years, if he writes down his part in these negotiations in Cyprus, we might have another version of some egocentric diaries which we could study with amusement if not serious interest.
We all know that, apart from British interests, the rival claims of Greece and Turkey are the basic elements of this problem, and we have to get those rival claims into a somewhat better perspective than has so far been done today. It is not enough to suggest that because a local population happens to be in a majority in a certain place no other factors should be taken into account at all. I make no party point of that. Economic factors have to be taken into account, and so has geographical adjacency.
What could be more natural than that Turkey, with an island forty miles from her and fronting one of her most valuable ports—almost her only direct outlet to the open sea—should not be more concerned about that than merely about a question of just how many people there are of one race or another on that island? If we were in the Turks' place and were faced with a similar position, I am quite sure that we would take into account the fact that Cyprus was 700 miles from Greece and only 40 miles from our shores and placed in an extremely important strategic position.
In the last few years we have had a very good example of that, when Members on both sides and the forum of international opinion generally have taken the same line. In India after partition there was a small State on the coast called Junagadh which was surrounded, almost like an island by India. Its only contact, other than the sea, was with the Indian hinterland, and one of Mr. Nehru's arguments when that State attempted to accede to Pakistan and he 282 successfully resisted it was that adjacency had to be taken into account, and that it would be a mistake to permit such action by a little enclave merely because a majority in that enclave might want that action.
§ Mrs. L. Jeger
Would the hon. Member apply the same argument to Rhodes? Rhodes is even nearer to Turkey than is Cyprus, and it seems to be quite happy under the sovereignty of Greece.
§ Mr. Bennett
The position there is different, because the problem of the Dodecanese and Rhodes was settled without strife. No one wants to create more trouble spots. We have enough of those on our plate already without trying to seek fresh trouble in Rhodes. All the same, when I was in the Dodecanese I found that there were one or two islands which, due to Italian occupation, were said to have a population with a Greek-Italian majority. The Greeks said that that fact did not justify those islands wanting to join with Italy.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Does the hon. Member realise that, among the many trouble spots in the world, there is one to which his argument applies almost in every detail? It is an island which is close to the mainland, where there are strategic and economic necessities, and the natural right of a large country to be secure from attack from the small island near its borders. The hon. Member's argument is a very reasonable argument, but could he apply it to the status of Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa?
§ Mr. Bennett
I do not think, Mr. Duthie, that you would permit me to wander off into the realms of an argument—
§ Mr. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman spoke his words standing up; perhaps I can speak mine standing up and without interruption. I said that I did not think that I would be allowed to enter into a long argument about Formosa, but I have never spoken against the suggestion that, provided it was done by peaceful means, there should be an expression of free opinion there. I do not know of anyone who has gone on record as urging that, if only for the simple reason that it has 283 not come within the scope of this House to discuss it. The hon. Member, therefore, must not say that I am or am not against a plebiscite in Formosa. So far as I know, such a thing has never come up for consideration here as one of our responsibilities.
My argument applied to Cyprus. I said that factors other than that of a racial majority had to be considered. I only make the plea that the Greek people should be reasonable over this and realise that it is not just a matter of Greek and Turkish nationalist rivalry. The Turks have a genuine reason for interest in the island which goes beyond and outside the question of the exact population make-up. It is for that reason I do not think that any solution permanently lies in the field of partition, or, indeed, in anything outside an autonomous island under the ultimate sovereignty of Britain perhaps—with later on some kind of condominium or triarchy, representing at executive level all three interests involved. I should have thought that, as we were asked for positive contributions—
§ It being Seven o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair, further Proceeding standing postponed until after the consideration of Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for Taking Private Business).
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKERresumed the Chair.