HC Deb 14 April 1981 vol 3 cc141-2
8. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what categories of personnel are currently stationed in the British bases on Cyprus.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)

The main elements of the Army in the sovereign base areas are infantry and armoured reconnaissance units and a small Army aviation detachment. The RAF has a helicopter squadron, a field squadron of the RAF Regiment and a hospital. Both Services also have headquarters, communications and support units.

Mr. Cox

I note that reply, but is the Minister aware that the continuation of these bases, whatever the agreements may be, depends upon the good will of the Government and people of Cyprus? Will he therefore give a firm assurance that the bases will not be used in any role involving the rapid deployment force, about which we hear so much from the Prime Minister and President Reagan?

Mr. Pattie

As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal would be the first to tell the House, that is indeed the basis on which we continue to occupy what is, after all, sovereign territory of the United Kingdom. No official request from the United States has been received on the matter that he has raised.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Is there any reason why the sovereign base areas should not be used by other NATO forces?

Mr. Pattie

At present the sovereign base areas are used entirely for British forces. As there are no NATO bases elsewhere in Cyprus there would be no movement through those bases without prior consultation with the Cyprus Government.

Mr. Christopher Price

As the commander of 9 Signal Regiment in Ayios Nicholas is one of the members of the British forces, can the Minister tell the House the exact nature of the smuggling and Customs charges that have been brought against him and are shortly to be heard at a court martial?

Mr. Pattie

I am not aware of the details of that matter. If the hon. Gentleman tables a question or writes to me about it I shall have the matter looked into.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Have not the Cyprus Government and people shown great good will towards us and our position in those bases, which are indispensable to European defence and to the whole Alliance?

Mr. Pattie

Yes, indeed, they have. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that remark.