Cyprus (Telegrams)

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 1956.

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Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay 12:00 am, 6th June 1956

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now publish the text of telegrams passing between the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Greece on the subject of Cyprus during 1951.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I have nothing to add to what I said in the debate on 14th May.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

As during that debate my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary made it perfectly plain that Her Majesty's Government had no objection to publishing those documents, and as also in the course of that debate the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), speaking presumably for the Opposition, pressed very strongly for the publication of the documents, what possible reason can there be for withholding publication of documents already available to the Greek public?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I am not withholding any information. I think that in these matters the initiative would lie with the ex-Ministers concerned.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

May I assure Government supporters that my right hon. Friends and myself who were in the Labour Government in 1951 and in the previous Labour Government would have no objection to the publication of those documents, provided that all the relevant documents are published? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he and his colleagues in Her Majesty's Government would also be prepared to lay on the Table documents relating to the handling of Cyprus by Her Majesty's present Government and the previous Conservative Administration, and in particular the documents relating to all the considerations, including party considerations, which led to the timing of the Hopkinson statement which precipitated the present Cyprus crisis?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

If every telegram and document relating to the conduct of Cypriot affairs over a great many years were to be laid before Parliament it would certainly occupy a great deal of the attention—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—the time and the attention of this House. I did not quote from any document, but I made reference to certain documents which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, or some of them, felt might have been regarded as a reflection on the right hon. Gentlemen concerned. If I am to assume that the right hon. Gentleman for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) is taking up the suggestion that I made, I will confer with him and show him the telegram concerned.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Does that offer include the laying of the documents relating to the handling of Cyprus by the present Government and the previous Conservative Government as well?

Photo of Lieut-Commander Peter Smithers Lieut-Commander Peter Smithers , Winchester

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if anything precipitated the present crisis it was not the so-called "Hopkinson statement" but the deliberate misinterpretations placed upon it by the Opposition?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

It is within the recollection of the House that exception was taken to the right hon. Gentleman introducing, at the end of the debate, what sounded more like direct quotations than references to documents. It is not enough for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he will consult ex-Ministers. It is a question whether the Standing Orders of the House were invoked. They come into operation automatically, and do not have to rely upon the intervention of ex-Ministers or Ministers.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I think it is also within the recollection of the House—if I may repeat what I said then—that I did not quote from any document. My offer to consult ex-Ministers concerned—the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was then, I think, outside the Government of the day—is strictly in accordance with precedents in matters of this kind.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Are not these mutual recriminations between political parties absolutely futile in face of the grave responsibilities confronting British troops in Cyprus?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not true that these recriminations were not begun on this side of the House? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] May I further ask him whether it is not true that he has on more than one occasion publicly acknowledged the restraint shown by the Opposition in regard to Cyprus?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I am perfectly prepared to repeat what I said. Since these recent developments in Cyprus have taken place there has on many occasions been restraint. The purpose of my reference to the Opposition when they were the Government of the day was to show how extraordinarily difficult these matters are, and how people's approaches differ, according to whether they have responsibility or not.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I had now better invoke the Standing Orders myself about the time allowed for Questions.