United Nations Force, Cyprus (British Contingent)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th April 1964.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 15th April 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many British troops are to remain in Cyprus under the control of the United Nations; and for how long they will be retained in the island.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

We have undertaken to provide if necessary up to half of a United Nations force of 7,000 men. The Secretary-General is however seeking to obtain larger contingents from other countries. If, as we all hope, he is successful this will enable us to withdraw troops from the British contingent. The Security Council Resolution of 4th March gives the United Nations force a three months' mandate.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

But on the assumption, which appears to be well founded, that the Greek Cypriot forces are now in almost overwhelming strength compared with the United Nations force, does not the right hon.. Gentleman think that we are reaching the point when we must leave it to the Greek Cypriots and the Turks to maintain order without the aid of our troops? Is it not likely that either our troops will be humiliated by the opposing strength of the other forces, or they will be liquidated?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

However the future may turn out, I think that it has been with the general approval of the House, and certainly of the party opposite, that we have made our contributions to the United Nations force. In answer to this Question, I have said what that obligation is, that it is half of 7,000, but we may, and we all hope that we will, be able to reduce it as the other contingents are increased.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is it not obvious that there has been a change in the situation? When the United Nations decided to make a contribution, to which we have added our quota, it was not anticipated that the Greek Cypriots would build up a force of 30,000 men. In those circumstances, dots not the right hon.. Gentleman think oat the matter requires reconsideration?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

With respect to the right hon.. Gentleman, he is really asking me a much wider question than that on the Order Paper. He is asking whether the United Nations should be there, or should stay there in the future. If things turn out well, there may be no need for the force, and in those circumstances we shall not contribute to it.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

May I ask my right hon.. Friend why the United Nations should continue to rely on what Great Britain has done in Cyprus? Why should not we get on a bit more and get a bit more support from those who are attached, and committed, to the United Nations? We ought to be a bit tough with the United Nations, not with our forces.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I have said that the Secretary-General is seeking to get increased contributions from other nations contributing to this force. I think that it is the wish of the House that he should be successful in that, so that our liability may in some measure be reduced.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

Will the right hon.. Gentleman explain to his hon.. Friend that one of the principal difficulties in building up a United Nations force in the island is the refusal of Archbishop Makarios to accept contributions from a great many countries, including all those in Africa?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

No doubt there have been difficulties in building up the United Nations force, but no one can say that we have contributed to them We have done our best all the way through.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will introduce a special United Nations allowance for British forces serving under united Nations command in Cyprus;

(2) if, for the information of hon.. Members, he will publish in HANSARD a table showing the rates of pay and allowances drawn by members of the various national forces serving in Cyprus under United Nations command.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pay receivable by members of Her Majesty's Forces serving under United Nations command.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I should perhaps make it plain that the United Nations are neither paying nor making any allowance to any of the forces now in Cyprus Each contributing nation is paying it sown forces, and the rates naturally differ in this as in any other theatre where troops of different nations are serving. Members of Her Majesty's Forces receive the same basic scales of pay wherever they are serving. In addition, those serving outside the United Kingdom receive a local overseas allowance designed to give the serviceman the same purchasing power as his pay would provide in the United Kingdom. It is not easy or perhaps possible to make exact comparisons regarding total emoluments of other forces serving in Cyprus. All of them, however, are receiving certain additional allowances and I am circulating a note of these so far as they are known in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have considered carefully whether any special allowance should be paid to British troops in Cyprus in addition to the normal over-seas allowance but I feel bound to tell the House that I do see considerable difficulties in adopting such a course Unlike some of the other contingents, a High proportion of British forces normally serve overseas. For example, over 50 per cent. Of the Army is at present outside the United Kingdom. I am sure the House will realise the difficulties of distinguishing between Cyprus and overseas theatres such as Borneo, where conditions are no less arduous, or even between men in Cyprus, some of whom are serving with the United Nations and some inside the Sovereign Base areas.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Is the right hon.. Gentle-man aware that the argument that he has just used is not entirely valid, since British troops serving overseas in other theatres retain a sole allegiance which, in the case of Cyprus, has been temporarily merged in a new allegiance to the United Nations? Would it not therefore be an act of simple justice to bring the pay and allowances of our troops there up to the level of the highest in the United Nations forces, preferably at the expense of the United Nations?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I am not saying that I find this at all easy. I concede that it is not an easy thing to answer. It is certainly not a simple matter, which ever way judgment is made. But what has influenced my mind is the fact that we have so many soldiers overseas, in so many different theatres, that it is difficult to start distinguishing between them. Although arguments may be advanced on the other side, this must be the decisive one.

Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East

Is it not a fact that the extra allowances paid by smaller nations to their armies are a kind of premium for United Nations service? Are not these forces becoming something in the nature of United Nations mercenaries? Therefore, is it not right that British forces should be paid such premiums, preferably out of United Nations funds?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

As we advance, other arrangements may be devised about United Nations forces. Logically I suppose that these troops should be formed in a way in which everybody contributed to a common pool, and then all the forces would be paid the same—perhaps a fairly high rate. We have not got to that stage yet, and I have to deal with the situation as it is today. As it is today, I think that this is the right answer.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

I recognise the validity of many of the arguments that the right hon.. Gentleman has used, but does not he agree that there is some discontent—I do not think that that is too high a word to use—among British forces serving in Cyprus at what appears to them to be inferior conditions of pay compared with those of some other forces serving under the United Nations? If he feels that it is impossible to make a unilateral British decision in this matter, will he ask the Foreign Secretary to raise this matter in New York, and see whether it is not possible to organise, through the United Nations, a standard rate of pay for all forces serving under United Nations command?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

All these suggestions merit consideration for the future. It may be that we shall see in the world numbers of examples of troops acting in this way. But I have to deal with the situation as it is, and I think that it would be wrong for me to hold out any prospect of being able to adjust the matter in this instance. At the moment my thoughts are rather based on the possibility of withdrawing some of our contingent as other forces are increased.

Following is the information:According to present information the following are the weekly rates of additional allowances paid to contingents in Cyprus by their national Governments
£s.d.
Republic of Ireland550
Canada583
Finland3180
Sweden700

These are the rates for unmarried private soldiers. Details of rates paid to other rank sand married men are not available.

In assessing the comparative value of the emoluments of the various contingents, it is necessary to take into account their conditions of service as a whole, including scales of basic pay and other allowances, deductions for pensions and national insurance and the cost of living in their home countries.