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Volume 972: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence when next he intends to visit the sovereign base areas of Cyprus.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so, but my noble Friend the Minister of State has recently visited the sovereign base areas.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what answer the Prime Minister gave to President Kyprianou when at the Lusaka Commonwealth Conference he asked for £200 million back rent for these bases? Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why the British Government have reneged on the 1960 agreement to pay for the facilities in the Republic used by our forces? In view of the great unrest on the island about this, can we make some gesture towards the Cypriot people by, for instance, returning part of the unused areas of the bases for use by the new University of Cyprus?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that any question he has on that should be addressed, more properly to the Lord Privy Seal. I suggest to him that, if he wishes to discover what the Prime Minister said at the Lusaka conference, he should write to my right hon. Friend.

Will the Minister make a point of going to the sovereign base areas himself to see Britain's forgotten refugees who are still in the camps there? Is he aware that the condition of those refugees still causes concern?

I would certainly welcome an early opportunity to visit the sovereign base areas and, at that time, to take account of what my hon. Friend has said.

Does my hon. Friend accept that, given the present disturbed situation in the Middle East, we would be much better employed in reactivating those bases completely, rather than handing over buildings for use by the university?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point. It arose on the original question. I would have said to the original questioner that there is no possibility whatever of any land, bases or buildings being made available for the purpose that he originally suggested.