'No plans to recall British MPs' over Cyprus crisis


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The Government has no plans as yet to ask for Parliament to be recalled if the banking crisis in Cyprus deepens over the Easter holidays, Commons Leader Andrew Lansley said today.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Defence sent a plane carrying one million euro (£852,600) to Cyprus as part of a "contingency measure" to help some 3,000 troops and their families with emergency loans in the event that cash machines and debit cards stop working completely.

The money arrived as the Cypriot parliament rejected a critical draft Bill that would have seized part of people's bank deposits.

The Cypriot government is now trying to win enough support for a new proposal that will please MPs as well as the country's potential international creditors.

The "Plan B" - to seize a much smaller proportion of domestic deposits than the 10% originally proposed - comes as the country's government has to find 5.8 billion euros (£4.9 billion) to unlock a 10 billion euro (£8.5 billion) bailout from its euro partners and the International Monetary Fund.

The UK Government has said it will protect British troops and civil servants living in Cyprus but there are fears the crisis could deepen with "serious implications" for the UK.

Today, shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle asked Mr Lansley whether the Government had any plans to ask for parliament to be recalled if the situation in Cyprus deteriorates over the Easter recess, which starts next Tuesday and lasts until April 15.

She said: "The situation with the EU bank bail-out for Cyprus is volatile and fast-moving. The Government gave assurances at the weekend that no British service personnel or civil servants working in Cyprus would lose out and then had to despatch an aircraft full of cash to fulfil that promise.

"As parliament will rise on Tuesday for the Easter recess and not return until April 15, and because a bank run in a euro country would have serious implications for the UK, would you consider recalling the House if there is a serious deterioration in the situation?"

But Mr Lansley said there were no plans as yet.

He said: "We are committed, as you know, to ensuring that those whom we send to serve us as part of the armed services or civil service in Cyprus are looked after and that is why the flight went there.

"Indeed, we are also making sure that the UK benefits payable to nationals in Cyprus are likewise protected but of course in coming days we will continue to keep the House updated.

"We have no plans to seek the Speaker's permission to recall the House. These are always matters that one has to consider only in the event of circumstances being such as would demand it but we have no plans."