HC Deb 09 March 1938 vol 332 cc1870-1
7. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the recent declaration of sovereignty by the United States Government over the islands of Canton and Enderbury, in the Southern Pacific, in view of the recent Orders in Council claiming them as British territory?

14. Mr. Roland Robinson

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the American claim to sovereignty over Canton Island and Enderbury Island, in the Southern Pacific Ocean; whether British jurisdiction over these islands was previously claimed; and what steps are being taken to preserve British rights in these islands on account of their importance as prospective aerial bases?

The Prime Minister

In discussions last year the United States Government contested the validity of the British claim to the Phoenix Group of islands in which Canton and Enderbury are situated, and declined to recognise the Order-in-Council of 18th March, 1937. Sir R. Lindsay has been instructed to inform the United States Government that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom cannot regard the juridical situation as in any way affected by their recent action which included a landing on Canton Island. This island had been effectively occupied by His Majesty's Government on 5th August, 1937, and an administrative officer now resides there. He was instructed to add that His Majesty's Government maintain all their rights to the Phoenix Group. It is intended in the immediate future to submit proposals to the United States Government which, it is hoped, will serve as a basis for ending this controversy in a manner satisfactory to both parties.

Mr. Henderson

Does His Majesty's Government propose to consult the Government of New Zealand in this matter?

The Prime Minister

I must have notice of that question, but I understand they have been consulted.