HC Deb 03 March 1948 vol 448 cc375-6
19. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the circumstances necessitating the despatch of a cruiser to British Honduras.

Mr. Bevin

Rumours recently reached London that there was a possibility that certain elements in Guatemala might try to stage an incident in British Honduras. There have also been inflammatory articles in the Guatemalan Press, and His Majesty's Minister in Guatemala City reported that a resolution was put forward in the Guatemalan Congress on 23rd February advocating the immediate invasion of British Honduras. I am glad to be able to record that the President of the Guatemalan Congress refused to accept this resolution, but His Majesty's Government considered it wise to send His Majesty's ship "Sheffield" and His Majesty's ship "Devonshire" to Belize to ensure the protection of life and property.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that one of the first results of this impotent imperialist gesture has been a demonstration to boycott British trade, and that at a demonstration yesterday it was decided to boycott Scotch whisky?

Mr. Bevin

I cannot be influenced by the boycott on British trade. There is, a British governor and a British administration, and the citizens of British Honduras have shown by their action that they are thoroughly British and are desirous of retaining British connections. I have offered to discuss this business with a view to settlement, but if there is any threat to endanger life, it is the duty of His Majesty's Government, quite apart from the merits of the case, to take the necessary protective steps.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will give satisfaction to my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House? May I ask whether he is satisfied that there is sufficient strength on the spot to preserve the integrity of British Honduras and to look after British interests in the way in which they ought to be looked after?

Mr. Bevin

I have been advised by the Defence Ministry that that is so.

Mr. Paget

Will my right hon. Friend be open to any suggestion as to where the boycotted whisky should be diverted?

Mr. Bevin

I have already suggested that it should come to London.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

With regard to the report that the Guatemalan Government have refused police protection for our Legation in their country, will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to ensure that our interests are adequately protected in Guatemala?

Mr. Bevin

I have already done so.