HC Deb 03 March 1948 vol 448 cc372-4
14. Mr. Donner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the arrival of an Argentine naval detachment on Deception Island; whether any foreign naval or other detachments or personnel have landed elsewhere in the Falkland Island Dependencies; and whether steps will be taken to remove all foreign flags, portraits and other symbols of title and sovereignty left or established there during the recent period of foreign trespass.

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir. I understand that Argentine and Chilean naval parties have been landed at certain other points in the Falkland Islands Dependencies. His Majesty's ships, and the magistrates in charge of British occupied posts, have standing instructions to take all the necessary measures to safeguard the British legal title to sovereignty in the Dependencies.

Mr. Donner

Am I to understand that no foreign detachments remain on British territories?

Mr. Bevin

I would like to have notice of that; I am not quite certain.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the claim is being made that these islands come under the cover of the Monroe doctrine, and does he accept the proposition that that doctrine covers these islands?

Mr. Bevin

I have seen no such claim made. It was certainly not made by the United States, and I am not aware that it has ever been made since the Monroe doctrine was declared.

20. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what date the Government first received information that foreign nationals had landed without authority on islands in the Falkland Islands Dependencies; and what periods elapsed between the receipt of this information and the sending of any formal protest to the Governments of the foreign nationals concerned and between the receipt of this information and the sailing of a British cruiser from Capetown.

Mr. Bevin

Illegal landings by foreign nationals in the Falkland Islands Dependencies were first reported to His Majesty's Government in January, 1947, and formal written protests were made in each case by the British resident magistrates to the commanders of the foreign parties concerned. Further written protests were made to the officers in charge by the Governor of the Falkland Islands during his annual tour of the Dependendies in March, 1947, when he found occupied posts on Gamma Island and Greenwich Island. The Chilean Government replied on 16th May in a formal Note to His Majesty's Embassy in Santiago' rejecting the Governor's protest.

The Argentine and Chilean encroachments during the 1946 to 1947 Antarctic summer were made the subject of comprehensive notes of protest to the two Governments in December, 1947, and a further protest was made about the same time to the Argentine Government. These protests were rejected by both Governments at the end of January, 1948. H.M.S. "Nigeria" sailed for Port Stanley from Capetown on 16th February.

Major Beamish

What was the cause of the very long delay between the receipt of the information that these landings were taking place and the taking of any sort of proper action by His Majesty's Government?

Mr. Bevin

In international affairs it is as well to try to settle before taking precipitate action. When it was found that a protest had no effect at all, we took action, which, I think, was quite collect.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Can the Minister say whether any of these Argentina landing parties did any damage to British property or removed any British flags?

Mr. Bevin

No, not that I am aware.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

If these trespasses are persisted in without any attempt to make an agreement with His Majesty's Government, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the forcible removal of these posts?

Mr. Bevin

I do not like to threaten anybody while negotiations are going on. I think we had better exercise a little common sense.