HC Deb 22 November 1950 vol 481 cc330-1
37. Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the purpose of Statutory Instrument No. 1649 of 1950, which extends the boundary of British Honduras so as to include the area of the continental shelf under the sea off the coast; how far beyond the coast does the continental shelf go; on what authority he bases this claim; and whether it has received international recognition.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The purpose of the Order-in-Council is to give the local government control over natural resources which may be found in the sea-bed off the coast of British Honduras. The continental shelf is generally considered to extend to the 100-fathom line. This claim follows international practice under which a number of countries have annexed the continental shelves off their coasts.

Mr. Keeling

Was it not a rather strange application of the 1895 Act to use it to extend the boundary of the Colony beyond the territorial limits, or is the 100-fathom line in this case within the territorial limits?

Mr. Griffiths

I would like to have notice of that question. What has happened is that we have only followed the practice adopted by other countries in recent years.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to whom the shelf belonged before he annexed it?

Mr. Griffiths

I understand that it be-longed to nobody.