HC Deb 02 July 1951 vol 489 cc1899-901
51. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT full details of the exact nature and dates of the violations of British territory by the Argentine and Chile, together with the terms of all protests sent by His Majesty's Government and the replies received; and what further action will now be taken to protect British territory and establish British sovereignty in international law.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Davies)

I propose to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the protests made together with the replies received, but since the documents concerned are numerous I am making the texts available in the Library.

As regards the second part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the statement made on 23rd April.

Major Beamish

Am I right in saying, in other words, that His Majesty's Government have no policy?

Mr. Davies

No, Sir. His Majesty's Government have made quite clear where they stand in this matter We have suggested that the matter should be referred to the International Court of Justice, but the opportunity of doing so has not yet been taken by Chile or the Argentine.

Mr. Nigel Fisher

Does the hon. Gentleman remember his right hon. Friend the present Foreign Secretary praising the late Mr. Bevin in this House for his Palmerstonian attitude in foreign affairs? Will he not now be a little more Palmerstonian himself in looking after British territory overseas?

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

When did the Government first refer this matter, or suggest referring it, to the International Court? How long ago was that?

Mr. Davies

The offer was made two years ago.

Commander Noble

Could the Minister say how long the offer will remain open?

Mr. Davies

There was no term fixed to the offer; it remains open indefinitely.

Mr. Mitchison

Does my hon. Friend observe the keenness of the Opposition to have a war with someone?

Mr. H. Hynd

Will my hon. Friend continue his efforts to settle this matter peacefully and try to curb the warmongers on the other side of the House?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

In view of the fact that the International Court have no means of enforcing their decision, even if they reach one, and that there are very few of these people in British possessions, who could very easily be removed without any threat of war, why do we not do something?

Mr. Davies

Because the policy of His Majesty's Government remains the same. We wish to settle this matter by peaceful negotiation.

Mr. Fitzroy Maclean

We were told just a year ago that the Government were reviewing their whole Antarctic policy. Can the hon. Gentleman say what the result of that review has been?

Mr. Davies

This question is kept under constant review and there is no reason why the Government should depart from the policy which they have undertaken, which is to settle this, as I have said, by peaceful negotiation.

Following is the list:

Notes of protest addressed to Chile, concerning violations of U.K. Antarctic Territory, together with the replies received.

17th December, 1947—Mr. Leche to Sr. Vegara Donoso.

31st January, 1948—Sr. Vergara Donoso to Mr. Leche.

3rd April, 1951—Sir B. Jerram to Sr. Claro Velasco.

17th May, 1951—Sr. Walker Larrain to Sir B. Jerram.

Notes of protest addressed to Argentina, concerning violations of U.K. Antarctic Territory, together with the replies received.

7th April, 1943—Memorandum. Sir D. Kelly to Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs.

11th September, 1945—Sir D. Kelly to Sr. Juan I. Cooke.

29th December, 1945—Sr. Juan I. Cooke to Sir D. Kelly.

15th February, 1947—Dr. Bramuglia to Sir R. Leeper.

17th December, 1947—Sir R. Leeper to Dr. Bramuglia.

23rd December, 1947—Sir R. Leeper to Dr. Bramuglia.

28th January, 1948—Dr. Bramuglia to Sir R. Leeper.

30th April, 1951—Sir H. Mack to Dr. Paz.

1st June, 1951—Dr. Paz to Sir H. Mack.