HC Deb 11 March 1953 vol 512 cc1287-8
53. Mr. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now publish the communication received on 18th February from the Icelandic Government on the fishing dispute, along with his reply; and what were the conditions upon which the Icelandic Government insisted before being prepared to continue discussions.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)

I regret that I am still not in a position to make a statement on this matter to the House. I might explain, however, that the Icelandic Government's communication of 18th February did not constitute a formal reply to the proposals made by Her Majesty's Government, but was designed to secure certain elucidations with regard to those proposals.

Mr. Osborne

Since this dispute has dragged on for so long, and since it is now nearly a month since the last note was received, ought not the House to have the full information, so that we may know who is causing the trouble? May I ask the Joint Under-Secretary if he will do something through Government channels, since the private interests on both sides and in both countries seem to be unable to agree on the matters in dispute?

Mr. Nutting

The private interests on both sides have not so far got together on this matter. The negotiations have been entirely conducted through Government channels. As to the delay, that is certainly not the fault of Her Majesty's Government, who have made several propositions, each one of which has been rejected by the Icelandic Government.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Does the last reply constitute a refusal of our proposals or only a request for elucidation?

Mr. Nutting

It contains, as I said in my original answer, a request for elucidation.

Mr. Osborne

Since this matter is of such considerable importance to certain parts of the country which are affected, I beg to give notice that I shall raise it again at the first opportunity.