HC Deb 18 February 1958 vol 582 cc1032-4
47. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether, following his discussion with the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to international control of Antarctica.

48. Mr. Younger

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his discussions with Commonwealth leaders regarding the question of sovereignty over Antarctica.

49. Mr. Beswick

asked the Prime Minister what action he proposes to take to secure acceptance of the policy on the control of Antarctica which he discussed with the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand.

The Prime Minister

Antarctica was one of the subjects which arose in the course of my talks with the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand. We had a general exchange of views and discussed ways and means of ensuring that Antarctica did not remain a potential source of friction and conflict. I agreed with my colleagues on certain basic principles. These were the free development of science in Antarctica and the need to ensure that the area should not be used for military purposes.

Mr. Henderson

Does the Prime Minister propose to enter into consultations with the Governments of the United States, the Soviet Union and other interested countries with a view to securing their co-operation in the future administration of this area?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The precise machinery for giving effect to the broad principles upon which I agreed with the two Prime Ministers is a matter for study and thought, and any further statement at this stage would be premature.

Mr. Younger

Are we to take it from the Prime Minister's first Answer that this agreement with other Prime Ministers does not extend to any discussion of a régime affecting sovereignty in this area? Does not he think that something of that kind is becoming necessary?

The Prime Minister

That is another question. So far as we discussed the matter, it was within the general principles which I have tried to set out.

Mr. Beswick

Does not the Prime Minister agree that the only solution which makes sense today is for this area to be controlled under the United Nations or some form of world authority? In the light of all this miserable and defeatist justification of missile warfare, is it not worth while for Britain and the British Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand, to try to give a lead in this matter?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but that is a very large question. The first stage is to get general agreement upon the principles to be applied.