HC Deb 24 March 1964 vol 692 cc218-9
1. Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a statement on the assistance Her Majesty's Government are prepared to give to the Virgin Islands development plan.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. Nigel Fisher)

Her Majesty's Government have approved the development plan in principle. It provides for expenditure of about £600,000 in the period to March, 1966. Apart from loan funds of £185,000, the suggested sources of finance are £280,000 from Colonial Development and Welfare sources and £135,000 from the local budget which is grant aided by Britain.

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

Is my hon. Friend aware that his imaginative reply will be received with pleasure on both sides of the House by Members interested in the growth of our less developed possessions in the Commonwealth? Furthermore, is he aware that his own visit to, in particular, the Virgin Islands and its successful outcome are also a reason for more visits of this sort by himself and his colleagues in the coming years?

Mr. Fisher

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for what he has said. I think that this development plan should make a considerable impact by opening up particularly Tortola and by providing the basic facilities for tourism.

Mr. Chapman

Would the Government bear in mind the possibility of very real association with the American Virgin Islands? After all, most of the people in the British Virgin Islands daily go to work in the American Virgin Islands. Would it not be a good thing in the long run for there to be some form of association between the two groups of islands, which would provide the possibility of American capital coming to the British Virgin Islands?

Mr. Fisher

That is a very much wider question. This may be a possibility in the future, but we must have regard to local opinion.

Mr. Bottomley

We on this side of the House gladly join in the tribute which has been paid to the Government for giving assistance to these islands. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will take into account what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) has said.

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