HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 c298
30. Mr. Henry Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs how long the deposits of phosphate on Ocean Island will last at the current rate of excavation and export.

Mrs. Hart

About 13 years.

Mr. Clark

Can the hon. Lady tell the House what assets will remain in the hands of the inhabitants of Ocean Island—the Banabans—when these immensely valuable deposits are exhausted? Will the Government keep in mind the fact that when the original royalty agreements were negotiated Her Majesty's Government undertook to act as the trustees for these islanders and establish a trust fund?

Mrs. Hart

There is no reason why the Banabans should be any worse off than the other inhabitants of Fiji when the royalties cease. However, what really matters is what will happen at the end of the 13 years; and, from this point of view, an investigation into alternative types of employment is being made and, indeed, a survey is being conducted into the whole question.