HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1290-2
26. Mr. Chichester-Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now arrange to visit the Falkland Islands.

Mr. George Thomson

I know that a visit to the Falkland Islands would be welcome and we are examining the possibility of a visit by a Minister later in the year.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Has not someone, either there or here, to make it quite clear that British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands is not negotiable?

Mr. Thomson

The position with regard to the Falkland Islands has been made absolutely clear, and it is that the interests of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands are paramount, and it is their wishes that will be taken into account in any future decision.

27. Mr. Chichester-Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what recent talks he has had with political leaders in the Falkland Islands.

28. Mr. Braine

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he now proposes with the Government of the Falkland Islands on the subject of their future constitutional status.

Mr. George Thomson

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 26th March, there have been consultations with the Governor, who has been authorised to keep his Executive Council informed in confidence. This will continue.

I had talks with the Governor of the Falkland Islands in London in February, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State had talks with a leading member of the Falkland Islands Executive Council in London in March.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I hope that that means that sovereignty is not negotiable. Have political leaders been told why the Government are appearing to waste time and are causing what appears to be unnecessary offence to other nations in this case, and in the cases of British Honduras and Gibraltar?

Mr. Thomson

The other points are matters for other Questions but in the case of the Falkland Islands, as the hon. Member knows, there is first of all the United Nations resolution on the subject, with which we have been seeking to comply. It is in the general interests of the Falkland Islands, as well as of our own foreign relations, that the Falkland Islands should seek neighbourly relations with the Argentine on the neighbouring Latin-American continent. There is no question of the wishes of the Falkland Islanders with regard to the future being over-ridden.

Mr. Braine

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no doubt about the desirability of having good relations with the Argentine, but since, contrary to the wishes both of the islanders and a large number of people in the House and this country, secret negotiations with the Argentine over sovereignty are still continuing, we want to know at what stage the Government propose to tell the people of the Falkland Islands, as opposed to the Executive Council, which is bound to secrecy on this matter, concerning their future?

Mr. Thomson

Negotiations are going on. These kinds of negotiations are better conducted in confidence. It is the normal practice. Equally, the Governor and his Executive Council are being kept informed of the negotiations, in confidence. When these negotiations develop to a point at which there is something to report, that would be the time to bring in a much wider circle of people, but that stage has not yet been reached.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The right hon. Gentleman has used two sets of words. He said, first of all, in relation to sovereignty, that the wishes of the people in the Falkland Islands will be taken into account, and the second time he said that they would not be over-ridden. Will he confirm that it is the second interpretation which is the right one?

Mr. Thomson

It is the second one.

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