HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc17-9
19. Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why no copy of the annex to the draft treaty between Great Britain and the Republic of Guatemala was deposited in the Library of the House of Commons on 29th April 1968; and whether he will ensure that the British text of the final treaty is in English.

Mr. William Rodgers

We received the annex from the mediator some time after the draft treaty, but copies have now been placed in the Library of the House. I am sure that the language of any final treaty will avoid any infelicities which the hon. Member finds in the present draft.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that, before the Foreign Secretary claims that proposals have been put before the House in the Library, the proposals do exist in this country? It is not good enough to offer that sort of thing to the House when no one can see what the full proposals of the mediator are.

Mr. Rodgers

The hon. Gentleman is being very unreasonable. We placed the draft treaty in the Library as soon as it was available. The annex was not available—that was not our responsibility— but we placed it there as soon as it was in our hands.

20. Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will enter into negotiations with the Republic of Mexico to ensure that dormant Mexican claims to part of the territory of British Honduras do not subsist after the projected treaty between Great Britain and the Republic of Guatemala comes into effect.

33. Mr. Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the Bethuel Webster proposals to make British Honduras subordinate after independence to Guatemala in foreign affairs and defence.

Mr. M. Stewart

We have for long had informal consultations with the Mexican Government regarding British Honduras, and these consultations continue.

In my statement to the House on 29th April, I said that we would study the mediator's proposals in consultation with the Government of British Honduras. That Government have now asked Her Majesty's Government not to accede to the proposed treaty, and this request has been unanimously endorsed by the House of Representatives. We have consistently made clear that the dispute with Guatemala would not be settled on a basis which was not in accordance with the wishes of British Honduras.—[Vol. 763, c. 798.]

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will the Foreign Secretary ensure in any future negotiations that the result must be complete independence for British Honduras, not economic domination by Guatemala, and will he note that, unless this is achieved, the old claims of Mexico to the northern portion of British Honduras remain subject to revival?

Mr. Stewart

The Mexican Government have stated that they have no territorial ambitions in British Honduras. On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I repeat what I said at the end of my Answer, that we have consistently made clear that the dispute would not be settled except on a basis acceptable to British Honduras.

Mr. Henig

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recent Parliamentary delegation to British Honduras found a unanimous sentiment in that country that the only danger to its defence would come from Guatemala? That being so, what on earth is the good of proposing a defence pact between British Honduras and Guatemala?

Mr. Stewart

In view of the request from British Honduras that we should not accede to the treaty, and the British Government's view on the whole matter which I have just stated, that is a question which does not now arise.

Viscount Lambton

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that he is right in stating that Mexico has declared that it has no claim on any part of British Honduras? Has it not said that it has no claim so long as British Honduras remains attached to the United Kingdom and did it not say that it would not make a claim if British Honduras became attached to Guatemala, but it has never said that it had no claim if British Honduras itself remained independent?

Mr. Stewart

As I understand it, the Mexican Government have stated that they have no territorial ambitions in British Honduras.

Mr. Cronin

Bearing in mind the much larger population of Guatemala, the entirely different cultural attitude there and the fact that it is an unstable police State, does my right hon. Friend realise that many of us are surprised that this draft treaty should have been taken so seriously for so long?

Mr. Stewart

It was right that the mediator should do his work. It is to be regretted, I suppose, that he was not able to find a solution acceptable to both parties; but, since the draft treaty is not acceptable to British Honduras, it is not acceptable to the British Government either.