HC Deb 18 November 1968 vol 773 cc871-4
5. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further assurances he has given to the Falkland Islands that the British Falkland Islands will not be handed over to Argentina or any other country against the wishes of the Falkland islanders, and will remain a British Crown Colony for so long as the majority of Falkland islanders so desire.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. William Whitlock)

As has been made clear in the House on numerous occasions, it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to transfer sovereignty over these islands against the wishes of the islanders.—[Vol. 761, c. 1458–67; Vol. 762, c. 3–5, Vol. 770, c. 103.]

Sir G. Nabarro

In the light of that unequivocal assurance from the hon. Gentleman, what is the purpose of dispatching a Minister of the Crown to the Falkland Islands anyway? What will he do when he gets there?

Mr. Whitlock

These unequivocal assurances have been given repeatedly, and the dispatch of the Minister to the Falkland Islands is in accordance with a promise made to the House by my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs some months ago.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Does not much of the confusion arise because Her Majesty's Government will insist on keeping the question of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands on the agenda of talks with the Argentine? Will they not take it off the agenda? It seems utterly pointless to keep it on.

Mr. Whitlock

We have always made clear that we have no doubts in our minds about British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, but reiteration of that has not removed Argentinian feeling on the matter. The Minister who is about to go to the Falkland Islands will be there for talks with the Falkland Islanders about Her Majesty's Government's attitude.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Will the hon. Gentleman answer my question? Will the Government take this subject off the agenda of their discussions with the Argentine? Then the whole trouble would disappear.

Mr. Whitlock

The talks with the Argentine Government are to reach a permanently satisfactory relationship between the islands and the Argentine. That is our aim.

30. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what will be the curriculum of the Minister of State at the Foreign Office during his visit to the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Whitlock

As the Answer is rather long, I will, with permission circulate the details in the OFFICIAL REPORT. My right hon. and noble Friend will meet members of the Islands Executive and Legislative Councils formally and informally. He will also meet as many representatives as possible of local organisations and of the community as a whole.

Mr. Farr

Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Minister to make it quite clear while he is there that at no time in future will dilution, or transfer, of sovereignty of the Falkland Islands be considered?

Mr. Whitlock

It has always been made clear in the House, and made clear repeatedly, that any transfer of sovereignty would take place only in circumstances in which the islanders were in agreement.

Mr. Braine

Bearing in mind that hitherto the Governor's Executive Council has been vowed to secrecy about the progress of negotiations with the Argentine about sovereignty, will the noble Lord be empowered to take the whole of the islands into Her Majesty's Government's confidence and to repeat to all representative organisations the assurance given this afternoon?

Mr. Whitlock

I am sure that what my noble Friend will tell the islanders will be the subject of consultation with the Governor of the islands and the Executive Council.

Following are the details:

Lord Chalfont's Visit to the Falkland Islands: Provisional Programme

Saturday 23rd November

Arrive by H.M.S. "Endurance" at a West Falkland anchorage and met by Governor. Sir Cosmo Haskard, K.C.M.G., M.B.E. Tour of several farms; re-embark H.M.S. "Endurance" for overnight passage to Stanley.

Sunday 24th November

Arrive Stanley; stay at Government House. Informal meetings with members of Executive Council; attend service at Anglican Cathedral.

Monday 25th November

Morning. Informal talks with members of Legislative Council and formal meeting of Executive Council. Later, formal joint meeting with Executive and Legislative Council members.

Afternoon. Meetings with individuals representative of the community and local organisations.

2. Dinner party at Government House attended by members of Councils and their wives.

Tuesday 26th November

Weather permitting, tour East Falkland farms by air.

Wednesday 27th November

Visits to private houses, school, hospital; see something of government and commercial activities.

Thursday 28th November

Departure by H.M.S. "Endurance".