HC Deb 23 June 1969 vol 785 cc992-3
29. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts are now being made to improve communications between the mainland and the Falkland Islands; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mulley

The desirability of improving communications between the Falkland Islands and the mainland has been an important consideration in the discussions we have had with the Argentine authorities.

Beyond that I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to the hon. Member on 5th May.—[Vol. 783, c. 11–12.]

Mr. Smith

Is it not a fact that these islands badly need an external air service? Is it not also true that the Argentinians are only interested in talking about questions of sovereignty? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the islands are becoming increasingly anxious about these long-drawn-out discussions?

Mr. Mulley

I am very willing to admit that these are difficult negotiations. Because of the importance of improved communications, for the reason given by the hon. Member, we think it right to persist with them. For example, one matter that we have taken up very recently, again, has been the question of delays in the postal services.

Mr. Braine

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that sovereignty is still on the agenda of the talks with the Argentine and, if so, how much longer must this unfruitful discussion of the undiscussable go on?

Mr. Mulley

As has been made clear on many occasions, there has been no change in the Government's policy, which is that the question of seccesion of sovereignty to the Argentine can only arise if two conditions are satisfied—first, there must be a permanently satisfactory relationship between the islands and the Argentine and, secondly, the islanders must regard it as satisfactory, and it must accord with their wishes. That is the situation and that is how it stands.

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