HC Deb 18 December 1974 vol 883 cc1565-6
16. Mr. Gow

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the constitutional future of the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Ennals

Last January the Governor appointed a Select Committee from the elected members of the Falkland Islands Legislative Council to ascertain the views of the electorate on possible changes in the constitution and to make recommendations on the form such changes might take. It has yet to make its report.

Mr. Gow

What discussions have the Government had with the Government of the Argentine about the future status of the Falkland Islands?

Mr. Ennals

There have been several discussions between Ministers of Her Majesty's Government and Ministers of the Argentine, one occasion being as recent as last week. It is the wish of both Governments to keep in touch, and I assure the House that it remains the policy of this Government, as of previous Governments, that no change in the present British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands shall be made against the wishes of the islanders.

Mr. James Johnson

My right hon. Friend's last statement will give great satisfaction to all hon. Members—at least, I hope so—and to the Falkland islanders too. Will he be good enough to tell us about the future of the airfield, which I understand is to cost about £4 million? Even more importantly, can he confirm or deny that there is an important oilfield lying between the Falklands and Patagonia?

Mr. Ennals

I am afraid that I cannot give the date for the airfield. As regards oil, geophysical surveys of possible oil-bearing areas around the Falkland Islands were carried out during the last southern summer. Until the evaluation of the results of those surveys is available, I can give no indication on whether the rumours are correct.

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