HC Deb 07 July 1976 vol 914 cc1344-6
3. Sir John Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the plans for the development of the Falkland Islands, in the light of the report he has received from Lord Shackleton.

Mr. Rowlands

My right hon. Friend has received Lord Shackleton's report, which runs to several hundred pages, and is studying it.

Sir J. Gilmour

Does the Minister agree that there is some degree of urgency in making the report public so that the people of the Falkland Islands can themselves show an expression of what they feel it is possible to do in the light of the report?

Mr. Rowlands

We hope to publish the report as soon as possible and certainly, I hope, before the recess. But it is a very bulky document and we have had the usual problems of preparing it and getting it ready. There is no lack of willingness on our part to publish the report and to receive comments from the Falkland Islands and elswhere about it.

Mr. MacFarquhar

In view of the continuing turbulence within the Argentine, does not my hon. Friend agree that there is every possibility that some trigger-happy group will again try to invade the Falkland Islands? In view of this possibility, does he not consider that it is time to initiate something radically new in the Government's attitude in respect of this problem?

Mr. Rowlands

We are endeavouring to try to ensure that the wishes of the Falkland Islanders do not come between us and the Argentine Government and destroy the mutual interest that exists in many other cases. We are endeavouring to ensure that this issue does not create the tension or the bitterness to which my hon. Friend refers.

Sir Nigel Fisher

Can the Minister give us some idea of the date of publication of the report? Is he aware that the report is awaited with anxiety and impatience by the Falkland Islanders, who think their whole new future depends on it and that some aspects are becoming rather urgent? Can the Minister undertake to publish the report before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Rowlands

I have every hope that we shall be able to do so.

Mr. Maudling

Whatever may or may not be in the report, will the Minister reaffirm the assurance that, if the Falkland Islanders wish to remain British, British they shall remain?

Mr. Rowlands

I reaffirm the undertaking which successive Governments have given to respect the wishes of the Falkland Islanders.

Mr. Donald Stewart

In view of the Minister's reply that he would avoid friction with the Argentine, will he accept that many hon. Members in all parts of the House are fully behind the aspirations of the people of the Falkland Islands and that, regardless of how the Argentine Government look at the matter, we wish the British Government to support the aspirations of those people?

Mr. Rowlands

We shall endeavour, within our abilities and capacity, to assist the Falkland Islanders and their welfare. That is in common with our efforts in regard to every other territory in the British dependent territories.

Back to
Forward to