HC Deb 28 July 1976 vol 916 cc625-6
2. Mr. Robin F. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to Mauritius.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Edward Rowlands)

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to do so.

Mr. Cook

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is very grave concern that several years after the evacuation of Diego Garcia not a penny of the money paid to the Mauritius Government has been handed over to the islanders? What was in the report submitted to my right hon. Friend by Mr. Prosser on this matter? Is my hon. Friend prepared to stand by the assurance given to me last February in a letter that the facilities at Diego Garcia will not permit the operation of B52 bombers?

Mr. Rowlands

We have felt concern on the first part of my hon. Friend's question, and that is why we support Mr. Prosser's mission and report. The report, however, is to the Mauritius Government, not to us. Therefore, it is first and foremost for the Mauritius Government to respond and to publish it if they wish. I can confirm that B52 bombers will not be used in Diego Garcia.

Mr. Spearing

Is my hon. Friend aware that under the Lomé Convention Mauritius sends this country about one-third of our sugar cane requirements, and that under the existing terms of the convention the Government have to face difficult choices if there is a shortfall in the crop? Will he bear this in mind at the renegotiation of the convention in 1982, and will he consult the Mauritius Government on the matter?

Mr. Rowlands

We will consult and consider all the issues arising from the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention.

Mr. Marten

May we have a clear statement that the plight of the Diego Garcians in Mauritius is no fault of the British Government and that it is much more a Mauritian responsibility than ours?

Mr. Rowlands

We have not been responsible for the welfare of the Diego Garcians since they went to Mauritius. The amount of money paid was a full and final settlement.

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