HC Deb 17 January 1979 vol 960 cc1695-6
12. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's latest proposals on the future of Belize.

Mr. Rowlands

I refer the hon. Member to the account of our proposals I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice) on 29th November and to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on 14th December. Our proposals remain on the table and we intend to continue the negotiations.

Mr. Durant

In these discussions, will the Minister do nothing to damage the territorial integrity of this small country unless he has the full backing of the people of Belize? Some of us are anxious that the pressure from Guatemala might make the Government change their mind.

Mr. Rowlands

The commitment has been clear, namely, that no decision, arrangement or settlement can be made which is unacceptable to the people of Belize.

Mrs. Jeger

What consultations have taken place with the United States about its continuing supply of arms to Guatemala and its training of personnel in that country in order to threaten Belize?

Mr. Rowlands

We have regular discussions with the United States on such issues. Indeed, I had such discussions only last week. As I understand it, the United States is not selling any new arms or equipment to Guatemala.

Mr. Luce

Is it the case that Guatemala has not as yet rejected the proposals recently put forward about Belize by the British Government? If it has rejected those proposals, what progress, if any, has been made on the proposal put forward at the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting at Kingston, which was that there should be a Commonwealth defence contribution to Belize?

Mr. Rowlands

In his broadcast to the Guatemalan people the Guatemalan Foreign Minister said that he rejected our proposals. However, he left the way open for further negotiations. We intend to pursue the possibility of further negotiations. The door has not been closed on the negotiations. The other considerations which the hon. Gentleman mentioned do not come into play at this moment.