§ 12. Mr. Blackburn
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will implement the Shackleton proposals for the Falkland Islands.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)
I have nothing to add to the 1195 replies given on 19 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher).
§ Mr. Blackburn
In view of the reports, confirmed this morning, of a potential fish yield of 1,000 million pounds per annum, plus the potential of offshore oil from these islands, will my hon. Friend confirm that the sovereignty of these islands is not the subject of any agenda item for discussions with any foreign powers?
§ Mr. Ridley
I do not know from where my hon. Friend got those reports of the potential. I have not the ability to be anything like so precise. In fact, I am dubious about the potential of fishing and oil. I confirm that the forthcoming talks with the Argentine Government will be purely exploratory. The Argentinians have sought talks with us, and we have responded by saying that we will meet them.
§ Mr. James Johnson
In view of the disputes with Iceland over cod, and the fact that now we have limits of 200 miles by international acceptance, why cannot the Government think a bit more about this matter and put 200-mile limits around these islands in the South Atlantic: not merely the Falkland Islands, but St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Asuncion Island, South Georgia—the whole lot? Even if we cannot get boats out of Hull to fish there because of the distance, at least we could charge the vessels of Japanese and Communist States for licences and make some money for these people in Port Stanley.
§ Mr. Ridley
It would be impossible to police a 200-mile zone fishing limit round the Falkland Islands without the agreement of the Argentine Government, but that is one of the items that can be raised in the forthcoming talks.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
Before my hon. Friend goes to his meeting, will he refresh his memory about the recommendations by the old Trade and Industry Sub-Committee of the Public Expenditure Committee in the previous Parliament, in so far as they referred to this specific question of the potential for British fishery development in the Falkland Islands?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I shall allow an extra minute at the end of questions on the EEC so that I may now call the Front Bench spokesman on this question.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that he has invited representatives of the Falkland Islands to attend the new round of talks, as has been the previous practice, and will he say what has been their reaction?
§ Mr. Ridley
I confirm that we have invited representatives from the Falklands, and one councillor will attend.