HL Deb 20 July 1955 vol 193 cc909-10

2.54 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Falkland Islands are designated as a new province of Argentina in a Bill passed by the Argentine Senate on 15th June, and whether the Government contemplate any action in regard to this matter.]


My Lords, an Argentine Law was promulgated on August 25, 1954, which gave to certain parts of the Argentine Republic together with what were described as "the Antarctic sector and the Islands of the South Atlantic" the status of "National Territories." Her Majesty's Government protested against that Law at the time. The Bill to which the noble Lord refers raises such "National Territories" to the status of provinces. It has now become law. The Falkland Islands and the Falkland Islands Dependencies are not specifically designated in the new Law, but are implicitly included in one of these provinces under the heading of "the islands of the South Atlantic and the Argentine Antarctic Sector." A protest against the Law, so far as it purports to cover the Falkland Islands and the Falkland Islands Dependencies, was delivered to the Argentine Government by Her Majesty's Ambassador on July 12.


My Lords, I thank the noble Marquess for his reply. I am glad that the impertinence has not altogether been disregarded.


My Lords, have Her Majesty's Government offered to submit the whole matter to the International Court, where questions of this sort ought to be decided, and is that offer still open?


My Lords, one has to distinguish the two territories. We have never agreed that there was any possible controversy about our title to the Falkland Islands themselves. As regards the Falkland Islands Dependencies, we have submitted a case to the International Court at The Hague and have invited the Argentine and Chilean Governments (who are not under any compulsion to submit to this jurisdiction) voluntarily to place themselves within the jurisdiction in order that this vexed matter may be decided. That offer is still open and neither of those two Governments has yet either accepted or rejected our invitation.