§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Loan MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, before I put my Question, I should like to advise your Lordships that I have commercial interests in British Honduras. I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will lay before the House the details of any agreement they have entered into with Guatemala, affecting the future of British Honduras when full independence is granted to the latter country in 1968; and whether they will give an assurance that no such agreement will be entered into on this subject with Guatemala without the full assent of the Government of British Honduras.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (LORD BESWICK)
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have not entered into any agreement with Guatemala affecting the future of British Honduras; nor will they do so without the agreement of the Government of British Honduras.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for his reply and for his assurance that the British Government have not entered into any agreement. I do not know whether the noble Lord could advise us how the stories have got about in the Press on this matter. I read in to-day's Times that there were riots in Belize yesterday because of rumours of such an agreement.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the rumours have got about following the speech made by a Member of the Parliament there, but the fact is, as I have already said, that Her Majesty's Government have not entered into any agreement, and the stories which were circulating are not based upon the facts of the situation.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether the Joint Committee of British Honduras, Guatemala and ourselves, which was agreed on after the Puerto Rico Conference in 1962, have ever met and whether the Guatemalans have ever consented to have a meeting?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the position is that this Government, jointly with the Guatemalan Government, and in agreement with the Government of British Honduras, invited a mediator to consider the situation, the mediator to be appointed by the President of the United States. This mediator has been at work. It is upon him that the present hopes for progress are based. And the rumours, to which my noble friend Lord Macpherson of Drumochter has referred, relate apparently to proposals which the mediator may or may not have been considering.
My Lords, the noble Lord said "mediator". Is he definitely a mediator, and not an arbitrator?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, he is a mediator, certainly. If the mediator makes any recommendations eventually, these recommendations will need to be agreed by the parties concerned.