§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what principle of International Law has been advanced by the Sarawak Government in making its claim for jurisdiction over the continental shelf pursuant to Section 34 of the Oil Mining Ordinance, 1958; and whether it is the intention of the Government to claim jurisdiction over minerals in the subsoil beyond the continental shelf, and up to what distance.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
The jurisdiction of the Sarawak Government over the continental shelf for the purposes of exploring and exploiting its mineral resources derives from the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order-in-Council, 1954, which extends the boundaries of Sarawak to include the adjacent continental shelf, and not from the Oil Mining Ordinance, 1958, which merely confers powers on the Government to enable it to regulate exploration and exploitation of certain mineral resources of the shelf.
The right to such jurisdiction is now embodied in the 1958 United Nations Convention on the Continental Shelf. The 42W Convention defines the shelf as extending to a depth of 200 metres or beyond that limit where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of exploitation, and contains provision as to the boundaries between the respective shelves of neighbouring countries. There is no intention of exercising jurisdiction beyond the boundaries as defined in the Convention or except for the purposes allowed by the Convention.