HC Deb 12 November 1974 vol 881 c102W
Mr. Kershaw

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what negotiations he has had with the French Government about the future of the New Hebrides; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Joan Lestor

Talks about the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides were held in London on 4th and 5th November with Monsieur Olivier Stint, French Secretary of State for the Overseas Departments and Territories. Agreement was reached on the adoption of new measures to encourage the further political and economic development of the condominium.

These measures include replacement of the Advisory Council, before the end of 1975, by a representative assembly elected by universal suffrage; the establishment early in 1975, in urban and rural areas, of the first local authorities elected by universal suffrage; and steps to ensure proper consultation with local opinion in the interim period before the representative assembly comes into existence.

Both Governments recorded their agreement on the principle of unification of the criminal law and court system in the New Hebrides, with the aim of setting up a single system providing equality for all before the law, and the necessary preparatory work is to begin immediately.

Progress was made on the question of a proper status for New Hebrideans. The two Governments agreed to study the possibility of conferring upon New Hebrideans a status of "double ressortissant", in particular to facilitate the issue of passports.

The system of land tenure in the New Hebrides is to be reformed, and a joint development plan is to be drawn up with particular emphasis on the rural areas.