HL Deb 30 September 1976 vol 374 cc749-50WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

If they have agreed to talks with the Government of Fiji on the future of Ocean Island from which 3,000 Banaban inhabitants were evacuated to the Fiji Island of Rabi to allow phosphate exploitation; and what is their attitude towards the Banaban proposal that a reoccupied Ocean Island should become independent in association with Fiji.


I discussed the future of Ocean Island with the Prime Minister of Fiji in Wellington in August. These discussions were friendly and constructive and I deeply appreciate the Prime Minister's assistance and interest in seeking a solution to this difficult issue. I expect to renew discussions on this subject with the Prime Minister of Fiji, and with other interested parties in the near future. I would not wish either to endorse or to exclude consideration of any proposal at this stage.

Most of the Banaban community were transported from Ocean Island by the Japanese during the last War. The remainder died in August 1945. Some 700 survivors were traced after the War and were resettled on Rabi in 1945 in accordance with a proposal from the Banabans in 1940 that an island in the Fiji group be acquired as their second home.