HC Deb 24 February 1977 vol 926 cc709-10W
Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sums and what proportions of public expenditure of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands dependency is derived from revenues from the British Phosphate Commision; and what plans Her Majesty's Government have for replacing this income when revenues from the British Phosphate Commission cease.

Mr. Luard

The average annual figures over the five years 1971–75–i.e. prior to the separation of the Ellice Islands— were:

Australian $ million
Total revenue 11.3
Total expenditure 11.2
Phosphate revenue (included in 1) (i.e. 73 per cent. of 1 and 74 per cent. of 2) 8.3
Investment in Reserve Fund (included in 2) 5.8

All revenue is paid into the Consolidated Fund and particular sources of revnue are not designated for particular items of expenditure.

There is no prospect in view that could fully replace the phosphate revenue. The Gilbert Islands Government are aware of this situation and have plans to establish a tuna fishing industry, to expand local production of copra, to develop new industries in the Line Islands, and to exploit any opportunities for employment outside the Gilberts. In addition the revenue from the Reserve Fund will be available to meet budgetary deficits. We are supporting with our aid programme the efforts of the Gilberts Government to develop alternative sources of revenue.