HC Deb 23 June 1977 vol 933 cc552-3W
Sir Bernard Braine

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) in the light of the forthcoming constiuttional talks on the Gilbert Islands and the Banaban plea for the separation of Ocean Island, why Christmas Island (Indian Ocean), a British Crown Colony from 1st January 1958, transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia on 1st October 1958; what was the population of Christmas Island at the time; and how far it is from Australia and Singapore, respectively;

(2) in the light of the forthcoming constitutional talks on the Gilbert Islands and the Banaban plea for the separation of Ocean Island, he will indicate the reasons why, since Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) was incorporated with the Straits Settlement in 1882, it was separated from the Colony of Singapore on 31st December 1957.

Mr. Luard

Following the Constitutional Conference held in London in March and April 1957, at which it was decided that Singapore should be granted full internal self-government, it was agreed that the administrative link between Singapore and Christmas Island should be discontinued. Principally because of Australia's economic interest in the island, and because her Government was already most closely associated with its administration, the decision was reached that the island should be transferred to the authority of the Australian Government. The island was administered as an interim measure as a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom from 1st January 1958 until 30th September 1958, when the island fas transferred to Australia. The population of Christmas Island in 1958 was 2,400. They were of external origin and closely connected with the phosphate industry. The island is 875 miles from Australia and 815 miles from Singapore.

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