Oral Answers to Questions — Falkland Island Dependencies

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1948.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke 12:00 am, 16th June 1948

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the strength of the Argentinian and Chilean naval, military or scientific detachments which still remain in British territory in the Antarctic, despite repeated protests earlier in the year; and what effective measures, in these circumstances of foreign occupation, he now proposes in order to safeguard the British legal title to sovereignty in the Dependencies of the Falkland Islands.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

The wintry conditions now prevailing in the Antarctic make it almost impossible to assess exactly the present position, but my information is that there is an Argentine base on Gamma Island, consisting of one officer, one doctor, one meteorologist, and seven naval ratings. There is a precisely similar base at Deception Island, but I have reason to believe that a smaller detachment at Admiralty Bay was evacuated before the ice closed. There is a Chilean base at Greenwich Island, consisting of one officer and five men, but Trinity Peninsula is now believed to be unoccupied. As regards the second part of the Question, I have nothing to add at present to previous statements on this subject.

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the crucial question as to how long it is possible to allow foreign occupation without prejudice to our legal title and sovereignty?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Yes, we have given consideration to all those points, but I cannot add to what I said previously.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

Could the right hon. Gentleman at least assure us that while this conduct continues there will be no question of disposing of historic ships of the Royal Navy to countries who behave in this way?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I cannot answer that. It is an Admiralty question and ought to be put to them.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I do not press the right hon. Gentleman to answer it now, because I gave him no notice, but will he not consider that there are distinct Foreign Office implications in the question?

Photo of Brigadier Ralph Rayner Brigadier Ralph Rayner , Totnes

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that these small countries would never, in their wildest dreams, have contemplated facing us in this way in the hundred years leading up to July, 1945?

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Was the Foreign Office not made aware of these negotiations about the prospective sale of a cruiser to Chile; and does the right hand at the Foreign Office not know what the left hand at the Admiralty is doing?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Oh, yes, we are two-fisted.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise the growing indignation of public opinion on this matter, and that he may be prejudicing our own legal claims to these islands by not interfering with foreign occupation of our own territories; and will he not take steps to remove these foreign bodies?