Airfield, Maldive Islands (Use)

Oral Answers to Questions — Commonwealth Relations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1957.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 24th January 1957

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement about the agreement made with the Government of the Maldive Islands for facilities for British aircraft and Commonwealth communications.

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

Under the United Kingdom/Maldives Agreement of 1st January. 1953, which reaffirmed long-standing arrangements governing the relations between the United Kingdom and the Maldives, the United Kingdom Government have the right to establish and maintain in the Maldive Islands such facilities as they may, after consultation with the Government of the Maldives, determine to be required for the defence of the Islands or of any part of the Commonwealth.

Consultations with the Prime Minister of the Maldives were held in December last about the intention of the United Kingdom Government to re-establish the airfield which was built on Gan Island in Addu Atoll in the last war but has since become overgrown, and to operate it as a staging post.

The Government of the Maldives welcomed this proposal and have undertaken to provide every facility for the re-establishment and operation of the airfield. The construction of this airfield will permit the development of a new "Great Circle" Service air route from the United Kingdom to Australia, New Zealand and the Far East across the Indian Ocean which will supplement existing Commonwealth communications.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Will the facilities obtained under this excellent agreement be made available, if necessary, to other Commonwealth countries?

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air, but I think that there will be no difficulty in that.