asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the discussions with representatives of the Governments of Trinidad, Antigua, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, and of the United States of America regarding the future of the United States-leased base at Chaguaramas and three United States bases in Antigua, Jamaica, and St. Lucia.
As was announced on 9th November, the first stage of the tripartite talks about United States bases in The West Indies between delegations representing the United States, the United Kingdom and the West Indies has been satisfactorily concluded, and the second stage will begin in Tobago on 28th of this month. The text of the communiqué agreed by all delegations and issued at the close of the first stage is being circulated with the Official Report.
While I welcome the fact that these discussions have led to the agreement that when independence is gained for the Federation the people there will have free opportunity to negotiate, will the right hon. Gentleman press the Government of the United States at least to release the base at Chaguaramas so that it can become the capital of the Federation?
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has seen the communiqué, from which, perhaps, I may quote. It states:
The representatives of the United States declared their readiness to release unconditionally the major part of the area which they at present hold.
The main base is at Chaguaramas, and it is about that base that talks will begin on 28th November, but I would not like to put a gloss on a communiqué that has been agreed between different countries.
Would the Colonial Secretary accept an expression of appreciation that these talks are taking place? Can he say whether he can trace from the representatives of the United States a very different outlook on these matters, and that there is real hope of the bases being returned to The West Indies? Further, can he say who will represent Her Majesty's Government at the talks at Tobago?
The head of the United Kingdom delegation will be my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I should like to make it clear that, as was acknowledged by everyone there, the success of the talks was in large measure due to the very forthcoming attitude adopted by the United States delegation, headed by their ambassador in London. We owe them very much, indeed.
As to the other matters, the bases, with the exception of Chaguaramas, are all largely de-activated now, and consideration of these matters will obviously be concentrated on Chaguaramas in the next round of talks. The West Indies, for their part, made it clear that they were willing and anxious to co-operate in defence matters, and I welcome that very much.
The Conference on West Indies bases, which opened at Lancaster House, London, on 3rd November, concluded its first stage to-day (Tuesday, 8th November). At this stage—the first of three—delegations representing the United States, the United Kingdom and The West Indies discussed in broad outline the review of the 1941 Leased Bases Agreement. Representatives of the unit territories of The West Indies were present from Antigua, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as observers from Barbados.
The talks have been held in an atmosphere of cordiality and very satisfactory progress has been recorded. There was acceptance by all parties of the basic principle that The West Indies, when independent, would have the right to form its own alliances and to conclude such agreements as it thought fit regarding military bases on its soil. It was, however, agreed that the review of the 1941 Leased Bases Agreement should proceed on the basis that The West Indies, in the exercise of such right, would be both willing and anxious to co-operate in whatever would strengthen mutual security and contribute to the continuing defence of the Western Hemisphere as part of the defence of the democratic world. All parties agreed that if this objective was to be achieved, an early and amicable conclusion of the review of the 1941 Leased Bases Agreement was desirable.
The representatives of the United States declared their readiness to release unconditionally the major part of the areas which they at present hold under the 1941 Agreement, seeking to retain only those which are essential to the discharge of their responsibilities in the field of world-wide and hemispheric defence.
It was agreed that the second stage of the Conference would consist of a series of talks to be held in the individual territories in The West Indies in which the United States hold bases under the agreement. In that series of talks, each individual territorial government will appear in its own right to present its own views. The Federal Government will be represented at all these talks.
At the request of the Conference, the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Iain Macleod) has agreed to invite the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago (Sir Solomon Hochoy) to preside at the Tobago meeting. For subsequent meetings, the Secretary of State has agreed to invite the Administrator of St. Lucia (The Earl of Oxford and Asquith), the Administrator of Antigua (Mr. I. G. Turbott) and the Governor of Jamaica (Sir Kenneth Blackburne) to preside in their respective territories.