Indian Ocean Islands (Military Use)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Sir Eric Errington Sir Eric Errington , Aldershot 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken in regard to the British Indian Ocean Islands to develop them for military purposes; and if he will make a statement as to their future use.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The British Indian Ocean Territory remains available for the construction of defence facilities by the British and United States Governments under the agreement signed with the United States Government in 1966. Whether, or how, they will be used is a matter which is being kept under review by both countries.

Photo of Sir Eric Errington Sir Eric Errington , Aldershot

These are uninhabited and uninhabitable islands. Has nothing been done? Has no decision been reached? Have consultations taken place with Australia and South Africa about their possible help in the use of them?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

All the consultations to which the hon. Gentleman refers, and consultations with the United States, have taken place. The importance of this group of islands is that they are there at our disposal should they be needed for the purpose which was originally envisaged.