Falkland Islands

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 1976.

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Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East 12:00 am, 7th July 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the plans for the development of the Falkland Islands, in the light of the report he has received from Lord Shackleton.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My right hon. Friend has received Lord Shackleton's report, which runs to several hundred pages, and is studying it.

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

Does the Minister agree that there is some degree of urgency in making the report public so that the people of the Falkland Islands can themselves show an expression of what they feel it is possible to do in the light of the report?

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We hope to publish the report as soon as possible and certainly, I hope, before the recess. But it is a very bulky document and we have had the usual problems of preparing it and getting it ready. There is no lack of willingness on our part to publish the report and to receive comments from the Falkland Islands and elswhere about it.

Photo of Mr Roderick MacFarquhar Mr Roderick MacFarquhar , Belper

In view of the continuing turbulence within the Argentine, does not my hon. Friend agree that there is every possibility that some trigger-happy group will again try to invade the Falkland Islands? In view of this possibility, does he not consider that it is time to initiate something radically new in the Government's attitude in respect of this problem?

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We are endeavouring to try to ensure that the wishes of the Falkland Islanders do not come between us and the Argentine Government and destroy the mutual interest that exists in many other cases. We are endeavouring to ensure that this issue does not create the tension or the bitterness to which my hon. Friend refers.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Kingston upon Thames Surbiton

Can the Minister give us some idea of the date of publication of the report? Is he aware that the report is awaited with anxiety and impatience by the Falkland Islanders, who think their whole new future depends on it and that some aspects are becoming rather urgent? Can the Minister undertake to publish the report before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I have every hope that we shall be able to do so.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet Chipping Barnet

Whatever may or may not be in the report, will the Minister reaffirm the assurance that, if the Falkland Islanders wish to remain British, British they shall remain?

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I reaffirm the undertaking which successive Governments have given to respect the wishes of the Falkland Islanders.

Photo of Mr Donald Stewart Mr Donald Stewart , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

In view of the Minister's reply that he would avoid friction with the Argentine, will he accept that many hon. Members in all parts of the House are fully behind the aspirations of the people of the Falkland Islands and that, regardless of how the Argentine Government look at the matter, we wish the British Government to support the aspirations of those people?

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We shall endeavour, within our abilities and capacity, to assist the Falkland Islanders and their welfare. That is in common with our efforts in regard to every other territory in the British dependent territories.