§ Mr. Chapman
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1) what negotiations have taken place with the Government of Trinidad about their proposals that Her Majesty's Government should assist with the deficit which will be incurred by British West Indian Airways in maintaining services to the Leeward and Windward Islands; and what offer of such assistance has been made;
(2) what negotiations have taken place with the Government of Trinidad about the £800,000 allegedly owed by British West Indian Airways for Viscount aircraft, now that the Trinidad Government have refused to accept this sum in an overall financial settlement on independence; and if he will make a statement on the present position.
§ Mr. Sandys
The British Government were prepared, at the request of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, as part of a financial settlement, to buy from230W B.O.A.C. four Viscount aircraft which were on hire to British West Indian Airways, and to present them, free of cost, to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for B.W.I.A. Out of several suggestions made, this seemed to us the way in which we could best assist. As the House is aware, our offer for a financial settlement, including the gift of these aircraft, still stands. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago have made no alternative proposals as regards B.W.I.A. Meanwhile the hire of the aircraft remains a matter between the two airlines. It is, I understand, the subject of a longstanding contract freely negotiated between B.O.A.C. and B.W.I.A., which imposes on B.W.I.A. an obligation to make payments totalling some £800,000 over the next four years.