§ Mr. Luard
My right hon. and noble Friend said on 24th January in another place that Her Majesty's Government have for some time been concerned about the future welfare of the islands in this part of the Pacific, and specifically the future of the Banaban community. We have for long intended to help the Banabans, subject to the results of the legal actions. Her Majesty's Government's thinking has not, therefore, been essentially at variance with the Vice-Chancellor's remarks about obligations towards the Banabans. We have had a number of discussions with the partner Governments of Australia and New Zealand and we put certain proposals to them last year to help the Banabans secure their future after phosphate revenues end. Our partners responded sympathetically but indicated that it would be difficult in practice to reach firm conclusions in advance of the judgments.
Our thinking and discussions have been, and will continue to be conducted in close consultation with the Governments of Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Gilbert Islands and the Banaban leaders. Our aim is to achieve as soon as possible a settlement which takes account of the legitimate interests of all the parties concerned in the area, including the Banabans.
To assist in achieving such a solution including its constitutional aspects, we are arranging for Mr. Richard Posnett, the former Governor of Belize, to visit the area as soon as possible and to report directly to my right hon. and noble Friend.