Friday, 27 January 2012

House of Commons Debate on the Falkland Islands - self determination is key

For several weeks since before Christmas I have applied to the Speaker, John Bercow, for a debate on the issue of the Falkland Islands. Finally at 9.30 on Tuesday morning he has found time for a 1 and a half hour debate on this issue - given the packed Westminster programme this delay is not unusual and the Speaker has recognised the importance of such a debate.
Regular readers will know that I met with Falkland Island representatives last year and have blogged on the issue again before Christmas.
Matters have clearly escalated diplomatically between the two countries and only yesterday the Argentinian President made a statement on the issue. The BBC have also been reporting on the dispute as well, and parliamentary colleagues spoke briefly on the issue in yesterdays Debate on defence.
I am still writing the speech but certain points are clear:
- The Falkland Island people will always have Great Britians support. Their destiny is entirely in their hands and as long as they wish to stay British, then British they will stay.
- I am calling for a self determination law - confirming that all overseas territories, of which there are 14, have an unambiguous right to remain British, and be defended from oppression, in the absence of a majority voting for secession.
- This point needs to be made firmly by all sides in the House of Commons [in a debate such as this the Opposition get to reply, and the Governemnt Minister responding will be Jeremy Browne, who is a Liberal. Thus there is great merit in the debate so that all sides of the House can reassure the Falkland Islanders of parliaments settled intention to stand by them.
- There should be no negotiation on sovereignty.
- I am pleased to see that the Argentinian President is confining her intentions to diplomatic pressure. So be it.
- But the world also needs to hear of the hardships that are being endured by the Falkland Islanders who are effectively being blockaded in their own lands. This is not acceptable, and does not smack of diplomacy to me.

I will post more closer to next Tuesday, but the debate will be on the parliament channel at 9.30 Tuesday morning. I know a lot of colleagues will be attending and supporting.