HC Deb 15 December 1954 vol 535 cc1761-2
22. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action is being taken in Gibraltar to counter the renewed attacks on that Colony by General Franco.

Mr. Hopkinson

Her Majesty's Government have already made it plain that it is our intention to take care of Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians, and that we have no intention of allowing future essential development there to suffer through no fault of the Colony. In our view, the best way to meet such attacks is to strengthen the economy of Gibraltar in every possible way. The Government of Gibraltar, in consultation with Her Majesty's Government, are pressing on with their plans to secure this end.

Mr. Davies

Is the Minister of State aware that, since that policy was announced to the House, General Franco has been giving further interviews to the Press in which he has stated that Gibraltar is a letter of credit which will ultimately be encashed? Does he not believe that it is necessary to take some further action in this matter to make it quite clear that co-operation with Spain, particularly in trade, cannot continue if these attacks persist?

Mr. Hopkinson

I saw the statement to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. We have made it perfectly clear that Gibraltar is British and will remain British. As for the various irksome restrictions which have been imposed by the Spaniards, we do not intend to let ourselves be provoked into a policy of retaliation by means of pinpricks, but we intend to build up the economy of Gibraltar to make it as independent of any other country as we can.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, while it is all very well for him to say that we do not intend to be provoked, the people of Gibraltar are being provoked every day? Will he see that the great friendship of his right hon. Friend and some other Members of the Government with General Franco does not prevent them from taking the necessary action?

Mr. Hopkinson

The understanding which my right hon. Friend may have displayed towards General Franco's position in the past may add force to the statement which I made on his behalf today.

Miss Ward

Will my right hon. Friend tell hon. Members opposite that the Rock of Gibraltar will long outlast General Franco?