HC Deb 18 April 1956 vol 551 cc997-8
27. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that the American Export Line has left Gibraltar for Algeciras, and that this will mean a loss of one-third of the port's shipping business and will affect the tourist traffic; what representations have been made to the United States authorities on the matter; and what action has been taken by our Embassy in Washington.

Mr. Nutting

I am aware of the American Export Line's recent decision and its consequences for Gibraltar, which I understand may fortunately not be as serious as the right hon. Member apprehends. But I do not consider it an appropriate subject for representations to the United States Government.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance, which our business people and others in Gibraltar are anxious to obtain, that this matter will be closely watched to ensure that no further deterioration in Gibraltar's trade ensues?

Mr. Nutting

Yes, Sir. That situation will be carefully watched.

Mr. Smithers

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when the first boat train from Algeciras arrived in Madrid the American Ambassador was on the platform to welcome it? Does he not think that this breach of correct behaviour should be pointed out to the United States Government?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Be careful.

Mr. Nutting

I should have thought that the Ambassador would have been on the platform, wherever the train had come from.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his noble Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told me in debate that this matter was a purely commercial one and had nothing to do with the State Department? In view of what the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) has just said, would the right hon. Gentleman make further representations to the State Department? Furthermore, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that communications are so bad from Algeciras that nearly all passengers take a car to Gibraltar and go by B.E.A. from there?

Mr. Nutting

The mere fact that the Ambassador was there to welcome tourists does not suggest that this change of destination by the American Export Line was not originally dictated solely by commercial considerations.