HC Deb 15 July 1965 vol 716 cc755-7
17. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state the nature of the message sent to him by telegram from Sir Joshua Hassan, Gibraltar's chief minister, in respect of the demonstrations on Friday 2nd July; and what has been his reply.

Mrs. White

The message said that my right hon. Friend's replies to the Question by the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) on 5th July, about the demonstrations in Gibraltar on 2nd July, had been interpreted in Gibraltar as an attempt to minimise the expression of the indignation and strength of feeling there about the Spanish campaign against the Colony.

My right hon. Friend has assured the Chief Minister that Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the strength of feeling in Gibraltar about the campaign. He pointed out that he had acknowledged this in the course of his replies.

Mr. Dodds

Is my hon. Friend aware that many reasonable Gibraltarians who are fanatically attached to this country are appalled that when tensions are so high members of our Armed Forces stationed there should, despite being requested not to do so, cross the frontier in polo kit? Is she aware that they have done the same thing again this weekend? While it is appreciated that many of the problems are not easy to control, would it not be the decent thing to request—not instruct—the officers concerned to restrain themselves at the moment even if they are fanatically attached to polo in Spain?

Mrs. White

I am sure my hon. Friend will realise that requests, still less orders, to officers do not emanate from the Colonial Office. There is no restriction on anyone walking across the frontier. It is therefore a question of decision as to whether it is advisable for this to be done. The matter has, of course, been drawn to the attention of the authorities concerned, but it is not a question for the Colonial Office.

Sir F. Bennett

Does the hon. Lady recall that in a very recent exchange I advised her of the folly of seeking to minimise what is taking place in Gibraltar? She has done very nearly the same thing again today by omitting the first sentence of the telegram, which says that great resentment has been caused in Gibraltar. Will she now accept the point and not again and again try to minimise the reaction of people of Gibraltar?

Mrs. White

The answer is perfectly clear. We do not attempt to minimise the situation. We fully understand the strength of feeling in Gibraltar, which was demonstrated on the occasion when the hon. Gentleman himself was present. We are by no means insensible to the strength of feeling and the emotions naturally aroused by the difficult conditions in which the Gibraltarians find themselves. We have replied to the Chief Minister making this indubitably clear.

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