HC Deb 01 March 1965 vol 707 cc913-7
11. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been received from the Spanish Government to the last protest by Her Majesty's Government about delays on the Spanish frontier with Gibraltar.

18. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Spanish Government about the blockade of Gibraltar.

51. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further action he has taken on the Gibraltar question, in view of the continuing, unsatisfactory state of affairs there.

64. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations have now been made to the Spanish Government about the restrictions placed on Gibraltar; and what replies have been received.

Mr. M. Stewart

In the debate on the Adjournment on 11th February, my hon. Friend gave the House details of representations made by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid. We have since sent a further communication about Gibraltar to the Spanish Government, to which their answer is awaited. Her Majesty's Embassy has also taken up the question of the reported threat of further restrictions at the La Linea frontier.

Mr. Digby

Does that mean that, some time after 22nd January, when the last Note welt, a further Note has been sent and the reply to the Note of 22nd January has not been accepted? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any other action of any kind is contemplated in this situation, which appears to be deteriorating?

Mr. Stewart

The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is, "Yes, Sir". As regards the second part, as we have made clear, we shall take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the welfare and interests of the people of Gibraltar.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say what further measures of provocation have been taken by the Spanish authorities since the last Note went, and will he give an undertaking that retaliatory action will be taken if the position does not improve very soon?

Mr. Stewart

There are Questions on the Order Paper later dealing with the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. On the second part, I do not want to speculate as to what other measures might be taken.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will the Foreign Secretary use his influence with the disruptive element in his own party which, both after the war and recently, has led to this deterioration in relations between the Spanish people and the British people, who want to trade and to be friendly together?

Mr. Stewart

It should be clear that the reason advanced by the Spanish Government for these restrictions is their objection to the grant of a degree of self-government to Gibraltar by the last Government, with which, I thought, the party opposite was in sympathy.

Mr. Kilfedder

Although the ordinary British people sympathise with the lot of the Spanish people, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the best method for dealing with this trouble is for the people of this country to avoid going to Spain until the restrictions on Gibraltar cease?

Mr. Stewart

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the comments on this matter made by my hon. Friend not long ago.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Reverting to the Foreign Secretary's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker), does he agree that, even if the restrictions are lifted, there is no question of negotiation on the future of Gibraltar?

Mr. Stewart

Yes. We made quite clear to the Spanish Government, first, that we cannot negotiate while the restrictions are in force, and, second, we could not in any case negotiate about our sovereignty over Gibraltar.

Mr. George Jeger

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that these restrictions really started ten years ago when Her Majesty the Queen visited Gibraltar, much to the disgust of the Spanish Government at the time, and have nothing whatever to do with the Labour attitude towards the Spanish Fascist régime? Will he also bear in mind that the patience of the Gibraltarians, who regard themselves as 100 per cent. British, is fast running out? Would he like them to start throwing stones at the Governor's residence, burning the Union Jack, and shooting a few British soldiers on the way, in order to compel the British Government to take action in their defence?

Mr. Stewart

I agree with my hon. Friend in the first part of his supplementary question. As regards the second part, I say again—I hope that this will be noticed in Gibraltar—that we shall take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard the interests and welfare of the people there.

15. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations he made to the Spanish Government on the ejection from their homes in Spain of 350 British subjects who work in Gibraltar.

Mr. M. Stewart

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the refusal by the Spanish authorities to allow foreign nationals resident in the Campo area to use their passports to cross the frontier to work in Gibraltar. Altogether 181 British subjects and 300 of their dependants were directly affected by this measure.

This matter has been taken up by Her Majesty's Embassy at Madrid with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on three occasions. The Spanish authorities have now allowed those British sub- jects who moved into Gibraltar in order to continue with their jobs, and who left their families behind in Spain, to make occasional visits to the latter.

Mr. Digby

Is it not a fact that since this Question was put down the situation has got worse and that very many Spaniards who earn their living in Gibraltar have been warned that they will lose their permits in the near future?

Mr. Stewart

That is so. We have taken steps to see that the holders of passports the validity of which is no longer accepted shall be able to obtain new documents, and we hope that that action will help in this situation.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that nobody in the House feels that Her Majesty's Government are dragging their feet but that the impression is given abroad that our reaction has not been strong enough? Will the Government take steps to make it perfectly clear that we shall stand no more nonsense?

Mr. Stewart

I think that we have already made it quite clear that there is no question of discussing the sovereignty of Gibraltar. We intend to take every step necessary to look after the Gibraltarians.

Sir P. Agnew

While profoundly regretting restrictions placed upon Her Majesty's subjects in Spain, Gibraltar or anywhere else in the world, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take note of the need of the Government to do all they can on their side to remove any possible causes of friction between Spain and Britain, and particularly to lend energetic help to the Government of Gibraltar in suppressing the very extensive and well-organised smuggling which is going on into the Spanish coast by night and which is the cause of exacerbation to the Spanish Government?

Mr. Stewart

Without accepting the implications of that question, I made clear earlier the things which we could not discuss with the Spanish Government. I said that we could not discuss under duress—while the restrictions were on—nor could we discuss sovereignty. But subject to those two conditions, if the Spanish Government feel that they have genuine grievances to discuss with us, we make it clear now, as we have done earlier, that we are perfectly prepared to talk to them.