HC Deb 27 June 1967 vol 749 cc227-9
1. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the constitutional future of Gibraltar.

4. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to hold a Gibraltar Constitution Conference; and, in view of the votes given to the Integration with Britain party candidate at the recent Legislative Council by-election, if he will ensure that representatives of the Integration with Britain party are invited to participate in such a conference.>

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs. Judith Hart)

As I stated on 14th June [Vol. 748, c. 565], we intend to hold constitutional discussions, probably in Gibraltar, after the referendum with representatives of all shades of political opinion in Gibraltar including the Integration Party if the majority vote to retain the link with Britain. We shall then discuss any appropriate changes in the constitution which may be desired.

Mr. Wall

Would not the hon. Lady consider including in the referendum the type of relationship which the people of Gibraltar may require with this country? Does she not agree that further delay might exacerbate the situation?

Mrs. Hart

No, I do not agree. I think that it is better to take the referendum as a first step and then to follow it by the constitutional discussions.

Sir C. Mott-Radelyffe

May I ask the hon. Lady whether a new principle is being established by which a referendum is held if the results are predictable and convenient to the Government of the day but not held if the results are not convenient?

Mrs. Hart

I do not know whether the hon. Member regards that as a particularly helpful remark, but the circumstances in which the referendum is being held have been made perfectly clear.

Sir W. Teeling

As the integrationists and the present party in power in Gibraltar have rather different ideas about the future, surely there will be difficulty in the referendum unless the people are told a little in advance what the British Government intend to do afterwards?

Mrs. Hart

The hon. Member may think that to be the case, but I have no reason to suppose that any of the people of Gibraltar agree with him.

24. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what plans Her Majesty's Government have made to enable air services to Gibraltar to be continued when weather conditions at Gibraltar Airport make it impossible to conform to the restrictions imposed by Spain.

Mrs. Hart

The Governor, in consultation with the civil air line representatives, is concerting arrangements in case individual flights have to divert to Tangier due to bad weather.

Mr. Fisher

If this situation arises, and it almost certainly will, what will be the Government's policy—to submit to the Spanish restrictions or to afford military support to our civilian aircraft? Has the hon. Lady considered another proposition, that of banning Spanish aircraft into and out of British airports?

Mrs. Hart

The hon. Gentleman's Question related to weather conditions causing diversion from Gibraltar and my reply related to that, but even in normal circumstances there are some situations in which there has to be diversion from Gibraltar, and I have answered that part of the Question.

Mr. Wood

Is it not the fact that Britain has appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal in this matter? When is consideration to be given to that appeal, and does not the hon. Lady agree that the matter is very urgent?

Mrs. Rut

The question of the prohibited zone is very urgent indeed, I agree. It is perfectly correct to say that the Government are raising this matter with the I.C.A.O. The dispute will now have to follow normal I.C.A.O. procedures for dealing with disputes, and I hope that this matter may be dealt with as soon as the procedures permit.

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