HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1286-8
18. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will give details of the revised arrangements for the admission of citizens of Gibraltar to the United Kingdom in the context of the provisions of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968.

Mr. Whitlock

My right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary said in Gibraltar on 23rd May that he was satisfied that within the present number of vouchers available for the whole Commonwealth under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, all the Gibraltarians who wanted to come to Britain would be able to do so. This is still the position. No Gibraltar voucher applications are outstanding and we are co-operating with the Gibraltar Government to ensure that all applications are processed with the minimum delay.

Mr. Fisher

If Gibraltarians are now to be freely admitted, as seems to be the case—and I am absolutely delighted that this is so—does not this make it clear, as some of us claimed at the time, that the Kenyan-Asian Bill was a piece of colour legislation, pure and simple?

Mr. Whitlock

Not at all. One has to apply the Bill in the circumstances in which it applied in Kenya and not as it applied in Gibraltar.

Mr. Braine

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that, in the same speech, the Commonwealth Secretary promised that he would set up an expert body to look into labour questions, employment opportunities and so forth in Gibraltar? That was nearly six weeks ago. Has any progress been made in the setting up of that body?

Mr. Whitlock

Progress is being made, but this is an entirely different question.

19. Mr. Colin Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made concerning talks over the constitutional future of Gibraltar.

Mr. George Thomson

We are planning for the constitutional talks to open in Gibraltar under the Chairmanship of my noble Friend the Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs on 16th July.

Mr. Jackson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer. Can he give the House an assurance that these talks will be concerned not only with internal government within Gibraltar, but with the wider constitutional links with Britain which would, for example, include the question of Channel Island status?

Mr. Thomson

As the hon. Gentleman knows, Her Majesty's Government's attitude towards Channel Island status has been that this would present formidable difficulties for both Britain and Gibraltar, but I have repeatedly said that these talks will enable any ideas about future links to be put forward and discussed.

Mr. Tilney

Does not the Secretary of State agree that, as long as Gibraltarians can come into this country like Channel Islanders, that will more or less satisfy them?

Mr. Thomson

That is the importance which should be attached to the question of the right of access for Gibraltarians about which the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) made such agreeable noises a few moments ago.

Mr. Albert Roberts

Is there any possibility of the Government's complying with the United Nations resolution, or is it just a case of accepting the rulings of the United Nations, as is the case with so many other countries, only when it suits our purpose?

Mr. Thomson

No, Sir. I had hoped that I had made that position absolutely clear to my hon. Friend in our recent debate. The United Nations resolution was non-mandatory; it was a recommendation. We voted against it to make it absolutely clear that we thought that it was a resolution which discredited the United Nations.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Have the difficulties about Channel Island status, which the Government see, been formulated? Would the right hon. Gentleman present, by way of a White Paper or otherwise, the exact considerations, constitutional and otherwise, which he has in mind, so that those who may be disposed to take another view can reflect upon them and answer them if need be?

Mr. Thomson

I should not like to formulate them at this stage on the eve of the visit of my noble Friend Lord Shepherd to Gibraltar. The first thing to do is to allow the talks to begin.