HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc268-70
2. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent constitutional talks with the Government of Gibraltar.

32. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the situation in Gibraltar.

Mr. George Thomson

During the week of 6th-13th May, my noble Friend the Minister of State and I had a valuable exchange of views with the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar on the situation in Gibraltar, including the constitution. As already announced, I shall be visiting Gibraltar tomorrow to resume the talks.

Mr. Tilney

Whatever may be the ultimate situation, will the right hon. Member agree that what Gibraltarians want is to live in peace with their neighbouring Spaniards to their mutual benefit?

Mr. Thomson

I agree.

Mr. Taylor

What progress has been made in "the constitutional talks?

Mr. Thomson

We began discussions with the Chief Minister when he was here, although there were also the more urgent matters of the recent Spanish restrictions to discuss. I shall be taking the matter further during this week. My hon. Friend the Minister of State is due to go to Gibraltar on 17th June for what will really be the substantive talks on constitutional changes.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend include in the negotiations the recommendations from both sides of the House that we should give financial help to Gibraltarians, particularly to assist in encouraging people from these islands to visit Gibraltar so that the relations between the British and the Gibraltarians can be even more intimate?

Mr. Thomson

These are the very matters I wish to discuss during my visit. It is a good thing that I shall go off on my visit with the views of hon. Members fresh in my ears, but the House will understand if I ration my comments just before going there.

Sir F. Bennett

Will the substantive constitutional talks beginning in June be held in Gibraltar or in London? If the former, why are the Government departing from precedent in not holding a constitutional conference in London?

Mr. Thomson

It is proposed at present to hold the talks in Gibraltar because it is felt to be more convenient and more suitable to their success. But I am going to Gibraltar with an open mind.

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