HC Deb 08 December 1969 vol 793 cc9-11
4. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had recently with the Government of Spain over Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement.

5. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement on Gibraltar, following changes in the Spanish Government.

14. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what relaxations have recently appeared of the measures being taken by Spain against Gibraltar.

Mr. George Thomson

So far, there has been no lifting of the Spanish restrictions. We are, of course, in normal diplomatic contact with the Spanish Government and intend to explore through the diplomatic channel every possibility of improving the situation for Gibraltar, to the benefit of Gibraltar, Spain and this country.

Mr. Tilney

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that these restrictions are damaging to the economy of Spain as well as to that of Gibraltar, and can he say anything about his conversations with Major Pelitza, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar?

Mr. Thomson

I confirm that in our view there is a strong mutual interest in Spain as well as on the part of Gibraltar and this country to see these restrictions brought to an end. The present situation is sterile and is economically damaging on both sides of the frontier. There is a further question on the Order Paper about discussions with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar. I do not think I should anticipate that question.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that the newly appointed Spanish Foreign Minister recently has been making highly conciliatory speeches, speeches of a different order from those made by his predecessor? Does this not signify a different tone and a change in policy, and are Her Majesty's Government not proposing to take advantage of this more conciliatory situation to try to lift the restrictions afflicting Gibraltar?

Mr. Thomson

With respect, the hon. Gentleman must have prepared that supplementary question before he heard my Answer. I told the hon. Gentleman and the House that we were intending to explore every possibility of improving the situation for Gibraltar.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does not the first sentence of the Minister's original Answer lead inevitably to the depressing conclusion that Her Majesty's Government policy in this respect has failed and should be reconsidered?

Mr. Thomson

The right hon. Gentleman ought not to reach such a gloomy conclusion at this stage. Obviously the lifting of restrictions is an absolutely vital element in improving relationships, but it is very early days at the moment.

Mr. George Jeger

Will the Minister confirm that there will be no talks with any representative of the Spanish Government until they have shown their good will by lifting some of the restrictions at the Gibraltar frontier?

Mr. Thomson

What is important is to keep the interest of the people of Gibraltar in the forefront of our minds. Her Majesty's Government stand ready to talk, if holding talks seems likely to help the Gibraltarians in bringing a solution nearer. I am sure that is the right principle on which we should approach the problem.

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