HC Deb 13 October 1969 vol 788 cc9-12
2. Mr. Wall

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

8. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the effect since August of the Spanish measures against Gibraltar.

15. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is now the policy in respect of Spanish action against Gibraltar; and what action he now proposes to take to curtail it.

Mr. M. Stewart

All steps immediately necessary to counter the Spanish restrictions in June were successfully taken. Longer term measures are under urgent consideration and the authorities in Gibraltar are revising the development plan for Gibraltar. Following the visit of my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State last month, further talks are to be held here later this year.

Our policy is based on our resolve to safeguard the freedoms and human rights of the Gibraltarians. As long as Spanish policy is one of intimidation and harassment, we shall take all necessary steps to frustrate that policy and to see the Gibraltarians through the difficulties they face.

Mr. Wall

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that we will not tolerate the continued harassment of our fellow citizens in Gibraltar? In particular, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that if Spain introduces an air and sea blockade of Gibraltar there will be an immediate retaliation against Spanish ships and aircraft?

Mr. Stewart

I know the hon. Gentleman will realise that that is, and I trust always will be, a hypothetical question. If action of that kind were taken it would very seriously alter our relations with Spain.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate how widespread is the support for the very firm tone of his answer to the original Question. Have the Government been able to make any practical arrangements for alternate methods of communication following the cutting of telephone links since last the House met?

Mr. Stewart

I cannot at present give the hon. Gentleman an affirmative reply to that question. This action of cutting off the telephone links with Spain was a mean and malicious act operating mainly on people's personal and family connections. It does not at all affect the firm capacity of Gibraltar, with our help, to maintain itself.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is it not clear that the Government's policy of simply turning the other cheek to each successive act of Spanish aggression is not working? If Spain insists on reviving ancient historical claims, might it not be a good idea to remind the Spanish Government that British sovereignty over the Balearics is 70 years more recent than Spain's over Gibraltar?

Mr. Stewart

The right hon. Gentleman has an interesting point, but whether it would help in dealing with the matter I am far from sure. I do not accept the view that we have been engaged in turning the other cheek. I have avoided proposals for retaliation that would do no good and would not help the Gibraltarians. Our view is that we shall take whatever steps are necesary to make it possible for Gilbraltar to sustain herself.

Mr. George Jeger

I welcome my right hon. Friend's forthright statement about Spain and Gibraltar, but will he bear in mind that the maintenance of freedom and human rights, however welcome they are, must be accompanied by steps in the economic direction? What does my right hon. Friend propose to do to sustain the economy of Gibraltar?

Mr. Stewart

I accept that. My hon. Friend may have noticed that in my reply I said that the authorities in Gibraltar were actively revising their development plan. When, which will not be very long, we hear their proposals on that, we shall be as helpful as we possibly can.

10. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further exchanges have taken place with the Spanish Government regarding Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. M. Stewart

We are in normal diplomatic contact with the Spanish Government both in London and Madrid.

Mr. Molloy

The information which my right hon. Friend has just given is not very helpful. But I take it, from earlier answers, that some efforts are being made to arrive at a conclusion. Does he agree that it falls ill for hon. Members opposite to criticise the Government for not taking enough elective action against a Fascist Government to which they helped to supply arms? Does he also agree, in the context of Gibraltar, that this Government must not, like the Tory Opposition, have two faces: one for the Gibraltar situation and another for Rhodesia?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions must be reasonably brief.

24. Mr. George Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the political, economic and territorial integration of Gibraltar with Great Britain in view of the result of the recent election there.

Mr. M. Stewart

Her Majesty's Government's position on the integration of Gibraltar with Great Britain remains as stated in the communiqué issued in Gibraltar at the conclusion of the constitutional talks in July 1968, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Jeger

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that in the recent elections both main parties were able to quote in support of their policies statements which had been made by Ministers of Her Majesty's Government? Would not it be better if a clear statement were made now about the Government's attitude towards integration in the near or immediate future?

Mr. Stewart

In the statement to which I referred in my Answer Her Majesty's Government made it clear that they could not contemplate this in the foreseeable future.

28. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the cost to Great Britain and Gibraltar, respectively, of the measures taken by Spain against Gibraltar.

Mr. Michael Stewart

It will be some time before the full effects of the latest Spanish restrictions can be assessed, and for this reason it is still too early to attempt an estimate of the cost to the Governmens of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.

Mr. Tilney

Would Her Majesty's Government tell the Government of Spain that our patience is not inexhaustible? Have Her Majesty's Government considered some counter-measures, such as the temporary freezing of remittances to Spain from this country?

Mr. Stewart

I remind the hon. Gentleman of what I said about retaliation; that one must be satisfied that it would serve some useful purpose and help the people of Gibraltar.

Forward to