HC Deb 30 January 1974 vol 868 cc429-30
13. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has made any arrangements for a further meeting with the Spanish Foreign Secretary to discuss the future of Gibraltar.

Mr. Amery

As I have recently told the House, there are no current plans for a further meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister.—[Vol. 864, c. 418.]

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that since his right hon. Friend's last meeting with the Spanish Foreign Secretary a number of Spaniards have received savage prison sentences for trying to organise a trade union there and, according to many neutral observers, without any semblance of a fair trial? Does the Minister think that this is the appropriate time to discuss the future of Gibraltar and handing it over to this Fascist tyranny, bearing in mind that Gibraltar already enjoys the benefits of free trade unionism?

Mr. Amery

As I have explained, there are no current plans for a further meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister, and the people of Gibraltar, including trade unionists, are very conscious of the advantages which they enjoy compared with those not enjoyed by people on the other side of the border.

Sir John Hall

If and when a further meeting takes place, will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of acknowledging Spanish sovereignty of the Rock in return for taking the Rock back on a 999-year lease, with appropriate safeguards for the Gibraltarian population?

Mr. Freud

It will never stay empty that long.

Mr. Amery

No, Sir. I think experience has shown that leases with a time scale on them are subject to compression, and in any case we have made it perfectly clear that we would not countenance any transference of sovereignty unless and until the people of Gibraltar expressed a democratic wish for such a transfer.

Mr. Wall

While welcoming my right hon. Friend's reply, may I ask him whether he will assure the House that, when there are talks with the Spanish Government, the Government in Gibraltar will always be kept informed both before and after those talks?

Mr. Amery

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Peter Archer

Will the right hon. Gentleman seize an opportunity to make it abundantly clear to the Spanish Government that, as long as they persist in their present attitude towards human rights, Spain can hardly expect to be received into any international association designed to promote or protect human rights?

Mr. Amery

I hope that the Spanish Government will take note of the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks.

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