HC Deb 07 December 1977 vol 940 cc1365-6
3. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on his negotiations in Strasbourg on 24th November with the Spanish Foreign Minister on the future of Gibraltar.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)

My discussions on Gibraltar with the Spanish Foreign Minister. Sr. Oreja, in which the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Sir Joshua Hassan, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Gibraltar House of Assembly, Mr. Maurice Xiberras, took part, were held in a friendly, co-operative and constructive atmosphere. We have agreed to hold a further such meeting in the new year.

Mr. van Straubenzee

During the discussions—as the right hon. Gentleman says, the Spanish Foreign Minister was strengthened by the presence of Sir Joshua Hassan and Mr. Maurice Xiberras—was the right hon. Gentleman able to convey to the Spanish Foreign Minister the fact that far from being a sign of weakness, especially in the new atmosphere in Spain. the lifting of frontier restrictions and restrictions against British subjects would be a sign of strength and would do more than anything to make meaningful negotiations possible?

Dr. Owen

The Spanish Government are under no illusion about the Government's position on this matter, in that if they were to show a gesture of reconciliation and friendship by lifting restrictions I believe that that would encourage good relations between the Gibraltarians and the Spanish people.

Mr. MacFarquhar

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that his stand on behalf of the Gibraltarians will be as firm and on the same principles as the stand declared on behalf of the people of the Falkland Islands?

Dr. Owen

Yes. I think the problems are different, and they need to be seen as such. I believe that the British Government's attitude in Gibraltar is that we will agree to anything that the Gibraltarians agree to, and we have explained that in many other parts of the world. We are trying to encourage a dialogue to eradicate some of the misunderstandings and suspicions that have existed for so many years.

Mr. Kershaw

Will the Foreign Secretary bear in mind in any negotiations the desirability of using Gibraltar for a BBC radio transmitter?

Dr. Owen

I shall certainly consider that.

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