HC Deb 28 November 1979 vol 974 cc1269-71
6. Mr. Russsell Johnston

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the future of Gibraltar.

Sir Ian Gilmour

Following the meeting in New York on 24 September between my right hon. and noble Friend and the Spanish Foreign Minister, we are continuing to seek a way of resolving the present differences with Spain over Gibraltar. It must be consistent with the British pledge to respect the wishes of the people of Gibraltar with regard to their future. The maintenance of restrictions by Spain makes the search for a mutually acceptable solution more difficult; their removal would make progress easier.

Mr. Johnston

Will the Lord Privy Seal say how he sees the future democratic representation of Gibraltar, perhaps on the French model? Has it been considered in regard to the House? How does he see it in Europe?

What possible justification can democratic Spain have for maintaining the border restrictions introduced by the dictatorial regime which has been replaced?

Sir I. Gilmour

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, we do not have any plans to have Gibraltar represented in the House. I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman said in the second part of his question. There seems to be no justification for the continuance of the restrictions.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an unequivocal assurance that in no circumstances, whether for alliance, convenience or any other consideration, will he disregard the inalienable right of people to self-determination?

Sir I. Gilmour

That assurance was fully contained in the answer to the original question.

Mr. McQuarrie

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, having spent from 1969 to 1975 under siege in Gibraltar, I know more about the problem than any other hon. Member?

Mr. Russell Kerr

They are missing the hon. Gentleman in Gibraltar.

Mr. McQuarrie

I thank the hon. Gentleman. Have we not reached the time when the Government should, as a matter of urgency, consider holding talks with Spain? We keep hearing of talks about talks, but we never get to the stage of having talks that will do something towards removing the dreadful situation of the 200 yards and the barrier gate separating the Gibraltarians from their Spanish friends in La Linea, and the Spaniards in the Campo area from their relatives and friends in Gibraltar.

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree that my hon. Friend probably knows more than any other hon. Member about the problem and that it is high time that progress was made. My hon. Friend will understand that we have had other matters on our mind, but we are hoping that we shall be able to make progress before long.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it sensible to point out to the Spanish that, if they wish to enter the EEC, one of the essential planks must be the freedom of movement of workers both ways and that it will not be acceptable for them to regard Gibraltar as not being part of that sort of arrangement?

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree with the hon. Lady. She may be aware that when I was in Gibraltar I said that it was unthinkable that two parts of the Community could subsist with a frontier closed between them.

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