HC Deb 15 April 1981 vol 3 cc312-3
8. Mr. McQuarrie

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the situation regarding the implementation of the Lisbon agreement, which was signed in April 1980 by Her Majesty's Government and the Spanish Government, with a view to restoring normal relations between the dependent territory of Gibraltar and Spain.

Sir Ian Gilmour

When my right hon. and noble Friend met the Spanish Foreign Minister in Brussels on 16 March, he was assured of the Spanish Government's continuing commitment to the agreement of 10 April 1980 which provided for the restoration of direct communications between Gibraltar and Spain and the opening of negotiations.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am grateful for that reply, but obviously as far as the Spaniards are concerned it is the old story of "Mañana, mañana". The agreement was signed on 10 April last year. Does my right hon. Friend consider that unless we can have a positive timetable for the implementaion of the agreement we should tell the Spaniards that we consider that the agreement is no longer viable?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree that there has been a considerable element of mañana about the agreement, but we are trying to emphasise to the Spanish Government the need to implement the agreement, because their failure to do so has an adverse effect in Gibraltar. I believe that our approach of pressing for the agreement to be brought into effect is better than my hon. Friend's suggestion that we should seek to abrogate it.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. Since Welsh is not allowed in the House, I think that "mañana" must go the way of Welsh.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether, apart from the pleasantries that he exchanged with the Spanish ambassador, he asked directly what conceivable reason there can be for democratic Spain sustaining restrictions introduced by the previous dictatorship and not doing anything about them for a whole year?

Sir Ian Gilmour

The meeting was with the Spanish Foreign Minister. I agree that it was a pity, as, no doubt, the Spanish Government would agree, that the restrictions were not abolished when Spain became a democracy. They should be long gone. I hve no wish to defend the continuation of the restrictions. Like everybody else in the Government, I have been pressing for their removal for the past one-and-a-half years and I am still hopeful that that will happen.

Mr. Wall

Much as we should like to see Spain join the EEC and NATO, would either course be possible unless the blockade of Gibraltar is lifted? Can my right hon. Friend confirm that under the legislation before the House Gibraltarians will continue to enjoy the right of entry into this country?

Sir Ian Gilmore

On the second part of my hon. Friend's question, he knows that a Bill is before the House and that is primarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. My hon. Friend will be aware that I and others have frequently emphasised that the idea of two members of the EEC having a frontier closed between them is unthinkable.