HC Deb 09 March 1983 vol 38 cc821-2
1. Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with the Spanish Government since 9 February about the implementation of the Lisbon agreement; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Francis Pym)

As envisaged when I agreed with the Spanish Foreign Minister last December that we should aim to implement the Lisbon agreement this spring, there have been further contacts at official level with the Spanish Government. The Spanish Foreign Minister is coming to London for talks on 16 and 17 March as part of his introductory visits to western European capitals, and in the course of our general discussions I expect that the Lisbon agreement will be raised again. It remains my wish that that agreement should be implemented in the spring.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

I thank the Foreign Secretary for that reply and I welcome the visit to this country of the Spanish Foreign Minister. Whenever the agreement is implemented, will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that Gibraltar's future is dependent upon its being economically viable? Will he renew his efforts within his Department, in co-operation with the Overseas Development Administration and the Ministry of Defence, to ensure that a proper development plan for the colony is worked out with the Government of Gibraltar?

Mr. Pym

Yes, I have that in mind. The implementation of the Lisbon agreement will be of economic benefit to Gibraltar. That is one reason why I trust that it will be implemented. As the hon. Gentleman knows, £13 million has been set aside by the ODA as a contribution towards Gibraltar's 1981 to 1986 development programme. The Government have the economic future of Gibraltar in mind.

Mr. McQuarrie

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Lisbon agreement was signed on 10 April 1980. Since then there have been numerous promises from the Spanish Government that the agreement will be implemented without fail. My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Spanish Government opened one gate as a passage for Spanish and Gibraltarian nationals but not for tourists. When he meets Senor Moran in this country in March, will he discuss with him the full implementation of the Lisbon agreement? That involves the opening of the border, freedom of air space and the opening of the Algeciras-Gibraltar ferry.

Mr. Pym

I have already discussed this matter with the Spanish Foreign Minister. I have no doubt that in the course of his visit next week this subject will be raised again. The implementation of the agreement will be to everyone's advantage. The British Government have regretted that it has been postponed more than once and it is hoped that it can be implemented in the coming spring or early summer.

Mr. George Robertson

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the principal lessons of the lead-up to the Falklands war was the danger involved in negotiating in a fog without any clear idea of what the Government were looking for as an outcome? As both parties to the Lisbon agreement are pursuing different objectives regarding sovereignty, is there not a danger that we might be negotiating in a vacuum similar to that which led to the trouble that created the Falklands conflict?

Mr. Pym

I do not imagine that there will be the difficulty that the hon. Gentleman suggests. The Lisbon agreement was signed by both parties and is of mutual benefit. The position of each party is well known and understood to the other. The British Government are aware of the views of the Spanish Government on Gibraltar. The Government are aware of their responsibilities to the people of Gibraltar and we shall certainly stand by them.

Mr. George Cunningham

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Traffic arrangements are in force in Parliament square which are causing hon. Members delay in getting from one side to the other. In my case, it was 10 minutes. That was at the beginning of the sitting of the House. The delay is said to be due to a lobby of the House this afternoon by the AUT.

May I invite you, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the resolution that the House passes at the beginning of each session, to give instructions to the Serjeant at Arms to instruct the police that preference must be given to getting hon. Members into the House. The lobby must not have precedence in Parliament square.

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I shall ensure that a message goes out saying that, as far as possible, hon. Members must not be impeded on their way to the House.

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