HC Deb 20 February 1985 vol 73 cc1021-2
7. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Anglo-Spanish relations following the opening of the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

Mr. Renton

I refer my hon. Friend to the statement my right hon. and learned Friend made in the House on 6 February. We, and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, are fully satisfied that the results of the opening of the border and the meeting in Geneva with the Spanish Foreign Minister are good for Gibraltar. They open the way to even closer relations between the United Kingdom and Spain.

Mr. Bruinvels

Does my hon. Friend agree that the arrangements made between my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and Senor Moran have greatly improved the prospects for the future of Gibraltarians? Does he agree that they encourage and maintain the base, preserve the heritage and, more important, bring about a tremendous increase in the tourist boom?

Mr. Renton

Yes, Sir. I support what my hon. Friend said. I understand that there is to be a conference next week entitled "Save Gibraltar's Heritage", which will be opened by an address from the Duke of Gloucester. The tourist industry in Gibraltar is doing extremely well. There have been 108 coaches there since the frontier was opened, and all the 210 pubs on the rock are said to be doing a thriving business.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

In view of the increase in the number of tourists to Gibraltar and Spain, will the Minister have a word with the Spanish authorities about improving safety at Spanish airports? There is worry about some airports, especially about landing arrangements. It is about time that special steps were taken and representations made, because large numbers of British people go there.

Mr. Renton

I take the right hon. Gentleman's point. I was in Spain 10 days ago discussing with, the Interior Minister the safety arrangements in the tourist resorts and so on for the 6 million British tourists who go to Spain on holiday. I shall certainly bear in mind the hon. Gentleman's point about the safety of landing arrangements at Spanish airports.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

May we now give up discussion of sovereignty in any future talks, and get on with practical co-operation, on which an excellent start has been made?

Mr. Renton

My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear in his statement to the House what was said about sovereignty, namely, that Senor Moran outlined the Spanish position, and informally suggested some proposals about possible ways in which Spain would wish to try to recover the sovereignty of Gibraltar, and that those proposals are now likely to be presented through diplomatic channels. My right hon. and learned Friend made it clear that he would not comment on any ideas until they were formally put forward, and also underlined our commitment to respect the wishes of the people of Gibraltar as set out in the preamble to the 1969 constitution.

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