HC Deb 03 April 1996 vol 275 cc383-4
13. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations between Spain and Gibraltar. [22623]

Mr. David Davis

We regret that relations continue to be marred by unjustifiable delays at the frontier caused by the Spanish authorities.

Mr. Banks

I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he give a clear guarantee that the future of Gibraltar will not be sacrificed in the wider interests of Anglo-Spanish relations within European Union political dealing? Will the Minister make a statement on the working or the non-working of the 1987 Anglo-Spanish airport agreement, which most Gibraltarian politicians think is inoperable? Indeed, I believe that the House of Assembly asked for the termination of that agreement in early February.

Mr. Davis

None of the interests of Gibraltar will be sacrificed in any of our negotiations. Indeed, almost on a week-to-week basis we have to deal with Spanish stances on Gibraltar. Only recently, I intervened to prevent a directive that would have been prejudicial in its effect on Gibraltar. In view of the strong local feeling about the airport agreement, we have made it clear that we will not impose it without the agreement of the people and Government of Gibraltar. That is a clear undertaking and it will last.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I welcome the Minister's last statement, but does he agree that the problem began earlier—even when Spain was seeking access to the European Union? If Spain had abided by the treaty of Rome, it would have been recognising the boundaries. Another problem is arising with Cyprus, as it did with Ireland entering the European Community and not recognising the boundaries of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Davis

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, which is why I adopted the stance that I did with a number of directives—and why one directive did not make it through the Council recently. I insist that we recognise the border as it stands, and the legitimacy of our sovereignty in Gibraltar.