HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 cc737-8
18. Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley)

If he will make a statement on the talks between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar. [62122]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw)

As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe said in Westminster Hall on 18 June, discussions between the UK and Spain about Gibraltar are continuing, but real difficulties remain to be resolved. I shall be meeting the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique in London for informal discussions tomorrow, 26 June. We intend to hold a further ministerial meeting of the Brussels process before the summer break, if at all possible. Our aim remains an agreement that we can commend to the people of Gibraltar.

Mr. Hoyle

I welcome that statement from my right hon. Friend. Is it true that there will be a meeting this week between my right hon. Friend and Spanish officials, and will those matters be discussed? Can we ensure that when the talks end, that is really the end and that the people of Gibraltar can get on with their lives and the sword of uncertainty hanging over Gibraltar will be taken away once and for all?

Mr. Straw

If only it were possible to enable the people of Gibraltar—in my hon. Friend's words—to "get on with their lives" simply by bringing those talks to an end; would that it were that straightforward. The reason that the previous Conservative Government decided in 1984 to enter the negotiations—the Brussels process—which included in their terms of reference discussions about sovereignty, was to try to secure a better future between Gibraltar and its neighbour, Spain. Yes, I have made it clear that we stand by the people of Gibraltar; but am I able to secure significant improvements in the daily lives of the people of Gibraltar without securing an agreement? That remains very difficult.

Mr. Speaker

We now go back to Question 14. Before I call the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), I remind the House that it is a question, not a statement.

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