§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the effect of the recent Spanish decree purporting to extend Spanish territorial waters from six to 12 miles on access to Gibraltar.
§ Mr. Whitlock
As my right hon. and noble Friend said in another place on 23rd January, the full implications of the decree published by the Spanish Government on 20th January are still being studied. It extends from six to 12 miles the zone in which the Spanish authorities exercise fiscal control for customs purposes and for the repression of smuggling. The decree also states, as did a Spanish law of 1967 on fishing limits, that the waters in bays where the opening does not exceed 24 miles at low water will be regarded as internal waters.
It is not clear whether the decree is aimed at Gibraltar; and so far there has been no case, under the decree I have just mentioned, of interference with shipping calling at Gibraltar. But there can be no doubt that it could not affect our existing rights in respect of Gibraltar.