HC Deb 03 August 1976 vol 916 cc726-7W
Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communication he has had with the Government of Gibraltar since the visit to London on 25th and 26th June of the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Hattersley

After the talks the British Government set out their views on the proposals of Gibraltar in a memorandum dated 26th June, copies of which are in the Library of the House. The substance of these views was that proposals which implied that there should be a new form of integration with Britain were neither practicable nor desirable in the interests of Gibraltar. The position of the people of Gibraltar is safeguarded both constitutionally and economically by the Gibraltar Constitution Order 1969 and by Her Majesty's Government's existing undertakings. We have since confirmed in a message through the Governor to the Chief Minister that our concern is to avoid innovations which might result in prolongation of the frontier restrictions imposed by Spain.

My right hon. Friend has this week replied to a letter from the Gibraltar Trades Council requesting discussions on the future of Gibraltar before the General Election which is due there shortly. He has reminded it that although Her Majesty's Government must retain ultimate responsibility on issues of constitutional change, we remain ready to discuss with elected representatives any proposals which have general support. He added that what is now required is a period of calm in Gibraltar during which the issues of interest and concern to the people can be discussed and fully debated in a quiet and reasonable way, and the election can be held.