Oral Answers to Questions — Spain

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th June 1965.

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Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover 12:00 am, 29th June 1965

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made in the furtherance of the aims of Her Majesty's Government's policy in Spain.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

There has been no change in the Spanish position with regard to Gibraltar and no indication of any willingness on their part to make it possible for us to hold talks with them.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the time has come to make further representations? Would my right hon. Friend also agree that when, a year ago, he decided to oppose the frigate deal, it was perfectly clear, even at that time, that the Spanish Government intended to bring pressure to bear upon Gibraltar?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We are having discussions and we make representations to the Spanish Government whenever it is relevant to do so. But it is a fact that when this argument arose last year over Spanish frigates, I warned the present Leader of the Opposition that it was already clear that there was going to be a squeeze on Gibraltar by the Spanish Government. Yet at that time the right hon. Gentleman, perhaps for other reasons, wanted to do the frigate deal.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, after eight months of complete inaction on behalf of Gibraltar, what proposals the Government have in mind in order to implement their undertaking, given in Command 2632, to defend and sustain the interests of the people of Gibraltar?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The interests of the people of Gibraltar are being defended and sustained. What I have said, and I hope the House agrees, is that we do not consider that a situation has been reached where we should start to take it out on Spain with any kind of direct attack on Spain. I hope the whole House agrees with that. The hon. Gentleman has a lot to explain, since this started a year ago. For reasons we all appreciate, his own Government were falling over themselves to supply frigates to Spain at that time.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that, of course, hon. Members on both sides of the House agree that we must defend our rights in Gibraltar and the rights of the people who live there? Does he also accept that it is very foolish, in the industrial and economic situation in which Britain is, to import political considerations into our commercial policy and to deny this country orders which it would otherwise have?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

What I do accept is that the right hon. Gentleman, being perfectly well aware of what the reaction of the Spanish Government was to the Gibraltar situation last year, was quite wrong, for the sake of what he thought would be a popular vote catching-measure, to offer—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Does not my right hon. Friend recall that for many years before the Labour Government came in successive Conservative Governments imported political prejudice into commercial policy between this country and the Soviet Union?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think some right hon. Gentlemen opposite served a very long apprenticeship in Spanish matters.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Does not the Prime Minister realise that his right hon. Friend, for once, was completely inaccurate, and that the only impediments to trade with Russia which were put on were with the agreement of our N.A.T.O. allies?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I thought my right hon. Friend was referring to prejudice before the war. I was not aware that the Arcos raid was done with our N.A.T.O. allies.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Mr. Biggs-Davison. [Interruption.] Order. It is even difficult for the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) to know that he has been called.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Since the Prime Minister claims that he anticipated the present trouble over Gibraltar, was his worry over these frigates that they would be used to form a Spanish armada to capture Gibraltar? Secondly, may I ask him whether it is not the case that, as part of the support given by European countries to sterling recently, he has accepted financial aid from Spain for that purpose?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

So far as the warnings a year ago are concerned—the exchange of courtesy which the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition and I had at that time—I specifically in one statement said that Spain would step up the pressure on Gibraltar and that this was a reason for not sending the frigates. We made clear a year ago, and we have made clear at all times since, that, while we want to see the development of peaceful trade and financial relations with Spain, this is a very different thing from providing them with arms, particularly when there is this trouble about Gibraltar.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

Since the Question refers to Spain and not the Spanish Government, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he would amplify his last answer and make clear that this country is ready to give every support to the democratic forces in Spain which are hoping one day to become the Government?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think that this raises a very much wider question because the Question relates to Gibraltar and does not refer to the democratic forces in Spain.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

On a point of order. The Question does not mention Gibraltar at all. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would apply his mind to the Question.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

That does not raise a point of order. What is said appears in print on the Order Paper.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

In answer to my right hon. Friend's supplementary question, the position has been made clear by us, and I thought by hon. Members on both sides of the House, that we look forward to the fullest flowering of democracy in all our European partners at the earliest possible moment, east and west of the Iron Curtain.