Gibraltar

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 1979.

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Photo of Mr William Van Straubenzee Mr William Van Straubenzee , Wokingham 12:00 am, 21st March 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans any further talks with the Spanish Government as to the future of Gibraltar.

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

I look forward to the resumption of talks once the new Spanish Government have taken office.

Photo of Mr William Van Straubenzee Mr William Van Straubenzee , Wokingham

Meanwhile, will the Foreign Secretary make perfectly clear that, no matter how attractive the prospect of the addition of Spain to the European Community may be, Her Majesty's Government will take no steps which override the majority wishes of the loyal people of Gibraltar?

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

I have always made that clear in my discussions with the Spanish Foreign Minister. In fairness, tribute must be paid to him that he has been ready to accede that the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should accompany me at all these discussions. We have been making it very clear to the Gibraltarian people that nothing will be done behind their backs.

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

I think that many Gibraltarians are prepared to see discussions take place to change the present position, under which they are prevented from communicating and travelling. They are not prepared to bargain this away, but if a dialogue—not negotiations—and discussions can help to lift those sanctions and to lift those measures, that is in the interests of Gibraltar. It is also in the interests of Gibraltar that these difficulties and differences of opinion with its closest neighbour should be resolved, so there is no harm whatever in discussing these issues. There is potentially great benefit.

Photo of Mr Raphael Tuck Mr Raphael Tuck , Watford

Has no pressure at all been put on the Spanish Government to modify their attitude towards Gibraltar? Could not a carrot—and a stick, perhaps—be used in regard to Spain's admission to the EEC?

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

I do not think that a direct linkage would be helpful, but it is a perfectly known fact that the other member States expect us to have resolved our problems with Spain over Gibraltar before Spanish entry. It is in that spirit that the Spanish and British Governments are approaching these discussions.