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Gibraltar

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:21 am on 10th December 1980.

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Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Aberdeenshire East 1:21 am, 10th December 1980

I am pleased to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) in speaking on the important subject of Gibraltar. As he indicated, I had the pleasure of living in. Gibraltar for six and a half years and had the opportunity of witnessing the siege that reigned between Spain and Gibraltar.

I can confirm that the people of Gibraltar wish to ret lain British subjects. Over the years they have come to think of themselves as British citizens. In recent times there was an organisation called the Integration with Britain Party. Unfortunately, it fell by the wayside, but it was interested in having total integration with Britain and in ensuring diet Gibraltar had a common purpose with this country. That was commendable inasmuch as these people, who for many years had thought of themselves as Britons, did not want to feel that they would become Spanish.

As my hon. Friend said, under the terms of the Lisbon agreement, the Spanish Government said that they would open the bolder. They did not open the border on 3 June as they agreed That is a sad reflection on the land of agreement that one would have expected from the Spanish authorities. The Gibraltarians would have welcomed the opening of the border without restriction.

There is no question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar being removed from the Gibraltarians to Spanish soil. Gibraltar cannot be independent. When the Treaty of Utrecht was entered into, it was agreed that the only place to which Gibraltar would be removed would be Spain. The Gibraltarians have no desire that that should happen. Gibraltar is the only dependent territory that we have left, and its people are entitled to ask the British Government to support their demand to remain British. Any question of a change of mode, habitation or sovereignty should remain with them in a British context.

I conclude on the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Melton made on the nationality laws. I am not preempting a subject that will be discussed in the House later. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary must give careful consideration to his decision on the Gibraltarians. They must not be regarded as third-class citizens of the United Kingdom. They must have the right to remain United Kingdom citizens, as they have been since we took over the Rock when we defeated the Spaniards in 1703.