Gibraltar Dockyard

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1983.

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Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone 12:00 am, 28th June 1983

asked the Prime Minister what steps she intends to sustain the economy of Gibraltar following the closure of the Gibraltar dockyard on 31 December 1983.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

If a decision is taken to establish a commercial dockyard in Gibraltar, we would be prepared to transfer land and assets to the Gibraltar Government free of charge, to provide funds to cover re-equipment and certain other initial costs. We also make substantial contributions to Gibraltar's development programme.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone

Does the Prime Minister agree that the commitment that we made to the people of Gibraltar could be a big failure? Will she take it upon herself to consult all the interested parties in Gibraltar about the viability of the economy after the closure of the dockyard? Will she consider stopping the closure of the dockyard until those discussions have taken place?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

No, Sir. The decision was taken. The hon. Gentleman will remember that we also had to take decisions about the closure of Chatham and the reduction of Portsmouth naval dockyard. We have tried to make extensive arrangements for there to be a commercial dockyard in Gibraltar after the closure of the naval dockyard, with the financial arrangements that I mentioned to the hon. Gentleman. The Chief Minister is coming over this week. Both my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and I will see him to discuss those matters.

Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Banff and Buchan

When the Prime Minister and her right hon. Friends meet Gibraltar's Chief Minister, will she consider the comments that were made by the NATO commander on the failure of the British Government to ensure the security of the Gibraltar straits by installing guns, missiles and other armaments in that dependent territory?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Yes. During the 1981 defence review it became clear that the Royal Navy's general requirement for dockyard support would decrease in the future. Decisions were then taken about the future of that dockyard. In view of the decisions that have already been taken, there is no question of going back on the decision to close that dockyard.