Gibraltar

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd December 2013.

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Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Conservative, Colne Valley 11:30 am, 3rd December 2013

What recent reports he has received on the situation in Gibraltar.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

We remain very concerned by delays at Gibraltar’s border with Spain and are pressing the Spanish authorities to act on the European Commission’s recommendations to them. We continue to work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to uphold the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the rights of the people of Gibraltar, including by challenging unlawful Spanish incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters.

Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Conservative, Colne Valley

Having spent a short period of my Royal Air Force service in Gibraltar, I am aware of the importance of having a workable border crossing. Will my right hon. Friend urge the Commission to keep its promise to make it easier for traffic to cross the Gibraltar border and follow up this matter with Spain so that the people of Gibraltar can enjoy the EU rights that Spain owes them?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. We are indeed continuing to press the Spanish authorities to implement what the Commission has recommended they do, including adding to the number of traffic lanes so that cars can get through more smoothly and looking at how to risk-profile travellers crossing the border so that those who may be smugglers or other criminals can be properly identified and ordinary citizens not inconvenienced.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

May I urge the Minister to use all his influence to temper the language that is being used in this dispute? There undoubtedly is a dispute, but the Spanish are great allies of ours: they are fellow members of the European Union and many British people live in Spain. Can we just lower the temperature and stop throwing brickbats at each other?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

I would be only too pleased if we could lower the temperature. It is not just a matter of lowering the temperature in verbal exchanges but of expecting our NATO allies in Spain to desist from the unlawful incursions into British Gibraltar waters that have been all too common.