HC Deb 23 October 1967 vol 751 cc1349-50
52. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on Anglo-Spanish relations over Gibraltar.

55. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that in the light of the Gibraltar referendum result the question of the future sovereignty of the Rock will be excluded from any further talks with Spain.

61 and 62. Mr. George Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he will now advise the United Nations that Her Majesty's Government does not propose to resume talks with Spain about Gibraltar, in view of the result of the recent referendum;

(2) what action he proposes to take to induce Spain to revert to normal relations with Gibraltar.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. William Rodgers)

When he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on 26th September, my right hon. Friend made clear our position on Gibraltar. In keeping with his remarks on that occasion, and with his conversation in New York with the Spanish Foreign Minister, he has since told the Spanish Ambassador in London that talks on Anglo-Spanish relations, including the question of Gibraltar, could begin towards the end of November between senior officials of the two Governments.

Mr. Wall

Have not such talks in the past always brought about intensification of the blockade? Now that Gibraltar has displayed her overwhelming loyalty to this country, what plans has the hon. Gentleman for requiting that loyalty and ending the Spanish blockade?

Mr. Rodgers

Of course, it is true, and we freely and gladly acknowledge, that the people of Gibraltar have made their views known. It would be a mistake, however, as I think the House would agree, to assume that everything is satisfactory from the point of view of the people of Gibraltar, who are subject to irksome restrictions. In the talks, we will try to bring about an improvement in the situation and, if we can, remove any misunderstandings which still exist between our countries.

Mr. George Jeger

Is it not time that the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary realised the uselessness of talking about Gibraltar to Spain? Is it not time that we considered retaliatory measures?

Mr. Rodgers

No. The House generally accepts, I think, that it is better to talk if there is any possibility of fruitful results.

Mr. Jeger

What possibility is there?

Mr. Rodgers

Although I fully understand the irritation and the anxieties which we have had in the House about the situation in Gibraltar, if talks will improve the circumstances of the people who are there it is absolutely right—and I hope that the House will endorse this —that the Government should be prepared to talk at official level.

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