§ Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)
I have been lucky enough to win two draws in the ballot for Adjournment debates within five days. That is fairly good going and I pray that my luck holds until Saturday, when the next draw for the national lottery takes place.
I shall use this occasion to raise the topical and important subject of Gibraltar. I do so first as chairman of the British-Gibraltar all-party group, but I also declare an interest because one of my daughters is married to a Gibraltarian who runs an extremely successful business on the Rock.
I am pleased to see the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad), on the Front Bench to reply to this debate. I appreciate the fact that the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Boothferry (Mr. Davis), who would normally reply, is engaged in talks with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr. Javier Solana, at this very moment. I appreciate my right hon. Friend's coming here instead.
This matter is topical not only because of the talks taking place in the Foreign Office this morning but because, once again, Spain is laying siege to Gibraltar. Throughout its history, Gibraltar has resisted some 19 sieges and I am sure that it will have no difficulty resisting this one, provided that it gets the help that it deserves from the United Kingdom. Gibraltar has an important place in the history of this country. As BBC radio reminded us at the weekend, it is one of the last remaining red splodges on the map of the world and, as such, it is important that we stand by it. Although it now has little strategic value in terms of defence, we must not forget the role that it played in two world wars and as a back-up staging post in the Falklands war. I do not know where we would have been without it during the Falklands war or those two world wars, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Gibraltar which will never be forgotten by this country. Britain must honour that.
§ Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)
People in Northern Ireland have an empathy with the people of Gibraltar. The hon. Gentleman will know that Gibraltarians stayed in Northern Ireland during the war. In Gibraltar today, among other things, there is the Ballymena block. So we trust that the Foreign Office will represent Gibraltarians as British people rather than Spanish mandarins.
§ Mr. Colvin
That was a useful intervention and I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman's part of the United Kingdom stands as solidly, if not more solidly, with the people of Gibraltar as those of us on this side of the Irish sea.
Although Gibraltar's strategic value in terms of defence may have diminished, Gibraltar still has an important place in our political lives. It is essential that we continue to sustain and support it, particularly in its present difficulties with Spain. It is money which the United Kingdom taxpayer must be prepared to pay.
The importance of Gibraltar to Britain may be diminishing, but that does not mean to say that there is not still a strong body of opinion in this House and in the upper House that supports the Rock, and if things ever went wrong on Gibraltar, an awful lot of flak would fly. 1528 I have been encouraged, too, by the media response to Gibraltar's current difficulties, and it is interesting to note how many people have written to me, knowing my position and my interest in Gibraltar.
The frontier delays result from the Spanish Government's increasing harassment of people, during the past five weeks, at the land border. They have introduced a secondary control immediately after the usual passport and customs control. There have been delays of up to eight hours, into and out of Gibraltar, for those in vehicles, and delays of four hours for people travelling on foot. About 2,000 Spanish people walk in and out of Gibraltar every day.
This second control, some 10 m past the frontier line, has also resulted in drivers being fined for not carrying such items as surgical gloves in their first aid kits or a spare set of spectacles for those who wear glasses. Women have been strip-searched.
These measures have been justified by the Spanish authorities as necessary to curtail smuggling of cigarettes and drugs, and to prevent money laundering. Smuggling certainly takes place, as it does at any frontier. A packet of 20 cigarettes costs 60p in Gibraltar, but it sells in Spain for £1.20, so it is hardly surprising that smuggling goes on. It works out that 1.5 billion cigarettes are brought in and sold, which makes 50,000 per head of the Gibraltar population. There must be awful lot of smoke in Gibraltar—or clearly the cigarettes are going somewhere else.
I suspect that Spain's complaint relates to the smuggling of tobacco from Gibraltar and to the trafficking in cannabis from Morocco: both by sea. It is illogical that drugs should be transported from Morocco to Gibraltar and thence to Spain; nor is there any evidence that they are. If anything, it has been the infiltration of drugs such as cocaine and heroin from Spain to Gibraltar since the frontier opened in 1985 which gives rise to real concern.
The fact is that Spain is using this camouflage to bring political and economic pressure to bear on Gibraltar, just at a time when it is vulnerable because of the rundown of the Ministry of Defence's commitment to the Rock. There is certainly a case for tougher action against smuggling. Many of us have seen the 50 or 60 high-speed launches in Gibraltar harbour. They are painted dark grey and have no windscreens, so as to have a low profile on radar, and they are very powerful. Already regulations have been introduced to reduce the size and power of these launches, but more action is needed. The Government must take steps immediately to ensure that the launches are banned or have their power restricted even more. I see no reason why that cannot be done. If it is not, Spain will be given good cause for taking the type of action that it is. The British Government have a duty to remove that cause.
I should also like to draw the attention of the House to an article that appeared in The Independent on 14 December, suggesting that there was some sort of dirty tricks department at work in the Foreign Office, trying to undermine Gibraltar's position in advance of the talks with Spain. Will the Minister categorically deny that? Since the rundown of the MOD's establishment in Gibraltar—it used to constitute about two thirds of the local economy—the people there have managed to establish a growing financial services sector, regulated by a strong financial services commission which is headed 1529 by Financial Commissioner Mr. John Milner. He was appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Governor of the Bank of England.
I am told that the Gibraltar Government remain fully committed to ensuring that the good name of their financial centre is maintained. It was brave to set up the centre when the world was in recession. The Gibraltarians need all the help they can to get it going properly.
If the Spanish authorities have any evidence that Gibraltar companies are being used for illicit purposes, they should provide details directly to the Gibraltar Government or to the British Government so that the necessary action can be taken. The measures being adopted at the land frontier may be justified by Spain only as a means of strangling the financial services centre at birth. The checks have been indiscriminate—affecting old people and children as well as other travellers. They are wholly indefensible, and I should like to know what HMG are going to do about the situation. What powers can be used to prevent the rights of British and European citizens—to freedom of movement under the European Union treaties—from being trampled on?
Self-determination is a matter that has been raised by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar many times in speeches to various audiences. I appreciate that it is not the same as total independence, but it could go some way towards it. The United Kingdom ratified the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights in 1976. Article 1 reads:All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.I would argue that when the United Kingdom ratified that covenant, she extended a list of dependent territories which included Gibraltar. At no stage did Britain say that she had any reservations about the applicability of this article to the people of Gibraltar.
If the United Kingdom thought in 1968 that the treaty of Utrecht of 1713 prevented the application of the right of self-determination to the people of Gibraltar, she would have felt the need to enter a declaration to that effect at the time of ratification. It would be a good idea if the Minister clarified the position, particularly in respect of the treaty of Utrecht and Gibraltar's constitution, which states that Gibraltar will remain British while the people of Gibraltar wish it to, but that if Britain does not want to hold on to Gibraltar it reverts to Spain.
The full benefits of European Union membership do not accrue to Gibraltar as yet; it is still outside the external frontier. Both we and the people of Gibraltar feel that it is high time Spain agreed to ratify the external frontier convention. It does not do so, because that means acknowledging the Rock's sovereignty—and that Spain will not do. Of course, if Gibraltar were within the external frontier, the problems of smuggling might not be so acute, because of the ensuing moves towards tax and duty harmonisation. Moreover, the difficulties with the airport might be overcome, and Gibraltar might begin to benefit from the advantages that other European countries enjoy via the liberalisation of air services.
Bringing Gibraltar within the external frontier would also mean that it could benefit from other forms of direct aid from the EU—the social fund, for instance. As time goes by, the European Union will, I think, replace Britain as Gibraltar's principal economic supporter. Thus, the sooner the latter is inside the external frontier, the better.
1530 There have been moves towards greater co-operation. The Brussels agreement of 1984 represented a step forward in terms of Britain's relations with Spain over the question of Gibraltar. It was intended to help Spain and the United Kingdom to sort out their differences on Gibraltar and to prevent further difficulties from arising. Those talks take place annually between Foreign Ministers.
Gibraltar is allowed to have a representative in the British party at those talks, but has so far resisted the invitation to join. That is a pity. A representative should be there, if only in a listening capacity. However, it would be far better if, in his discussions with the Spanish Foreign Minister this morning, our Foreign Secretary could persuade him that Gibraltar should have a separate place at the talks under the Brussels agreement, so that its representatives could argue their points of view themselves and have equal status with Britain and with Spain. After all, the future of Gibraltar will be discussed in those talks and I think that the residents of Gibraltar should be entitled to have their own say.
The condition of the economy in Gibraltar is crucial. Ten years ago, Gibraltar was probably two-thirds dependent on the Ministry of Defence for its sustenance. That has now dropped to about 9 per cent. and by the end of the decade, it will have decreased to only 3 per cent. That makes Gibraltar much more vulnerable to any action that Spain may take on the frontier, and there is no doubt that the financial services centre, which was a brave attempt to diversify, came into being at a bad time.
The economy of Gibraltar affects people beyond the frontier. I have referred to the 2,000 people who come into Gibraltar each day, most of them to work. The area of the Campo, La Linea and the whole region of Andalucia is at present run down. The people who live there regard themselves as poor relations of Madrid and I think that they do not receive the economic assistance from Madrid that they should.
The Chief Minister, Mr. Joe Bassano, was brave to cross the frontier, the day after he was elected as Chief Minister, years ago, shaking hands with the mayor of La Linea and saying, "We are in this together. We shall help you and you help us. Let us be good neighbours." If that attitude could prevail in Madrid and in London, we could make progress on Gibraltar.
There is an opportunity for Gibraltar to provide a locomotive in that part of Europe—a locomotive that could help bring the rest of a rather depressed area into a better economic state and improve the lot of everyone.
If the airport agreement of 1987 were implemented, it would help. The problem is that the airport agreement was bilateral between Spain and the United Kingdom; Gibraltar was not party to it. If the financial centre is to work, it is very important that Gibraltar has a properly operating airport. At the moment Gibraltar is reluctant to implement the agreement simply because it does not trust Spain. The lack of trust must be overcome. The airport is on so-called "no man's land", which, at the time of the signing of the treaty of Utrecht, was a mosquito-infested bog which no one thought important. Now it is part of Gibraltar's lifeline. The matter of the airport agreement must be resolved.
1531 What is the way forward? The House should send a message to the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr. Javier Solana, to put the question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar on the back burner for at least a decade and use those 10 years to build trust between Spain and the Gibraltar people. He should extend the hand of friendship rather than try to put a stranglehold on Gibraltar's economic future.
We already have excellent relations between the United Kingdom and Spain, which can be built on to good effect as regards Gibraltar. Spain must go out now and win the hearts of the Gibraltar people, especially the younger generation. If one held a referendum today on Gibraltar's sovereignty, similar to the one that was held in 1967, when 12,000 people voted in favour of staying British, and only 44—I never quite know what happened to those 44 people—voted to join Spain, one might receive a different answer. If only Spain could improve its relations with Gibraltar so that the two became better neighbours, there would be a good chance that another referendum might give a different answer.
§ Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford)
Does the hon. Gentleman notice an inconsistency in Spain's approach? Today a very important meeting of the Fisheries Council of the European Union takes place in Brussels, and Spain is arguing for the right of access to the Irish box and other waters, on the basis that it does not want to be treated as a second-class member state of the European Union—it wants full rights. Should it not equally refer to Gibraltar as part of the European Union and extend to it the same full rights?
§ Mr. Colvin
That is a good point. There is a bargaining position here. I do not know what will be on the agenda this morning in the talks between the Foreign Secretary and the Spanish Foreign Minister, but I dare say that fishing rights and the Irish box will be mentioned as well as Gibraltar. There is room to bargain, but I do not think that this is a bargaining problem. Gibraltar should be fully in the European Union; if it were, many of those difficulties would be overcome.
Changes have occurred since the running down of the Ministry of Defence establishment in Gibraltar. At that time there was the presence of many thousands of soldiers, sailors, dockyard workers and many members serving in the Royal Air Force. Much of the property in Gibraltar was owned by the MOD. There was physical contact with the people of Gibraltar and there was therefore a stronger relationship between Britain and Gibraltar, secured in a sense by the two Governments. Since the withdrawal from Gibraltar, we have witnessed the beginnings of a break between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom in governmental terms, and it is important that Her Majesty's Government try to mend the break that has occurred.
A solution can be found only if Britain and Gibraltar approach the problem together in agreement. In the meantime, I should like my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, in replying to the debate, to confirm that the policy of sustaining and supporting Gibraltar in its present difficulties will continue.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alastair Goodlad)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) on his repeated good fortune in winning the ballot for Adjournment debates, and wish him well in the national lottery on Saturday. I also congratulate him on mentioning a subject that is of enormous importance and great interest to the House, and about which he speaks with great knowledge and considerable vision.
The timing of the debate, as my hon. Friend said, is opportune because my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is at this minute meeting his Spanish counterpart, Mr. Solana, for talks about Gibraltar under the Brussels process, and I shall say more about that in a moment.
It is by his own choice that the Chief Minister of Gibraltar is not present at the talks. He is in no sense barred from them and is kept closely informed of developments.
I shall first discuss the subject that my hon. Friend mentioned of the intrusive additional frontier controls introduced by the Spaniards at the border at the end of October. They are unacceptable. Every country has the right to reasonable checks at a frontier, but they must be proportionate; those imposed by Spain were not. They led to unacceptable delays of up to nine hours for vehicles crossing the border and two to three hours for those crossing on foot. As the House will be aware, we have made repeated strong protests to the Spanish Government in the last few weeks. I understand that those measures are not currently in operation, but we are watching the situation closely. There must be no question of their being reimposed. We should not forget either the lesser but still severe checks that have been in operation for many years and which Spain justifies on the ground that Gibraltar is not a member of the common customs tariff.
It is not enough to return to the delays that were the norm before. Our partnership in Europe requires that Spain goes further. We have suggested that the way forward is the use of red and green channels or random checks. It is true that Gibraltar is outside the common customs tariff by virtue of her omission from Council regulation 2154/1984 which defines customs territory and which has been the justification for the checks at the border. Technically, Spain is within its rights in carrying them out, but, as I say, the present level of checks is a disgrace and it is important that they cease permanently.
§ Mr. Colvin
I am glad to hear what my right hon. Friend says, but will he acknowledge that there is an agreement between Her Majesty's Government and Spain to chase drug runners which has been relatively successful? The police in Gibraltar have proved extremely efficient in chasing smugglers, too, but there may be a weakness in the Customs and Excise. That is one branch of the Gibraltar Government which could well be strengthened. But the House should not believe for a moment that not enough is being done, in co-operation between the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain, to chase drug traffickers.
§ Mr. Goodlad
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising an important point. I shall come to smuggling in a moment.
1533 First, I reaffirm the Government's commitment to the people of Gibraltar, most recently made in the House by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. We shall never allow the people of Gibraltar to pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes. That is set out in the preamble to the Gibraltar constitution and it is a pledge which I reiterate to the House today.
My hon. Friend mentioned the recent speculation in the British press about dirty tricks. I can give him every assurance that there is no question of the United Kingdom being involved in dirty tricks of any sort to undermine the Gibraltar Government. That could not possibly benefit anybody. Speculation about that is totally unfounded and unhelpful. In that context, the word "rubbish" has appeared in at least one of today's papers and that sums up the matter fairly accurately.
The Brussels process was initiated in 1984 to facilitate avenues of practical co-operation between Gibraltar and Spain. Its provisions include the establishment of the free movement of persons, vehicles and goods, provisions which have been met by Spain more in the breach than the observance. That is yet another reason why the question of checks and other harassment from the Spanish side is so intolerable. None the less, it is an important and useful vehicle for discussion on the way ahead in Gibraltar. There is plenty of unrealised scope for practical cross-border co-operation which could benefit both economies. I should like us to have more of that and less megaphone diplomacy—or, should I say, lack of diplomacy—which has been the hallmark of many of the public pronouncements emanating from the Spanish side of the border in recent weeks.
We would welcome participation by the Government of Gibraltar in the Brussels process discussions. Their voice should be heard and I regret that the Chief Minister chooses not to attend the sessions at which, as I said earlier, he would be welcome. The Governor is currently attending the discussions instead. Talks under the Brussels process also provide for discussions on sovereignty, but that is against the background of our commitment to the people of Gibraltar to which I have just referred.
My hon. Friend mentioned the airport agreement. Gibraltar is concerned that the implementation of the 1987 airport agreement has implications for sovereignty. Those concerns are unfounded, but we have committed ourselves not to impose the agreement on it and officials are continuing to work towards a solution which is acceptable to all parties.
§ Mr. Colvin
The other means of communication out of Gibraltar is by sea and at the moment the only thing that stands in the way of the ferry service between Gibraltar and Algeciras is Spain's reluctance to permit it. I hope that that is another matter that will be on the agenda at this morning's talks between the Foreign Secretary and the Spanish Foreign Minister.
§ Mr. Goodlad
My hon. Friend raises an important matter. If the ferry is not a subject on the agenda this morning, it soon will be.
My hon. Friend also referred to self-determination. We in the House are aware of the keen debate that is taking place in Gibraltar on self-determination. The right of self-determination has, as my hon. Friend said, to take account of the treaty of Utrecht, under which independence is not an option without Spanish consent. 1534 Any changes to Gibraltar's future status will have to be acceptable to all parties and we do not consider that, in adhering to article 10 of the treaty of Utrecht, which accords sovereignty to the United Kingdom, we are in breach of the United Nations charter.
My hon. Friend referred to drugs and smuggling. One of the allegations that Spain has produced to support its activities at the border has been the smuggling of drugs. I make it clear that we in the Government and in the House detest drug smuggling and the Government are committed to the fight against it. The Government. of Gibraltar have repeatedly said that that is their position, too. The Gibraltar Government are currently implementing into their legislation the important 1988 United Nations drug convention.
The Royal Gibraltar police, a small but determined force, have been most effective in seizing quantities of illegal substances. In the past year alone, they have seized nearly 2 tonnes of drugs and made some 500 arrests. That, by any standards, is an impressive total which puts paid to spurious claims by the Spaniards of inactivity.
Her Majesty's Government actively support the Government of Gibraltar in the fight against drugs with expert advice and specialist equipment, including fast launches. There is good co-operation between Gibraltar and its Spanish counterparts at local level and successful joint operations have been mounted. We are keen that that should continue and not be hampered by political interference.
There is more that the Gibraltar Government could do. Too many fast launches are still not caught by existing legislation. Other controls could be imposed. I would like to see action on that front, but it is up to the Spaniards, too, to ensure that the climate is right to enable new steps to be taken.
On tobacco smuggling, which my hon. Friend raised—it is another stick that Spain uses to beat Gibraltar—I should make it clear that Her Majesty's Government do not condone it any more than any other sort of smuggling. The appropriate legislation is, of course, not within Her Majesty's Government's area of responsibility, but we are in close contact with the Government of Gibraltar, to whom we have repeatedly and forcefully represented our concerns, about appropriate measures.
§ Mr. Colvin
This is a rather important point, because the export of tobacco from Gibraltar at present—perhaps through illegal smuggling—is probably worth about £15 million to its economy. Since the rundown of the Ministry of Defence commitment, other economic activities had to be found. It has been suggested—certainly in the press—that Britain is playing Nelson and turning a blind eye to the smuggling of tobacco, because Britain understands that, were it not for the value to the Gibraltar economy of tobacco, Britain would have to find money elsewhere to support the economy. Will my right hon. Friend comment on whether that is true or false?
§ Mr. Goodlad
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising those untrue allegations. Of course, Great Britain is certainly not turning a Nelsonian blind eye.
As my hon. Friend says—with his knowledge about it—Gibraltar's economy is a delicately balanced instrument, and the serious problems resulting from the frontier queues are not to be underestimated. We are also conscious of the potential implications of the drawdown 1535 of the Gibraltar garrison. It is a direct result of the political and strategic changes that have taken place in Europe. Her Majesty's Government are, as the House knows, subject to economic pressures and the need to use their resources to best effect. The changing world affects us all and we must adjust to take account of those changes.
The Ministry of Defence is conscious of Gibraltar's particular problems and is providing specially tailored training courses for those affected. It is also setting up a special service to assist staff to find alternative employment. The Chief Minister has expressed his understanding and gratitude to the Ministry of Defence for its imaginative and sensitive approach.
As times change, so we need to look at new ideas. In answer to the Chief Minister's special plea for assistance to Gibraltar in that context, a joint economic forum was established earlier this year to draw together all possible sources of advice and assistance to Gibraltar. It has met three times so far, most recently on 12 December. It is of prime importance that Gibraltarians use the opportunity to introduce new ideas. We will do our part.
One idea that Gibraltar is taking forward is to establish itself as an offshore financial services centre. A financial services commissioner, Mr. John Milner, has been recruited, as my hon. Friend mentioned. He started work in August and is tasked with building up Gibraltar as a financial centre and to ensure that regulatory controls are carried out to the highest UK standards. We have asked the Spanish authorities to substantiate their allegations about Gibraltar as a money-laundering centre and to provide examples where co-operation has been refused. To date we have received nothing. Money laundering is, of course, a criminal offence and neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Government of Gibraltar condone it. The European Community money laundering directive will shortly be in force in Gibraltar and the financial services commission, under Mr. Milner, will deal effectively with any attempts to evade the law.
The way ahead should lie in building up the economy, not handouts. On Gibraltar's development aid programme, the Chief Minister himself told us in 1988 that he wished Gibraltar to be able to stand on its own feet. We applaud that and believe that Gibraltar's economy may, despite its serious difficulties, be resilient enough to bounce back.
My hon. Friend mentioned the European Union. Gibraltar is, of course, part of the European Union by virtue of British membership. At the time of British accession, Her Majesty's Government negotiated for Gibraltar a special status within the Union, which relieves Gibraltar of many burdensome aspects—for example, it is not part of the common agricultural policy, or the common customs territory, nor does it have to levy VAT. It is therefore not a contributor to Community resources.
Gibraltar's position within the Union gives it access to the single market in services—crucial to its aspiration to develop as a financial services centre within the Community. We have also negotiated for Gibraltar an impressive package of EU structural funds. Between 1994–96 Gibraltar is due to receive some £8 million. That 1536 funding is well above the UK average, which takes careful account of the territory's distinct needs and problems. That is a mark of our commitment to securing for Gibraltar the maximum possible benefits from its position within the European Union.
In that spirit of shared mutual interest, we have discussed with the Gibraltar Government the backlog of directives awaiting implementation in the territory. In recent months, we have identified a package of specific measures—primarily EC directives—that require implementation in Gibraltar. Implementation of those measures would amount to a major step forward for Gibraltar in addressing its backlog. That is essential, and turning a blind eye to legally enforceable obligations cannot be an option.
Many of the directives are important for reasons of good government and sound administration. They concern regulatory standards in Gibraltar's financial services centre, open tendering of Government contracts and the curbing of money laundering. Others are important because of the protection that needs to be extended to Gibraltarians, for example, against dangerous working practices, environmental pollution and so on. Gibraltarians should have that protection just like all other European Union citizens.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that many Members of the House have been disturbed about reports in the Sunday press two days ago that the very matters that he is talking about—European Union regulations—have not been implemented? It is very difficult to understand why they have not been. Will he give an assurance that the Government will do everything possible to ensure that the Government of Gibraltar will implement all those regulations at once so that they can appear to be—and be—squeaky clean in the eyes of the world in terms of smuggling, drug running and money laundering?
§ Mr. Goodlad
My right hon. Friend is, of course, absolutely right. These are not a selection of tiresome, meddling, interfering demands; they are international obligations and include very important measures, and Gibraltar and Gibraltarians will benefit from their implementation.
These are difficult times for Gibraltar, both politically and economically. We will do our bit to secure Gibraltar's future, and will do so gladly. But the impetus for much of what is needed must come from Gibraltar itself. The Government of Gibraltar must ensure that they have the legislative framework in place and the infrastructure support that they need if they are to make the most of the opportunities.
The future must also lie in the development of a sensible, unpolemical and practical working relationship with Gibraltar's northern neighbour, Spain. We believe that to be crucial. Let us examine co-operation and the benefits that could flow to both sides of the border from it. Let me assure the House that we shall do all that we can to help Gibraltarians make the most of the opportunities available to them and to help them meet the challenges effectively.