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Spain (British Visitors)

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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1.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make representations to the Spanish Government about the failure of the Spanish authorities to prosecute those who are responsible for attacks on British visitors to Spain.

I am prepared to do so whenever such representations seem necessary and proper.

As at least 71 British citizens, including two of my constituents, have been the victims of violent attacks while travelling in Spain during the year, and as it appears that the Spanish police have not yet pbhzcuted anybody for any of these attacks, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the time may have come to issue a warning to British tourists and Scottish, Irish and even English—Heaven help us!—football supporters who may be travelling to Spain next year?

Our consul in Malaga has already responded in line with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question in leading a deputation of consuls to ask the civil governor in that part of Spain to make representations. This matter is entirely for the Spanish authorities, and we cannot control what they do. However, it is as well that they should be aware of our feelings. We all hope that next year the football supporters who go to Spain, whether they come from Scotland, England or anywhere else, will behave themselves. We are taking such steps as are availble to us to ensure that proper representation is available in Spain to deal with any matters that may arise, but, like the hon. Gentleman, we all hope that they will not.

As general attacks are taking place on Britishers in Spain by certain Spanish authorities, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is necessary to ensure that our point of view is well ventilated? If so, is it not the wrong time to close the BBC world service to Spain, which is one of the most successful and responsible in the world?

The hon. Gentleman talks about general attacks. I should remind him that 3·5 million British people visited Spain last year on holiday and for other reasons, and that there were 71 attacks. That cannot be described as "general".