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Spain And Gibraltar

Volume 81: debated on Tuesday 18 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement regarding frontier co-operation between Spain and Gibraltar.

During my visit to Gibraltar on 7 and 8 June I was pleased to learn at first hand of the excellent co-operation which exists between the Spanish and Gibraltar authorities at the border between Spain and Gibraltar.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that helpful reply. Can he assure me that the arrangements are working mutually beneficially for the Spanish and Gibraltarian people? Does he agree that we continue to have a special responsibility for the people of Gibraltar, for their economy and welfare and to ensure their satisfaction with the arrangements?

I am glad to reconfirm to my hon. Friend that we undoubtedly have a responsibility for the future of Gibraltar. During my time there I frequently repeated the commitment contained in the preamble to the 1969 constitution. The arrangements for the border are working well. Since 5 February there have been over 1 million visitors each way, including many vehicles. That is about four times higher, without vehicles, than the number of visitors before the border was opened. The arrangements are providing a good foundation for growing economic co-operation and future prosperity in the region, including on the Spanish side of the border.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, although we appreciate the good and improving relations that will result from the visit by His Majesty the King of Spain to Britain, we still recognise our obligations to our own people in Gibraltar?

I can only repeat what I have just said. I endorse what my hon. Friend said about the importance of improving the excellent relations between ourselves and Spain and about our continuing commitment to the people of Gibraltar.