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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 what restrictions imposed by the Spanish Government on access to Gibraltar by land, air and sea, respectively, in 1967 have been removed following his recent discussions with the Spanish Foreign Minister, and which remain.

The then Spanish Government imposed a series of restrictions on land, sea and air movements between Spain and Gibraltar over a period of several years, culminating in the complete closure of the border in 1969. Subsequently, some of these restrictions were eased until, on 5 February 1985, all abnormal obstacles to land, sea and civil air traffic were lifted. The flight path for military aircraft, however, remains subject to limitations, about which we are in discussion with the Spanish authorities.

In view of the rosy picture painted earlier this afternoon by the Foreign Secretary of the state of British-Spanish relations, what possible legitimate reason can Spain have for continuing to impose restrictions on British aircraft wishing to use the Gibraltar airfield? Is not Spanish policy inconsistent with her obligations under the terms of the NATO treaty? As Spain is a candidate member of the European Community, will my hon. Friend arrange for her to be told that her policy is unacceptable and unfriendly?

I agree with my hon. Friend that we have a strong interest in developing further the civil use of the Gibraltar airfield on a mutually beneficial basis. On his point about NATO, Spain is not a full member of NATO in the sense of participating in the military arrangements of the Alliance. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that we have made our position about the movement of aircraft very well known to the Spanish authorities.

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most serious actions taken in 1967 by the Spanish was the cancellationof the extradition treaty? Can he say what progress is being made to reimplement the treaty?

Considerable progress is being made over the extradition treaty between Spain and the United Kingdom. We hope that it can shortly be finalised.