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Gibraltar

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 3 December 2013

We remain very concerned by delays at Gibraltar’s border with Spain and are pressing the Spanish authorities to act on the European Commission’s recommendations to them. We continue to work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to uphold the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the rights of the people of Gibraltar, including by challenging unlawful Spanish incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters.

Having spent a short period of my Royal Air Force service in Gibraltar, I am aware of the importance of having a workable border crossing. Will my right hon. Friend urge the Commission to keep its promise to make it easier for traffic to cross the Gibraltar border and follow up this matter with Spain so that the people of Gibraltar can enjoy the EU rights that Spain owes them?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. We are indeed continuing to press the Spanish authorities to implement what the Commission has recommended they do, including adding to the number of traffic lanes so that cars can get through more smoothly and looking at how to risk-profile travellers crossing the border so that those who may be smugglers or other criminals can be properly identified and ordinary citizens not inconvenienced.

May I urge the Minister to use all his influence to temper the language that is being used in this dispute? There undoubtedly is a dispute, but the Spanish are great allies of ours: they are fellow members of the European Union and many British people live in Spain. Can we just lower the temperature and stop throwing brickbats at each other?

I would be only too pleased if we could lower the temperature. It is not just a matter of lowering the temperature in verbal exchanges but of expecting our NATO allies in Spain to desist from the unlawful incursions into British Gibraltar waters that have been all too common.