Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report


The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:—



1. The Foreign Affairs Committee decided in February 1999 to undertake a short inquiry in response to the deterioration in the relationship between Spain and Gibraltar which had occurred in late 1998 and over the first weeks of 1999. We set the following terms of reference:

"The British Government's response to the current problems facing Gibraltar."

These were deliberately narrow terms because of our wish to produce a focussed and rapid report. Our inquiry has, however, inevitably dealt with some wider issues.

2. We visited Gibraltar from 16 to 18 March, and met the Governor, the Chief Minister and a range of other local leaders. A full list is appended at Annex 1. We took two sets of oral evidence: from Rt. Hon. Joyce Quin MP, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and her officials on 30 March, and from Hon. Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, and his officials on 20 April. We received a number of written Memoranda, principally from groups and individuals in Gibraltar. We are most grateful to those whom we met and those who gave evidence to us, as well as to the Governor and his Deputy for the programme they arranged for us for our visit to Gibraltar.

3. The British Parliament has a responsibility for all the United Kingdom's Overseas Territories, and the British Government is ultimately the Government of Gibraltar also. Inside Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee has a particular interest in the Territories. We have taken evidence on Gibraltar in other inquiries,[1] and there has been one other inquiry into Gibraltar specifically. In July 1981, our predecessors reported on Gibraltar: The Situation of Gibraltar and United Kingdom Relations with Spain.[2] The recommendations of that report were directed to a period before Spain was part of the European Community and before Gibraltarians had British citizenship. They have largely now been superseded.

1   First Report, HC 305, Session 1997-98, The Treaty of Amsterdam, pages 37ff; Second Report, HC 347, Session 1997-98, Dependent Territories Review: Interim ReportBack

2   Seventh Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 1980-81, HC 166. Back

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Prepared 22 June 1999