Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the United Kingdom Representative of the Government of Gibraltar

  1.  Thank you for inviting the London Representatives of the Overseas Territories to make a submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the relationship between the UK and its overseas territories. I write in respect of my territory, Gibraltar.

  2.  As you are aware, the Committee is engaged in a separate ongoing inquiry into the particular circumstances of Gibraltar and is already aware of the issues we have in some detail. However, I thought I would take this opportunity to respond to the particular question of the existing state of the relationship between the UK and Gibraltar.

  3.  As the Committee knows Gibraltar is currently in a situation whereby bilateral talks, which include reference to her future sovereignty, are taking place between Britain and Spain. Gibraltar has no separate voice in these discussions. It is for this reason that the Chief Minister, hon Peter Caruana QC has taken the decision not to attend.[2]

  4.  It is fair to say that the result of Britain's decision to engage in talks with Spain on this basis has adversely affected the relationship between Gibraltar and the British Government. The people of Gibraltar are proud to be British and proud to assist Britain when needed. The latter would also seem to need Gibraltar to a certain degree as can be seen by the decision to repair HMS Tireless in Gibraltar and by the 300 British military exercises which have taken place in Gibraltar over the last two years.

  5.  While the Government of Gibraltar regrets that a Treaty which is almost 300 years old appears to take precedence over the right of a people to self-determination in the eyes of Britain and Spain, we would point to the fact that even the Treaty of Utrecht makes it clear that Spain is given the option of sovereignty over Gibraltar only if Britain cedes it. If Britain does not choose to take this action then Spain has no basis for its claim. To satisfy both the Treaty and the requirements of democracy, it would seem to be logical that any change in sovereignty should therefore first be determined by the people of Gibraltar, then considered and accepted by Britain and only at that point should Spain be even brought into the discussion.

  6.  In a similar vein Spain would be the first to object if other countries interfered with her policies and attitudes towards her enclaves of Cueta and Melila in Morocco. Both of these are claimed by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Government there has made it clear that it intends to pursue the claim. Morocco has some international support for her objectives yet Spain will not even countenance discussion, much less interference. Surely she should apply the same logic to her dealings with Gibraltar and Britain that she applies when considering the future of her enclaves.

  7.  By talking to Spain first, without consulting Gibraltar[3], the British Government has ignored the Treaty and the principles of democracy and has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the wishes of the 30,000 British citizens who live there. It is this attitude which has so damaged the relationship and there is no doubt that it will take time and effort to repair.

  8.  I hope this is helpful. If you have any queries or would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this letter in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

United Kingdom Representative

Government of Gibraltar

December 2001

2   Note from the Government of Gibraltar, 22 October 2002: Since the date of this memo (December) the basis for a separate voice (but not the other requirement) was agreed between HMG and GOG (in January). Back

3   Note from the Government of Gibraltar: The complaint is that the British Government has entered into discussion with Spain without Gibraltar's agreement to the objectives. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 7 November 2002