Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Correspondence between the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Letter to the Foreign Secretary from the Chairman of the Committee


  As you know, the Foreign Affairs Committee has taken a close interest in the continuing discussions between the British and Spanish Governments on the future of Gibraltar. It has noted suggestions that a joint British-Spanish declaration containing proposals will be published before the Summer.

  I hope you will agree that it is of great importance that any such declaration is considered fully and carefully by the House, and that consideration is as well-informed as possible. It will therefore be essential that the declaration is published only when the House is sitting and that that sufficient time is allowed between publication of the declaration and any debate on the proposals for the Foreign Affairs Committee to hear evidence and produce a Report to the House in time for that debate.

  The Committee intends to discuss its future work on Gibraltar at its meeting next Tuesday morning. I hope, therefore, that you will be able to offer reassurances on the above points before that meeting. I would also be grateful for any indication you are able to give of when we might expect the proposals to be published.

Chairman of the Committee

17 April 2002

Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

  Thank you for your letter of 17 April regarding Gibraltar. I welcome the close interest that the Committee is taking in the discussions under the Brussels Process.

  Following the decision last June to relaunch talks with Spain under the Brussels Process we have kept Parliament fully informed of developments at every stage. We will continue to do so.

  As Peter Hain made clear to the House on 16 April we are still seeking to explore with the Spaniards whether we can reach an agreement on Gibraltar. Our aim remains to do so before the summer. Peter also made clear that, if we do reach agreement, it is our intention that the House will be the first to hear, and I shall seek to make a statement. I can assure you that any declaration will only be published when the House is sitting.

  I would then want to ensure both that a reasonable interval elapses between the publication of any agreement and any consequent debate in the House and to facilitate the Committee's prompt consideration of such an agreement.

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP,

Secretary of State

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

22 April 2002

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