Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Correspondence between the Clerk of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Letter from the Clerk of the Committee to the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office


  The Chairman has asked me to seek an answer to the following question:

  At paragraph 21 of the Gibraltar Chief Minister's memorandum, sent by the Chairman to the Foreign Secretary in July, Mr Caruana claims to quote from letters from the Foreign Secretary's two predecessors in office (extract attached).[9] It appears from these quotations that Mr Cook and Mr Rifkind both made a commitment to the Gibraltar Government to seek the Chief Minister's specific endorsement before entering into any new arrangements affecting Gibraltar at the Brussels process talks. Is it indeed the case that this commitment was made by both Mr Cook and Mr Rifkind, as the Chief Minister claims.

  I would welcome a reply by Tuesday, 22 October.

Clerk of the Committee

9 October 2002

Letter from the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to the Clerk of the Committee.


  Thank you for your letter of 9 October.

  It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the text of letters from the last Conservative Foreign Secretary. I suggest you write direct on this to Sir Malcolm Rifkind. The short extract quoted by Mr Caruana from the letter signed by Robin Cook as Foreign Secretary on 3 December 1997 is accurate, but not complete. In context, it referred specifically to proposed talks in London on 10 December 1997.

  However, Mr Cook's assurances did not satisfy the Chief Minister who insisted they should be extended to cover all talks under the Brussels Process. He also sought to prevent tete-a"-tete meetings between Mr Cook and his Spanish counterpart at these talks, which Mr Cook had wanted.

  The Foreign Secretary and Mr Hain sought during the course of a number of meetings and in correspondence with the Chief Minister in the latter part of 2001 and the start of this year to satisfy Mr Caruana that conditions were in place such that his participation in the Brussels Process would be both "safe" and "dignified".

  On "dignity" the Foreign Secretary secured specific Spanish agreement to the "Two Flags, Three Voices" formula. In response to the Chief Minister's concerns on "safety", the Foreign Secretary assured Mr Caruana that he would be consulted throughout the process; be present for all the key meetings; and explained that he shared the Chief Minister's objective to seek agreements which Gibraltar could accept. The Foreign Secretary also repeatedly underlined the Government's cast-iron assurance that any proposals emerging from the Brussels Process affecting the sovereignty of Gibraltar would be implemented only in the event of an affirmative vote in a referendum in Gibraltar. And he made clear that he would not expect the Chief Minister to declare his final opinion on any package of proposals until the negotiations were complete. The Foreign Secretary believes these arrangements should have met all the Chief Minister's legitimate concerns. We regret that he chose not to participate on this basis and we can only speculate as to his reasons for boycotting the talks to which he was invited.

  As the Chief Minister makes clear in paragraph 22 of his memorandum, he continued to insist on an explicit veto over every issue discussed at and concerning the talks. As the Foreign Secretary told the Committee during his evidence on 19 June 2002, it would not have been possible to enter negotiations on that basis.

Parliamentary Relations & Devolution Department,

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

22 October 2002

9   Ev 27, paragraph 21. Back

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