Letter from the Parliamentary Relations
Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Second Clerk of the
FAC OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
Two follow-up action points arose from Jim Murphy's
oral evidence to the Committee on 26 March. You also wrote to
me on 2 May with some additional questions from the Committee
regarding Gibraltar. We provide these further answers below, referring
to the transcript.
Q254-255: On the term of office of the Chief Justice
The current Chief Justice was appointed under
the old Constitution by the Governor in pursuance of instructions
given by Her Majesty through a Secretary of State. Under that
Constitution, the Chief Justice is appointed to office until he
reaches 67 years unless he is removed from office sooner following
the procedure in the Constitution. The appointment may be extended
beyond 67 years in accordance with the Constitution. The new Constitution
provides that the appointment of the Chief Justice is made by
the Governor acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.
Under the new Constitution the Chief Justice may still hold office
until he attains the age of 67, with the possibility of extension
beyond that age. However, the new Constitution also provides that
a Chief Justice may be appointed for such term as may be specified
within his instrument of appointment and that the office of a
person so appointed will become vacant on the day on which the
specified term expires.
Q260: Clarification on negotiations concerning
military transit restrictions into Gibraltar, and whether an equivalent
of the Cordoba understandings is intended in the military sphere.
The Cordoba understandings were a result of
trilateral negotiations between the UK, Spain and Gibraltar. They
also form part of the ongoing trilateral process which has great
potential and a far-reaching future agenda. However, that process
does not cover military issues which are a bilateral matter between
the UK and Spain. Efforts to resolve differences in the area of
military transit restrictions are therefore separate to Cordoba
and the trilateral process.
The UK government has raised the issues of restrictions
with the Spanish government directly and will continue to do so.
Spain is an important NATO ally and we are therefore determined
to work closely with Spain to find a constructive solution.
What did the pensions deal in the Cordoba Agreement
cost the UK? Was it a good settlement?
The pensions settlement was a good settlement
for the UK as it removed a substantial financial liability from
the UK tax-payer.
As part of the settlement Spain agreed not to
claim back from the UK the healthcare costs for the affected Spanish
pensioners. Secondly, following the settlement, the European Commission
also closed infraction proceedings against the UK for alleged
discrimination against affected Spanish pensioners.
The exact cost of the settlement to the UK will
depend on mortality and inflation rates, however the various figures
the Committee has heard reflect the complexity of the pensions
At Cordoba there were three estimated costs:
The cost of paying ongoing frozen
pensions was estimated at £49 million. These frozen payments
would have been paid regardless of whether we had reached the
The second component was an estimated
£48 million for future up-rating of the pensions.
The third component was an estimated,
£25 million to be paid as lump sum payments. These were not
pension payments or compensation, but incentive payments for the
Spanish pensioners to leave the Gibraltar Social Insurance Fund.
The Committee has previously heard figures from
the report of the National Audit Office which put the cost of
the pensions settlement at approximately £100 million. So
this report has amalgamated the cost of the frozen and up-rated
pension payments as the NAO were looking at pension liabilities.
What is the UK's position on the immigration arrangements
that will apply at Gibraltar's new terminal?
The UK is content that the immigration arrangements
at the new terminal have no implications for sovereignty and jurisdiction
or control. The airport remains on exclusively British territory
and under British control and no Spanish Officials are present
on British territory as a result of the agreement. The Cordoba
airport arrangement is clear on these points.
12 May 2008