Examination of Witness (Questions 220-239)|
5 MARCH 2008
Q220 Mr. Hamilton: Chief Minister,
can I just ask you about the Cordoba agreement? One of the issues
discussed and agreed in the Cordoba agreement was that pedestrian
traffic flows would be considerably improved at the border crossing.
When some members of the Committee were there in July last year,
we noticed that the flow was better. Does that continue to improve?
I remember some time ago having to wait several hours there, and
it was a real pain.
Peter Caruana: The mechanics of
the border are not working as well as we think they could, but
there is a huge improvement in the fluidity of transfer. We are
not even in the same ball park as the situation that you and other
members of the Committee saw so often when you visited. Now, delays
are almost always due to peak times. There is a gap in the fence
in the border crossing. Let us say that 500 cars are trying to
get across. Remember that we are outside the Schengen passport
area and outside the common customs area; the Spanish authorities
are entitledindeed, obligedunder EU law to carry
out passport and customs checks. So if they spent just 30 seconds
doing customs and immigration controls on each of 300 or 400 vehicleswell,
do the mathematics for yourself. We have to be realistic in our
assessment: the benchmark is not that there is no delay at all.
There is most often more delay in the passport queue at Heathrow
airport than there is in the frontier queue going into Spain.
Q221 Mr. Hamilton: That is quite
a change from three or four years ago, is it not?
Peter Caruana: A huge change.
One of the other advantages of the Cordoba agreement in relation
to frontiers and fluidity is not what it has already delivered,
but that it contains the explicit political commitment of the
Spanish Government to continue to modify the frontier system to
maximise at all times frontier fluidity. In other words, what
has been delivered is not the endgame. The endgame is a constant
commitment to further improvement until it is as fluid as is physically
and legally possible.
On a day-to-day basis for example, one of the
innovations of the frontier agreement was that there would be
a red and green channel system. Those of you who are long-standing
observers of Gibraltar, as many of you around the table are, will
know that one of our complaints was that this was the only border
in Europe without red and green channels. We have secured that
in the agreement and the system is that in the green channel you
do not have to stop. Before every car stopped, and was subjected
to a check. Now, in the green channel you flow unless you are
stopped, and you are then put to one side, not searched in the
green channel itself, thereby delaying everyone behind you. It
has to be said that there are occasions whenat an operator
levelthe chap on duty disregards that and searches cars
in the green channel and causes some unnecessary delay, but that
is in no sense a political decision by the Spanish Government.
Q222 Mr. Hamilton: So there is now
considerable good will.
Peter Caruana: Yes, I think that
there is. There is adherence on the whole to the terms of the
agreement, but more attention needs to be given to how sometimes
the system is physically operated by the guards on duty, which
is not a political decision.
Q223 Mr. Hamilton: But those are
technical issues, are they not?
Peter Caruana: Yes.
Q224 Mr. Hamilton: Can I come back
to something that you said earlier about customs? When you talked
about the airport in response to my colleague's question, you
mentioned that customs does not come into the Cordoba agreement.
Can you clarify that? The Leader of the Opposition in Gibraltar,
when giving evidence to the Committee, was somewhat sceptical
about the agreement, on customs particularly.
Peter Caruana: I do not think
I said that it did not come in at all; I said that it did not
come into the passenger side. There are some very beneficial aspects
of customs in the airport agreement; for example, diverted flightsflights
that are heading to Gibraltar and end up having to go to Malaga
because of bad weather. There is now a customs agreement whereby
the cargo and the mail can be taken off the flight in Malaga and
brought by road to Gibraltar. That used to be impossible. There
are some very positive aspects about customs in the agreement.
What there is not in the Cordoba agreementif
you have been told anything to the contrary, you have been mistoldis
anything whatsoever that delivers a concession to passengers using
the terminal to go to and from Gibraltar in relation to customs
control. It speaks about Schengen and Schengen controls, which
relate to immigration rather than customs. Schengen has nothing
to do with customs.
Q225 Mr. Hamilton: Finally, may I
ask you about the Cervantes Institute? That was obviously part
of the Cordoba agreement as well, and you are providing and allocating
a building for which there will be some public cost. How important
will that building and the opening of the Cervantes Institute
be to your relations with Spain?
Peter Caruana: To us, this is
something that is welcome and is not politically controversial.
That is not universally true in Gibraltar. As far as we are concerned,
there is no denying the huge Spanish cultural influence in daily
life in Gibraltaryou need only visit the place to see that.
Our political views and aspirations and our not inconsiderable
skill in protecting our political positions, obviously with huge
support here in the UK, havein our judgment, if not that
of othersnothing to do with culture and sports and things
I think that it would be an insular and retrograde
step for Gibraltar to start seeing the defence of our political
position as requiring us not to have anything to do with Spanish
language or culture. You only need to visit Gibraltar to know
that there is a very considerable influence from the Spanish language
and Spanish culture, which many people in Gibraltar admire, like
and want to have more of; they do not feel that by doing so, they
are somehow conceding anything on the political front. That sort
of pseudo-nationalistic approach to the politics of Gibraltar
can be pursued by others, but it will not be pursued by my party,
either in government or in opposition. We welcome the Cervantes
Institute in Gibraltar.
The Spanish Government party in Gibraltar is
fighting an election campaign today, and one of its principal
policy offers in the educational field is that school children
should have to learn English. We are not going to get mealy mouthed
about whether we should have cultural resources available to us
to improve our spoken Spanish, which is the language that most
people speak in day-to-day life in Gibraltar. To me, it is a non-political
issue. The Cervantes Institute is very welcome, and the Gibraltar
Government will certainly comply with their commitment in the
Chairman: Chief Minister, I am conscious
of time, and we want to talk about a number of governance matters,
so I shall now bring in Eric Illsley.
Q226 Mr. Illsley: With regard to
the process of negotiating the new constitution, you said in your
submission that you were "well satisfied" with the outcome
for Gibraltar of that negotiating process and said that it was
"lengthy, but constructive and businesslike (and ... often
Is that still the case? Are you still happy with the constitution,
and is that process a model for other Overseas Territories to
Peter Caruana: I think that the
answer to all of those questions is yes. I think that our constitution
renegotiation process benefited from and we were beneficiaries
of the fact that, in the immediate aftermath of the failed joint
sovereignty policy, the UK Government wanted to aim some tender
loving care in our direction. I think that that was right, because
there were fences to be mended; I think that it was important,
because the quality of the relationship between Gibraltar and
the United Kingdom is important to us as well. Gibraltar has no
interest in and very little to gain by being at odds with the
UK. Of course, we have to disagree when a particular UK Government
pursue a particular policy, but in the aftermath of that the UK
Government were in a receptive mood to our constitutional development,
and I think that that was why the process was businesslike, but
consensual and constructive.
There were only a few issues on which we were
pushing for a bit more than London was willing to give us, but
what we have in the constitution is a document containing a constitutional
relationship with the United Kingdom that achieves everything
that Gibraltar wanted. First and foremost, and most importantly
for almost all Gibraltarians, it preserves our British sovereignty
and enshrines our right to remain British for as long as we want
to. For the first time ever, our right to self-determination is
enshrined in our constitution, albeit that, in oblique language
that we may disagree about the interpretation of, Britain has
signalled that she regards that the Treaty of Utrecht denies us
the right to independence without Spanish consent. We disagree
about that as a matter of international law, but we have no difficulty
with it politically because the people of Gibraltar do not seek
independenceindeed, what we seek is to retain our British
Thirdly, it maximises our self-government. It
is difficult to construct a constitutional relationship between
an Overseas Territory and the United Kingdom that gives the Overseas
Territory more powers of self-government and leaves fewer levers
in the hands of the United Kingdomless responsibility,
role and power to the UK Government. This document does so, while
at the same time preserving a sovereignty and constitutional link
between the two territories.
As far as the Gibraltar Government are concerned
this constitution is a win-win-win for Gibraltara win in
relation to sovereignty and enshrinement of the UK's commitment;
a win in that it enshrines our right to self-determination; and
a win in the sense that it maximises our self-government to the
greatest possible degree consistent with our desire to retain
both our British sovereignty and close constitutional links with
the United Kingdom. The constitution is therefore a model for
Overseas Territories that share those aspirations. However, for
Overseas Territories that aspire to or seek independence, then
of course this is not the endgamethis is not an endgame
Q227 Mr. Illsley: Has the row with
the Chief Justice over his allegation that the constitution gave
too much power to the Executive been resolved?
Peter Caruana: No, it has not
been resolved, but that is not the nature of the row. The constitution
gives very little powernoneto the Executive. By
the way, while I am answering this question, you were left with
a false impression by the Leader of the Opposition when, in answer
to a question, he failed to dispel the premise that the constitution
or the police Act that flows from it gave the Executive in Gibraltar
power over the police. Neither the constitution nor the police
Act actually gives the Executive in Gibraltar any power over the
police whatsoever. If members of the Committee are interested
in that, I am happy to speak specifically to that issue.
The constitution creates a Judicial Service
Commission. It puts the judiciary further than ever away from
the Executive. Before, the position under the constitution was
that all Executive authority in Gibraltar was vested in the Governor.
The Governor was the Executive and we elected politicians in a
sense simply discharged a sort of delegated function on behalf
of the Governor, who was not only the Executive, but the person
solely responsible for the judiciary. It was under the old constitution
that the Executive had control over the judiciarynot day-to-day
control of the courts, but in constitutional terms. The new constitution
has worked very hard at putting miles and miles more distance
than used to exist between the Executive and the judiciary. It
sets up a Judicial Service Commission, in which there are seven
members, with three judges.
By the way, the Chief Justice has been suspended.
He has been suspended from his office pursuant to a constitutional
procedure that I will describe in a momentyou may recall
that Joe Bassano was not able to describe the process to you.
He has been suspended pursuant to a unanimous vote of the Judicial
Service Commission, including his brother judges who sit on it.
The idea given the week before last by the Leader of the Oppositionwhich
I think was a good deal less than serious enough to bring to a
Committee of this importancethat the Chief Justice's difficulties
in Gibraltar, which that led the President of the Court of Appeal
and the stipendiary magistrates on the Judicial Service Commission
to vote for his suspension from office, arose from a dispute over
precedence between the Chief Justice and the Chief Minister and
who got into his car first, shows less than the respect that this
Committee deserves to be shown.
There are huge issues affecting the Chief Justice.
The matter is now in front of a tribunal, so we should not steer
into it too far, but what has been followed is the constitutional
process. In this country, you unseat judges by votes in this Parliament.
We do not do that. The Legislature in Gibraltar and, through the
Legislature, the Executive, does not have the ability to remove
judges. I return to a question that you asked the Leader of the
Opposition, who was not sufficiently familiar with the constitutional
procedure to answer. A tribunal, on which three eminent United
Kingdom judges sit chaired by Lord Cullen, has to advise the Governor
whether he should even refer the matter of the judge's possible
removal to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. Only if the
tribunal advises the Governor to refer the matter to Her Majesty
the Queen through the Privy Council does the Governor do that.
The Privy Council then makes the decision. We could not be further
from the process for removal of a judge than that.
Q228 Mr. Illsley: Can we have a written
brief on that? It is fascinating.
Peter Caruana: It is dealt with
in section 64 of the Gibraltar constitution, a copy of which is
attached to your documents.
Chairman: We have some questions in other
areas. I am conscious that because of time constraints we might
not touch on some of them.
Andrew Mackinlay: What time were we to
Chairman: We were to finish at 11.30
am, but we may have to go beyond that if hon. Members are content
to do so. However, Prime Minister's questions are coming up, and
the Chief Minister also has travel constraints today. If there
is anything you wish to add, Mr. Caruana, the best thing would
be if you sent it to us in writing. That would be very helpful.
Let us now move onMr. Horam?
Q229 Mr. Horam: What are the prospects
of Gibraltar being delisted by the United Nations?
Peter Caruana: That is another
issue on which the Leader of the Opposition misinformed the Committee
a fortnight ago. He said that the moment an administering powerin
our case, the United Kingdomfeels that a territory that
it has administered on the UN list had been decolonised, it is
entitled to stop automatically sending in reports to the United
Nations under article 73e of the charter. Regrettably for Gibraltar,
that is not the case. The charter, resolutions and procedures
of the United Nations require the administering power to continue
to send reports to the United Nations until the United Nations
itself has resolved in the General Assembly to remove a territory
from its list. Under the charter of the United Nations, a member
state is not entitled unilaterally to decide to stop sending reports
of its territories to the United Nations under article 73e.
As for whether Gibraltar can be delisted, in
my view, under the United Nations current criteria for deciding
whether a place has stopped being a colony or a non-self-governing
territory as it calls them and therefore can be delisted under
those criteria, the answer is no. There are aspects of its criteria
with which the constitution does not comply and with which the
people of Gibraltar do not want it to comply. One of their criteria
is that the administering power should in no circumstances retain
any right whatevereven residually, which is the case in
Gibraltarto make laws for the territory.
I shall cite the most important example. It
is not possible to have a close constitutional relationship with
the United Kingdom, let alone have British sovereignty, without
the United Kingdom having even the remotest residual power of
intervention in the territory. The United Kingdom would not be
willing to have a relationship with a territory on such terms.
Therefore, the terms that we would have to deliver to the United
Nations to meet its antiquated, old-fashioned and unrealisticfor
the remaining 16 territories on its listcriteria are not
delivered by this document and the people of Gibraltar would not
want them to be delivered by it. If it did deliver the criteria,
that would mean that we would forfeit and be in non-compliance
with Britain's minimal requirementsnot just of Gibraltar,
but of all other territoriesfor a remaining constitutional
Britain has made the requirements clear to all
of its Overseas Territories. To the others it said, "If you
do not like them, you can opt for independence." To us, it
said, "But you cannot have independence." That is another
of our complaints. Putting that issue aside, Britain has said
that the least it is willing to give us is a decolonised constitution.
It has said, "I am willing to have the constitutional relationship
that the constitution delivers, which is not colonial in nature
and therefore you cannot really be said to be in a colonial relationship
with us. I am willing to maximise your self-government. I am willing
to interfere as little as possible in your affairs, as far as
you are able to look after yourself. However, I am not willing
to have international responsibility without even the means in
extremis to deliver and discharge my international responsibilities."
That little bit, which is the only thing that Britain demands
of Gibraltar, is in breach of the United Nations' decolonisation
criteria, if I may put it that way.
The answer to the question is therefore no.
That does not mean that we have not been decolonised by any objective
measure. Nobody looking at this constitution and at Gibraltar
in practice could possibly conclude that the United Kingdom and
Gibraltar remain in a colonial relationship. Indeed, the Foreign
Mr. Horam: That is fine, thank you very
Q230 Mr. Moss: May I turn to matters
European, Chief Minister? It seems particularly apposite to do
so on today of all days, given the vote that we will have later.
Do you wish to make any comments on the way in which Gibraltar's
interests were represented at the intergovernmental conference
on the Lisbon treaty?
Peter Caruana: There is no doubt
about it that starting in 2004, when the document was described
as a constitution, through the hiatus period to when it suddenly
re-emerged in a different form in June last year, Gibraltar's
specific interests have given way to a broader UK national interest
approach. In other words, when the 2004 constitutional treaty
text was being negotiated, we had to keep abreast of it and we
identified a long list of issues on which Gibraltar had concerns.
We approached the British Government when Denis MacShane was then
the Minister for Europe at the Foreign Office. The answer we received
was that, even though it was the first time that we had had the
opportunity to raise the issues, it was too latethe negotiations
were already a fait accompli. The Foreign Office did its best
to give us reassurance and comfort on our points of concern, but
they were not dealt with in the way that we would have liked,
which was in the negotiation of the treaty language.
We then relaxed a littlenot in the sense
that we gave up the agenda, but the whole constitution seemed
to go away in 2005. It then re-emerged suddenly, with very little
notice, in June, when we were told at a General Council meeting
that it was re-emerging in another form. We saw the text. You
may remember that it was published on 20-something June after
the European Council. There was a document attached to it called
"the mandate" with a list of amendments to the original
We pored over the French version of the text
and identified how many of our original Gibraltar-specific points
remained. We wrote a detailed memorandum to the Foreign Office,
but the answer was, in effect, that a political agreement had
been struck at the June Council meeting not to renegotiate and
not to reopen the original text, except the points appended to
the June Council meeting decision itself, which contained none
of the Gibraltar points. The reason given for that deal was that
the UK had managed to secure its own red lines, whatever those
might have been at the time. We were told that it was a good deal
for the UK and that it was in the UK national interest not to
seek to renegotiate the treaties. Again the UK Government sought
to give us much reassurance and tried to persuade us that many
of our concerns were not real and would not materialise as we
feared. However, in many of them there was scope for argument.
The UK was, in effect, expressing its opinion that our concerns
would not materialise, but that is no substitute for clarifying
So, both in 2004-05 and in 2007, we were in
effect presented with a fait accompli. We were not given the opportunity
of input into the negotiations and when, at the earliest opportunity,
we identified the Gibraltar points, we were told that it was too
late. Whether this was a Foreign Office decision or a higher decision
is not for me to say. I believe that by the time that these decisions
were taken, it was too late for the Foreign Office to bat for
Gibraltar. My assessment is that political decisions were taken
on behalf of Her Majesty's Government at a much higher level than
the Gibraltar department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr. Moss: May I follow up briefly?
Andrew Mackinlay: Chairman
Chairman: No, just waitlet Mr.
Moss ask his question, please. I am chairing the meeting, so just
Q231 Mr. Moss: Do the original list
you compiled under the constitutional treaty and the list of your
interests that you compiled under the amended treaty compare,
like for like?
Peter Caruana: The second one
was longerthere were new points in the treaty. For example,
there was language about territorial scope that had not been present
in the old treaty. There was language about territorial integrity
and the right of member states to protect their territorial integrity
that had not been present in the original text. Our concern about
that was that the principle of territorial integritywhich
was put in by Spainis precisely the principle that Spain
relies on in relation to Gibraltar at the United Nations.
We have been reassured by the Foreign Office
that those clauses will not become problems for us, but had we
been given the opportunity to negotiate around that language at
an early enough date, we would certainly have sought on many issues
to put the matter beyond doubt by having safe rather than ambiguous
language, which others in the future might try to interpret differently
to the way in which the UK interprets it.
Q232 Mr. Moss: The point I am getting
to is that the concerns that you highlighted and discovered in
the constitutional treaty text were replicated in the later text.
Peter Caruana: Absolutely.
Q233 Mr. Moss: So there was no difference
between the two.
Peter Caruana: No. Chairman, I
am happy to leave for the Committee a copy of the Government of
Gibraltar's full memorandum of points, together with my letter
to the Minister.
I would prefer not to give the UK Government's reply. I could
give the response, but not the covering letter. I am not in favour
of publishing other people's correspondence, as a matter of policy.
I can give my own document and also the appendix to the Minister's
letter, which is the point-by-point response, but not the covering
letterI would be so bold as to ask the Committee to seek
that from the Foreign Office itself.
Chairman: Thank you. I am sure that we
will pursue these matters further.
Q234 Sir John Stanley: Chief Minister,
I want to return to the issue of appointments made by the British
Government to Gibraltar. I am obviously referring to the appointment
of the Governor and any other individuals who have significant
authority in Gibraltar, whether executive or judicial. Do you
have any proposals or criticism to make to us as to the procedure
adopted for such appointments and the degree of consultation with
the Government of Gibraltar on those appointments?
Peter Caruana: We are beyond the
stage of making proposals. We have a brand new constitution, which
is a very balanced document, and we are happy with it. The net
result of that document is that the UK has no role whatsoever
in any appointment in Gibraltar except the Governor, and I query
whether that is Her Majesty's Government in the UK. The appointment
of the Governor is a Queen's appointment on the advice of the
Foreign Secretary, but acting as a Privy Councillor, not as the
Foreign Secretary. It is not even an appointment made on the recommendation
of the British Government; the recommendation is made by one of
the Queen's Privy Councillors. The only office anywhere in the
Government/public administration of Gibraltar in which the UK
Government have any role whatsoeverwhatever the proper
analysis of that roleis the office of Governor itself.
Neither the Foreign Office nor any other Department of State in
the British Government has, under our constitution, any say whatsoever
in the appointment of anybody else.
All Gibraltar appointments are made by local
commissions: the Judicial Service Commission, the Specified Appointments
Commission and the Public Service Commission. Those are our constitutional
bodies, staffed by citizens or officials of Gibraltar, making
all the appointments for Gibraltar. That is one of the gains under
the new constitution. The answer to your question, Sir John, is
that we are very satisfied with the new arrangement for making
On the consultation on the appointment of the
Governor, you know that there is an issue generally between Overseas
Territories and the UK Government. First, let me say that we have
been very fortunate. Certainly while I have been in officeI
am now in my 13th yearwe have not had a Governor who has
not been good for Gibraltar or someone with whom the Gibraltar
Government have not been able to work very well. So whatever may
have been the degree of consultation that took place at the front
end and whether or not it was less than we might have liked, the
result is not thereby to be impugned.
Other Overseas Territories have different issues,
because the relationship between Governments and Governors in
other Overseas Territories is markedly different, because of the
different role that the Governor plays in some of them compared
with Gibraltar. I know that Chief Ministers of other Overseas
Territories feel that there should be much more consultation.
The position of the British Government, unless it has changed
in the past year or so without my knowing it, is that they are
willing to consult on the characteristics that a candidate should
have, but not about the person himself. In other words, it is
a case of "Chief Minister, we need to appoint a new Governor.
What do you think? Do you think it should be military or civil?
Do you think it should be a person expert in the economy or a
person expert in fisheries policy?" What we cannot say is,
"We would like you to consider Sir John Stanley." Or
if the Foreign Office says, "We are considering these candidates,"
it will not entertain representations about a particular candidate.
That seems to be where the UK has drawn the line on consultation
with the Overseas Territories about Governors.
I am consulted in that generic way. I do not
get a shortlist of names. The UK Government do not say to me,
"We've reduced it to these three or four names. Which do
you prefer? What do you think? Do you think these are good guys
or bad guys?" Once I am consulted about the qualities that
a Governor should have, the next I hear of it is when I am told,
for example, "It's Sir Robert Fulton"the present
incumbent, who is, by anybody's definition, an excellent Governor.
Q235 Sir John Stanley: You raise
a very interesting point about whether the appointment of the
Governor continues to be an issue on which the British Government
continue to have accountability, most particularly to our Parliament,
for the appointment that is arrived at. That might be a very interesting
Peter Caruana: On that point,
if the Chairman will just give me 15 seconds
Q236 Sir John Stanley: If I may just
finish, I think the Committee would find it very interesting to
have advice on whether, if a Member or the Committee tabled a
question to the Foreign Office on that issue, it would be deemed
to be answerable by the Government.
Peter Caruana: I will certainly
be most interested in the answer to that question, which I suspect
will tax legal advisers at the Foreign Office quite a lot. May
I ask members of the Committee, not just in relation to Gibraltar
but generally in relation to the relationship between the UK and
all its Overseas Territories, not to overlook the House of Lords
judgment in the Quark case, which is transcendental in its analysis
of who the Governor is, on whose behalf he is exercising powers,
whose representative he is and whose representative he is not?
The view that appears to prevail in the United Kingdom, that somehow
the governor is the instrument of Her Majesty's Government and
the United Kingdom, has really been killed stone dead by the House
of Lords in this Falkland Islands-related case.
It is, I believe, the principal piece of architecture
that legally defines the nature of the relationship between the
Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom; the powers of the
United Kingdom Government to issue directives to governors; the
question of whom governors are acting for when they do things;
and, most importantly, whether Secretaries of State, when they
advise Her Majesty, are acting on behalf of the United Kingdom
Government at all. Those are all answered in this case and they
are of crucial importance.
Q237 Chairman: Thank you. We need
to move on to some other areas now. Can I ask you about the status
of Gibraltar Government representatives in the UK? Do you have
any suggestions about whether it would be a good idea to enhance
that status? If so, how? Related to that, are you also satisfied
with the current relationship with the UK Parliament?
Peter Caruana: Albert Poggio,
who is an excellent Gibraltar Government representative in London,
has made it clear that the evidence he submitted to the Committee
was submitted in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the
I say that just to make it clear that whether we agree or disagree
with anything that he saidthere are quite a lot of things
in it with which we agreeI do not want the Committee to
think that he was somehow proxying for something that the Gibraltar
Government had thought about and on which they had come to a view.
The Gibraltar Government had not addressed their mind to the subject
matter of that question until we saw Albert's evidence.
We do not think that this is a question of nomenclature
and status. I think that Albert Poggio has a huge amount of access.
Indeed, the Gibraltar Governmentand this is perhaps another
difference between Gibraltar and other Overseas Territorieshave
regular access, and as much as we want, to UK Ministers, officials
and Parliament. Some of the more distant territories have a different
experience in that respect and therefore have different needs.
The access that Albert Poggio has to the UK
Parliamentthe relationship that he enjoys with parliamentarians
here and his ability to brief themenables us to keep parliamentarians
informed about Gibraltar issues. We think it is great. We have
made a suggestionI think I said this in my paperthat
access arrangement should not rely on a particular Member of Parliament
facilitating it through one of the arrangements that everyone
knows exist, but which I am not sure I should mention.
I think that the UK Parliament should say to
the official Government representatives of its Overseas Territories,
who do not represent foreign Governments but Governments of United
Kingdom Overseas Territories, that their official designated London
representative is entitled to have a Houses of Parliament access
pass, without having to double up as some MP's this or some MP's
that. That would be a huge improvement and it would be a good
formal link between this Parliament and its Overseas Territories.
Q238 Chairman: Do you think that
Gibraltar should in some way be formally represented, perhaps
in a reformed House of Lords or in some other way within the legislature?
The French, for example, have overseas senators.
Peter Caruana: You cause me to
plunge into schizophrenia in answering this question. Half of
me would welcome it very much. But for what I am about to explain
to you, the answer would be an unqualified yes. There would be
a huge value in that for Gibraltar, even if it was not a voting
member. In the US Congress, the representatives of Puerto Rico
are allowed to attend and participate in debates but not to vote
Q239 Chairman: And Guam?
Peter Caruana: And Guam. It would
not be right that we should vote on UK taxpayer issues when we
are not UK taxpayers. So it would have to be modified in that
My concern is that the EU has a very big stick
in its hand called state aid rules, which prohibit regional selectivity;
in other words, you cannot treat one of your regions more favourably
than another one, unless it is within the official EU regional
development aid policy. Indeed, we are waiting for a judgment
in the European Court, where the UK Government and the Gibraltar
Governmentseparately, but in tandemare resisting
an EU attempt to say, in effect, that Gibraltar is no more than
a region of the United Kingdomof course, that is constitutionally
nonsensicalso we cannot have a different economic and fiscal
regime from the United Kingdom. In other words, we would have
to mimic your economic laws, which would be fatal to our economic
model. I would be very wary right now of doing anything that would
make us look more like a region of the United Kingdom, which is
what the Commission is wrongly arguing that we are.
So, yes, I would love to have some sort of representation
for Gibraltar in Parliamentindeed, in both Houses of Parliamentbut
that would have to be done in a way that did not undermine Gibraltar's
ability to be economically and jurisdictionally separate and distinct
from the UK in the EU legal framework.
Chairman: Thank you. That is helpful.
On this point, Mr. Mackinlay.
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