Diplomatic Relations Spain

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I endorse the strong criticism across the House of the serious breach of an international treaty in opening the bag, but may I probe the Minister’s diplomatic strategy to resolve the escalating tension of the past few months? Will he revisit the work done by Lord Howe and Lord Garel-Jones under his party’s leadership in government, and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) and I under the previous Labour Government, which respects the paramount rights of Gibraltarians but recognises that Spain, currently one of our closest friends, has an historic grievance? Until we bring people together for proper negotiations, we will not resolve these matters.

Mr Lidington: I would like to see people come together through the ad hoc talks on practical issues, which were proposed in 2012 by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. We still hope that it will be possible for such talks to take place. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his support, but may I add, as gently as I can, that I do not believe that the example he and the former Foreign Secretary set when they were in government would help? It added hugely to the sense of mistrust in Gibraltar about the intentions of the British Government.