Ukraine, Middle East, North Africa, Security Debate – Intervention

Mr Hain: I support the hon. Gentleman’s point about resourcing the Foreign Office—and the Foreign Secretary may agree on that, too. The budget cuts, which started under the Labour Government, have been remorselessly pursued under the hon. Gentleman’s Government. For a lot of other Whitehall Departments the Foreign Office budget is not even petty cash, but the cuts have been disastrous in their effect on the Foreign Office’s capabilities.

Rory Stewart: I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much for his intervention. As he knows, this is not simply a question of resources; it is also a question of the priority we put on policy analysis and challenge. It is about the people we promote and the people we hold accountable when they fail, and it is about a seriousness within the institution about getting to grips with these issues.

EU Treaty Change

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): If the Foreign Secretary achieved his reform objectives and any consequential treaty changes in principle with European Council members, but another country subsequently rejected those treaty changes in a referendum, what would he do?

Mr Hague: That argument can be made about any treaty in the European Union. In respect of past treaties, including those that the right hon. Gentleman negotiated, my party would say that the people of this country should have had the right to say no in a referendum. Treaty change, of course, requires unanimous approval. As he well knows, that has not stopped many treaties over the past 15 years—indeed, over the past few decades—and it will not stop treaty change in future.

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.