The statement by
Mr Peter Hain, Minister for Europe in the House of Commons that Gibraltars pension
arrangements are "a scam" is disgraceful and outrageous. It represents conduct
unbecoming any Minister of the Crown, let alone one who is duty bound to represent and
protect Gibraltars interests. Mr Hain should withdraw his remarks and apologise to
Gibraltar for having made them.
The principal complaint by Spanish pensioners is that
their pension rates have not been increased since 1987. The British Government pays
Spanish Pensions. It is the British Government that has insisted on keeping them frozen at
1987 rates. The Spanish pensioners complaint is therefore against the UK and not against
Gibraltar. Objective observers are therefore free to make a judgement as to who, if
anybody, is perpetrating a scam.
In an ironic twist of fate, the Government notes that a
legal case has been brought against the UK Government by UK old aged pensioners living
abroad claiming that the British Government is discriminating against them because their
pensions also are not increased by the British Government in line with inflation. That is
the very complaint the Spanish pensioners make.
Mr Hains statements to the House are one-sided,
incomplete and self-serving. The Government will now write to all MPs setting out the full
facts of the matter. Mr Hain made his shameful remarks in answer to what was clearly a
"planted question". It must therefore be assumed that he fully intended to
discredit Gibraltar in this way.
The Government believes that both the content and timing
of Mr Hains remarks are designed to discredit Gibraltar in order to reduce
parliamentary and public support for our resistance to his proposed done deal on the
principles affecting our sovereignty. The intention was obviously to make Gibraltar sound
like a financial millstone around the UK taxpayers neck.
This is not the first time that sources close to Mr Hain
seek to discredit Gibraltar in an attempt to win sympathy for his done deal on sovereignty
principles. It will be recalled that recently his PPS, Caroline Flint MP, falsely accused
Gibraltar on Sky News of being engaged in "smuggling on a massive scale".
The Gibraltar Government has written to the Prime Minister and
the Foreign Secretary to formally lodge a protest at Mr Hains remarks.