From his records, received 21th March 2002
concerning 10th December 1970, when he was Chief Minister.
Sir, for some considerable time we have been faced. with the difficulty of how to meet outstanding obligations to Spanish subjects who formerly worked in Gibraltar. There are due to them as workers a number of payments which both from a legal and moral point of view we would like to see discharged. Owing to practical difficulties not within our control it has not until now been possible to arrive at what seems to be an acceptable settlement.
As the House will know, the monies due are arrears of wages, work pensions, work gratuities and benefits payable under the Employment Injuries and Social Insurance Ordinances. The main problem concerns these last payments which are held in the Social Insurance Fund, the sole purpose of which is to pay benefits to those people who have contributed to it. Part of that Fund has been built up by Spanish workers. However, there has been a very real and difficult problem concerning the actual payments to these workers of the old age pensions and other benefits to which their past contributions; have made or will make them eligible in the future. This is that owing to the complexities of the different benefits it is necessary to scrutinise individual cases and to check in personal interviews the circumstances of the applicants. This has not proved possible to arrange.
We have now come to the conclusion, after an exhaustive examination of the possibilities, that the only feasible solution is to negotiate the transfer to the competent Spanish organisation of that part of the Social Insurance Fund. held in respect of these workers; and for the Spanish authorities then to take over the responsibility for making the appropriate payments to individuals. This we have asked, the British Government, on Gibraltar's behalf, to do. Negotiations have accordingly been initiated through the British Embassy in Madrid; details of the transfer, as well as of the arrangements made thereunder, have still to be worked out. In due course the necessary legislation to authorise the transfer will be brought before the House.
The question of the remaining-payments is more straightforward. In the case of arrears, of wages, work pensions and payments under the Employment Injuries Ordinance .we do not expect much further delay, because the number of individuals concerned and the amounts involved are small. In the case of work gratuities there will be certain financial implications depending on the incidence of applications, and it will be necessary, in due course, to seek the approval of the House to vote the additional funds required.
I feel confident that the House will appreciate that the Government should, be endeavouring, in the Interests of the workers themselves and the good name of Gibraltar, to resolve this problem.