HC Deb 14 April 1914 vol 61 cc22-3
Sir J. D. REES

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a question, of which I have given him private notice: Whether he has information to the effect that the troops of Generals Curranza and Villa have injured, or are about to injure, the British oilfields at Tuxpan, and in other places in Mexico; what news has been received regarding the fighting at Tampico, where the refineries and cisterns are situated; whether any reliable information has been received to the effect that Mr. Benton was assassinated by a member of General Villa's staff and had not even the semblance of a trial; and if the answer to all or any of these questions be in the affirmative, what steps His Majesty's Government is taking?


His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington having had it brought to his notice that in the event of a recrudescence of activity on the part of the rebel forces in the Tampico district British interests at Tuxpan would be seriously endangered, represented these facts to the-Secretary of State at Washington on Thursday last. The same evening the Secretary of State telegraphed to the United States Consul at Tampico instructing him to impress on the combatants of both sides the most serious situation which would be created by a wanton destruction of the oilfields. Through the British Vice-Consul at El Paso Sir Cecil Spring Rice has received satisfactory assurances from General Carranza regarding the orders issued for the protection of the wells belonging to foreign subjects. His Majesty's Consul at Tampico reports that, after six days' fighting, the rebel forces retired towards Victoria. No damage was done at Tampico, but some has been committed at Arbol Grande and Dona Cecilia, to what extent is not yet known. No reliable information has yet been received by His Majesty's Government as to the fate of Mr. Benton.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman why he speaks of General Carranza's force as "rebels"? Are they not fighting for freedom?


I think the word "rebels" describes them in the absence of their being conquerors.