§ 1. Mr. POTTER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ascertain from the Spanish Government and state the reason why that Government has withheld payment to the British constructors of the railway now operating from Calatayud to Cidad, near Santander?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Eden)
The present position is as follows. Out of a total claim on behalf of their Spanish subsidiary of 104,000,000 pesetas the British company received a year ago 50,000,000 pesetas in blocked Government bonds. These bonds are now being released gradually, as then arranged. As regards the balance of 54,000,000 pesetas, no payment has yet been effected. The reasons which have prompted the Spanish Government to withhold the payment of the sums clue were publicly stated in the Cortes on the 15th of September last by Senor Prieto, then Minister of Finance. It had, he said, been brought to his notice that the original concession (which had been granted to a Spanish subject) was one of the doubtful transactions of the Dictatorship; and in spite of all the consideration that he had for the foreign interests involved he could not give them treatment preferential to that accorded to Spanish contractors whom it had not yet been possible to pay.
In spite of the fact that the company directly concerned is Spanish, His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid has made unofficial representations to the Spanish Government on more than one occasion. I regret, however, to state 824 that the only payments so far made are represented by the releases of bonds referred to above.