HC Deb 27 July 1936 vol 315 cc1070-3

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement as to the present position in Spain?


I hope to have an opportunity of referring to the situation in Spain during the Debate later in the afternoon. Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to wait till then.

19. Brigadier-General SPEARS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why, at the outbreak of civil disturbances in Madrid, the Ambassador's staff of His Majesty's Embassy did not return to the capital to safeguard the interests, lives, and property of British subjects resident there?


Owing to the sudden and unforeseen interruption of road and rail communication, it was impossible for the Ambassador and his staff to return to Madrid, but the appropriate steps will be taken as soon as travelling becomes practicable.

Brigadier-General SPEARS

Could not some members of the Embassy staff have endeavoured to return to Madrid by air?


I do not think I can add anything to what I have said. The position is one of considerable difficulty, and again I would say that I shall have something to say on this subject in the Debate.

20. Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any request from the Spanish Government for facilities to purchase munitions from British firms, in view of the fact that the French Government have been so approached by the Spanish Government?

23. Mr. LYONS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any representations from the Spanish Government, similar to those addressed to the French Government, for permission to negotiate for the supply of armaments from British sources?


The answer to both questions is, No, Sir.


Is there any substance in the second part of Question 20 which suggests that the Spanish Government approached the French Government for the purchase of munitions from British firms?


I cannot answer for the French and Spanish Governments. I merely said, "No, Sir."


Is it not absurd to ask our own Foreign Minister whether the Spanish Government has approached the French Government on any matter?

21. Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the policy of His Majesty's Government in respect of the supply of arms and munitions to Spain, where a civil war is now in progress?


No applications have been received for licences to export arms to Spain since the commencement of the rebellion. The ordinary regulations governing the licensing of exports of arms destined to foreign countries are applicable to shipments of arms to Spain.


Is it not the policy of the Government to assist a friendly Government when it is combating these scoundrels?

22. Mr. LEVY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ask the British Ambassador in Madrid to furnish a report on the traffic in arms from other countries into Spanish territory?


I see no reason to ask for a special report on this matter. His Majesty's Ambassador will in the normal course report on all relevant aspects of the situation in Spain when the position is clearer.

24. Mr. LYONS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has been in communication with the French Government on the subject of British co-operation in the Spanish conflict; and whether he can give an assurance that this country will not be involved in any French intervention?


The answer to the first part of the question is, No, Sir. As regards the second part of the question, I have no knowledge of any intervention by the French Government, and no question of intervention by His Majesty's Government arises.


Is it not a fact that all that the Spanish Government is doing now is seeking to preserve public order against rebels?

65. Mr. LYONS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any armaments have been supplied from this country to Spain in recent weeks?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Captain Crookshank)

Particulars of exports from this country are not compiled for periods of less than a calendar month and the figures of exports of arms, ammunition and military and naval stores consigned to Spain during July will not be available until the middle of August.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to allowing Spanish or other refugees to enter Gibraltar; how many have already been allowed; and how many have been refused entrance?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)

The policy has been to admit British subjects and families freely in addition to Spaniards living outside Gibraltar who normally work there. It is not possible to give reliable figures of the numbers who have entered, but it is estimated that there are between 5,000 and 9,000 British subjects and Spaniards. It has been necessary to refuse admission to large numbers of Spaniards as the accommodation available is extremely limited, and for sanitary and military reasons it is not possible to take more than have been admitted at present. A refugee camp has been established on the North front and food kitchens have been opened.


May I ask whether the men who are employed by the various coal distributing firms in Gibraltar enter Gibraltar each morning and return to their homes in Spain in the evening?


They used to do that, but at present conditions are such that they cannot do so. A great deal of fighting has been taking place in the neighbourhood of Gibraltar.


Do I understand that these men are now being housed in Gibraltar?


I make no doubt that within the category referred to in my answer as Spaniards who have been admitted, are those who normally live outside British territory but work inside British territory.


Is there any zone delimitated as territorial waters, and, if so, in view of the narrow waters which surround Gibraltar, how are these difficulties being overcome?


I would rather have that question on the Order Paper.