HC Deb 16 November 1936 vol 317 cc1308-10

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the insurgent forces in Spain are liberally supplied with aeroplanes, tanks, and munitions from Italian sources, and that military experts and technicians sent by the Italian and German Governments are assisting them in every possible way; and whether he will consider making immediate inquiries from responsible persons who have recently returned from Spain with a view to submitting this evidence to the Committee of Non-Intervention?


As the House is aware, His Majesty's Government have already submitted to the International Committee such authoritative evidence of breaches of the Non-Intervention Agreement as has come into their possession. They will continue to examine, with the same end in view, any further evidence which may reach them.


Has the Foreign Secretary read the reports made in one of the prominent London papers by O. D. Gallagher, who was their war correspondent, and the reports of other correspondents, and would he be prepared to take evidence from these war correspondents as to what they have actually seen?


It is not for me to take evidence, but if the hon. Gentleman has information which he wishes to bring to my notice, I will naturally consider it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take due notice, of the statements in the "Daily Herald" about Russian tanks and Russian aeroplanes?


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that Italian equipment has, in fact, reached the rebel forces?


I have several times said that previously to the enforcement of the agreement, we were aware that equipment came from many parts. The evidence that now exists by no means relates to one side only.


Is there any evidence before the Committee that poison gas has been sent from Rome?


No, Sir, no evidence of any kind that I am aware of.

11. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the reply of the Burgos Government concerning prisoners, he will ask His Majesty's Navy to make inquiry into the condition of prisoners at La Linea, Cadiz, Seville, and Ronda?


The policy of His Majesty's Government, throughout the present dispute in Spain, has been to preserve an attitude of complete impartiality. It was with that guiding principle in mind that they addressed the offer of their good offices regarding an exchange of hostages both to the Government at Madrid and to the authorities at Burgos. Their efforts to avoid needless suffering and loss of life have been directed by the same consideration, and it has been by the strict observance of this principle of impartiality that His Majesty's Government have been able to assist, and are still assisting in this work in more than one part of Spain. As the House is already aware, the offer to which I have referred was inacceptable to both sides, though the authorities at Burgos stated that they would have no objections to their prisoners being visited by British officials. His Majesty's Government gladly took note of this. They are, however, anxious that nothing should be done which might in any way be held to infringe the principle of impartiality and thereby tend to prejudice a possible future acceptance by both sides of their offer of good offices, which remains open. I do not, therefore, think that the suggestion made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is one which could usefully be adopted in the present circumstances.


Does that mean that the Government will not take any advantage of the reply of the Burgos Government to stop the massacres of prisoners that are going on on both sides, at these places?


It means that the offer which was made remains open to both sides, and that if they will accept it, we will gladly take action.

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