§ Mr. ATTLEE
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any communication from the rebel leaders at Burgos about the proposed blockade and bombardment of Barcelona, and, if so, what steps are His Majesty's Government taking to deal with that communication?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Eden)
I have received no communication about a blockade. His Majesty's Government did, however, receive on 17th November a communication from the Burgos administration in relation to the possible bombardment of Barcelona. This communication was in the following terms:The scandalous traffic in arms, ammunition, tanks, aeroplanes and even toxic gases which is being carried on through the port of Barcelona is well known. All this material is being transported to this port in ships flying different flags whose real nationality in its greater part is Russian or Spanish.The National Government being resolved to prevent this traffic with every means of war at its disposal will even go so far, if this were necessary, as to destroy that port and therefore it warns all foreign ships anchored in that harbour of the desirability of abandoning it in a very short time to avoid consequences or damage which unintentionally might be caused to them on the occasion of military action referred to, of which no further warning will be given. Foreigners and non-combatants residing in Barcelona are likewise advised to leave that town and particularly the areas near the port in order not to suffer any damage to themselves, which we wish to prevent.That is the wording of the communication I received. On receipt of this communication, His Majesty's Ambassador 2074 at Hendaye was instructed to get into touch with the Burgos authorities with a. request that they should guarantee security in certain recommended anchorages in respect of Barcelona, as they had already done in the case of the ports of Tarragona, Valencia, Alicante and Cartagena. His Majesty's Ambassador was also instructed to request that before operations were commenced proper time should be allowed for the evacuation of British residents. His Majesty's Consul-General at Barcelona and the British naval authorities in the Mediterranean have been kept informed.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
As these people are rebels and have no status in international law, should any action be taken of the kind indicated, would it not be mere piracy?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
May I take it that any action outside the three-mile limit would amount to piracy and would be resented by us?