HC Deb 30 November 1936 vol 318 cc820-4
15. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether our representatives at Hendaye, or at Madrid, or at Rome, have made any suggestions as to how we could succour some of the victims of the bombing of Madrid either by ourselves or in conjunction with other Powers?


As I have already explained to the House, His Majesty's Government have taken all possible steps to urge the insurgents to confine the bombing of Madrid to purely military objectives, and to provide a safety zone for the civilian population. In this connection, I have already stated that the Burgos authorities have agreed to the extension of the security zone in Madrid. His Majesty's Charge d'Affaires at Madrid is in close touch with the Madrid representative of the International Red Cross, and he is doing everything possible to assist both that organisation and the Scottish Ambulance Unit.


Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the appeal made by six Members of this House, and can he say what the Red Cross organisation is doing at the present time to help the people of Spain?


? I have seen the appeal. The International Red Cross have been very active, and it is due to their representative, Dr. Junod, that considerable transfers of refugees have been made possible to both sides, by means of His Majesty's ships.


Are there any elements of the Red Cross organisation operating with either side in this civil war, or are they standing aloof?


No, Sir, they are not standing aloof; they have desired, as we all have, to assist all parties in this matter.

16. Mr. R. ACLAND

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any evidence has been received and unanimously accepted by the Non-Intervention Committee as establishing that any and, if so, what consignments of arms have reached either party in Spain contrary to the terms of the Non-Intervention Agreement?


Such conclusions as have been reached by the committee regarding complaints, the examination of which have been completed, have been published from time to time in the communiqués issued to the Press.

19. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received from the Norwegian Government any note or information concerning the illegal boarding and detention of a Norwegian ship off the Galician coast; and whether adequate protection for British ships is being provided off all the coasts of Spain?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the second part, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the assurance which I give on this subject last Monday.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is proposed to take any special steps to prevent British vessels from conveying arms to the rebel forces in Spain through Portuguese ports?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the existing rebellion in Spain, he will take steps to prohibit the exportation in carrying of arms from this; country to ports in Portugal?


I will, with permission, answer question No. 21 together with No. 53, to which I have been asked to reply. The answer is No, Sir.


In the absence of some special measure, does the right hon. Gentleman not apprehend that the effect of the proposed Bill will be to operate, like the Non-Intervention Pact itself, almost exclusively to the detriment of the legitimate Government, in view of the known sympathies of the Portuguese Government?


No, Sir, I do not. I really cannot accept the suggestion that Portugal is especially guilty in this matter.


Is it not notorious that Portugal has become simply a conduit pipe through which munitions of war have poured in?


No, I do not think so; that is not my information, and I should have thought, purely for military reasons, that it was extremely unlikely.


I spoke of the "known sympathies of the Portuguese Government." Is it not a fact that a rebel embassy is held openly in the principal hotel in Lisbon, monopolising telephonic communication?


There are features of the conflict of which His Majesty's Government do not approve, but we have to decide what our policy is in accordance with what we think to be the best interests of our country.


Does the right hon. Gentleman deny the statement to be well-founded that the sympathy of the Portuguese Government is strongly with the Spanish rebels?


That is a matter of opinion.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct His Majesty's Consular agents in the Balearic Islands to make an immediate report concerning the presence of Italian troops in those Islands; and whether he will thereafter inform the House of the nature of the report which he receives


His Majesty's Consul at Palma reports in the normal course of his duties on the situation in the Balearic Islands. Certain information in these reports indicative of a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement has been forwarded to the International Committee.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the evidence of British subjects is available as to the presence in large numbers of Italian officers in the Balearic Islands, and of the virtual domination of those Islands by those Forces; and does he not think that it is desirable to make the public believe that the Non-Intervention Committee is not merely a means of hiding the real facts of the situation?


I am fully aware that there are Italian volunteers in Majorca, just as there are other foreign volunteers in other parts of Spain. I deprecate it, but we cannot deal with these matters alone.

23. Sir P. HANNON

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement on the establishment of a safety zone for British shipping at the port of Barcelona?


Yes, Sir. The Burgos authorities have informed me that the area lying between the land and the open sea south of the parallel 41 degrees, 20 minutes, 3 seconds, may be regarded as a safety zone for shipping at Barcelona. This information has been passed on to the shipping firms.


Are we to understand from the reply that British shipping is tolerably safe in the region of Barcelona?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Committee of Non-Intervention is now in possession of any definite proof of any intervention by any Great Power, other than Portugal, in the affairs of Spain?


I would refer the hon. Lady to the reply which I gave on Wednesday last to similar questions asked by the hon. Lady the Member for the combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) and the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), to which I have nothing to add.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements are in hand for further evacuations from Spain of persons desiring to leave?


So far as British subjects are concerned, His Majesty's ships will continue to evacuate them when and where possible, though those who elect to remain in Spain have been repeatedly warned that they do so at their own risk and that facilities for their evacuation could not be assured for an indefinite period. So far as foreign nationals, other than Spaniards, are concerned, His Majesty's Government recently gave notice that they were no longer able to accept responsibility for their evacuation. In accordance, however, with their humanitarian aims, His Majesty's Government are prepared to continue to evacuate such persons as appear to them to be deserving of their assistance, provided that His Majesty's ships are available for this purpose. Moreover, His Majesty's diplomatic and consular officers in Spain are keeping in touch with the Spanish authorities on both sides and with the representatives of the International Red Cross, with a view to facilitating the evacuation of further members of the civilian Spanish population.


In view of the present situation, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the time has arrived to evacuate all the Spaniards and leave the other countries to fight it out?

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