HC Deb 14 April 1937 vol 322 cc981-5
4. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any information or reports as to commercial concessions granted by the rebel leaders in Spain to Germany and to Italy, and especially as to the granting of rights to exploit ore mines in Spain and Spanish Morocco?

Mr. Eden

I have certain information which goes to show that General Franco has entered into current commercial contracts with various foreign countries. Such contracts must, however, be distinguished from commercial concessions for the future. His Majesty's Consul at Tetuan reported in February a rumour of the sale of the iron ore products of the Espanola del Rif mine in Spanish Morocco to German nationals. This report was not, however, confirmed, and I am now informed that the mine in question had been authorised to fulfil its contracts with the United Kingdom for the rest of the year. I have had no reports to show that General Franco has granted, or promised to grant, to Germany or Italy any right to exploit iron mines in Spain or Spanish Morocco.

Mr. Thorne

In the event of General Franco being defeated, will the Spanish Government be entitled to nullify everything that has been done?

Mr. Eden

That is rather a wide question, which I should like to see on the Paper.

5. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government with regard to the request made by the Spanish Government for an inquiry by the Non-Intervention Committee into the invasion of Spanish territory by Italian armed forces?

Mr. Eden

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my noble Friend gave to a question asked on this subject by the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) on Monday last.

6. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the position of Mr. Koestler, recently News-Chronicle correspondent in Malaga, where he is being detained, what charges have been made against him, and what efforts are being made to obtain his release?

Mr. Eden

Mr. Koestler is not a British subject, but, in view of the fact that he was a correspondent of an English newspaper, His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has already been instructed to inform the insurgent authorities unofficially that His Majesty's Government are concerned for his welfare and would be glad of information concerning his position.

Mr. Mander

Although Mr. Koestler is not a British subject, is my right hon. Friend aware that he was taken by a Spanish staff officer by force from the house of Sir Peter Chalmers-Mitchell which was flying the Union Jack? In those circumstances, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it is right that we should make the most urgent representations?

Mr. Eden

It is because of the connection of this gentleman with an English newspaper that I have taken this action.

Mr. Mander

But is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that these are the facts—that he was taken by force from that house?

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

What is the nationality of this correspondent?

Mr. Eden

I do not know.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Of what country is the correspondent a citizen?

Mr. Eden

I do not know.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how representations are made to a Government which the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) does not recognise?

Mr. Mander

I understood my right hon. Friend to say that the facts as stated by me are correct?

Mr. Eden

I would not like to say that. What I do say is that we have taken what action we can in the exceptional circumstances.

Mr. Jagger

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, as the Government are recognised by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), he can communicate through him?

8. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many notes have been addressed by His Majesty's diplomatic agents to the insurgent leaders at Burgos since 1st January last; and how many replies have been received?

Mr. Eden

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave yesterday to a similar question asked by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), and express the hope that he too will not find it indispensable to press for this information, for the reasons already given.

13. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what country the Non-Intervention Committee has entrusted the observation of the French frontier of Spain?

Mr. Eden

The observation of the Franco-Spanish frontier is not entrusted to any one country. It will be under- taken by five administrators, each in charge of a separate zone. According to the present arrangements these administrators will be a Swedish, a Norwegian, a Finnish, a Latvian and a Netherlands subject respectively. They are responsible to a "Chief Administrator" who is in charge of the whole frontier. The officer appointed for this post is Colonel Lunn, a Danish subject.

Captain Cazalet

Has this scheme started yet?

Mr. Eden

I am told that the subcommittee is to meet to-morrow and that the scheme will be in full operation early next week.

14. Sir Arthur Salter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any communication from the Spanish Government as to the landing of Italian combatants in substantial numbers at Cadiz on or about 24th March; and, if so, whether he has made, or is making, inquiries as to the facts of the case?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. A Note has now been received from the Spanish Ambassador in which it is stated that the Embassy have received confirmation of the disembarkation at Cadiz on 23rd, 24th and 25th March of 10,000 Italians. I am making inquiries into the statements contained in this Note.

Sir A. Salter

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House of the result of his inquiries?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. They all go to show that I would like next week's scheme this week, if I could get it.

Mr. Bellenger

Would not this be a gross breach of the undertakings given by the Italian Government?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, it certainly would.

45. Mr. Riley

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that His Majesty's Government have not accorded belligerent rights to the rebel forces in Spain, instructions have been or will be given to provide adequate protection for British ships to carry on their legitimate trade in delivering non-contraband goods to Spanish ports?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Baldwin)

Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to await the Debate this afternoon.