HC Deb 08 December 1937 vol 330 cc357-61
1. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been returned to General Franco's notification that he considers he has the right to declare a blockade of the Spanish coasts?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has been instructed to inform the Salamanca authorities that as belligerent rights have not been recognised to either party in the Spanish conflict. His Majesty's Government are not prepared to admit their right to declare any such blockade. His Majesty's Ambassador has also been instructed to warn the Salamanca authorities against any interference with British shipping trading with Spanish ports, and to make it clear that such shipping will continue to be protected as hitherto.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has it also been made clear that we do not intend to tolerate a repetition of the humiliating incidents off Bilbao and Santander?

8. Captain Ramsay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Valencia Government are now engaged on promoting a scheme for inducing this country to intervene on the pretext of proposing terms of truce; and will he assure this House that he will only consider such action if requested to do so spontaneously by both sides?

Mr. Eden

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The second part does not, therefore, arise.

Captain Ramsay

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will not be drawn into any form of intervention to bring pressure on either side in Spain?

Mr. Eden

I do not know about bringing pressure, but certainly His Majesty's Government will do everything in their power to bring hostilities to an end.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the suggestion in the question that the Valencia Government have made proposals to His Majesty's Government on this matter, is grossly in accurate?

Mr. Eden

I have had no approaches from anybody.

Miss Rathbone

Is it the case that the Spanish Government have completely repudiated any such intention?

11. Mr. Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the names of the ships legally flying the British flag which have been captured by the Spanish in surgent forces; the dates of their capture and release; position when captured; whether on the high seas or in territorial waters; the port in which detained; the reasons given for their capture and detention; whether their cargoes were confiscated; and what claims have been for warded to the insurgent authorities?

Mr. Eden

Ten ships were captured at various dates. All have been released. As the desired particulars are of considerable length, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. AS regards the question of claims, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) on 10th November.

Colonel Wedgwood

Were the cargoes confiscated or were they restored?

Mr. Eden

The details are in the answer, which is rather long.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it true that they have made no advance in connection with these claims?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir.

Following are the particulars:

  1. 1. Steamship "Molton": Captured 14th July, detained at Bilbao, released 9th September.
  2. 2. Steamship "Candlestone Castle": Captured 18th July, detained at Ferrol, released nth September.
  3. 3. Steamship "Mirupanu": Captured on 24th July, detained at Ferrol, released 13th November.
  4. 4. Steamship "Caper": Captured on 10th August, detained at Ferrol, released 15th October.
  5. 5. Steamship "Burlington": Captured on 30th August, detained at Palma, released 20th September.
  6. 6. Steamship "Seven Seas Spray": Captured 1st September, detained at Santoña, released 31st October.
  7. 7. Steamship "Stanwold": Captured 8th September, detained at Ferrol, released 1st November.
  8. 8. Steamship "Bobie": Captured 3rd October, detained at Ferrol, released 13th November.
  9. 9. Steamship "Dover Abbey": Captured 5th October, detained at Ferrol, released 13th November.
  10. 10. Steamship "Yorkbrook": Captured on 5th October, detained at Ferrol, released 20th November.

It is not possible to give the exact position of all these ships at the time of capture, though it is certain that the "Molton," "Candlestone Castle," "Mirupanu," "Seven Seas Spray" and "Stanwold" were captured within territorial waters. I cannot undertake to interpret to the House the reasons for which the Salamanca authority acted in respect of these ships. I understand that the cargoes of the "Mirupanu," "Candlestone Castle," "Caper," "Burlington" and "Stanwold" were confiscated.

12. Mr. Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the names of ships legally flying the British flag which have been fired at, sunk, or damaged by mine, torpedo, bomb, gun, or machine-gun fire on the high seas in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Bay of Biscay, respectively, since the outbreak of the Spanish civil war; the position when attacked and, where known, who was responsible; and what claims have been forwarded to the responsible authorities?

Mr. Eden

I regret that the provision of the information desired by the hon. Member involves a considerable amount of research in files running back for well over a year. It has been quite impossible to embark on this task in the time available. If the hon. Member persists in his desire that this work should be undertaken, perhaps he will be good enough to repeat his question at a later date.

13. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the position with regard to the working of non-intervention in Spain; whether satisfactory replies have now been received from the Spanish Government and General Franco; and whether provisional arrangements have been made for the formation and despatch of a com mission of inspection and how soon it is expected to visit Spain?

Mr. Eden

The Chairman's Sub-Committee of the Non-intervention Committee met yesterday to consider the replies received from the two parties in Spain to the proposals for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers. The Sub-Committee found that these replies were of such a nature as to enable them to continue their task. The Sub-Committee then proceeded to consider the methods of constituting the two commissions which it is proposed to send to Spain. The hon. Member will recall that the Resolution of 4th November related the withdrawal both to the reinforcement of the observation scheme and to the grant of belligerent rights. There are, therefore, a number of questions which will need to be considered by the Committee before the Resolution of 4th November can be put into effect, and there are also particular points raised in the replies of both the parties in Spain. I can only assure the hon. Member that, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, everything is being done to expedite the Committee's work.

Mr. Mander

Have provisional steps been taken to select the chairman and other members of the Commission so that in the event of agreement being reached no time will be lost, and there can be an immediate despatch of business?

Mr. Eden

A great deal of preliminary work has been done both as to personnel and the terms of reference.

Sir Patrick Hannon

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the work of the Non-Intervention Committee is not being seriously embarrassed at the moment by the presence of the Leader of the Opposition in Spain?