HC Deb 01 July 1937 vol 325 cc2157-8
Mr. Attlee

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any further statement regarding the evacuation of refugees from Santander?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Viscount Cranborne)

Yes, Sir. The French Ambassador informed my right hon. Friend this morning that, in view of the urgency of the matter, the French Government were prepared to allow the "Habana" to convey women, children and refugees of non-military age from Santander to Bordeaux, provided that it is clearly established that these refugees are proceeding in transit through France to other parts of Spain. I understand that the French Government will require that detailed lists of those refugees to be embarked shall be provided, or that, failing this, the authorities at Santander shall provide statements of the numbers of women, children and others to be evacuated, and that these statements shall be visaed by the French consular agent at Santander. I understand further that the refugees thus proceeding will be able on disembarking at Bordeaux to indicate their destination across the Spanish frontier, and that facilities will be given to His Majesty's Consul at Bordeaux to proceed on board the "Habana" on arrival to verify their numbers. Any men of military age found on board on arrival will be sent back and not allowed to land.

His Majesty's naval authorities are being requested to provide naval protection for the "Habana" to proceed from Bordeaux to Santander and to return thence to Bordeaux after embarking the refugees, and my information is that the French Government will issue the necessary instructions to their authorities in regard to the measures to be taken on the arrival of the vessel at Santander.

The possibility of the French Government being prepared to receive further refugees proceeding by other ships for the purpose of crossing France en route for other parts of Spain is understood to be conditional on the acceptance by the Spanish authorities of the measures which the French Government may consider necessary in order to satisfy themselves as to the numbers, nature and destination of such persons. I understand that the Spanish Government are already in communication with the French Government on this subject.