§ 4 and 5. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what specific proposals there are at present before the Non-Intervention Committee for securing withdrawal of foreign troops from Spain and the effective functioning of the commission of control; and are these proposals supported by the German and Italian Governments;
(2) what decisions have been arrived at by the Non-Intervention Committee regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Spain and the functioning of the commission of control?
§ 10. Mr. Arthur Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 4 whether he will make a statement on the present position with regard to maintaining the effectiveness of the naval control off the coast of Spain?
17. Mr. Vyvyan Adams
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made by the Non-Intervention Committee towards agreement for the general withdrawal of non-Spanish nationals from the theatre of the Spanish civil war?
§ 18. Mr. Wedgwood Benn
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the Government's present policy in the matter of the Spanish civil war; in particular, is the naval patrol to be continued and by what Powers; are the observers in Portugal to be permitted to resume their duties; are belligerent rights to be accorded; and, in general, are the Government still of opinion that the principle of Non-Intervention can be made effective?
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
As the House is aware, the Chairman's Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee met on Friday morning. At the outset of this meeting, Lord Plymouth renewed, on behalf of the United Kingdom and French Governments, their offer to take over the naval observation of the whole of the Spanish coast on the lines that had already been indicated. The German and Italian representatives then stated that, while their Governments were still unable to regard the Anglo-French proposals for filling the gap in the naval patrol as a satisfactory solution of the problem, they had had under consideration the question of finding new methods of rendering nonintervention as effective as possible. With this aim in view, the German and Italian Governments wished to submit certain proposals to the Committee. These proposals were, briefly, that all interested Powers should agree to recognise the possession by both parties in the Spanish conflict of belligerent rights: that the international system of naval patrol 5 should be abandoned: and that the rest of the present system of supervision by land and sea should be maintained.
These proposals formed the subject of a general discussion in the sub-committee. The Belgian, Czechoslovak, Swedish and Russian representatives expressed their support of the Anglo-French proposals, and the United Kingdom representative repeated that these proposals were still maintained. The Portuguese representative considered that the wisest course would be that the committee should adjourn to enable the chairman to discuss with the representatives of the four Powers concerned the possibility of devising some method of dealing with the situation on which agreement could be secured to renew full collaboration between the four Powers. Lord Plymouth made it clear that the scheme of supervision of the Spanish coast would be deprived of an essential element if the system of naval observation were eliminated. He added that a proposal such as that made by the German and Italian Governments to continue non-intervention without a complete scheme of supervision and to grant belligerent rights to the two Spanish parties was not acceptable to His Majesty's Government. The grant of belligerent rights could not be regarded as a substitute for a complete supervision scheme.
The sub-committee finally decided that the two sets of proposals should be communicated to all the representatives on the full committee, with a view to the situation being considered at a plenary session to be held this week. In the meantime the question of the withdrawal of foreign combatants is still before the committee, and it is the earnest hope of His Majesty's Government that it may be possible to proceed further with the discussion of this subject at an early date.
§ Mr. Attlee
Can the right hon. Gentleman state when that plenary meeting will take place, in view of the danger of the position in which the French frontier remains under control, whereas the Portuguese frontier is open, and there is an absence of any control over the sea coast of the Mediterranean?
§ Mr. Eden
No, Sir, I am afraid I cannot give an indication of the date. The House will appreciate that there are many considerations to be borne in mind before a date is fixed. I would not like the 6 House to assume that conditions on the Portuguese frontier are not satisfactory, though I do agree that the sea position has to be remedied as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Attlee
Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the present position of the German and Italian warships off that coast, and whether we have any warships in that area?
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the position is that this gap on the east coast of Spain where the German and Italian ships were stationed has not been filled, and that elsewhere around the rest of the coast of Spain control is in full operation?
Mr. Lloyd George
May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether there is not a complete suspension of observation on the Portuguese frontier at the present moment, and until some arrangement is arrived at it is open for the transmission of arms to the parties there?
§ Mr. Eden
Yes, it is quite true that there is no observation, but it is also true that the Decree under which the observers were keeping watch remains in force, and, therefore, I should not like the House to assume that the frontier has been opened to traffic. I do not think it would be fair to make that assumption.
§ Mr. Attlee
Does not the whole history of this affair show that the mere passing of decrees and signing of treaties is useless unless all the parties carry them out?
§ Mr. Sandys
In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend previously stated that recognition of belligerent rights is not incompatible with a policy of non-intervention, can he tell us whether, as a compromise, the Committee have considered the possibility of granting belligerent rights, not as an alternative, but in addition to a system of arms control?
§ Mr. Attlee
Will the right hon. Gentleman be in a position to-morrow to state when the plenary meeting will take place?
Is the coast of the Spanish Government at the present moment open to ships of all kinds to go in?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Does not the granting of belligerent rights mean granting belligerent rights to Germany and Italy?
§ Mr. Thurtle
Could the Foreign Secretary say whether all the parties to the non-intervention scheme, with the exception of Germany, Italy and Portugal, support the British-French proposals?
§ 13. Mr. Cocks
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the assurance given to the Non-Intervention Committee by the Italian representative that no Italian volunteers have left Italy for Spain since the ban was agreed upon, he will inquire whether similar assurances can be given concerning the despatch of regular troops from Italy, of Italians who have become naturalised Spaniards before leaving Italy, and of Arab troops from Libya?
§ 14. Sir William Davison
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what action has been taken by the British Government, and with what result, as to the shooting by Spanish Government forces at Bilbao, on 16th June, of a British subject, Miss Bridget Boland, an Irish lady who was a governess to a Spanish family in Bilbao?
§ Sir W. Davison
Do not the British Government recognise their responsibility for the safety of British citizens from whatever part of the Empire they may come?
19. Miss Rathbone
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the evacuation of women, children, and old men from the Basque country has been impeded by the reluctance of the French Government to increase the heavy expenditure they have already incurred in receiving into France nearly 30,000 Spanish refugees, of whom many thousands are being maintained at the French Government's expense, he will recommend and, if necessary, obtain legislative sanction for some grant from public funds to aid in the evacuation, transit, and maintenance of Basque refugee women, children, and old men, whether in this or some other country?
§ Mr. Eden
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a question asked by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge (Lieut.-Commander Tufnell) on 3rd March, in which I explained fully the conditions under which His Majesty's Government were prepared to contribute towards the relief of Spanish non-combatants. The offer of His Majesty's Government to play their part in such humanitarian work 9 under these conditions still holds good. As regards the question of the maintenance of further Basque refugees, I am informed that the French Government are prepared to allow Basque women, children and men of non-military age to pass in transit through France to other parts of Spain. This solution of the problem appears to possess the advantage that it does not involve the maintenance of Spanish refugees outside Spain.
Is it not a fact that the reply on 3rd March referred to negotiations with the Spanish Government, and in view of the tremendous burden now placed upon the Basques by the presence of vast numbers of refugees, would not His Majesty's Government consider giving some financial aid—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—in view of the fact that those Basques who have been brought to this country are being maintained wholly by private subscribers?
Is my right hon. Friend not aware that it would be better to give a public grant to provide sufficient milk for our own school-children, a policy of which the hon. Lady is an ardent supporter, before providing for children from other countries?
§ Mr. Macquisten
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that, if any more Spanish children are brought into this country, all women in this country who have no children shall be compelled to adopt half a dozen?
34. Miss Rathbone
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that General Aircraft, Limited, of Croydon, has been informed that export licences for the supply of Monospar air-ambulances to the Basque Government cannot be allowed; and whether, in view of the terms of Article 18 of the Geneva Convention of 1929, he will now reconsider this decision?
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Secretary Overseas Trade Department)
I presume that the hon. Member refers to the replies given to certain inquiries, which were not supported by evidence that the aircraft in question were in fact destined for Red Cross use. Any application for an export licence for ambulance aircraft for Spain supported by an approved Red Cross organisation will certainly be sympathetically considered.
Is it not the case that the Red Cross organisation is not working in Spain; and would it not suffice if the application were supported by some recognised organisation that was working in Spain?
§ Mr. Hudson
I have nothing to add to the answer I have already given. If it were an approved Red Cross organisation, the matter would be sympathetically considered.
May I press the point that the Red Cross organisation has declined to work in Spain? Is it fair to deprive the Basque Government of these ambulances if the Red Cross organisation refuses to work in Spain and has nothing in Spain? Neither the international Red Cross nor the British Red Cross has a single ambulance in Spain.
§ Mr. Hudson
As far as I am aware none of the applications received have been from organisations that could be classed as approved Red Cross organisations.