HC Deb 13 July 1937 vol 326 cc1024-6
1. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information regarding the fortification by German experts of the coastline adjacent to Gibraltar and the mounting of guns commanding that fortress?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs answered a similar question by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Kirkcaldy District of Burghs (Mr. Kennedy) yesterday.

Mr. Cocks

Do these guns include 16 inch Krupp guns and 12 inch howitzers, and is it not a fact that we have always enjoyed a friendly understanding with the Spanish Government that these heights facing Gibraltar should not be fortified?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

That may or may not be the case.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know perfectly well that he is responsible for the technical side, and that the Foreign Office knows nothing about that side? He has been asked a plain question: Is Gibraltar outgunned and able to be destroyed by those guns? Will he give a plain answer to that?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

That is the question on the Paper, as I realise perfectly well, but it happens to be a question which was answered yesterday, to which answer I referred the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Benn

I heard the answer yesterday, and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, no technical information was given yesterday. He is asked because he is responsible. will he answer?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The question was specifically answered yesterday, and all the information in the possession of the Government was given.

Mr. Benn

Then we are to take it that there is no information in the possession of the War Office relative to those guns save what was given to the House yesterday in the answer of the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Kennedy

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my question yesterday was not answered? I put a specific question as to whether an assurance was given by Germany in regard to this matter, and whether that assurance was accepted by the British Government contingent on Franco's victory in the Spanish war. That question was not answered.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

If the House wishes to prolong this matter, it will find that what I have said is correct. The answer which was given yesterday is that General Franco has installed batteries on the coast beween Algeciras and Tarifa.

42. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether consideration was given at the Imperial Conference to the effect on Empire communication of German-Italian control of Spain, including submarine bases and aerodromes; and whether any representations have been received on the subject from Dominion Governments?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative.

Mr. Mander

In view of the vital importance to the Dominions of keeping the communications with the Mediterranean open, will the right hon. Gentleman explain why it was not thought worth while to give the matter any consideration?

Mr. MacDonald

I think that the Dominions are quite capable themselves of raising matters which it will be relevant for them to raise.

Mr. Benn

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that at the Imperial Conference they took no cognisance of the fact that the fortress of Gibraltar is now dominated by German guns?

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

Is it not the fact that there is no evidence whatever of any such suggestion as that indicated in the question?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May I ask whether the recent declaration of the Foreign Secretary, that this country has interests in regard to the territorial and political integrity of Spain which cannot be disregarded, was made as a result of consultation with the Dominion authorities at the Imperial Conference, and represents the view not of this country alone, but of the Dominions as well?

Mr. MacDonald

That is another question, and it is obvious that I cannot answer it without having notice of it.

Forward to