HC Deb 27 July 1937 vol 326 cc2830-4
6. Mr. Bellenger

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any and, if, so, what arrangements regarding trade payments exist between Great Britain and that part of Spain under insurgent control?

Mr. Stanley

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 17th December last to the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Rankin) of which I am sending him a copy.

7. Mr. Bellenger

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give any information as to the principal features of the German-Spanish trade agreement; and whether such agreement is likely to result in a considerable diversion of iron ore from countries hitherto recipients of such supplies to Germany?

Mr. Stanley

I am not at present in a position to add to the answer given on 22nd July to the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams).

Mr. Bellenger

Has the right hon. Gentleman's Department any information regarding this important treaty?

Mr. Stanley

The details have not yet been published.

Mr. T. Williams

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed the persistent decline in the sale of coal from this country to Spain and the decline in the purchases of iron ore?

Mr. Stanley

We cannot expect a civil war to go on for a year without having some effects.

Mr. Williams

But has the right hon. Gentleman noticed that just as British trade has diminished German trade in iron ore has increased?

Mr. Stanley

There is another question on the Paper with regard to iron ore.

8. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity of iron ore imported by this country from Spain for each year from 1930 and to the most recent date of the current year?

Mr. Stanley

As the answer includes a number of figures I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The total tonnage of iron ore and concentrates (excluding chrome iron ore and pyrites) imported into the United Kingdom and consigned from Spain during each of the years 1930–36 and the first six months of 1937 was as follow:

1930 1,828,000
1931 888,352
1932 808,820
1933 875,649
1934 1,182,275
1935 1,128,949
1936 1,185,833
1937 (six months ended June) 502,203

9. Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many foreign ships have been transferred to the British register during the last eight months; and how many of them have been engaged in transporting merchandise and foodstuffs to the ports of Bilbao, Valencia, and Cartagena under the British flag and protection of the British fleet in extra-territorial waters?

Mr. Stanley

Some 210 foreign ships have been registered or provisionally registered as British since 1st December, 1936. Since that date, so far as I can ascertain, nine of these ships are, or have been, engaged in trade with the Spanish ports named in the question.

Mr. Mander

Is there anything very wrong in supplying food to starving people?

Mr. Stanley

I do not know that anybody has suggested that there is.

Mr. Cocks

Would any ship require protection in extra-territorial waters except from pirates, and is not one of the objects of the British Navy to put down piracy?

15. Sir H. Croft

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that large numbers of ships have recently been acquired and chartered under the British flag for trade with the Governments of Valencia, Barcelona and Santander; whether he will state the number of such ships acquired in the last eight months; and whether there is any foreign control of the recently-formed companies operating these ships?

Mr. Stanley

I am aware that some British ships which have recently changed ownership are engaged in trade with Spain and that some ships trading with Spain are under charter to the Spanish Government authorities. I do not know the number of ships concerned or the extent of any foreign interest there may be in the companies operating them.

Sir H. Croft

Can my right hon. Friend inform the House whether these ships have been chartered by the transfer of Spanish money, and whether in fact that money has been exported in violation of the constitution of the country?

Mr. Stanley

I am afraid that I could not give my hon and gallant Friend any information about the source of the capital of these firms, as that is not one of the matters that we have to take into consideration when registering ships.

Mr. Mander

Is not this a great tribute to the strength and efficiency of the British Navy?

77. Miss Horsbrugh

asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs what representations have been made to the Spanish Government concerning the murder in Barcelona, on 2nd July, 1936, of Joseph Hood Mitchell, a British subject, who had been assured in the Barcelona law courts that the Catalan authorities would afford him adequate protection; whether he is aware that the alleged murderers, although arrested by the authorities, were discharged without punishment; and what compensation he is requiring from the Spanish Government for Mr. Mitchell's widow, now resident in this country?

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

As my hon. Friend is doubtless aware, the outrage in question took place 16 days before the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. During the period 2nd July to 18th July, urgent representations regarding this matter were made to the Spanish Government, who expressed their deep regret at the crime and undertook to take all possible steps to trace the murderers. His Majesty's Government have carefully considered the question of a claim for compensation from the Spanish Government, and have with regret come to the conclusion that there is not sufficient evidence of negligence on the part of the Catalan authorities prior to the murder to justify the formulation of a claim. It appears, in fact, from my information that Mr. Mitchell, who had been threatened for some time, was unwilling to accept police protection. I have not so far been able to ascertain whether, in fact, the murderers were arrested and subsequently released. My hon. Friend will realise the difficulties of making successful inquiries on this point in existing circumstances. If my hon. Friend will, however, communicate to me such information as she possesses tending to substantiate her statement on this point, I will certainly consider requesting His Majesty's Consul-General to investigate this matter further. Should such an investigation confirm the position as set forth by her, I should certainly be prepared to consider further the question of making a request for compensation on this ground.