HC Deb 30 July 1937 vol 326 cc3599-602

3.48 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

I have been trying for a considerable time to take part in the Debate, in order to draw attention to the classic self-exposure of the Foreign Secretary in his favourite policy this afternoon. He has tried to make use of M. Blum. Anyone who has paid any attention to the speech made by M. Blum will see that he was simply trying to justify a policy which had been forced upon him. But I am not much concerned with the statement of M. Blum, but with the statement of the Foreign Secretary on the policy he has pursued. He told us that, when the revolt broke out there was no doubt that a large quantity of arms had been supplied to Franco, and said that gave the balance or advantage to Franco. When Franco had got the balance of advantage, the Foreign Secretary operated the policy of non-intervention which prevented the Spanish Government from getting any arms.

The Foreign Secretary said that the international brigade had defended Madrid. Let me say here that nobody can dispute the clear character of volunteer attaching to the international brigade. No Government sent them; they were there as volunteers. The Foreign Secretary said that the brigade came into Madrid and assisted in its defence, and so there was a balance. What did the Foreign Secretary do when the balance was, according to this regained? The balance was regained because of the volunteers; the Foreign Secretary then stopped volunteers. He does not stop the conscripts from going into Franco, but he is concerned with volunteers going to support the Government; thus is the balance once again upset in favour of Franco. The Government and the Foreign Secretary have not fol- lowed a shilly-shallying or un-thought-out policy, but a flagrant policy of preventing the Spanish Government from defeating the rebels. It would riot have been difficult for the Spanish Government to do so. Franco had the support of Germany and Italy, but even with their limited supplies the Spanish Government would have finished the rebels, if non-intervention had not been operated, and if the Spanish Government could have got the necessary material to drive the rebels out of Spain.

The Foreign Secretary and the Government cannot deny that the volunteers in the international brigade, which played such a heroic part in the early stages of the fighting while the Spanish Government's army was being reorganised out of completely raw material, are part of the Spanish army. No one outside Spain has any control of any kind over them. That brigade belongs to the Spanish Government. The armaments, aeroplanes and other equipment on the side of the Spanish Government belong to the Spanish Government. On the other hand, I challenge the Foreign Secretary or any representative of the Government to say that the German divisions and aeroplanes or the Italian divisions, aeroplanes or tanks belong to Franco. The Foreign Secretary knows, even though hon. Members behind him do not know—I am satisfied that hon. Members who support the Government never know very much, or they would not support the policy pursued by their Front Bench—that the German divisions and air forces in Spain are under the control of and are directed by the German high command and that the Italian divisions and air forces belong to the Italian Government and are directed by the Italian high command.

To talk about granting belligerent rights to General Franco in those circumstances is simply to play about with terms. If belligerent rights are granted to Franco, that is granting belligerent rights to Germany and Italy in the Mediterranean. There is much talk about not doing anything to extend the war or the possibilities of war, but suppose that you have an incident like that of the "Deutschland," when the Prime Minister got particularly distressed—he gets very distressed at the poverty of Members of this House, but apparently he is not much distressed about the poverty of old age pensioners—he got particularly distressed about the seamen who were killed on the "Deutschland," but there was never a solitary word about the men, women and children who were butchered the following day by the "Deutschland," about the hundreds of children who were blown to pieces while walking at their mothers' sides. Did the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary express regret for that? No. If you grant belligerant rights to Franco, which means granting belligerent rights to Germany and Italy, and if you have incidents of that kind, you are rushing right on to the path to general war by granting belligerent rights. I appeal to hon. Members opposite not to give the Foreign Secretary or the Government any encouragement in that regard.

With regard to the Far East, I should like to express the hope that the great masses of the Chinese people in all parts of China will unite and drive the Japanese aggressor out of China. No question should exist anywhere as to the criminal role which the Japanese played in Manchuria, and are now playing in China, and I hope that all Chinese men and women will unite in order to achieve the liberation of China from the terror that is now stalking in the land.

3.57 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I had intended expressing a complaint on behalf of a great many of the people of Scotland with regard to the time allotted to the discussion of Scottish affairs in this House, but unfortunately, owing to the fact that the Spanish question has monopolised the greater part of the Debate to-day, it will not be possible for me to do that. I would like, however, to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you will at some future time give me an opportunity of addressing the House on that matter?

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Two Minutes before Four o'Clock, until Thursday, 21st October, pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.