HC Deb 30 July 1937 vol 326 cc3499-502
7. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in view of the deadlock in the Non-Intervention Committee, he will consider the advisability of referring the situation in Spain to the League of Nations for action under the terms of the Covenant with a view to the definition as an aggressor of any country or countries held to be actively intervening by the landing of troops, and the taking of such collective action as may seem most practicable for preventing any further breach of Article 10 of the Covenant and for facilitating the withdrawal of foreign elements at present in Spain?

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

The Chairman's Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee have, as the House is aware, invited the various Governments to submit their views in writing on the proposals put forward by His Majesty's Government on 14th July. These replies are being considered by the Sub-Committee to-day. In the circumstances, I am not prepared to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. Mander

Is it not clear that the policy indicated in the Question is the only realistic way of dealing with this question from the point of view of those who believe in the League?

Viscount Cranborne

I am not prepared to accept the hon. Member's original assumption that a deadlock has been produced.

Mr. Petherick

Will my Noble Friend assure the House that the Government intend to continue their present peaceful policy even at the risk of disobliging some of the "pink" Jingoes on those benches?

8. Captain Cazalet

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what steps have recently been taken by His Majesty's Government to facilitate the evacuation of non-combatants from Madrid?

Viscount Cranborne

As the result of the transport service organised by the Acting British Consul at Madrid with the assistance of the International Red Cross, and of the facilities provided by His Majesty's Ship "Maine," approximately 1,000 Spanish non-combatants have been evacuated to France from Madrid via Valencia during the present month.

Captain Cazalet

Can my hon. Friend say whether that number includes any women or children about whom I addressed a Question some time ago who are in prisons in Madrid?

Viscount Cranborne

I should like notice of that question, but it has been completely impartial as between the two parties.

Mr. W. Roberts

Have the Spanish Government facilitated this, and can the hon. Gentleman say whether, in view of that fact, General Franco will not facilitate the evacuation of refugee women and children from Santader?

Viscount Cranborne

Certainly, the Spanish Government have facilitated that, but the further question of the hon. Member rather goes beyond the present one.

Miss Rathbone

Is it not the fact that the representatives of the League at Geneva engaged in this work had the greatest difficulty in receiving reciprocal lists of people from General Franco whom he was willing to let go?

Viscount Cranborne

I should like notice of that question.

9. Mr. W. Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the repeated attacks upon Red Cross units in Spain, he will make it a conditions of granting belligerent rights to the insurgents that the Red Cross is in future respected.

Viscount Cranborne

No such attacks have been brought to my notice. The second part of the Question does not, therefore arise.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

Would the noble Lord call shooting at a refugee ship such an attack?

Viscount Cranborne

I think that my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said that there has been no case where a refugee ship has been shot at.

Mr. Benn

Then may I ask the noble Lord whether he has inquired from the captain of the ship what his views were about that ship.

Viscount Cranborne

That question should be put to the Admiralty.

Mr. W. Roberts

Has the attention of the hon. Gentleman been drawn to cases of shelling and bombing ambulances on the Madrid front?

Colonel Wedgwood

Has the hon. Gentleman any information as to the killing of Julian Bell?

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is it not the fact that it is a perfectly simple matter for a man-of-war to fire a shot across the bows of a merchant ship without any possibility of hitting it?

11. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the provisions of the clause in the Anglo-Italo Agreement relative to the preservation of the status quo in the Mediterranean, he will make representation to the Italian Government on the subject of the present action of Italy in Spain and the Mediterranean?

Viscount Cranborne

No, Sir; in addition to the provisions of the Anglo-Italian Declaration itself, the assurances given by the Italian Government regarding the integrity of the present territories of Spain which accompanied that Declaration, have more than once been renewed, the most recent occasion being within the last few days.

14. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has taken, or will take, steps to demand from the Spanish insurgents the return of, or compensation for, any cargoes the property of British consignors which have been seized in ships captured by insurgent vessels off the Spanish coast; and whether the return of such cargoes has in fact been effected or promised?

Viscount Cranborne

Yes, Sir. The policy of His Majesty's Government is to make protests to either party in Spain against any illegal seizure of British property on the high seas whatever be the flag flown by the ship on which such property is carried. Where British cargoes have been illegally detained His Majesty's Government have taken all possible steps to secure their release, and have reserved their right to make claims for damage and loss sustained by British interests. His Majesty's Government will continue to press for satisfaction in all cases where this may be required.