HC Deb 28 June 1937 vol 325 cc1624-5
10. Mr. Donner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fall of Bilbao and the speed with which normal conditions are being restored in that city, he is in a position to state whether arrangements are now being made for the early return to Bilbao of the Basque refugee children in this country?

Mr. Eden

I am not in a position to make a statement on this subject at present.

Mr. Donner

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been called to the fact that it is the one desire of these children to return to their homes in Bilbao as soon as possible?

Miss Rathbone

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the parents might be subjected to ill-treatment or even to death if they expressed their real opinions of the suitability of the conditions in Bilbao for the return of their children?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Are not the homes of many of these children destroyed and their parents refugees?

Mr. Gallacher

Are not their parents either dead or in flight to Santander, and can there be any question of sending these children back to their parents?

11. Commander Bower

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is proposed that the British Consul shall now return to his post at Bilbao; and whether, in that case, he can be instructed to make inquiries whether any parents of children now in this country are prepared to receive these children back?

Mr. Eden

The question of consular representation of Bilbao is at present under consideration. I am, therefore, at present not in a position to give a reply to the second part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question.

Commander Bower

Now that the tide of war has swept past Bilbao, does not common humanity dictate that these children should be restored to their parents?

Mr. Thurtle

What does General Franco know about common humanity?

43. Commander Bower

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any of the Basque children now in this country are in possession of a passport or other documents establishing their identity; and whether he is satisfied that there will be no difficulty in repatriating these children in consequence of any omission as regards proper identification papers?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

I would refer to the reply given on the 24th instant to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor). The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative.

Mr. Benn

May I ask the Prime Minister whether, arising out of this and other questions, he can take some steps to discourage this campaign against these poor little children?

Commander Bower

On a point of Order. Has the right hon. Gentleman the faintest justification for making a charge of this description against those of us whose sole object is to get these young persons back to their own country as quickly as possible?

Colonel Wedgwood

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why it is that Catholic Members of this House are so anxious to get these children back?

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