HC Deb 17 March 1937 vol 321 cc2038-42
6. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any note from the Spanish Government with reference to the presence of four Italian divisions in Spain; and whether he will make a statement thereon?

15. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the note presented by the Spanish Government to the effect that four Italian divisions are now taking part in the offensive on the Guadalajara front, that two more are due to arrive, and that the Italian and German fleets are planning to attack Barcelona and Valencia; and whether he can make any statement on the matter?

Mr. Eden

I received a note from the Spanish Ambassador on the subject of Italian intervention in Spain on Sunday last. The note is at present under consideration and I am not yet in a position to make any statement on the subject.

7. Mr. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any reply has been received from General Franco's authorities to the protest addressed to them by His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye against their failure to notify His Majesty's Government of their intention to lay, mines in waters remote from ports in regard to which warnings had been previously issued; and whether he will state the nature of the reply?

Mr. Eden

His Majesty's Ambassador received his instructions about 10th March. No reply has as yet been received.

Mr. Henderson

Is it not a fact that in this situation British mercantile ships are placed in great danger, having regard to the fact that these mines have been placed indiscriminately?

Mr. Eden

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are alive to the dangers of the situation. I would not like him or the House to think that because we have not had any reply we have not taken any action in other respects.

9. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now able to state which of His Majesty's ships will maintain touch with His Majesty's diplomatic and consular representatives at Valencia, Barcelona, Palma, and elsewhere in Spanish ports during the next few weeks?

Mr. Eden

It has been arranged that His Majesty's hospital ship "Maine" together with at least one destroyer and one depot ship, shall be available on the north-east coast of Spain and Majorca for the purpose to which the hon. Member refers. In addition to these, I understand that a cruiser is at present available.

Mr. Mander

Will they be sending regular reports to the Government as to what takes place out there?

Mr. Eden

They will continue to do what they have been doing up to the present.

Viscountess Astor

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the hon. Member who put the question whether he will give his support for a bigger and better Navy?

Mr. Mander

If it is used for the right purpose.

10. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received any information from the British authorities in Cadiz, Gibraltar, and elsewhere as to the landing of strong Italian forces in Spain since the imposition of the ban on 20th February; and, if not, will he ask these authorities for information on the subject?

Mr. Eden

I have received a report from Gibraltar, to the effect that an Italian vessel arrived at Cadiz on 5th March with an unknown number of men on board. I am making further inquiries on this subject. Apart from this particular matter the authorities at Gibraltar reported yesterday that they had no confirmation of any landing of foreign personnel in Spain in contravention of the agreement regarding volunteers.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making a broadcast appeal to the peoples of the whole of Europe demanding that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Spain?

Mr. Bellenger

Has the right hon. Gentleman observed reports that organised bodies of Italian troops have entered Spain, and is that not a matter for direct representations to the Italian Government, apart from the Non-Intervention Committee?

Mr. Eden

That is another question, which the hon. Member will perhaps put on the Paper.

Mr. Shinwell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this particular instance is a confirmation of the indications that the Non-Intervention Pact is not being made effective?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir, I could not agree with that. I have received a report, and I am making inquiries to try to check its accuracy. Until I have done that, I cannot say any more.

Mr. Sorensen

May we have a report from the right hon. Gentleman when he has checked this report?

Mr. Eden

When I have any more information, I will give it to the House.

Miss Wilkinson

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an indication as to whether there are any Italian troops in Spain?

Mr. Eden

There are plenty of Italian nationals in Spain—I am not disputing that—and others, too.

12. Mr. N. Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what interests Germany has to safeguard in the Mediterranean Sea, and if none, why Germany has been allotted a share with Italy of the patrol of the Mediterranean coast of Spain; what share of the patrol of this area has been allotted to Great Britain; and, if Great Britain has been excluded, whether he can state the reasons for such exclusion, in view of the British interests in the Mediterranean?

Mr. Eden

The plan of naval observation has been agreed to by all the nations represented on the Non-Intervention Committee as being the best that can be devised in the circumstances. It will be clear from the White Paper which has been recently issued that no question arises, or could arise, of the exclusion of British ships from the Mediterranean. British ships are, in fact, allotted a wide stretch of coast on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

13. Mr. Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Great Britain was represented at the conference of European Powers held recently at Seville; whether he can state the purpose of this conference; and whether he is satisfied that no decisions detrimental to British trade with Spain were arrived at?

Mr. Eden

I have made inquiries, from which it does not appear that any conference of European Powers has recently been held at Seville.

14. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now give an estimate as to the strength of the Italian and German forces fighting in Spain against the Spanish Government; and, if not, will he endeavour to obtain information on the subject from British authorities in Spain, Italy, and Germany?

18. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the latest information in possession of the Government with regard to the number of foreigners now fighting in Spain?

Mr. Eden

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my Noble Friend on 10th February to a question asked by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) to which I have nothing to add.

Mr. Cocks

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the second part of the question? Will he endeavour to obtain information?

Mr. Eden

We have information at the Foreign Office on the numbers of foreign nationals in Spain. What I cannot give to the House is figures for the accuracy of which I cannot vouch.

Mr. Cocks

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information which confirms that there are at least 100,000 Italians in Spain?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Member has asked me for figures which is just what I cannot supply.

Mr. Mander

Would it be a fair estimate to say that there are about 30,000 German troops and 100,000 Italian troops there, and that those are the only ones which arrived in units?