HC Deb 24 May 1937 vol 324 cc3-8
3. Mr. Chorlton

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the values of the exports from India from the latest returns, compared with the former ones, to this country, to the Dominions and to the Colonies?

Sir A. Southby

I am circulating the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the figures.

Mr. Chorlton

Will my hon. Friend draw the Under-Secretary's attention to the fact that these figures have greatly increased over the previous ones, and that the exports to Ceylon from India are up and the figures from this country are down, and what steps does he propose to take to afford compensation for the loss of trade to this country?

Sir A. Southby

I will convey that to my hon. Friend.

Following are the figures:

whether the Sub-Committee appointed by the Non-Intervention Committee to prepare a scheme for the withdrawal of non-Spanish combatants from Spain have arrived at a decision; and, if not, what progress has been made;

(2) what replies he has had from His Majesty's representatives in Spain to his request to them to supply the facts with reference to the destruction of Guernica; and what steps, if any, His Majesty's Government, in co-operation with other Powers, have decided to take to prevent the recurrence of similar happenings?

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

The House will perhaps forgive the rather unusual length of my reply. As the House is aware, the Government of Senor Largo Caballero has resigned and a new Government has been formed under Senor Negrin. At the same time, the Government in Catalonia have apparently succeeded in overcoming risings of Anarchists and Syndicalists, armed conflict with whom has, I regret to say, resulted in numerous casualties in Barcelona.

So far as foreign intervention in Spain is concerned, efforts to further the withdrawal of foreign nationals have been actively pursued. The Technical Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee set up to consider this question has now presented a report to the Committee, which, I understand, is being considered this afternoon. In anticipation of this report, which it is hoped will enable a practicable scheme to be agreed upon for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers, His Majesty's Government have inquired of the other principal Governments concerned whether they will join with them in approaching both contending parties with the object of inducing them to agree to a cessation of hostilities on all Spanish fronts for a period sufficient to enable these withdrawals to be arranged. His Majesty's Government feel that only with the greatest difficulty could arrangements for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers be carried out in the midst of active hostilities, and that an appeal of this nature to the contending parties, therefore, forms a most desirable part of any practicable scheme. The replies of the various Governments to this proposal are still being awaited. In the meanwhile, the system of observation set up by the Non-Intervention Committee continues to operate, and, so far as I am aware, it is working satisfactorily.

His Majesty's Government have been actively engaged in work of a humanitarian nature. In the first place, as the House is aware, 4,000 children have left Bilbao for this country under the protection of His Majesty's Navy. I should like to make it clear that this protection is only accorded to ships carrying women and children and is subject to a careful inspection under the supervision of His Majesty's Consul at Bilbao. With respect to the return to Bilbao of Spanish ships engaged on this work, no such ships are afforded the protection of His Majesty's Navy unless His Majesty's Government have first assured themselves that they are in ballast. There is consequently no truth whatever in reports to the effect that these ships have been used for the conveyance to Bilbao of arms, munitions of war or volunteers. All British ships proceeding to Bilbao are, of course, subject to inspection under the provisions of the International Scheme of Observation.

Secondly, on receipt of a communication emanating from the Basque Government to the effect that they would welcome a full inquiry into the destruction of Guernica, His Majesty's Government have invited the observations of the French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Soviet Governments on this suggestion. His Majesty's Government have pointed out that, if in the view of these Governments such an international inquiry could usefully be made, it could, if thought desirable, be extended to cover other incidents of a similar nature and that His Majesty's Government, for their part, would be ready to co-operate in such an inquiry whatever its scope. His Majesty's Government have also placed a proposal before the Non-Intervention Committee that an appeal should be made to both sides to abolish altogether the use of bombing from the air in the Spanish civil war. The views of the various Governments on this proposal have now been received by the committee and the matter is to be further considered by that body at its meeting this afternoon.

Mr. Mander

Can the Noble Lord say what replies have been received up to date with regard to the invitation to other Powers for the withdrawal of nationals?

Viscount Cranborne

I could not say to-day. They are gradually coming in, and must be considered together, as the hon. Member will understand.

Miss Rathbone

With regard to the portion of the answer which refers to the frontier control system, are the Government or the Non-Intervention Committee considering some means of extending the observations of the control system to aircraft coming by air, in view of the widespread reports of aircraft continuously arriving from Germany to aid in the destruction of the Basque country?

Viscount Cranborne

I would like to have notice of that question. As the hon. Lady will be aware, this question is under constant consideration, and is one of the most difficult parts of the scheme.

Mr. Riley

What is the nature of the Government's proposal for the evacuation of foreign nationals in Spain?

Viscount Cranborne

It was not His Majesty's Government which submitted this proposal; it was submitted to the Committee by the Technical Sub-Committee, and, of course, is still before the committee and still confidential.

Mr. Thurtle

Has the Noble Lord's Department any specific information that aeroplanes have flown over to the insurgents since the non-intervention scheme came into operation?

Viscount Cranborne

Perhaps the hon. Member will put that question on the Paper.

Mr. Noel-Baker

If the Government are inquiring into the arrival of aircraft by air, will they also inquire into the arrival by sea in Portugal of aeroplanes which are flown into rebel territory?

Viscount Cranborne

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that all those aspects of the question are receiving careful consideration from the Non-Intervention Committee.

Mr. Shinwell

I understand the Noble Lord to say that the Government have asked both sides to cease bombing. Can he say whether the German aircraft and airmen are actually under the control of General Franco or under separate control?

Viscount Cranborne

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that question down.

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

What is the position with regard to aeroplanes of either side, landing in France?

14. Sir Nicholas Grattan-Doyle (for Mr. Denville)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any information as to the activities of Mr. Cockburn in Madrid, who, although he is a British subject, is acting as agent for the Valencia Government in handling and censoring Press messages?

Viscount Cranborne

I have no information on this subject, but I am making inquiries.

Sir N. Grattan-Doyle

Is my Noble Friend aware that this individual is a direct representative of the "Daily Worker" in Madrid?

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that this man is the representative of the "Daily Worker" in Madrid and the best correspondent in Spain?

16. Sir Percy Harris (for Mr. Graham White)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a further statement with regard to the present position of the cargoes of the steamships "Fernando L de Ybara" and "Mar Baltico"?

Viscount Cranborne

I regret to say that since the answer given by my right hon. Friend to a question on this subject on 21st April last, His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has been informed by the insurgent authorities that the cargo of the "Fernando L de Ybara" has been declared a prize of war and seized. So far as I know the decision applies also to the "Mar Baltico." Sir Henry Chilton has, on instruction from my right hon. Friend, protested vigorously to the insurgent authorities against this decision, pointing out that they had already officially agreed to hand over these cargoes to the British authorities. The case is also being taken up by the Commercial Secretary to His Majesty's Embassy, who is now in Salamanca. It will be pointed out to the insurgent authorities that His Majesty's Government take a grave view of this action on the part of the insurgent authorities and muss demand the cessation of such action and the immediate release of the cargoes in question.

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