HC Deb 24 November 1937 vol 329 cc1191-4
2. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British ships are at present held under restraint by the rebel authorities in Spain; and how many claims for damage or compensation in respect of ships or other British property are pending against those authorities?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

No British ships are at present held by the Salamanca authorities. As regards the last part of the question, I am not in a position to state how many claims of this nature may be pending against those authorities.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Are any obstacles being placed in the way of British shipowners receiving Franco-owned property in respect of these claims?

Mr. Eden

I should like to see that question on the Order Paper.

3. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the Royal Calpe Hunt and the resumption of its hunting activities in territory adjacent to Gibraltar; and whether his attention has been called to the statement by the Governor of Gibraltar that the future of Gibraltar may be influenced by the friendly rela- tions which may be established with the Franco authorities through fox hunting; and whether this statement represents the view of His Majesty's Government?

Mr. Eden

I am informed that permission to hunt over a part of the Spanish territory where the Royal Calpe Hunt has been wont to hunt for centuries was obtained from the insurgent military authorities at Algeciras, His Majesty's Government were not consulted, as this was regarded as a purely local affair. The words used by the Governor of Gibraltar in his message to the President of the Hunt were as follow: His Excellency hopes that all who hunt will at times remember that this is another historical example of sport and sportsmanship rising above bitterness and strife. Every consideration should be shown to all the local population in Spain. It may well be that the relations established this season with our Spanish neighbours will play a very important part not only in the future of the Royal Calpe Hunt but in that of Gibraltar. His Majesty's Government see no reason to disagree with the sentiments expressed in this message. In this connection I would point out that it is clearly undesirable to confine the resident population of Gibraltar within the limits of the colony owing to its restricted area of one and a quarter square miles, mostly of rock, and to the fact that over 1,000 British subjects live on the Spanish side of the frontier and enter Gibraltar daily for their work, together with large numbers of Spaniards, on whom the colony is largely dependent for its labour supply. In these circumstances the residents of Gibraltar are allowed to visit the neighbouring Spanish territory at the discretion of the Government of Gibraltar and of the local insurgent authorities, while other British subjects are subject to the normal strict frontier control. It is in accordance with this policy that the arrangements as regards the Royal Calpe Hunt were made.

Mr. Henderson

Does the Foreign Secretary consider that this action on the part of the Governor of Gibraltar amounts to the recognition of General Franco, and does he consider that the future of Gibraltar depends upon the fox-hunting activities of the Calpe Hunt?

Mr. Eden

It is quite wrong to give any such significance to the action of the Governor of Gibraltar. As I read the statement, the Governor was referring not to the security of Gibraltar but the amenities of those who live there.

Colonel Wedgwood

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the unfortunate people who work in Gibraltar at the dockyard and have to go across the frontier to live are fined every time they cross? Why should there be a law for the British subjects who are poor and another law for those who are rich?

Mr. Eden

I am not aware of anything of the kind. Perhaps the right hon. arid gallant Member will put clown a question to the Colonial Secretary.

Mr. Mander

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Lord President of the Council will be hunting with this pack during the Winter?

9. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a claim, and, if so, for what amount, has been submitted to the Spanish insurgent authorities in connection with the mining of His Majesty's Ship "Hunter."

Mr. Eden

His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has been instructed to inform the insurgent authorities that His Majesty's Government hold them responsible for the cost of the damage done. While it is not yet possible to estimate the final totals involved, Sir Henry Chilton was instructed to state that it is anticipated that the cost of the damage to His Majesty's Ship "Hunter" herself will be in the region of£124,000 and that a capital sum of approximately£10,500 will be required to pay compensation for the dependants of those killed and for those injured in the explosion.

Mr. Bellenger

While appreciating the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask when it is proposed to submit a definite claim, because in July he told the House that the Government were going into the exact figures, and that a claim would be made in due course?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Member will see that the general figures have been submitted, but not the details of the exact cost of the repairs.

Mr. Dalton

Has the right hon. Gentleman any hope of recovering any money from General Franco in any circumstances in respect of any of these claims?

Mr. Eden

We recovered the ships, which the hon. Member did not expect us to do.