HC Deb 07 February 1938 vol 331 cc650-2
13. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the nationality of the aeroplanes used in the air raid on Barcelona on 30th January; and whether, in view of the fact that more than 1,000 civilians were killed and injured, he will represent to both sides the desirability of agreeing not to bomb open towns?

18. Colonel Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any protest has been made by His Majesty's Government to General Franco on account of the bombing of the civilian population in Barcelona?

19. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, having regard to the continuing slaughter of civilians by air raids, His Majesty's Government will take the initiative in making a direct approach to the combatants in Spain and in China to abandon this method of warfare and also take the initiative to persuade the League of Nations also to intervene directly on the matter?

20. Mr. Jagger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the continued bombardment from the air of Spanish Government territory where no military objective exists, with consequent loss of life among the civilian population; and whether he will urge the League of Nations to bring pressure to bear upon the insurgent authorities to desist from these raids?

36. Mr. R. Acland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make in relation to the efforts now being made to prevent the aerial bombardment of open towns?

Mr. Eden

In answer to the first part of the question by the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson), my information is that the aeroplanes engaged in the raid in question were of Italian type.

As regards the general question of aerial bombardments in Spain, I should like once more to emphasise the strong view which is held by His Majesty's Government with regard to the cruel suffering inflicted on the civilian population by this form of aerial warfare. They have already, as I stated in my reply to the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) on 3rd February, taken certain initiatives. I expect to know the result of these initiatives within the next few days, and I can assure hon. Members that His Majesty's Government regard this question as one of urgency. In the meanwhile, as I have already stated, His Majesty's Government are ready to give their full support to any international initiative such as that envisaged by the French Prime Minister.

As regards China, I would recall that at the last Session of the Assembly of the League of Nations the representative of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on the Advisory Committee took the initiative in urging that the Committee should express its view with regard to air bombing. The representative of His Majesty's Government subsequently voted for the Committee's resolution on the subject, which was later adopted at the Assembly. In addition, His Majesty's Government have approached the combatants on repeated occasions.

Mr. Henderson

Would the Government consider making representations to the Italian Government in addition to making them to the combatants?

Mr. Eden

I think the combatants must take full responsibility for their actions.

Colonel Wedgwood

In view of the enormous importance that a condemnation by the Pope would have in this matter, would the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of our representative at the Vatican to this point, and see whether such a condemnation could not now be obtained?

Mr. Eden

I will consider that question.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

In pursuing this desirable object, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that any protest that may be made regarding this question will be delivered simultaneously also to the originators and authors of these attacks on undefended towns?

Mr. Eden

My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that His Majesty's Government have only one desire in this business, namely, to put a stop to what they regard as a wholly illegitimate practice in warfare. We shall have regard to all relevant factors.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has the right hon. Gentleman received any notification from the Spanish Government that they have given orders to cease all bombing of other than military objectives?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir; I have seen the statement made by Senor Prieto.

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