HC Deb 11 July 1938 vol 338 cc912-3
46. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that the Anglo-Italian Agreement will not be ratified before this House has had an opportunity to debate and affirm that the condition of a settlement in Spain, which formed the basis upon which conversations with Italy were entered into, has been fulfilled?

The Prime Minister

As I stated on 1st June in reply to a question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) the agreement is not made subject to ratification, but it is provided in the body of the Protocol that its annexed instruments shall be brought into force on such a date as the two Governments shall together determine. There will be an opportunity for further discussion by the House when that date has been determined.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May I ask the Prime Minister if it is not now clear that the only settlement in Spain which the head of the Italian Government will accept is a total victory for General Franco, and if that is so, how can this agreement ever be brought into force unless the Prime Minister is prepared to accept the same definition of a settlement in Spain?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that is an accurate description of the position.

Mr. A. Henderson

Is there any truth in the statement published in the "Times" that both the Italian and the British Governments at the time when they made this Agreement expected an early victory for Franco, and that that is why they agreed to this provision?

Sir A. Sinclair

While I fully appreciate the Prime Minister's desire to get this agreement into operation at the earliest moment, will he give the House an assurance that it will not be brought into operation until Italian troops and airmen have left Spanish territory, and particularly the island of Majorca?

The Prime Minister

I am not prepared to add anything to what I have said already.

Mr. Montague

Does the original answer imply that agreement will not come into force Recess?

The Prime Minister

I do not think it implies that.

Miss Wilkinson

Would it not make for international understanding if the Prime Minister would issue some kind of statement as to what he had in mind when he spoke of some settlement of the Spanish question, since the thing is left so vague that no one really knows what the Prime Minister meant?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to my reply.