HC Deb 01 November 1938 vol 340 cc35-7
80. Mr. V. Adams

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made in securing against attacks by Spanish insurgent aircraft shipping legitimately flying the Union Jack and proceeding on lawful occasions?

82. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister the number of British ships bombed and British subjects and non-intervention officers killed or wounded in Spain during the last three months, and the action in consequence taken?

83. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement as to the work of the Commission to inquire into the bombing of British ships in Spanish ports?

Mr. Butler

According to the Government's information, 21 British ships have been damaged in Spanish waters during the last three months. This is approximately half the corresponding figure for the three months before the House rose at the end of July and at the most three of these ships have become total wrecks. I regret to say that one British subject was killed and at least one injured; no British Non-Intervention Observer has been killed or injured. Protests have been made to the Burgos authorities in certain of these cases and the right to claim compensation has been reserved. In other cases inquiries are still being pursued. Discussions regarding the proposed commission of investigation are still proceeding with the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, the Committee of British Ship-owners Trading to Spain and other interests concerned. Agreement has been reached on most points and it is hoped shortly to submit a proposal to General Franco's administration.

Mr. V. Adams

Will compensation be demanded from the Burgos authorities or from whichever side is successful in the Spanish civil war?

Mr. Butler

As I said originally in explaining the matter to the House, the claim in law will lie against Spain.

Mr. Adams

But supposing the Republican Government wins, as is by no means impossible now, would it not be an unjust thing——

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Thurtle.

Mr. Thurtle

When the hon. Member says that these ships have been damaged, does he mean they have been bombed by Italian aeroplanes?

Mr. Butler

I mean they have been damaged in the course of air raids by aeroplanes under the control of General Franco.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Will my hon. Friend make it clear that no British merchant ship may fly the Union Jack?

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the fact that the only effective protest which has yet been made was that made in Rome on 27th June, have the Government now made a new protest in Rome?

Mr. Butler

I should require to have notice of that question.

Sir Archibald Sinclair

Have the Government any hope of these events being stopped? Have they any determination to stop them?

Mr. Petherick

Is it not the case that the bill should be sent to the Spanish Government?