Question again proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the decision of His Majesty's Government to grant unconditional recognition to Spanish insurgent forces dependent upon foreign intervention constitutes a deliberate affront to the legitimate Government of a friendly Power, is a gross breach of international traditions, and marks a further stage in a policy which is steadily destroying in all democratic countries confidence in the good faith of Great Britain.
§ 7.15 p.m.
I have just had time for further meditation, but in spite of that I still feel unable to discover much virtue in this Motion of Censure. It seems to me a violent Motion. It is inaccurate. It is tendentious. Indeed its unmitigated savagery is almost an insult to the House of Commons. I should like to direct the attention of the House to one of its more tipsy phrases:a policy which is steadily destroying in all democratic countries confidence in the good faith of Great Britain.1155 How unfortunate it must be for the Opposition when the foreign policy of the Government sometimes has precisely the opposite effect! I can think of at least three declarations within very recent days which are nourishing confidence instead of "steadily destroying" it. Only the other day the Government proclaimed our identity of interests with France. We, therefore, know that we are committed to the joint defence of each other's frontiers against attack whenever and wherever it is made, even upon the Southern frontier—the Pyrenees. So far as I am aware, France is still one of the democratic countries and not the least of them. In another place the other day the Foreign Secretary offered a warning to aggressors in the familiar phrase "Halt! Major Road Ahead"—certainly not a premature declaration, but one that is at least some advance since Munich.
Perhaps I may detail a third point which assuredly should commend itself to His Majesty's Opposition. Lately His Majesty's Government did something which should kindle confidence in democratic countries but may cause pain and grief to all those who think "Better the dissolution of the British Empire at the behest of the Nazis than co-operation with Russia." Indeed, I am surprised that after the recently announced trade mission to Russia the hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) still finds himself able to take the Government Whip. Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) expressed satisfaction about the coming mission to Moscow. I echo his satisfaction, but, in composing this Motion, this act of very sound sense on the part of the Government must somehow have slipped from the draftsman's memory. So he produced, to quote the attractive language of the Leader of the Opposition, "one of those half truths which are worse than a lie."
I hope that this Moscow Mission will be an earnest of closer strategic co-operation. To reject that possibility when Spain may be taking any course, which we cannot precisely predict, would be as foolish as to say to the people of the United States, "Stay over there. We object to your constitution. You have no king. Indeed you are rebels against the British Crown. You have been twice at 1156 war with us, and we regret to recall that on both occasions you were successful. Many of our grandparents backed the wrong side in the American civil war. While it is true that you made our victory absolutely certain in the last war, you did not intervene until the third year of hostilities. Further, your Navy in our view is too large, your films are dreadful, and your account is disgusting." We could never, with the dangers that surround the Empire in present circumstances, be guilty of such fantastic folly. It would be suicide. Indifference to Russia to-day would be equally fatuous, and I am very glad that the Government seem to be departing from that disinterestedness about Russia which became apparent about the time of Munich and before.
Having said so much against the Motion, I am bound to say more. If, by any accident, the "Times" reports what I am saying—a thing which I doubt very much—it will be of no use for it merely to say that I disagreed with the Vote of Censure. All of us know that that newspaper, the main organ supporting the Government, is notoriously unfair and selective, and yet it pretends to be so fair and so respectable. If we had been asked to vote on a Motion such as "The House regrets the unconditional recognition granted to the Burgos authorities "—I should have found myself in two minds. First, as a matter of historical accuracy—this is a small matter, but we had better get it right—I would venture a criticism of the order of events as narrated by the Prime Minister. He said, "The President of Spain has resigned, therefore the Government is no longer legal, and therefore we recognise the insurgents." That is to put the cart before the horse, because what has happened, surely, is that France and Great Britain have recognised the insurgents and that then the President of the Spanish Republic has resigned.
I cannot understand why the Government have agreed to unconditional recognition. In the earlier days of the Spanish Civil War the argument was always prominent in our Debates that the sincerity of our physical non-intervention during hostilities would enable us to intervene effectively on the eve of peace. Surely, by unconditional recognition we are running the risk now of abdicating any advantage that we may have gained by a 1157 policy of consistent and sincere neutrality. There is no ground for concluding, though there may be some ground for hoping, that this action of ours will curtail the bloodshed. According to the most recent reports the Valencia authorities, in spite of all, seem to be in a mood which says, "Fight on!" We, who belong to the same nation as Sir Richard Grenville, can, I think, understand and respect that mood and that spirit. The Valencia authorities are saying that, in spite of the threat not read by the Prime Minister, but implied in General Franco's message against those whom he is pleased to describe, with incredible inaccuracy, as the "Red Leaders." Moreover, I cannot help wondering how cruel and how appalling will be the vengeance of General Franco upon those political prisoners whom he may choose to classify as guilty of criminal offences. I suggest that there is really no logical answer to the point submitted by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson), who said that totalitarian Governments define crime as opposition to themselves.
Nor in present circumstances can I see that there is any guarantee of abiding peace in Spain. We need peace there in the interests of our own security, but why do we not stipulate that the legitimate aspirations of the various nationalities shall be satisfied in any settlement in the Peninsula—I mean the Catalans, the Galicians and the Basques? You cannot expect a peaceful Spain unless you have contented Spaniards, because a discontented Spaniard is one of the most warlike beings in the world. I do not think those minorities will be contented with anything that falls short of autonomy within a federation. No doubt General Franco will soon come to us, the main bankers of the world, for money and then, whatever may be said about our inability to lay down conditions to-day, we shall be entitled to demand security. The best security for the repayment of any loan that we make to the Franco Government to rebuild the shattered structure of Spain, will be peace. And peace will only come through the satisfaction of the various national elements within Spain.
I have to recognise, in common with all those who desired the Republican Government to win, chiefly because we thought it was most consonant with the interests of Great Britain that the Repub- 1158 lican Government should not be defeated, that General Franco has won, but I think that victory is still dangerous to us and we should be aware of that peril. The Prime Minister, quite intelligibly, says he does not want to drive General Franco into a feeling of hostility. It may be true, as the hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth said, that we shall not see exactly a Fascist system set up in Spain, but that, surely, is hardly the point. Fascist communities can practise good international behaviour. Turkey under Kemal Ataturk was a brilliant and excellent example of how a totalitarian State can respect its international obligations. The point, surely, is that, however zealous and Spanish a Spaniard General Franco may be, he is in fact largely the creature of Berlin and Rome. Moreover, when we speak of hostility to Great Britain we ought not to forget that General Franco has bombed the Red Ensign. He has ignored our protests, or else treated them with contempt. My information is that Northern Spain has been converted into a strategic springboard for fresh German aggression. I find it difficult, indeed impossible, to accept denials about the German submarine bases in Vigo, in Pasajes and in Bilbao, or the denials about the 19military aerodromes which were not there before the war in the Basque territory. And I wish to say this with the greatest possible good will, even though good will from me may seen incredible to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.—If His Majesty's Government can in the Iberian peninsula thwart the German and Italian designs, good luck to them. But I have never been able to believe that Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, whose international adventures have never been actuated by mere altruism, have intervened in Spain on such a huge scale merely for fun.
I took the view in the early days of this civil war in Spain that non-intervention, if it had worked, would have been the most expedient policy. But recently, when it has visibly collapsed, has been shattered and has crumbled, I felt that on two grounds—the ground of justice and the ground of British self-interest—the Spanish Republican Government should have had restored to it the power to defend itself. Those who fought on the Republican side thought, rightly or 1159 wrongly, that they were defending democracy. It seems to me that what was done in Spain in July, August and September of 1936, just after the outbreak of the civil war and after the revolt of the army, when the Republican Government inevitably lost control for some time, is quite irrelevant to the dangers with which Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have beset France and ourselves in Spain in the last year or two.
If I may end on a personal note I would say this. I, like many other hon. Members, have lost acquaintances in this Spanish civil war. Two of my friends, David Haden Guest and Lewis Clive, died in this cause which I certainly understood. It may well be that the lack of arms and aircraft on the Government side caused their death. They risked being killed, believing that they were in the front line of a conflict that was eventually gong to threaten the democracy of Great Britain. To-night we cannot predict the consequences of Franco's victory. We are merely conjecturing in the dark. We all hope that they will not be evil consequences, but I commend to all sides of the House without distinction of party this reflection. Whatever were the causes of Franco's victory, it would certainly not justify us, any more than Munich did, in relaxing our efforts to make ourselves stronger. Now, more than ever, do aggressors, actual and potential, upon the Continent, need to know that there will be available for the common defence of France and ourselves a great force of that army which seldom loses the last battle. In that way we may well hope to avoid having to fight the first. I submit that our security would be better served to-day by a powerful Navy and Air Force, and, in addition, by an Army of 1,000,000 men in this country, than by any exchange of courtesies with foreign generals who may have won a temporary victory.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Strauss
One of the arguments put forward by the Prime Minister and by other speakers from the Benches opposite, is that the action of His Majesty's Government is humanitarian, and that by the recognition of General Franco, the central Government in Spain will be discouraged from fighting on, and thus a great deal of bloodshed will be saved. I am not impressed by that argu- 1160 ment, particularly when it comes from His Majesty's Government, which all along refused to allow the Spanish Republican Government to buy anti-aircraft guns out of its own resources in order to ward off the attacks of aeroplanes which bombed its towns and murdered its civilian population. Further, the suggestion is made that the Spanish Republican Government, is, in any case, defeated and, therefore, we ought to do all we can to encourage it to surrender. That may be true, as long as the present situation exists in Spain, and as long as Italian and German armies remain in Spain. But I am convinced that if there were real non-intervention, if the British Government really stood by its principles and either insisted on the withdrawal of the foreign help which General Franco has, or else restored to the central Government in Spain its proper rights, the central Government would very soon be able to drive General Franco from the shores of Spain.
That Government has, we must remember, an army at least as large in manpower as General Franco's; it has a coastline of 500 miles, it has a large munition industry and it is far better off, as regards food supplies, than the Catalan Government. If given international justice by the withdrawal from General Franco of foreign assistance or, failing that, by having that help to which it is justly entitled from the countries belonging to the League of Nations, the right to buy arms and such supplies as it needs, the Republican Government might yet win this war. It is, of course, impossible for any of us to encourage the Republican Government to go on fighting. One cannot do that, but I disagree entirely with the alternative which is presented from the other side, namely, that we must either recognise General Franco or, allow the Republican Government to be defeated after considerable bloodshed. I believe that there is another course, which is to restore to the Spanish Government its rights, either by the withdrawal of Italian aid from General Franco or by giving that Government the aid to which it may lay proper claim; and if that were done I believe that the Spanish situation would settle itself in favour of the democratic Government in Spain before very long.
A further argument put forward to-day in favour of the unconditional recognition of General Franco is a geographical one. 1161 It is said that as General Franco controls three-quarters of Spanish territory, and especially as he controls a large part of industrial Spain, it is reasonable and proper that we should give him recognition. I cannot accept that argument. We know that British Governments in the past refused recognition to the Government of Soviet Russia when that Government controlled all Russia and not merely three-quarters of it, and all the industries of that country. I think this recognition of General Franco, and indeed the non-recognition of Soviet Russia, involves a certain measure of moral support or of antipathy as the case may be, on the part of His Majesty's Government. The Government by this hasty recognition of General Franco are giving a measure of moral support to General Franco, and we know perfectly well that all along Conservatives in this House have been sympathetic with the cause of General Franco.
§ Mr. Strauss
I say that the majority of Conservatives in this House have been sympathetic all along with the cause of General Franco. I do not think that even hon. Members opposite will quarrel with that statement. We know definitely that the actions of the National Government, whatever their protestations may have been, have helped General Franco right from the beginning of the war. Therefore, it is not surprising that at this stage they should recognise him and give him at the same time a measure of moral approval. But it seems remarkable that while the Government are anxious to shake hands with General Franco, they should be so utterly unconcerned about the type of Government which General Franco will set up and with the question of whether that Government, by its behaviour up to now, has shown itself interested in preserving International Law or the standards of civilised conduct. We know that, in point of fact, it has flouted International Law from the beginning; that it has not abided by the civilised code in carrying out warfare; that it has consistently bombed undefended towns, and on many occasions bombed or machine-gunned from the air refugees who were flying from bombarded towns.
A question has been raised as to whether such incidents really happened. Only recently, when refugees were streaming in thousands out of Barcelona 1162 to the French frontier, we had ample testimony about the bombing and machine-gunning from the air of those refugees. I quote from a letter which appeared in the "Times" on 22nd February. It is signed by a Mrs. or Miss Pye, and is in answer to letters previously published asking why refugees were pouring out of Spain into France and why there was such devastation in the towns after the refugees had left. This lady writes:In the Catalonian advance our workers (of a relief organisation) were bombed out of Gerona; they evacuated children's colonies from houses which were bombed and destroyed, and were themselves machine-gunned from aeroplanes which came down almost to roof level in order to massacre a greater number of helpless refugees. Those who could fled to Figueras, where I myself saw thickly congested masses of them on 31st January, when there was one raid. Two days later repeated formations of aeroplanes bombed the crowded market square, still full of refugees, for hours, killing and maiming hundreds.This is the desolation and the torture, which must wring all hearts that are human, and it was this policy of terror and destruction that has been responsible for the panic flight of thousands into France.We have had ample evidence of this type of behaviour not only recently in Catalonia, but also earlier in the war when the refugees were pouring out of Malaga. Yet in spite of the behaviour of General Franco's Government in these matters, in spite of the fact that it is continuing to-day, our Government, apparently, are not caring at all about moral principles or decencies, but are rushing forward to recognise General Franco unconditionally at the earliest possible moment. It is doing so in spite of the fact that from the beginning of the war General Franco's Government have attacked our shipping and ignored entirely all the protests we have made. Only recently we had a question and answer in the House which showed that General Franco's aeroplanes attempted to bomb the "Stangrove," to sink the ship and drown our sailors. After all protests we have made in the past and the immense indignation aroused in this country by the murder of our seamen, General Franco, apparently, is determined to carry on with his policy of ignoring entirely not only international law but the interests and the protests of this country and the British people. Yet there is to be an unconditional recognition of General Franco.
1163 What a different position it would have been if an English boat had been bombed or attacked by Soviet Russian aeroplanes. There would have been great indignation on the part of the Government, the breaking of diplomatic negotiations and a howl of protests from Conservative Members. We remember how diplomatic relations were cut when two engineers were arrested on a charge of espionage, but when British ships are bombed for the purpose of sinking them and drowning our sailors, within a few days we grant unconditional recognition to the Government which perpetrated that crime. It is perfectly fantastic to think that by this recognition, and because of the telegram we have received from General Franco, the individuals who remain on the Government side and have taken an active part in defending their country against invasion, will receive any clemency whatever. Let me read a statement which was made by General Franco on 7th November, 1938, when he was asked about mediation. He said:There will be no mediation because criminals and their victims cannot live together.He went on to say:There would not be a general amnesty after the war. I believe in redemption through the penalty of labour. Once it has been established what penalty fits the crime in question the criminal will be able to redeem himself through work and good behaviour. We have more than two million persons card-indexed with proofs of their crimes, names and witnesses. Those who are granted an amnesty are demoralised.Is it conceivable that General Franco is going to act in any other way than the ruthless way he has behaved when he has conquered any town or village during the war? I suggest that the consequences of this recognition will be very serious not only for the people in Government Spain who will come under the sway of General Franco, but extremely serious for this country and for Europe as a whole. The future of Europe, the question of peace and war, the survival of democracy in Europe depend very largely, as everyone will agree, on the attitude of the United States and the sympathy of the people of that continent. The people of America feel keenly on the question of democracy—probably more keenly than the people of this country or any other European country. There has been a movement recently in the United States, 1164 in which the President has played some part, to get the people to appreciate that they must lend their moral support and authority, probably their material support, to European countries who are defending democracy against Fascism.
Those who are trying to bring about this change of opinion in the United States are having great difficulty because the isolationists there say that the European countries are only nominally friends of democracy, that, in fact, in their foreign policy and their actions they are betraying democracy and strengthening the Fascist countries. They say that it is ridiculous for the people of the United States to sacrifice themselves in any way for countries who are but nominally democratic, and who do not take the slightest interest in defending democracy or the liberties of their own people. I noticed this very much when I was in America during the crisis in September last year. There was a strong movement of support towards England and France when it appeared that these countries were ready to stand up for the principles in which their people and the American people believed.
There was a different feeling the moment the Prime Minister went to Munich. There was a feeling that this country and France, instead of standing up for those principles which the American people thought were worth standing up for, were betraying those ideals. There was a strong movement towards isolation again in the United States, which was partly removed by the anti-Semitic wave which swept Germany some time ago. Again, the American people felt tremendous hostility against the dictators because of their terrorism and brutality, and there was another great wave of moral support for the democracies in Europe. I am certain that the unconditional recognition of General Franco will create again in the United States a wave of isolation. Their people will feel that Great Britain and France, acting largely under the pressure of the National Government, are not a bit interested in preserving the liberties of democracy in Europe, but that they are anxious, under the guise of appeasement, to strengthen the hold of Fascism in Europe.
The American people, morever, were extremely interested in the Spanish con- 1165 flict itself. They felt that in Spain democracy was standing up against the Fascist enemy, and their sympathies were behind the Spanish Government. The American people and the American Government contributed vast sums of money and large quantities of food to relieve the situation in Republican Spain, and they will be aghast at the action which our Government have taken in helping General Franco to establish Fascism securely in Spain. That, obviously, will be the reaction of the American people. Therefore, I say that the National Government in granting this unconditional recognition are most seriously endangering the friendship of the United States and the support which we might have received in certain conditions from that country in case of trouble in Europe.
I believe that the only hope which now exists for receiving that support from the United States is a change in the Government of this country. Not until they see that this country has a Government which not only mouths democracy but really believes in democracy, and is prepared to stand up for the rights and liberties of the people, shall we ever get the cooperation of the United States in any struggle in which we may be involved. But the attitude of the people of this country is also involved in the action which the Government have taken. It is well known that there is very deep sympathy with the Spanish Republican Government among the masses of the people. They feel that the Spanish Government represent the mass of decent progressive opinion in Spain, and that they are fighting for something which is really worth while, not only for the integrity of Spain against a foreign invader, but for liberty against the tyranny of the old ruling classes and the brutality of Fascism—fighting for democracy, in fact, fighting for everything that is finest in civilisation.
There has been a growing conviction among the people of this country that, in spite of the nominal attitude of non-intervention which the Government have adopted, they have been as active as public opinion would allow them to be in betraying the ideals for which the Spanish people are fighting. I am certain that after this new action of the Government this belief will grow into conviction, and the Government will find that their appeal for 1166 service from the people of this country, which has not been a very great success up to now because of the distrust in which they hold the Government, will become even less successful. There will be the natural feeling that they will not give service to a Government which appears to be as busy as it can in betraying democracy. If they give this service to build up the might and strength of this country they will feel that they are doing something contrary to their own ideals, because the Government will use the might and strength they are building up in the wrong direction, in strengthening Fascism. The Government are using the Navy, not to protect food ships going to the Spanish people, but to convey an emissary of General Franco to Minorca to demand the surrender of that country.
Therefore, they will feel that any action which they take to build up the might of this country is in effect building up a strength which will be used, not in preserving the rights and liberties they have at heart but in betraying them. The Government, I am sure, will find that the action they have taken, which is the climax of their policy in the Spanish war, will create hostility among the people of this country, and will find their plans for defence and disarmament made a thousand times more difficult. The only hope I have is that, having betrayed the Spanish cause, having by their action endangered the friendship of America, they will have aroused the hostility of the people of this country to such an extent that they will see in the Government a group of people who are betraying all the finest ideals of the British people, and will take the first opportunity of changing that Government and replacing it by one more in conformity with their own ideals and their own views.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I begin with a word of apology. I was very severely rebuked by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), who threatened me with political death at the hands of my constituents, for having laughed at the massacre of children. I am confident that none of my constituents will think it possible that I could be guilty of that offence, and I hope that the right hon. Baronet will believe that I was, I think, not laughing, but smiling at the solemnity and the kind of 1167 facility with which he found it possible to adduce very indirect evidence even for very improbable stories. Indeed, my smile had begun before he had actually come to the story, merely because of what seemed to me the indirectness of his evidence. There are two other points in connection with the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I wish to refer. One is that the Motion before us makes a special point of the Government's action on this occasion beinga gross breach of international traditions.I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite who is to wind up whether he knows any case in history where His Majesty's Government, before recognising a foreign Power, after a struggle of this or any other kind, has previously asked permission from the House of Commons. There may be such cases, and I would not assert, but I am inclined to believe there is none; and in this matter, whether the Government are right or wrong has to be decided without assuming that their action in recognising without previous debate is against the precedents.
The second point of this sort to which I would refer in the right hon. Baronet's speech was when he talked about our imposing conditions. Almost every hon. Member opposite has spoken as if it might be right enough to recognise General Franco provided we did it on conditions. The Leader of the Opposition, the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss), and several other hon. Members, have certainly spoken as if it would be a different matter if conditions had been imposed. I believe that to be a complete misunderstanding both of the law and of the morality of this question. To recognise something is a matter of the relation between your perceptive powers and the facts; it is not a matter within your choice. You must recognise that four fours are sixteen, and you cannot say, "I will only recognise that four fours are sixteen if you guarantee that the value of the £ in relation to the franc shall go up." That is what recognition means, and I do not think that ever in our history there has been a case where recognition has been withheld in order to impose conditions. The only condition which is ever imposed in those circumstances—I speak subject to correction, but I think this is true—is the condition that the Government to be newly recognised shall be itself 1168 recognising the international obligations of its predecessor. That is the explanation of the fact that it took longer to recognise the Soviet Government. For all I have to say to the contrary, perhaps it should have been recognised sooner but, I suggest the reason it was not recognised sooner was that it did not take over the obligations of its predecessors. That is the only condition upon which it is proper to withhold recognition of a Government. That is all I want to say directly about the speech of the right hon. Baronet who opened for the Liberal opposition.
I wish to say also a word about the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson). Again, I speak subject to correction, and I hope that one of the two right hon. Gentlemen who wind up the Debate, on either side of the House, will correct me if I am wrong; but if I correctly understood the Prime Minister, the assurance that has been received from General Franco is the assurance that nothing shall be punished as a crime except what was a crime under the code before the war began. I think I understood the Prime Minister correctly. If that is true, the great mass of the arguments of the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow, and several of the other arguments that have been made become, if it may be said without discourtesy, completely irrelevant.
To return to the form of the Motion before us, I have already said something about what the word "recognise" means, and I would like to say a word about the phrasedependent upon foreign intervention.It has been asked why, if we could not a little while ago recognise General Franco as a belligerent, can we all of a sudden go much further and recognise him not merely as a belligerent, but as the Government of his country? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition fell into what I would respectfully suggest may be a legal absurdity when he talked as if it might be possible to recognise General Franco and at the same time go on recognising his opponents. But that it not the main point. The main point is that, surely, the reason why it may be right to withhold for a time recognition of belligerency and then, within a comparatively short period, to recognise even more than belligerency, that he is the Government of 1169 the State, is that it may be supposed that General Franco, as long as he was a contesting soldier, was dependent upon foreign intervention, and that in the judgment of His Majesty's Government now—and no one else can responsibly make that judgment, and no one of us certainly can have very much evidence on it—but in the Government's judgment now, General Franco is now not a contesting soldier, but a successful Government. If that is so, the logic of the Motion before us disappears, because the words "dependent upon foreign intervention," cease to have any meaning. I think also that the words "legitimate Government" cease to have any meaning.
The first thing that a government must do to be legitimate is to govern, and I think the right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness and Sutherland made it pretty clear, in the interchange—a sort of triangular traffic—which he had with the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow, that he absolved the Spanish Government from any moral iniquity, for any of the horrors in its territory before the war, because they were not strong enough then, and during the war because they were not strong enough then, and in the recent past because they were not strong enough. It seems to me that that admission really knocks the bottom out of this part of the argument about the legitimate Government, especially when it is taken in connection with the departure of President Azana. After all, hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are the heirs of the revolution which still, pending the next revolution, is called, I think dubiously, glorious, can hardly deny that King James II, by leaving the Kingdom and dropping the Great Seal into the Thames, did leave the Government vacant. If they take that view about King James II, I do not quite know why they take a very different view about President Azana and Senor del Vayo, and others of them.
Sir, I end as I began, with a personal apology, and I am sorry to do so. I have never before spoken in the House without staying for the rest of the Debate, and I hope hon. Members will believe that my departure this evening is for reasons not within my control.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks
I will detain the House for only a few minutes. I would prefer really to express myself in the words of A. E. Housman:Be still, be still my soul, it is but for a season,Let us abide awhile and see injustice done.But there are a few words I want to say. In 1936, when I went to Spain, I was told by the highest British representative I could find at Madrid that nine-tenths of the Spanish people were supporting the Government; that if General Franco won, after his victory 2,000,000 people would be massacred; that even then, he would not be able to maintain his position for very long, and that the people would rise up against him in a year or so, and overthrow him; and that all the slaughter would be in vain. On that occasion, I saw the men and women of Madrid, with very inadequate and primitive equipment, marching out against a well-armed enemy. Those men and women died, as the men and women in Catalonia died, because the British and French Governments had refused to allow them the right to purchase arms for their own defence. The blood of many thousands of men, women and children in Spain is on the hands of the Prime Ministers of France and Britain. As has been said very bitterly by one of the Spanish leaders, they have been beaten not by Fascists, but by the democracies, at a time when God seemed to have turned his face aside.
The Prime Minister has always desired the victory of General Franco. In June of last year it was as a result of pressure from the British Government that the French Government closed the Pyrenees, although we knew at that time that arms were going into rebel Spain from Germany and Italy. In January of this year, British pressure was exercised on the French Government to prevent the reopening of the frontier. As a result of the overwhelming material that was poured into Spain, just before the advance into Catalonia, by Germany and Italy—and in contravention of express pledges not merely in the Non-intervention Pact, but in the Anglo-Italian Agreement—the Catalonian armies were defeated, and the Fascist forces are now aligned on the Pyrenees. Last week, although the heroic people of Madrid and Valencia are still 1171 holding out with unbroken ranks, the Government decided to recognise General Franco, and persuaded the French Government to do the same thing. Although there was a dispute in the French Cabinet, the argument which won the day for M. Daladier and M. Bonnet was the fact that the British Government wanted that course to be pursued. The Prime Minister made no condition as to an amnesty, although he knows perfectly well that if Madrid surrenders, the streets of that city will run with blood. When this afternoon, during the Prime Minister's speech, I interjected a remark about honour, the Prime Minister referred me to Sir John Falstaff. Hon. Members laughed. I do not know what they think Sir John Falstaff said about honour, but I have looked it up. This is what he said:What is honour? A word.…. Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it—therefore I'll none if it; honour is a mere scutcheon, and so ends my catechism.It is surprising to me to think that these sentiments should be approved by the Prime Minister of England. I think they should be approved only by men, in Shakespeare's own words:In whose cold blood no spark of honour lies.But as Shakespeare also said:Life every man holds dear: but the brave manHolds honour far more precious dear than life.I believe that that spirit, dead in the Cabinet, still animates the heroic defenders of Madrid.
I do not know whether Members of the House of Commons believe that this world is ruled by some Divine agency and that there is some pattern to which nations and individuals must conform. I do not know whether they believe that national crimes and national apostacy are followed in the long run by national retribution. There is much in history to support that view. The most celebrated example is the case of Melos. The Athenian people, at the height of their power, forsook their principles and destroyed the inhabitants of that island. There followed the expedition to Syracuse and the destruction of the 1172 Athenian Empire. Britain and France to-day are surrounded by enormous dangers, and we shall survive them only if our peoples are animated and inspired by high and noble causes. As both the British and the French Governments have sacrificed the high traditions of their countries, in Abyssinia, in Czecho-slovakia, and in Spain, our peoples, if war should come, would go into battle inspired by no noble ideal of liberty and democracy, but fighting only in the spirit of self-defence, which even the lowest animal will show when it is attacked. In the day of stress and danger we shall be haunted by the spectres of the nations we have betrayed, and the gods of freedom, liberty, and democracy will not be there to steel our soldiers' hearts. It may be that as a result of this moral surrender we shall be defeated and that we shall lie at the foot of a foreign conqueror, as we have never yet done. If that be the decree of Providence, I can only trust that in the struggle that will follow to liberate ourselves from a foreign domination the British people will regain that spirit of freedom and of liberty which our ancestors possessed, but which their degenerate successors in the Cabinet have forgotten. To-day I feel that this House should be closed, and that our churches should be thronged by multitudes praying for the restoration of that national honour which the Prime Minister has betrayed.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Donner
Unlike the hon. Member who has just sat down, I rise to support the decision of His Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the Government of France, to recognise General Franco. The Leader of the Opposition, speaking the day before yesterday in Trafalgar Square, with that elegance of language and distinction of phrase to which he has accustomed this House, used the words "the betrayal of democracy," words which were incidentally used only this afternoon by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). "Two minds with but a single thought." Since when has anarchy been democracy? We are told that His Majesty's Government are betraying democracy in Spain. I wonder how many Members of this House remember the last speech in the Spanish Parliament, in the Cortes, by Senor Calvo Sotelo, the monarchist leader, and how he drew atten- 1173 tion to the fact that in the last five months, under the so-called Republican Government, in July, 1936, before the Civil War began, there had been in Spain 3,300 assassinations—is that democracy?—171 churches burned, 284 buildings burned. Is that democracy? He showed that there had been 218 partial strikes and 113 general strikes. Is that democracy? He added that 69clubs and 10 newspaper offices had been burned to the ground. Is that democracy?
"You will be held personally responsible," Casares Quiroga, the Premier, told him, "for the emotion your speech will cause." At the same time Dolores Ibarruri, known as "La Passionaria," shouted across the floor of the Cortes: "That man has made his last speech." She was right. He was murdered by police officers of the Government. That is the democracy that the Leader of the Opposition accuses His Majesty's Government of betraying.
That is not democracy. That is anarchy, that is riot, that is terror, that is arson, that is the negation of government, the breakdown of all law and all authority. It is a democracy which did not stop at murder. I think the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to-day, marred as it was by personal attacks upon the Prime Minister, will do him and his followers little credit in the country. The Motion of Censure which we are asked by the Opposition to support, speaks of the National Government of Spainas "dependent upon foreign intervention." Has there been no other intervention? I have a list here of every kind of intervention, of aeroplanes, guns, machine guns,, and equipment sent to the so-called Republican Government, and indeed it was that Government itself which boasted that it was the International Brigades which held up General Franco's troops on the Manzanares River and saved Madrid. On this list of imported war materials, of even armaments captured by General Franco at sea alone, are 19,000 aerial bombs. No doubt hon. Members opposite will argue that they were a particular kind of aerial bomb which never killed women and children, though Republicans constantly bombed open towns.
What is the alternative to the recognition of General Franco? It is said by hon. Members opposite that they would like to see a certain number of conditions 1174 fulfilled before recognition is extended. What are these conditions which should be fulfilled, and what happens to British interests meanwhile? Supposing those conditions are never fulfilled, what do you do about it then? Who is to be recognised if recognition is to be withheld from General Franco? Or are we to ignore the existence of Spain? President Azana has resigned to-day, and there is no Republican Government in existence. In to-day's "Times" there was a notice that it was rumoured that even General Miaja in Madrid had been replaced by Colonel Casado. In the "Daily Telegraph," which, to say the least of it, has not supported General Franco's cause, we had on the 27th of this month an article which read as follows:With the President in exile, and the Cortes scattered, there remains nothing to recognise but a fugitive Ministry with no permanent seat and a more than dubious legal title.The Motion on the Paper speaks of "the legitimate Government." Moreover, the former President himself, writing on 21st October, 1937, in "L'ere Nouvelle," wrote:This constitution is completely-destroyed.Senor Alcala Zamora, first President of the second Republic, wrote:All the fundamental articles, those of frequent application, those which absolutely must figure in a constitution have been torn up and the latter completely destroyed. The corpse of the constitution is conserved because it is useful to deceive abroad those who wish to or demand to be so deceived.Lord Strabolgi also spoke in Trafalgar Square the day before yesterday of His Majesty's Government's treachery to British interests. Would not the refusal of recognition now to General Franco's Government, the only Government left in Spain, be a treachery to British interests? For two and a half years hon. Members opposite have delivered speeches dwelling upon the dangers, military and naval, which this country must incur if the new Spain is hostile to us. We had one or two speeches of that description only this afternoon, and yet hon. Members for all this time have done everything in their power to render the new Spain hostile to us. I hope they are satisfied that they have served their own country well. I believe that Spain is still friendly to us. If it proves not to be friendly to us in future, we on this side of the House will 1175 certainly know whom to thank for this development. The Leader of the Opposition himself spoke to-day of the puppet Government in Spain. Does he suppose that that is the kind of phrase which is calculated to render the new Spain friendly to us?
§ Mr. Donner
I spoke the truth and testified to it. The so-called Republican Government is dead now and it matters little what anyone says about it. The Leader of the Opposition to-day did not hesitate to use the most wounding phrases which it is possible to use of any Spaniard. He said that General Franco had introduced Moors into Spain and spoke as if he had introduced an alien race. The Moors were introduced into Spain 1,300 years ago. Moorish blood is intermingled with Spanish blood; it is part of Spain; and to speak, as the Leader of the Opposition did, of the introduction of Moorish blood as if it were something to be deplored and something shameful in the Spanish constitution, is to use phrases which are as wounding as they possibly can be to any Spaniard.
§ Mr. Grenfell
In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, I ought to say that my right hon. Friend did not charge Franco with the introduction of Moorish blood. What he said was that Franco had brought Moorish troops across to fight.
§ Mr. Donner
I am speaking in the recollection of the House, and what the right hon. Gentleman did was to imply that General Franco had done something which was shameful, whereas of course the Moors are part of Southern Spain and their blood is the blood of Spain. Hon. Members opposite speak as if the former Republican Government were friendly to this country. If they had ever taken the trouble to read the Barcelona Press, they would have read articles as hostile to this country as it was possible for any Press articles to be. I am glad they make no attempt to deny this fact. If they did it would be interesting to hear how they explain the action of the Catalonian generalitat in constantly interfering with British trade and confiscating British property. It is astonishing that the Opposi- 1176 tion should be so fond of this so-called Spanish democracy which does not stop short at murder, considering that we ourselves are a constitutional monarchy. It is a British interest to try and create a friendly Spain, and General Franco has already shown his desire to be friendly with this country. He showed it clearly in two instances: first, on 28th September when he declared for neutrality; and second, when he accepted our intervention and assistance at the time of the surrender of Minorca. More than that, a friend of mine, Lord Ronald Graham, visited Spain last autumn. He went all over Nationalist Spain and even into the front line, into University City opposite Madrid. He was there on 28th September with his wife and was entertained to dinner by the Nationalist officers in their trenches. While the bullets were whizzing over their heads the Nationalist officers drank "To peace and to Chamberlain." Does that sound like a hostile Spain? Explosive and soft-nosed bullets whizzed over their heads and we have the Leader of the Liberal party talking about a Government which honoured international law!
The prolongation of this horrible civil war is not a British interest. Indeed, if we were not to recognise General Franco now we might well prejudice our relations with Portugal, which no responsible Member will deny are of vital interest to this country. It is some time ago since the President of Portugal made a speech in which he said that the victory of the Nationalist cause in Spain was essential to the well-being of the whole of the Iberian peninsula. As the result of that speech Spain entertains more friendly feelings towards Portugal than they have had for many generations. It will be a profound mistake to under-estimate the part which Portugal can play in creating friendly feelings throughout the new Spain towards the United Kingdom.
It would, I submit, be absurd to expect to attach conditions to the recognition of General Franco. Indeed, such conditions are wholly unnecessary because we have had every assurance from him both as regards the future integrity and sovereignty of Spain and as regards clemency. On 50 occasions at least General Franco has given assurances that the integrity of Spain will be honoured. Hon. Members opposite say that these assurances are worth nothing and that 1177 the Italians must dominate Spain. If they have read any history they would know that the Italian people have never dominated Spain, but that the contrary is the truth and that in past years Spaniards have, in fact, dominated Italian territory and a large proportion of it at that. Then we have stories, for instance, of Majorca being under the control of Italy. The hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) seems to attach great significance to newspaper articles. I do not share her view concerning the value of newspaper quotations, but I have one here from the "Daily Express" of the 24th of this month, in which a gentleman named Alan Moore head reports that "the Italians do not run Majorca." That is his headline. In his article he states:I found no signs of companionship between Spaniards and Italians. Sailors from British warships in port have a freer welcome in the town than foreign airmen. They throng the cafes and the shops. They stroll about without passes.That is testimony for what it is worth, as to the situation in Majorca. Although the party opposite say—and we agree with them—that they do not want Italian troops to stay in Spain when the civil war is over, some of them have given expression to the view that the war should be prolonged. If the war were prolonged it would mean a prolongation of the stay of Italian troops. It is the party opposite, not we on this side, who attach so little value to the Anglo-Italian Agreement and the word of Signor Mussolini. One hon. Member opposite pleaded for a continuation of the war because there might be a turn in the tide of battle. In that event on his own showing, not on ours, Signor Mussolini would send more troops to Spain. Hon. Members opposite are, therefore, guilty of the most complete inconsistency. They say they want to see Italian troops leave Spain but advocate a policy which, believing what they do, must entail their remaining. The truth is that a great many hon. Members opposite do not desire friendly relations with the new Spain. They do not desire friendship with any country having a form of Government which differs from our own. If they had such a desire they would not deliver speeches calculated to render the new Spain hostile to us, but would ask His Majesty's Government to arrange for lecturers to be sent, through the medium of the British Council, to 1178 Spain. They say that this new Spain is dangerous to us because it will be used as a cat's paw against France and Great Britain. Do they really imagine that war-torn Spain, Spain which has lost at least a million dead, probably more, with half its cities shattered, with its war-weary people, is going to start a new adventure, a new war, merely at the behest of other countries? It is the most grotesque piece of psychology ever presented to the House.
Coming to the question of clemency, I will use a strong expression and say that hon. Members opposite have had the effrontery to ask for assurances of clemency, to ask for assurances of clemency after all that has happened in so-called Republican territory. Only in to-day's "Times," as has already been mentioned, there is a report of the shooting of 90 people—hostages, prisoners, including the Bishop of Teruel.
§ Mr. Donner
If the hon. Member will produce his evidence we shall be delighted to examine it. Again, the Leader of the Opposition in his speech this afternoon said that the Prime Minister, with the influence he has with Signor Mussolini, might have used that influence now in the interests of clemency. Again I say that that speech does him little credit. If ever there was an ungrateful speech in return for what was done by the Prime Minister at Munich it was that speech this afternoon. I believe that any member of the public sitting up there in the Gallery—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Order!"]— who had heard the Leader of the Opposition speak this afternoon would not have known that he was listening to a discussion in a Christian assembly.
§ Mr. Sorensen
You do not sound very Christian. Does the hon. Member really assume that the views to which he has been giving expression in the last 10 minutes breathe Christian charity?
§ Mr. Donner
I have testified to the truth of what has been happening in Spain. I cannot expect hon. Members who have turned themselves into 1179 apologists for murder to agree with me. I dare say hon. Members may take the view of the Bishop of Chelmsford, who said it was not true that 15,000 priests had been murdered in Spain, that it was only 6,000 and so really did not matter. I welcome the end of this horrible slaughter, the end of this terrible civil war. I welcome the decision of His Majesty's Government to recognise the new Spain. I welcome the social reforms which General Franco has already inaugurated. I welcome the better conditions for the people of Spain—the new houses, the raising of wages. I welcome the end of a régime which, under the label of democracy, has been responsible for a greater number of assassinations, tortures, criminal acts and cruelties than any gang of people have perpetrated in our lifetime.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I do not want to follow the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Donner) very far in his argument, except to take note of the fact that the one main argument, in fact almost the only argument, that supporters of General Franco have produced in this House is the very simple one of atrocities. When we have asked the Government to explain to us why our fears for the strategic safety of this country were unjustified, why a victory for General Franco was not to be feared on those grounds, they have never been able to give us any answer. We always have some special supporter of General Franco with his alleged atrocities story. I am not going into these allegations in any detail, because I followed so many of them up, and I found in many specific cases that the evidence was merely hearsay. We on this side of the House do not deny that there was a period in the beginning of the War, when the Government was deserted by its Army and its police, when, as a result of long years of repression, long years of ignorance, long years in which the Catholic Church had neglected its duty, the education of the people, long years of low wages and grinding poverty, the wild spirits of Spain got loose and liberty became anarchy.
We do not deny that, we admit it, but we do say that for a prolonged period now the Spanish Government has kept perfect and complete order in Spain, that there have not been assassinations and 1180 that there have been fair and just trials of anybody who was accused. We deny that there have been atrocities within recent times. Some of the prisoners may have been taken from the gaols of Barcelona. My personal friends have seen many of those prisoners within two months. Some of those prisoners may have been killed in the confusion of the retreat to France, I have not had time to sift the evidence about it, but all I know is that many of them have taken the oath and according to the "Times" 3,000 of them were left behind, perfectly safe, to be liberated by General Franco.
§ Mr. Donner
The quotation of Senor Calvo Sotelo which I gave, referred to five months of Republican rule before civil war began.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am not going to be drawn by the hon. Member into a long argument about that, except to say that all those murders were not committed by the Lett. Their full share was committed by his Fascist friends. The murder of Calvo Sotelo was in revenge for the murder of a young and popular policeman planned by Calvo Sotelo, and by those Fascists in Spain who were deliberately provoking disorder, as they do in the East End of London to-day, as they did in Austria, as they did in Czecho-Slovakia, as they do wherever Fascism wishes to get its grip. I am not going to be drawn into a long discussion about the atrocities. It is the only argument of those Members who are the special friends of General Franco. I draw a distinction, because I know that all supporters of the Government do not adopt that attitude. They do not, according to the arguments advanced to-day, appear to be very satisfied with the situation. There was, I think, a certain jubilance among the fifth column in this House this afternoon, among our Fascist friends, but there has also been a sense of malaise in the speeches of some Members, in particular in the speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I am surprised at that, because the case put up on the other side seems on the face of it to be such a strong case. What is the first argument? It is "This is inevitable, what else can we do? Franco has won, we must recognise him." That argument is supported by another, that recognition is the only humane thing, that anybody 1181 who suggests that it is a mistake to recognise Franco now is cruelly prolonging the torture of Spain. Some of us have done a good deal more than others to alleviate that torture. It is so fortunate for the Government that recognition is not only inevitable, but is also the kindest thing to put these poor animals out of their pain.
There is a further way in which this policy is convenient at the present time, and that is that it happens to suit political expediency. It happens to be regarded as a rather clever stroke to come in at the very end. Although some hon. Members have asked us not to mention such subjects, there is the point that we are offering General Franco a little consideration, some credits, which we may presume will be used partly to pay for German and Italian munitions and to help him to win the war. It is such good team work. Hitler and Mussolini have ample war materials to spare and they have men to spare, too. The one thing they lack is money, and perhaps Great Britain will be able to spare some money, as it is the one thing that we have to spare, in order to make General Franco's life perfectly happy in building up a new State on the ruins of the democracy and of all those aspirations of the Republican leaders who we on this side of the House have learned to admire for their courage and their idealism.
I would ask hon. Members, what has been prolonging this war for months past? Is it the obdurate obstinacy of the Republicans, or the desire of General Franco and his Fascist friends for a humiliating victory over their Spanish compatriots, by which they might entirely wipe them out? Dr. Negrin made it clear several times during the autumn that he was ready to make peace with Spaniards, but not with Italians or Germans. I will quote one sentence of what he said, in order to compare it with the attitude that has been adopted by General Franco. He said:Our peace policy is founded on reconciliation with those who to-day are our enemies, and it can be carried out only on a basis of collaboration in the future reconstruction of Spain.Compare that with a statement which appeared in a Spanish Nationalist paper just at that time, and which was as follows: 1182We want no devil's truce. Comrades, if you hear anyone speaking of mediation, you will know that he is a traitor. Treat him as such.That is the position to-day. I do not know what steps the British Government have taken to attempt effectively to bring the war to an end, but I shall go into the Opposition Lobby to-night because this recognition of General Franco does not bring the war to an end.
All of us would welcome an end to the horrors that have been perpetrated in Spain, but are we not, by recognising General Franco without obtaining an armistice first, throwing away all our leverage? It is useless to say that the conditions are never applied; I could quote letters from M. Clemenceau after the Great War in which it was laid down for the new countries, Czecho-Slovakia and others, that they were recognised only on the condition that they treated their political national minorities and their opposition political minorities with a reasonable degree of clemency. If it be true that General Franco appreciates our good will, I believe that we could have obtained such conditions. We have not done so because we are in such a hurry to rush and to beseech him, on hands and knees almost, not to do anything which might be hostile to us.
It is useless to say, as the Prime Minister did this afternoon, that General Franco has given some undertaking of clemency. What are the facts? What has he been doing? We were told that he is going to punish only according to the law of 1936, but the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has already mentioned an official decree which was published in the official Nationalist Press and which makes every sort of cooperation on the part of his political opponents a crime. To belong to the active Republican party is to commit a crime and so it is to belong to the Left Republican party or the Basque Catholic party. May I add, in a moment of digression, that it was a pleasure and an honour to be in Paris the other day when these questions were being discussed? I wonder whether some of the members of the present French Government realise that, according to that decree, members of the present French Government would be treated as criminals in Spain, as far as I can judge, and as far as I have: 1183 heard French comment upon it. It was to be a crime to have been gravely passive in support of the Spanish Government. What was General Franco doing when he published this decree, after, I understand, the British representations had been made to him? Is that not his real reply to British representation? Almost every note which the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs has told us he has sent to General Franco on the subject of the bombing of British ships has been met by renewed bombing. That is the method of General Franco's reply to British representations.
I would ask the Government whether they can enlighten me on another matter of a humanitarian character? At the present time there are some 500,000 refugees who fled before General Franco's advancing forces. They fled without going into any argument because they were bombed out of their homes and machine-gunned on their way. They fled over the French frontier. How many of them will be able to go back? Many of them must go back, but cannot do so except to death, unless some undertaking is obtained from the Nationalist authorities. There should be an undertaking, perhaps with some guarantee. Without any arrangement being made, those people will go back to death. I was horrified to see in the French Press the report that one of the conditions of recognising General Franco is that those people should be returned to Nationalist Spain. I would like to ask whether that is so, and also whether the British Government cannot offer more assistance to the French, who have such an enormous task in providing for the refugees, and who have been more generous than any other country in Europe in maintaining them. Should the whole burden of caring for this wreck of people fall on the French? Should we not contribute more generously than we have in the past? I know that £40,000 has been given, but that is mainly for women and children, and the biggest problem is perhaps that of the men. In addition to these questions, I would like to ask whether, in the event of the Spanish Government in Central Spain deciding not to fight on, the British Government will make ships available to get the leaders and the endangered refugees out of Central Spain?
1184 To some of us it is noticeable that the Spanish Government have at all times been willing to submit questions to third-party judgment. They have been ready to temper the bitterness of civil war with several offers, which have been turned down. For instance, it was they who offered to exchange prisoners, but, after the prisoners in the hands of the Republican Government had been returned, the Nationalists refused to honour their part of the bargain. Again, the Republicans offered to forgo, and in fact did forgo, the bombing of open towns. They accepted the International Commission, which is made up of staff officers from this and other neutral countries. They have at all times, in these humanitarian questions, been ready to meet any suggestion that was made. I say to the Government that, with that record, you cannot let these people die. There was published in the Press on Monday a letter addressed to the Foreign Secretary, over the signatures of a number of distinguished churchmen, and I would like to emphasise this sentence:We are convinced that the vast majority of our people will not wish us to secure for ourselves political or commercial advantages from the new Spanish Government at the cost of condoning cruelty and repression by that Government.I say that we have a moral obligation to the leaders of Spanish democracy, to those people in regard to whom General Franco has refused to give any sort of undertaking. Some of us regard this as a very dark day for many of the traditions which we have held firmly, and for which we have believed that this country stood in the past. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite realise to what an extent this question has stirred public opinion in England. Do they realise that more money has been contributed for Spanish relief than, perhaps, for any other similar cause in history? No doubt I shall be corrected if I am wrong, but I believe that the total now reaches very nearly £1,000,000. I do not believe that such a large contribution, mostly from working people, has been made for any other cause.
I do not want to suggest for a moment, because it would give a false impression, that all that money has been given by people with political motives. That is not so. A great part of it has been given by people with humanitarian sympathies, people who did not wish to be involved 1185 in the political controversy. I fully recognise that, and am most anxious to make it clear that I am not claiming that the whole of that money has been given from political motives. But this issue, whether on the humanitarian side or on the political side, has stirred the people of this country as no other issue of foreign affairs has stirred them for a very long time. One of the disastrous consequences of the policy followed by the British Government, long after other observers in other countries had realised that it had become an absolute farce—the policy of non-intervention—is that it has embittered politics in this country, and will continue to embitter politics here as they have been embittered by nothing else. I say without bitterness, but just as a fact, that as a result of to-day's decision—the culmination of the whole policy of non-intervention—many of those thousands of people who have been working to send help to the Spanish people, now that they cannot work for Spain, will work with ever redoubled effort to remove those whom they regard as betraying what they believe in throughout Europe, and who, they suspect, would not hesitate to betray it in this country.
§ 9.4 p.m.
Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman
I think there is no harm in saying that the speech to which we have just listened was the speech of a fanatic—a fanatic who believes in what he says. I have no doubt at all in my mind that the hon. Member believes every word that he has said.
Sir N. Stewart Sandeman
The hon. Lady says it is true. I suppose she has seen it all. But I have lived long enough to know that you cannot believe all that you hear or all that you see, and it is very difficult to be sure of anything that goes on in this world. The hon. Member has talked about the enormous funds that have been raised in this country for Spain. It is a curious thing, but at the beginning of the war there was none of this talk about raising money for the poor people whom Franco had gone out to fight. They could be murdered right and left, and not a word was said. Nor was anything said or done about the hundreds of thousands who were murdered in Russia. I just mention these as examples. I am perfectly convinced in my own mind that the reason for the raising of this money 1186 has been the very skilful propaganda that has gone on. I know how sentimental the people of this country are. You have just to touch them on the right side, just to get a slogan for them, and they will provide the money. They do it with the very best of intentions, believing that it is in a good cause, simply because they are carried away by the arguments that are put before them. I admit that propaganda from the other side has not been anything like as good, but one finds out that in the long run truth will triumph. [Interruption.] I am just as entitled to my own opinion as any of the people below the Gangway. I do not doubt that they believe what they say and I ask them to accept that I also believe what I am saying.
I am glad the Government have agreed to recognise Franco. I have wished that they would do so for a long time, but, having complete confidence in the Prime Minister, I was certain he would do it at the right time. I believe that, having done it, he will cause peace to come to Spain. I am quite certain it will lead to peace being made, and a lasting peace. I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition is not here, because I am going to criticise his attitude. I had the feeling all the time he was speaking that he knew he had been barking up the wrong tree and that he wanted to change his objective, and that, for that reason, he wanted to make a dead set at the Prime Minister. [An Hon. Member: "It was justified."] I think it was not justified, and I think the country will agree that it was not justified. I wonder how many hon. Members below the Gangway would come back if there were an election now. Not many, I think. I noticed that the support that the Leader of the Opposition got from those behind him was nothing like the support he used to get, and I think his supporters—I do not say all of them, because there are fanatics in every part of the House—rather agreed with him that a shift of ground would be good. Reference was made to the gold which was taken from the Bank of Spain; it did not belong to the country, but to the shareholders of the bank. The Republicans have robbed right and left from all the houses which did not agree with them. If anyone raised any objection to having his goods and chattels removed he was simply murdered. That is not a difficult way of paying debts. I do not think that 1187 Russia or France is owed much money. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the foreign volunteers on the Republican side all being out of Spain. I very much doubt that, because I know that a great many of these volunteers lost their passports and were made Spanish citizens; so there would be no question of repatriating them. And what about those Italians and Germans who do not like Fascism? If they were repatriated, they would be just going home to be murdered.
Sir N. Stewart Sandeman
I am glad the hon. Member who represents the Liberal Party agrees with me about something. That must be the first time that we have agreed on anything. The Leader of the Opposition also talked about the ordinary rules of civilisation. I wonder when they came into force. You cannot say they were in force when 400,000 people who held views different from those of the Government were butchered. There has been talk about clemency and an amnesty. I do not understand why the demand should be made for a complete blot-out of everything that has happened. A lot of these people have lost their fathers, mothers and sisters, and they cannot forget that the murderers are there, known to them, and that they should be punished. I do not think that any person with a clear conscience need be afraid of Franco coming into power, as he is doing. The hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) said she was looking forward to the day when she would drink the health of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). I do not know what she would drink it in; I suppose it would be water. I understand that she was hoping that the hon. and gallant Member would have to get up here and say that he was wrong. I am quite certain that if he is wrong he will be the first to admit it. That is one thing about our kind of fanatic, that if we find out we are wrong we always admit it.
Sir N. Stewart Sandeman
The President of the Spanish Republic has now resigned, and I believe there are only 68 of the Cortes left. That does not make a very good Cortes to decide what the policy of Spain shall be. We hear that 1188 Franco is "this wild rebel." He started by himself, and now he owns three-quarters of Spain. If the people of Spain were against him he could not possibly, with the armed forces that he has, keep order behind the lines. I believe General Franco has the democracy, the people of Spain, behind him. From what one hears one would think that everybody on Franco's side was an——
Sir N. Stewart Sandeman
Some people would believe and say anything. They cannot all be noblemen who are fighting for Franco. His supporters are the working people of Spain, and there are fewer police in his territory than there used to be, according to what we hear. [Interruption.] We have very good sources of information. There is another thing which is often forgotten, and which has not been mentioned, and that is that during the crisis Franco said that he was going to stand out for neutrality, and that he was not going to come in with the so-called Axis Powers, and I believe that he meant it. Another thing that we have heard about is the retreat from Barcelona. Of the peasants—not the fighting forces—there were 2,500,000 who remained behind in Catalonia, and they have given a very great welcome to General Franco. Only 100,000 crossed the border into France. I am not talking about the fighting forces. I have a letter here signed by Senor Vila and Senor Just, from which I will read extracts:We have the honour to address this letter to you in order to express the satisfaction we have felt at the news that has recently come in from Barcelona. We are informed that the Evangelical Churches there renewed their worship on Sunday, 12th February, and that hundreds of our co-religionists were able to assemble in them to worship God as their conscience bids them, in which they were respected and protected by the Nationalist authorities recently established victoriously in that city.Another extract says:Accordingly, we would beg you kindly to transmit to the Generalissimo's Government the expression not only of our grateful feelings, but of those of millions of our coreligionists in Great Britain, to whom we shall immediately communicate the news through the medium of the religions Press of this country.After the terrible martyrdom the Catholic Church has suffered in Spain at the hands of those who abominate God and all religion, and considering the fraternal contacts we have been able to maintain with many Catholics during the most ominous period of persecution, we sincerely trust that the be- 1189 lievers who belong to the Roman Catholic communion in Spain will no longer regard the Evangelical Christians as enemies of the Catholic religion but as determined defenders of the basic principles of Christianity.That speaks for itself. The Press, I think, have been helping very much the late Government of Spain. We heard all the talk when Franco was crossing the Ebro of "They shall not pass," but that proved to be a slogan that did not prove effective. They passed all right and the people left the city, and, what is more. Franco gave them plenty of time to get out because he did not wish to destroy the city if he could possibly help it. During the Ebro engagement we heard of the counter-offensive in Estremadura. I am sure that if anyone had a map and marked out the places, if he could have found them, he would have seen that the places said to have been captured from Franco in Estremadura had never been out of the Government's hands. I wonder what would have happened if the other side had won? Franco is an angel in comparison with what Negrin's Government would have been. If you examine the question of bombing of open towns, you will find that, when there was bombing going on, the Government of Spain did a good deal of it, and we know that 20,000 people lost their lives as a result of their bombing. I do not remember any talk or outcry concerning the murder by the then Government of Spain of this portion of the 400,000 people they have killed altogether. There was never any talk of raising any money for those who suffered at their hands. I remember quite well how, at the beginning of the Spanish war, Members on the Opposition side of the House were shouting out for non-intervention the whole time. Now they have got tired of that and have changed.
Sir N. Stewart Sandeman
There is no question about that; a lot of people did. I do not think that there is any use in trying to beat a dead horse, and in trying to influence young people in this country to have their slogans and their war cries. What on earth is the good of a meeting in Trafalgar Square and shouting for arms to be sent to Spain? If arms were sent to Spain, Franco would get possesion of them. Three-quarters of the arms he gets are what he captures from the other side. We hear of this outcry of arms for Spain being inter- 1190 larded at the same time with the cry "We want Cripps."
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am certain that never in the history of this House has there ever been such a pitiful apology presented in justification of a serious decision than that of the speech of the Prime Minister to-day. I heard him draw a distinction between the present situation and the situation that existed in the time of Marshal Serrano's Government and the Government of Don Alfonso. When Marshal Serrano's Government was in Spain there was no other Government. When that Government collapsed, and Don Alfonso's Government took its place, there was no other Government. There never was a question in connection with either Marshal Serrano or Don Alfonso of withdrawing recognition from one and recognising another. The Prime Minister is in a great hurry to recognise Franco, but it is not because there is a justification for it in the situation in Spain. Do hon. Members want to know the Prime Minister's real reason for his hurry to recognise Franco? It is not the situation in Spain, but the situation in Italy and in Germany that is responsible for the hurried recognition of Franco.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The situation in Russia is stronger than it has ever been in history. It is a great, powerful country that stands out as the bulwark of peace in Europe, but in Italy and in Germany, the economic situation is of a very serious and critical character; and in Austria the opposition is now coming out quite openly against the Fascist regime. That is the main reason for the hurried recognition of Franco.
In Spain the Government still exists, no matter what shameful references may be made to it by the Prime Minister of this country. There is a powerful army, and the people are steeled with the determination to resist the Fascist invader, but the Prime Minister says that humanity should call upon us to end the strife. What does the end of strife mean under the conditions represented by the Prime Minister? It means death or slavery. When we hear of some of the churches opening in Barcelona, there is approval from hon. Members opposite as though the churches had not already been opening. But I 1191 challenge the Prime Minister or any of his supporters on the benches opposite on this, that they will not find operating in Franco's territory a trade union or a working-class organisation. What is happening? The Prime Minister of this country is deliberately betraying this country. All our friends are being destroyed. Basic democracy is expressed in the role of the trade unions, the co-operative movement and the working-class organisation. In Czecho-Slovakia we had great friends in the trade union movement, the co-operative movement and the progressive parties. In Austria and in Spain the same things apply. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Russia?"] Yes, and the Russian trade unions.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Sure; on that you can be absolutely certain. There are continual interjections of this character. This particular Member I do not know, but I am prepared to go to his constituency and prove before his constituents that he does not know one solitary thing about Russia. The trade unions exist, they carry on their branch meetings, there is voting on all questions that affect the housing conditions, there is voting in the factories on working conditions and wages as well as for the Soviets; there is a democracy in Russia that does not exist in any other country in Europe. I return to the fact that throughout Europe the democracies have been destroyed. You cannot do that without destroying the support upon which Britain as a democracy might at any time have to depend. If you are destroying democracy in general, that means you are destroying democracy in this country. That is what we are up against and have to face.
The Prime Minister will probably tell us that at the end of the war the Italian troops will leave. The Prime Minister told us he had got an agreement with Italy that 60,000 Italian troops would be taken out of Libya. I am surprised that men can have the audacity to come here claiming to be representatives of constituencies, listen to what is served out to them and swallow it without the slightest consideration for the welfare or the interests of this country. Sixty thousand troops were withdrawn from Libya, then they were sent back and the 1192 Minister tells us that the Treaty did not specify a permanent withdrawal. The situation is now the same as when the Treaty was made. In Spain you not only have the troops, but the technical experts of Italy in administration and other directions, and also Germany well dug in. I had some members of the International Brigade to tea here. They had been Franco's prisoners. These international brigaders were presented with a questionnaire which was of such a character that everything in connection with them had to be written down. Who presented them with the questionnaire? The Gestapo. The questionnaire was in German. The Germans have through the Gestapo almost complete control of the police administration in Franco territory, and you are trying to fool us into believing that General Franco is such an independent and high-spirited Spanish gentleman, that he will not stand for German or Italian control.
Can it be suggested that the organisation which the Nazis had before the invasion has not been strengthened a thousand times by now? The Prime Minister speaks for big international interests in this country which are opposed to the general interests of the people. He does not speak for the masses of the people of this country, for the great organised trade unions are opposed to the recognition of Franco. The shop stewards of the aircraft factories, the great co-operative movement, the great labour movement in this country—they are all against recognition. Yesterday I made an interjection that the Prime Minister should be impeached, not for being a traitor to Spain or other countries, but for being a traitor to this country. I maintain that. I hope that before long the people of this country will be aroused to such wrath and strength that this unspeakable Government will be swept out of office. [HON. MEMBERS: 'What a hope!"] What a Government! Look at the occupant of the Treasury Bench at the present time—a sort of elongated edition of Pickwick who was simply picked out of one job without any consideration being given to him and dumped in another. Does he react to it? I can imagine that if the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) was in an engineering works and the foreman or manager came up to him and said, "You're so good. Get out of that 1193 and come over here," what his reaction would be. He would demand his books on the spot. But here you turn a Minister out of his job, make another hole for him to crawl into, and he crawls into it. Take the Minister for Agriculture. He was taken by the scruff of the neck and the pants and heaved out of the Ministry of Agriculture, and he crawls into the first hole offered. Are these men with any principle, any character? No. I said the other night that they were simply a hotchpotch of misfits and objects whose proper place was as exhibits in Madame Tussaud's. Therefore, I hope the people of this country will be aroused to a feeling of wrath against the betrayals that have taken place, and will drive this Government out of office. I hope that this House will be aroused, and that the man who has been deliberately betraying democracy in Europe and in this country will suffer the impeachment he deserves for the betrayals he has carried out, and for the contempt with which he treats the Members of this House.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
It is a remarkable fact that the more minute the party to which an hon. Member belongs, the more convinced he becomes that he represents public opinion in this country—a view which is quite unaffected by the number of by-elections which the parties concerned may lose. The remarkable fact about this Debate, apart from the emphasis of the various speeches that have been made, is the fact that not a single Member who has supported the Motion since the Leader of the Opposition spoke has mentioned the Motion in his speech. I will turn to the terms of the Motion. It complains that recognition is unconditional, but no one has suggested how conditions could have been made. One or two subjects have been mentioned on which hon. Members wish that conditions had been made. Let us see how far an attempt at imposing conditions could possibly have served any of the purposes which they say they have in mind.
One subject, perhaps the only subject on which the House is agreed, is the hope that clemency will be observed. That question may become an immediate one but does anyone suppose that the delay or the refusal of recognition would help this country to exercise its influence on General Franco in the interest of 1194 clemency? If that is not thought, the argument that some condition should have been made on that subject breaks down altogether. Another subject on which it is suggested that conditions should have been made is the satisfaction of the claims which have been put forward by this country against General Franco. On what conceivable legal basis could those claims ever be pushed to a conclusion until General Franco is recognised? It is of the essence of the situation that such claims cannot be met until the end of the war is reached and you know which side is victorious. Recognition of General Franco is a necessary condition precedent before the claims will be met. No one on the Opposition side has suggested how the meeting of those claims would be accelerated by the refusal of recognition.
Finally—this perhaps is the most absurd suggestion of all—it is suggested that, as a condition precedent to granting recognition, all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Spain. The moment that suggestion is examined it will be seen that to make that a condition is to make our relations with General Franco entirely dependent on the will of the dictators and to place it in the power of the dictators, for whom hon. Members opposite do not always express such trust, to control what shall be the relations between our Government and the Government of Spain. The Leader of the Liberal Opposition made a point about what happened in Minorca, and suggested that some Italian aeroplanes had acted against General Franco's authority. He seemed to think that that was an argument for putting it into the power of Italy to say when and on what conditions this country should recognise General Franco. Of course in law the situation is as was stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). Recognition is not a thing that you grant as a favour to the Government recognised. It is a relationship between someone with power to perceive and the facts. It is a recognition of facts, and that, of course, is the view taken by International Law. The hon. Member who spoke last talked about the great haste in recognising General Franco. He may remember that the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald's Government in 1931 recognised the Spanish Republic de jure eight days after the departure of King Alfonso—not after his abdication.
§ Mr. Strauss
The practice that this country has almost invariably followed is well summarised in the often quoted authority, in which Lord Granville laid it down that before recognition could be granted there must bea Government in Spain sufficiently settled and well supported by the nation at large to be considered by foreign Powers as the real organ of the nation.What Government, if any, in Spain to-day can possibly be considered the real organ of the nation? It is obvious that either no Government whatever can be recognised, with all the chaos that that would involve, or that General Franco's Government must be recognised. The Motion makes the fantastic statement that the recognition marks a further stage in a policy which is steadily destroying confidence in the good faith of Great Britain in all democratic countries. In other words, the policy which is steadily destroying confidence in the good faith of Great Britain is a policy which has already been adopted by some of the chief democracies. France, Switzerland and Holland have adopted it and I doubt whether there is any great democracy which is not likely to adopt it in the near future.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up for the Opposition will make clear precisely what was meant by his Leader in his extraordinary statement about France. After welcoming the statement made not long ago by the Prime Minister, and confirmed by the Foreign Secretary, that we would stand by France, a statement which, I thought, had the approval of every party in this country and throughout the Empire, the Leader of the Opposition said, "What we mean by France is not a reactionary France." Does that mean that, if the Labour party came into power, their support of France against aggression would depend on whether they liked the Government which the French Republic thought fit to put in office? If it does not mean that, what does it mean? If they mean that that pledge shall not apply unless there is a Government of which they approve, the sooner the country knows it the better, and their electoral prospects will become even worse than they are to-day. Not one 1196 Member who has spoken for the Opposition has given a single argument for thinking that the refusal of this recognition would serve a single purpose that they have in mind. I have tried to analyse the Motion and the extent to which in their speeches they have supported it. Some people might think that their Motion was insincere. I do not think so. I think that it is a sincere declaration of the most fundamental principle of the Socialist party, the non-recognition of facts.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in the vigorous and excellent speech in which he submitted this Motion to the House, stated the reasons why the Labour party, as the official Opposition, hold the view that the step taken by His Majesty's Government in this matter is wrong, and that it is, in any case, hasty and precipitate. I suggest that the Prime Minister in his reply did not demolish the arguments of my right hon. Friend and did not adequately meet the points which he made. My right hon. Friend urged that it was not unreasonable that before any recognition was granted, certain conditions should be discussed and should be met—conditions which included humanitarian considerations and questions affecting the strategical security of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Apart from questions of humanity, apart from the democratic principle involved in this great struggle, apart from the issues of constitutional government which have been involved in this war—issues in themselves of great and fundamental importance—it is a matter of profound significance, if it be the case that there is the risk of military, naval and air forces of Germany and Italy being located in Spain or the Spanish islands. It is a question of profound significance whether such political conditions exist in Spain as may bring about that situation at any time. It is clear from what the Prime Minister said that he has not raised this question seriously with General Franco and that those issues have not been pressed with any definiteness or firmness by the representatives of His Majesty's Government.
Therefore, it would appear that His Majesty's Government are in a state of partial indifference to the military and strategical situation at the Western en- 1197 trance to the Mediterranean. At any rate, I heard the Prime Minister say nothing which demolished the case made by my right hon. Friend or showed that the conditions indicated by my right hon. Friend were not, in themselves, reasonable conditions. We have had arguments about this being a struggle between two sides in Spain, in which Great Britain has no particular interest. But I submit we have a very great national interest in the situation in Spain. Moreover, it is grossly wrong to refer to the historic struggle which has taken place on the soil of Spain as a mere fight between two sides, as if no principles were involved in it, as if no lasting consequences to humanity were involved in it. The official attitude of the Government ever since the war began has been that there is nothing to choose between the two sides in Spain and that one is as right as the other, but I hope to show that while that has been the apparent, official attitude, even that has not been the real attitude of His Majesty's Government and the Conservative party. But to take the attitude that this is a scrap between two parties both of which may be equally right or equally wrong, is to disregard the principles of government to which the people of this island are attached.
This was a war conducted by a military general who had broken his oath of fidelity to his State—in itself a serious thing. I have said before to the House that if a British general were to break his oath of fidelity to His Majesty and consort with politicians and be a party to action against a Conservative Government with a view to upsetting that Government by force, hon. Members opposite would denounce him, and they would be right. But here was a similar case, except that this was a rebellion against a Government of the Left. That Government was constitutionally elected; it was the lawful Government of Spain; and this general and his associates, not only broke their oath of allegiance to the State, but they did worse than that—they actively conspired, from the beginning of the war and even from dates before the war began, with the enemies of their country who were preparing for the invasion of their country. According to the Prime Minister and according to the attitude adopted by the Government and the Conservative party there is nothing wrong in such conduct. They 1198 say that it is no worse than the conduct of the Spanish Government which was defending its constitutional rights to govern as the lawful Government of the country. The very fact that His Majesty's Government adopted the attitude that there was nothing to choose between the two sides in Spain, that, as the present Home Secretary said in earlier days this was a mere scrap between two sides, is, in itself, an indication of the partiality and bias of His Majesty's Government ever since this business began.
My attitude towards rebellion against a constitutional, lawful and democratic Government is that it is wrong from whatever quarter it may come. If a Government is a democratic and constitutional Government, elected by the people, it has a right to govern, and anybody who tries by force to upset it, whether from the Left or from the Right, is guilty of an action for which he must take the consequences. I trust that if in future, any attempt were made in this country at forcible rebellion against constitutional authority it would be suppressed, and if at any future time, Conservative Members of this House, like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, should follow those principles of General Franco of which he was and is an admirer—well I should like to be in the Government which dealt with anything of that kind that is started.
We shall to-night go to a vote on this Motion, and it looks as though the vote would be on normal party lines with the National Government people going one way and the Labour party and the Liberals another. We shall not have with us the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). When he rose to speak some of my hon. Friends wondered which way he would go, but I said, "Do not worry, he will be with the Government." I admit that he was in a difficult position. He said so himself, and he evidently had some spiritual doubts. The right hon. Gentleman has a great responsibility for the beginning of the policy which has led up to the present situation. More than once he stood at that Box and tried to deny that the Italians or the Germans were intervening in Spain, knowing, as I think he himself would agree, that they were. Still, I appreciate his difficulty. 1199 I never thought that he would get very far from the flock and no doubt he will soon be back in it. No doubt the Prime Minister will take the course which he usually takes in such matters, and I think indeed he ought to do so in this case as soon as he can. However, as I say, I appreciate the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that he has such a big share of responsibility for the policy which has led up to the present situation. Those who hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might be found in a great majestic combination of democracy will, as I have always thought would be the case, be disappointed.
The Prime Minister when he commenced his speech resented what he regarded as a personal attack by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Really the Prime Minister is getting very touchy, very sensitive, very thin-skinned. If he really wants to know what personal attacks are like let him become a Labour leader. He will learn then how to give blows and how to take them. For myself I have not much room for the Prime Minister. He not only cannot take blows, he cannot give them. The truth is that the Prime Minister belongs to a degenerate political age. When the Prime Minister's father was active in politics he used to knock everybody about with great violence, and I think on the whole it was good. The politicians in those years used to make attacks upon each other which I should like to make myself, but my fear is whether they would pass the Chair in these more modem times. But the Prime Minister is really babyish, he is getting childish. He must expect to be knocked about; and this one deserves to be knocked about, but if he is going to resent it every time he is criticised and attacked or something severe said about him, I do not think it is consistent with a sense of confidence in his own case or with his own dignity, and I beg him not to be so touchy about perfectly legitimate and proper and truthful and accurate attacks by my right hon. Friend.
The Prime Minister said that he had been a Member of this House for 20 years. What I like about the right hon. Gentleman is his modesty. He said that he had been a Member of this House for 20 years 1200 and in office nearly all the time. He is a lucky fellow, he started fortunately. He went on to say that he thought the House would agree that he was incapable of trying to mislead the House of Commons. If ever I apply for a job and want a testimonial I shall not write it myself. I should have thought that the Prime Minister, if he wanted some nice things to be said about himself had only to mention it to the Chief Whip, who would have arranged for an hon. Member opposite, perhaps the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, to say the nice things. There was an argument as to what M. Daladier had said, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that the Prime Minister had misled, had deceived, the House of Commons. The Prime Minister did. There is no getting away from it. The Prime Minister might have said, "Yes, I did, and it was in the interest of the country that I should." I could have understood that. I think that is what the Prime Minister really believed. However regrettable that might be from the moral point of view I could have understood it, but for the Prime Minister to resent the suggestion that he had in fact deceived the House of Commons is really beyond what is reasonable, and is utterly untrue. Let me repeat what M. Daladier said in the Chamber on the 24th February:Do you find it a matter of no moment that on 22nd February we received advice that the British Government considered that the hour had come to recognise General Franco and that we should wait no longer since a certain declaration by General Franco regarding the independence of Spain and his domestic policy were calculated to afford satisfaction.Note that M. Daladier said:The British Government considered that the hour had come to recognise General Franco.The Prime Minister says that that is not a decision, that it is a thought, a speculation. Sir, that is a decision in principle that something is going to happen. Notwithstanding that, the Prime Minister, in an answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, on Thursday of last week, said this. My right hon. Friend asked:whether the Government have come to any decision with respect to the recognition of the Spanish insurgent authorities and, if so, will he state the nature of this decision?THE PRIME MINISTER: I regret that I am not yet in a position to add to previous 1201 statements on this subject.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1939; col. 573, Vol. 344.]So far I think the Prime Minister technically kept within the rules of parliamentary evasion, but, in fact, he had reached a decision and on Monday of this week, yesterday, the Prime Minister was trying to persuade the House that the Government had reached no decision last week, and he adheres to that statement. The Government had reached a decision last week, and it could have been reached in two ways. The Cabinet could have met and the Prime Minister could have said to his colleagues, "I think we should decide in principle to recognise General Franco," and he could have got a decision. He could then say "The time and manner of this decision I ask you to leave to the discretion of myself and the Foreign Secretary." I do not say that that is an illegitimate procedure; it is perfectly proper, provided it was action which might be taken between that Cabinet meeting and the next. But that was asking the Cabinet to come to a decision in principle that General Franco should be recognised. That is one way; and it is probably what happened. I do not know, I was not there.
There is another way in which it might have been done, and the Prime Minister is capable of it. He may have said to the Cabinet: "I am not going to tell you what my state of mind is about recognising General Franco." After all, the Prime Minister has not too much respect for the House of Commons. [Interruption.] I am saying what I believe, and I very much doubt whether he has much respect for his Cabinet colleagues. In fact, I have not much respect for them myself. He may have said: "I have reached no conclusion about General Franco and I ask you to leave me and the Foreign Secretary complete powers to do what we like about it." Is that what happened? If it is, it is a curious way of treating a British Cabinet and our Parliamentary system. The Prime Minister or the Secretary of State for the Dominions must tell us which way it was. Was it that the Cabinet, in fact, took a decision in principle, or was it that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary during the week-end took a decision without any authority from their Cabinet colleagues? I ask the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to give us an answer to that question.
1202 This afternoon, the Prime Minister's defence of the situation yesterday, in which he could not answer questions that he ought really to have been able to answer, was that he had not paid particular attention to the exact words used by M. Daladier. That is an amazing state of affairs. When the Government of a country with which we have friendly arrangements, almost an alliance, make a profound statement of that sort, the Prime Minister says that he did not take particular note of the words. That is an irresponsible position for the principal Minister of the Crown to take up, and the Prime Minister ought to be thoroughly ashamed of that admission. The alternative defence of the Prime Minister was that he could not charge his memory with the dates when decisions had been reached which were of most vital moment in connection with the foreign policy of this country. The Prime Minister has not come very well out of that incident.
The Prime Minister said that the allegation in the Motion that the policy of the Government is a breach of international traditions is untrue. He claimed that the Government approach this matter with no prejudice and with complete judicial impartiality. That is not true, and it never has been true of His Majesty's Government, ever since this great, historic struggle in Spain began. There was the policy of non-intervention, which the Government pushed, in association with the Government of France. I do not want to be unfair, and I say that the Government of France had their share of the responsibility.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am making this speech, and I want to be fair. I say that the French Government at that time had their share of responsibility; but after all, it is our Government that is responsible to us, and not the Government of France. What did the Government do? They decided upon and published to the world a policy of non-intervention; not a gun, not a piece of military material was to go, not to rebels against lawful authority, but to a friendly Government with which we were in diplomatic relationship, a constitutional and lawful Government, which merely wished to exercise its ordinary rights of purchasing arms from any country and any firm that 1203 would sell them to it. The Government placed an embargo on the sending of arms to the lawful, constitutional Government of Spain.
Soon afterwards, they placed an embargo against citizens of this country, animated by a great ideal of liberty and freedom—[Interruption]—I know how difficult it is for hon. Members opposite, in the present state of the Conservative party, to appreciate those sentiments and ideals. When citizens of this country wanted to go to Spain, the Government intervened, and took special action to prevent them from going. That policy would have been an understandable policy—although I still doubt whether it was a right one—if, but only if, all the other countries were doing the same thing. But those countries did not do the same thing. Germany and Italy never ceased intervening, sending war material, men and arms, and giving military services of one kind and another. His Majesty's Government deliberately followed a policy, not of equal all-round non-intervention, but of one-sided intervention, which was intended by the FascistPowers—and I believe intended by the Prime Minister—to be disadvantageous to the lawful, constitutional Government of Spain.
The Prime Minister says that the Government have no prejudice and that they have judicial impartiality. The policy to which I have referred proves that they had nothing of the kind; nor have they anything of the kind. Let hon. Members remember the statements of the Home Secretary, to which I referred earlier; let them remember the denials of Italian and German intervention that were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington and by other Ministers of the Crown, when it was a fact that intervention was going on, and when, I believe, the Foreign Office knew it to be the case. Let hon. Members consider also the pressure that was exercised upon the French Government to seal up the Pyrenees frontier, despite the fact that a bourgeois French Government of the Right, and not the Front Populaire Government, had previously made a treaty with the Government of Spain agreeing to supply munitions and arms to Spain because she did not propose to manufacture them for herself. His Majesty's Government repeatedly brought 1204 pressure to bear upon the Government of France to seal up the Pyrenees frontier.
§ Mr. Morrison
I wish they had been unsuccessful, but they were all too successful. I ask the House to remember also the irritation of hon. Members opposite, especially the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, when it was said—probably truthfully—and I am glad it was the case—that supplies were filtering through to the lawful Government of Spain from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Having regard to the fact that Italy and Germany had never ceased sending supplies, I say, all honour to the Government of the Soviet Union for sending supplies. But remember the indignation of these impartial people, who could find excuses for Germany and Italy sending supplies, but had nothing except condemnation for the Soviet Union when it sent supplies, and nothing but condemnation for leakages through the frontier between France and Spain. That is more of their impartiality, more of their complete absence of prejudice. Remember their attitude to the bombing and sinking of British ships and the killing of British sailors. If that had been done by the Government of the Soviet Union, His Majesty's Navy would have been out on the job quickly enough to defend the supreme rights of the British Commonwealth and to emphasise the principle that Britain rules the waves. But these ships were sunk by the reactionary General Franco, they were sunk by the aeroplanes of Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler, and as they are particular class friends of the Government, the Government did nothing.
Moreover, were not these ships and British sailors taking food—possibly other things? [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] I do not know, and hon. Members opposite do not know, but as a matter of fact most of these ships that were bombed had international observers on them, representing in part His Majesty's Government. I am not going to run away from the issue, however. In those circumstances, when Germany and Italy were sending war materials and soldiers to the rebels, I would not apologise, I would be proud, if British ships were taking war 1205 materials to the legitimate Government. In fact, I do not think that was the case. Consider the Conservative "Observer," pro-Franco, anti-constitutional all the time, and remember the connection of the family of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) with that newspaper. Remember also the action of these impartial Ministers and the action of the impartial Prime Minister, that at the height of this trouble, after the hon. Member for Mid Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) had in this House, in answer to a question from me, agreed that he was a partisan and a supporter of General Franco, the Prime Minister singled him out, I believe because of that, for particular honour and Ministerial promotion by making him Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. No, Sir. I can only say that if the Government wished to maintain a reputation for impartiality, it was a grossly indiscreet thing to make that particular Ministerial promotion at that particular point and in those circumstances.
That is the case on one side, and if the Chief Whip wants a case on the other side, as compared with the promotion of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, if he wants a comparison of the penalties for being a friend of the lawful Government in Spain, I recall to the Chief Whip the vindictive treatment meted out to the Duchess of Atholl, treatment for which the Chief Whip and the Conservative Central Office were primarily responsible.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me in what way vindictive action was used against the Duchess of Atholl?
§ Mr. Morrison
Vindictive action was used against the Duchess of Atholl by the promotion of trouble in her constituency. [Interruption.] It is really no good one person who is familiar with a political office and the workings of a political office trying to deceive another person who is also familiar with those workings. They promoted trouble in her constituency, and she is no longer in this House. I have no objection to discipline being administered in a party, but it should be impartially administered. The two cases of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and the Duchess of 1206 Atholl are further proofs of the Government's pro-Franco attitude.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister went into the field of international law. I will be perfectly honest about it. I have made no profound study of international law, and I do not believe the Prime Minister has either, so that we both start from scratch. The only difference between us is that he has the Foreign Office behind him and I have not. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the writings of Oppenheimer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oppenheim!"] Well, Oppenheim then. It is a good job that I, unlike the Prime Minister, admit my deficiencies. The right hon. Gentleman said that Oppenheim had referred, as elements in the recognition, to the habitual acceptance of the authority of the new Government and the permanent character of the new Government. Neither of these conditions is fulfilled in the Government of General Franco. There is no habitual acceptance of his rule or his authority. There is no true permanence in his Government. I doubt very much whether that Government will last. It is not the end of an epoch in the history of Spain, and the Government may look very foolish as a result of their precipitate recognition. Oppenheim also said, what the Prime Minister did not quote, that an untimely and precipitant recognition as a new State is a violation to the dignity of the mother State, and we say that this recognition is hasty and precipitate. The Prime Minister quoted the late Sir William Harcourt, and again he referred to the final and permanent manner of the triumph of the victorious military power in the struggle against the Government. That is not analogous to this case.
The Prime Minister quoted Lord Liverpool, of whom I have never heard anything very brilliant, on the case of the South American Spanish colonies. Lord Liverpool made an element of the qualification of recognition whether the triumph was the result of a bona fide contest. Is this a bona fid contest? There is nothing bona fide about it. What is the good of suggesting that a contest is bona fide in which there is a rebellion of the Army, in which the Army and military material are gone, in which the country is boycotted in military supplies by us and others, in which rebellion is assisted by actual military invasion of modern mili- 1207 tary powers? The Prime Minister quoted Lord Derby on the Carlist Government. That Government was recognised. It fell, as he later admitted, in six months, which rather indicated that it was a mistake to recognise it, and the Government had to recognise its successor.
The Prime Minister proceeded to justify his policy on the ground that the present Spanish Government is dispersed but ought he not to have had some reasonable patience without rushing in and breaking his neck, so to speak, to recognise General Franco before anything else could possibly happen? That Government might well come together. Then said the Prime Minister, there are ambassadors in Spain without a court which to attend. He ought not to make that point, for the British Ambassador has been away from the court practically ever since the civil war began. He said also that it is a breach of tradition not to recognise General Franco. Here comes the class prejudice again, because when the Bolshevists became supreme in the political sense in Russia it was years before a Conservative Government would recognise the Government of the Soviet Union. I ask the Secretary for the Dominions to tell us why the Government delayed so long in recognising the Government of the Soviet Union and are so precipitate in recognising the Government of General Franco.
Moreover, there is in Spain at the present time under the Government one-third of the territory of the country, one-quarter of the population and 500,000 troops. The precedent of 1931 in Spain is against the Government in this case because the late Government was really completely gone. There was only one Government in the country, and even then recognition was not given until an election had take place for parliamentary purposes. I suggest that if the Government want to follow the precedent of 1931 they might do that in this case.
We do not think that this policy of the Government is right, wise, proper or expedient. We believe it is created by their own bias against democracy in other countries, their own bias in favour of capitalistic international interests throughout the world. We believe they are putting the interests of capitalism before the interests of democracy and the freedom of peoples, and we believe also that 1208 they are actually going so far as to put class interests before the interest of the security of the British Commonwealth of Nations itself. We feel that their whole policy upon Spain has been mistaken, and in dividing the House on this Motion tonight, defeated though we shall be, we believe that history when it is recorded will say that we were wrong——
§ Mr. Morrison
——that we were right. We believe that the historians—I must repeat myself. I apologise to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, but I must get this right. Looking at the geography of the Mediterranean, looking at the intimate connection between the political control of Spain, the strategic security of our own country, the security of France, the communications of France with her African Colonial Empire, we believe that we are doing our duty to-night in challenging the decisions of His Majesty's Government, and we believe that when impartial history comes to be written it will show that their policy has been wrong, and that from the point of view of the freedom of the peoples of the world, the progress of mankind and the interest of the security of the British Commonwealth, the policy which we have urged is a policy which is right.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Sir Thomas Inskip)
I cannot help thinking that the elements of the question which the House is considering this evening are much simpler than they are in most cases which we have to defend. We are not to-night discussing the foreign policy of the Government in general; we are not discussing the responsibility for anything that was done in connection with the war in Abyssinia, as the leader of the Liberal Opposition seemed to think; we are not discussing events that took place in Austria or in Czecho-Slovakia; nor, I beg to say, in spite of the speech of the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison), are we discussing the rights or wrongs of the controversy, of which the Leader of the Opposition has thought it right to make so much concerning Parliamentary answers given two or three days ago. The sole question is that which is propounded in the Motion, and is whether His Majesty's Government are entitled to 1209 recognise General Franco's Government as the Government of Spain. The Opposition think that that recognition is not well-founded, because it is contrary to the principles or precedents of international law, because it is unconditional, and because, as they say, it is supposed to have led to some disparagement of democratic institutions in this country.
We listened for some 20 minutes out of the 45 minutes during which the right hon. Gentleman spoke before he approached any of these questions. He delighted us all with what I may describe as a rollicking speech, and which, I hope, afforded as much satisfaction on that side of the House as it did amusement on this side. He expressed a great deal of disappointment with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). He would have us believe that he expected nothing better from my right hon. Friend than he got. The length of time which he spent in dilating upon my right hon. Friend led me to think that the iron had entered into his soul more deeply than he admitted. The right hon. Gentleman spent a few minutes in rebuking the Prime Minister for not trying to reintroduce the atmosphere which, apparently, prevails in trade union circles. Altogether, we have had as irrelevant a speech from the right hon. Gentleman upon the Motion before the House as I should think any of us has ever listened to.
The Leader of the Opposition, to put it very mildly, reproached my right hon. Friend the Prime, Minister with some crimes that he is said to have committed. If I understand the accusation aright, the substance of them is that the Prime Minister did not provide the House of Commons with an opportunity of expressing views upon the question of recognition until after the recognition had, in fact, been accorded.
§ Mr. Attlee
The right hon. Gentleman has got the accusation quite wrong. It was not the effect of what the right hon. Gentleman did. My accusation was that he made a misleading statement, a deliberately misleading statement, to this House.
§ Sir T. Inskip
In order, as I think the right hon. Gentleman said, to evade a Debate upon the subject. However, if I misunderstood—[HON. MEMBERS: "He did say it."] The right hon. Gen- 1210 tleman said in order to evade Debate upon this question that we are discussing this evening.
§ Mr. Attlee
The right hon. Gentleman understands that the important point is that a Prime Minister, when asked a question, should tell the truth to this House. That is the simple issue.
§ Sir T. Inskip rose——
§ Sir William Davison
On a point of Order. Is it in order for the Leader of the Opposition to accuse the Prime Minister of telling an untruth to the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman's accusation went terribly near something which ought to be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Attlee
I made a statement with which I thought no one would disagree in this House, that a statement made by the Prime Minister in answer to a question should be the truth.
§ Sir T. Inskip
Perhaps after what you have said, Sir, it will be more in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the House that I take no further notice of this matter. The point was certainly made by some speakers to-night that the Government had taken out of the hands of Parliament the right to discuss an important question of this sort. That is based upon a misconception of the power of the Executive. There are many questions which the Executive must have power to decide without reference to Parliament, the only sanction being that if the House of Commons disagrees with a decision of the Executive it will have the power to remove them from office and to substitute a policy more in accordance with the views of the majority. But, of course, it is really only a debating point. It is not a point of substance, because here to-night the House of Commons is debating the question with the opportunity, or the power at any rate, if opinion leads to that conclusion, of replacing the Government with one that will take a different course.
Something was said as to whether the Prime Minister had consulted the Cabinet, or given them their proper position. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman opposite need trouble about the authority 1211 of the Cabinet for what the Prime Minister does. The Prime Minister is perfectly well aware of the importance of Cabinet responsibility, and I hope I may say that his colleagues are equally tenacious of it. If anybody is to criticise anybody for forgetting the doctrine of Cabinet responsibility, it is the Prime Minister's colleagues, and not right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The course of the war has undoubtedly led to a result at the present time which makes it necessary for the Cabinet, the Government and this House to make up their minds what are the consequences that have flowed from the course of the war. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite say that the Government are always on the side of the dictators, but there is not a vestige of evidence for such a statement. Indeed, it has a most ludicrous sound to those of us who are just as stout defenders of democracy as any hon. Gentleman opposite. Both right hon. Gentlemen opposite complained of the coldness of this country to Russia. Is Russia a shining example of democratic institutions? I cannot help asking the Opposition whether it is just conceivable that their attitude to these questions of recognition is influenced by their very natural and proper preference for a democratic Government.
There was a time when three theories of recognition were held in different quarters. One of those theories, which was firmly held in the United States of America, was that any revolting party should be recognised as a Government if only they were going to establish a republican form of Government. A second theory was held by the monarchical countries, like Austria and Russia, who thought that the sole right of recognising revolting subjects belonged to kings. It was a British Prime Minister, Canning, who put the matter of recognition on its sound basis, namely, that it was the recognition of a fact, or perhaps I should say the recognition of an opinion about a fact, or a set of facts. The authority to form an opinion about a set of facts is, of course, the Government of the day, subject to some direction of the Government by Parliament.
I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite what is to happen if a particular Government ceases to be the actual organ of the State. It has been laid down, in terms which no hon. or right hon. Gentle- 1212 man opposite will contradict, that, when such an event happens, foreign States cease dealing with the Government in question, and open relations with its successor. I do not suppose that the right hon. Gentleman opposite will contradict that as a proposition. Indeed, it is derived from one of the authorities that he himself quoted. I seem to have detected a belief in the Debate to-night that such cases are rare—that they happened perhaps, in the case of the South American republics 100 years ago or that they were considered in the course of the Civil War in America, but that such things do not happen to-day. Is the House aware of the fact that, since 1920, no fewer than 22 revolting parties have been recognised by different Governments in this country as the constitutional authorities in place of the Government against whom they revolted? Some of these countries appear in the list of recognised Governments two or three times over in the course of the 20 years, and in 1930, when a Labour Government was in power, no fewer than four such recognitions took place, notwithstanding the fact that the people who revolted had, of course, broken their oaths of loyalty and allegiance, and were in fact rebels. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who were they?"] I can give a list of names if it interests the party opposite. In 1930, the Labour Government of that day recognised rebellions in Bolivia, in the Argentine, in Peru and in Brazil.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
May I ask whether in any one of the four cases the right hon. Gentleman has just given the rebel Government was recognised at a time when the old Government was actually functioning, as is the case with the present Spanish Government?
§ Sir T. Inskip
I take a wholly different view of the facts, as I shall show in a moment. But in all of the 20 cases it was a revolt carried to a successful conclusion against the Government which would otherwise have been the Government of the day. I will repeat what the Prime Minister has said, that of course the right hon. Gentleman opposite will recognise nothing.
§ Sir T. Inskip
That really is not the point. I was addressing myself to the observation of the right hon. Gentleman 1213 the Member for South Hackney that as soon as they found that people had revolted in breach of some oath of allegiance, the Government of Great Britain ought to support the Government against whom they had revolted. I pointed out that the Labour Government of 1930 had not thought of that as the principle when they were in power.
Then it is said that we have been too swift to recognise what has taken place in Spain. If I had the time, and if I were going to make the demand on the patience of the House, I could give case after case, not only from South America but from France, where revolutionary parties were recognised within a few months of their first breaking out against the lawful authority, to use the expression of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It really will not do to make the case that revolutions are always illegal, because most of the liberties even of this country are founded upon rebellions successfully carried out.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when he is going to join the Communist party?
§ Sir T. Inskip
The right hon. Member need not be in any fear of that. I reserve that for the members of his party. Let me ask hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite this question: What are you to do when a Government has been fighting a hopeless war against rebels, when the contest has really come to an end? [HON. MEMBERS: "It has not."] Hon. Members say that it has not, but I read a few days ago a statement by a much respected former member of the party opposite, in which he said:In urging the Republican Government to carry on a hopeless war, the Labour party is doing, in my opinion, a wicked thing.Lord Sanderson was for a long time a great authority in the party opposite on foreign affairs. I think I have a right to quote him as an authority for saying that the war which has been going on in Spain is now a hopeless war, to use the expression which he has used. What are you to do when the old Government has been replaced by a rebel government? Are you always to go on recognising the the old Government although it has lost the power to control the population over whom it is supposed to rule, or are you to recognise a void or a vacuum in the 1214 country? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition said that you cannot settle this question by legal disquisitions. That is perfectly true, but the way in which you settle a question is, first, by ascertaining the facts, and then applying the principles of the law to the facts that you have obtained. I cannot help thinking that hon. Gentlemen opposite have allowed their sympathies to distort their view of the facts. They say that the war is not hopeless, or do they say that? Do they really say that the position of the forces of the former Government in Spain to-day is that they could carry on a successful war against the forces of General Franco? [AN HON.MEMBER: "That is not the point."] That is the whole point of this question.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney said that the opinion of our Government here seems to be that there is nothing to choose between the two forces; that we treat the rebels as entitled to the same respect, consideration, or privileges as the Government against whom they have revolted, and he says that he hopes that in this country, if ever anybody revolts against the Government, they will be in a position to deal with the rebels. But there is all the difference in the world between a revolution in this country, where, of course, everybody should rally to the support of the Government if they believe in the principle of the Government, and a revolution in another country. If we are to take part in every quarrel between different parties in other countries all over the world, then we can say goodbye to any prospect of peace. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked us why no conditions have been made in connection with the accord of recognition. It is not disputed that no conditions could be forced upon General Franco except by force of arms unless he was prepared to accept them.
What hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are really asking is for some form of assurance from General Franco, but when they get assurances they are not content with them. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister read an assurance from General Franco it was received with ridicule and mockery. [Interruption.] Then how are you going to enforce conditions if you are not going to accept assurances from General 1215 Franco? The fact, of course, is that assurances have been given not only on the question of reprisals, but on the independence of Spain, and I could quote them at length. I have them here on this Box this evening, but hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not accept assurances. They want conditions, and I should like to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, how you are to enforce a condition against any representatives of a Government or party in another country, if they are unwilling to accept them, unless you are prepared to resort to force of arms? It is not the habit of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite or their party to engage in any policy which is likely to lead to war. I know that they hate war just as much as anybody on this side of the House, and I cannot believe that they stand for a policy which is based on saying to General Franco that he should be compelled by force to assent to these conditions.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
Has the right hon. Gentleman certain assurances from General Franco which have not been communicated to the House, and, if so, ought we not to have them?
§ Sir T. Inskip
I cannot address myself as to whether they were communicated to the House, but let me give one assurance in addition to that which the Prime Minister read out as to reprisals. A message was given on 15th August, 1938, in a Note from General Franco to members of the Non-intervention Committee, that Nationalist Spain did not consent and would never consent to the slightest mortgage of its soil or of its economic life and that it would defend at all times its territory and Colonies.
§ Mr. Attlee
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman disagrees with Lord Baldwin, whose Law Officer he was, who in 1923said it was essential that we should insist on conditions before we recognised the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
§ Sir T. Inskip
I am not aware of the statement which the right hon. Gentleman quotes, and he cannot expect me to give an answer to it now. Let me say one word about reprisals. I think the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington was right in the observations he made to the House, that if the war goes on it is much more likely that reprisals of various 1216 kinds will be made by both sides. The war will be carried on in an atmosphere of increased bitterness, and these temptations will follow. Supposing the war ends, the cause we all have at heart on both sides of the House—that there shall be a conclusion to the bitter, horrible, civil war in Spain—will be better served by having close contact with the power that is in fact the ruling power at the present time. What is the advantage to Spain of a prolongation of this struggle? If the two parties were still waging an equal combat, or a combat in which there was a prospect of the Government recovering lost territory or lost authority, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have a much better case than they have been able to make in the Debate to-night.
The fact is, as I can show beyond controversy, that there is no possibility any longer of the old Government of Spain recovering its authority by force of arms. Let me read what Senor Azana has said to-day:Since the Commander-in-Chief of the Central General Headquarters directly responsible for the military operations informed me in the presence of the President of the Ministerial Council that the war was irremediably lost to the Republic, and seeing that as a consequence of that defeat the Government had already advised and organised my departure from Spain, I feel it my duty to recommend, and to promise to the Government in the person of its head, the immediate conclusion of peace in conditions of humanity, in order to spare the defenders of the regime and the whole country new and sterile sacrifices.
§ Sir T. Inskip
May I not complete my own? The right hon. Gentleman interrupted me in the middle of a passage which has appeared on the tape. There is no possibility of my deceiving the House, because everybody has seen it. I had read:…in conditions of humanity, in order to spare the defenders of the régime and the whole country new and sterile sacrifices.I paused there, as I had a right to pause, to point out that in the opinion of Senor Azana as far as I had gone the war was irretrievably lost to the Republic. When the war is irretrievably lost for the Republic, do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite stand for the proposition 1217 that this country must continue to recognise the Republic as the Government of Spain which has effective contact with the population? That is the question. [Hon. Members: "Read on!"] Hon. Members are so impatient that I am half minded not to read on. Senor Azana goes on to say:The political apparatus of the State, Parliament, etc., are gone, and with them have disappeared from within and without Spain the machinery for counsel and action indispensable for the exercise of the presidential functions of directing Government action in the way that circumstances imperiously compel.Is that what the party opposite want? Was the right hon. Gentleman inciting me to give this publicity to the statement that the political apparatus of the State had disappeared?In such conditions it would be impossible for me to retain even nominally a post which I only failed to resign even on the day when I left Spain because I hoped to see profit by this lapse of time for the good of my country. I therefore place in the hands of Your Excellency as President of the Cortes my resignation as President of the Republic in order that Your Excellency may be good enough to find the necessary successor.
§ Mr. Morrison
In explaining his reasons for resignation in a letter to the Speaker of the Cortes, Senor Azana says he did not resign until to-day because he still considered it possible to negotiate successfully with General Franco, but the
§ French and British recognition of the Nationalist Government had made negotiation impossible.
§ Sir T. Inskip
Valuable as that may be to the hearts of the party opposite, it does not dispose of the really important passage which I have read, that the struggle is irremediably lost and that the apparatus of the State has disappeared, and in those circumstances both common sense and humanity make it necessary for this Government to decide whether they ought not to form contact with the only possible authority in Spain at present. The Government submit their decision to the approval of the House. It is based upon facts which even hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite cannot dispute. It follows precedent and, what appeals perhaps to most of us more even than legal considerations, is that it satisfies the humane feelings which lie at the heart of all of us.
That, in the opinion of this House, the decision of His Majesty's Government to grant unconditional recognition to Spanish insurgent forces dependent upon foreign intervention constitutes a deliberate affront to the legitimate Government of a friendly Power, is a gross breach of international traditions, and marks a further stage in a policy which is steadily destroying in all democratic countries confidence in the good faith of Great Britain.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 137; Noes, 344.1221
|Division No. 48.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Jagger, J.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Davies, S. D. (Merthyr)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Day, H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Dobbie, W.||John, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Ede, J. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Jonas, J. J. (Silvertown)|
|Anderson, F. (Whilehaven)||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Foot, D. M.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Frankel, D.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Gallacher, W.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Barr, J.||Gardner, B. W.||Leach, W.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Leonard, W.|
|Batey, J.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Gibbins, J.||Lunn, W.|
|Benson, G.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Bevan, A.||Graham D. M. (Hamilton)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Broad, F. A.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Maclean, N.|
|Bromfield, W.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||MacNeill Weir, L.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Grenfell, D. R.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Mander, G. Is M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Groves, T. E.||Marklew, E.|
|Cape, T.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Marshall, F.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hardie, Agnes||Mathers, G.|
|Chater, D.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Maxton, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hayday, A.||Messer, F.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Milner, Major J.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Montague, F.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hills, A. (Pontefraot)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncastor)|
|Daggar, G.||Hollins, A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Dalton, H.||Hopkin, D.||Morrison, R, C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Muff, G.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Viant, S. P.|
|Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Sanders, W. S.||Walker, J.|
|Noel-Baker, P. J.||Sexton. T. M.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shinwell, E.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Parker, J.||Silverman, S. S.||Westwood, J.|
|Parkinson, J. A.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Whileley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, T. (Normenton)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Pritt, D. N.||Sorenson, R. W.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Ridley, G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ritson, J.||Tinker, J. J.||Sir Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Tomlinson, G.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Colman, N. C. D.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Cooper, Rt. Hn, A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's)||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hambro, A. V.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Cross, R. H.||Harbord, A.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Crossley, A. C.||Harvey, Sir G.|
|Balniel, Lord||Crowder, J F. E.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Culverwell, C. T.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Davidson, Viscountess||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Heneage, Lieut-Colonel A. P.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Davison, Sir W. H.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm h)||De Chair, S. S||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)|
|Beechman, N. A.||De la Bère, R.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Denville, Alfred||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Holdsworth, H.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Dodd, J. S.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Doland, G. F.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Donner, P. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Bracken, B.||Drewe, C.||Hulbert, N. J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Holderness)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hunloke, H. P.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Hunter, T.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Duggan, H. J.||Hurd, Sir P. A.|
|Broad bridge, Sir G. T.||Duncan, J. A, L.||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Dunglass, Lord||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Eastwood, J. F.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Eckersley, P. T.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Joel, D. J. B.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Edge, Sir W.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)|
|Bull, B. B.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Jonas, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Ellis, Sir G.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Emery, J. F.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Emmott, C. E. G. C||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Errington, E.||Lancaster, Captain C. G.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Cary, R. A.||Everard, Sir William Lindsay||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Fildes, Sir H.||Law, R. K. (Hall, S.W.)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Fleming, E. L.||Leech, Sir J W.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Channon, H.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Chapman, A. (Ruthergien)||Furness, S. N.||Levy, T.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Lewis, O.|
|Charlton, A. E. L.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Liddall, W. S.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Clarke, Colonel ft. S. (E. Grinstead)||Glucksteln, L. H.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Little, Sir E. Graham-|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Goldie, N. B.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Porritt, R. W.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Storey, S.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Radford, E. A.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Rom)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Strickland, Captain W. f.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Ramsbotham, H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|McKie, J. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Rankin, Sir R.||Tasker, Sir R. J.|
|Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Maonamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Magnay, T.||Rayner. Major R. H.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Maitland, Sir Adam||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Markham, S. F.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Touche, G. C.|
|Marsden, Commander A||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Train, Sir J.|
|Maun, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K, M.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Rosbotham, Sir T.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Medlicott, F.||Rowlands, G.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M R.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, Sir Alexander||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Salmon, Sir I.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Moreing, A. C.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Sandys, E. D.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Schuster, Sir G. E.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Scott, Lord William||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Solley, H. R.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Munro, P.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Winlerton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Nicholson, G. (Farnsham)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Simmonds, O. E.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|O'Connor, Sir Terenoe J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lt'st)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Smith, Braoewell (Dulwich)||Wragg, H.|
|Patrick, C. M.||Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. G.|
|Peake, O.||Smithers, Sir W.||York, C.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Snadden, W. MeN.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Petherick, M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Captain Margesson and Lieut.-|
|Pilkington, R.||Spens, W. P.||Colonel Kerr.|
Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.