HC Deb 08 March 1939 vol 344 cc2114-6
9. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the statement published by Dr. Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda, on 4th March, alleging that His Majesty's Government and this country had condoned atrocities in Spain; and whether representations will be made to the German Government with regard to such attacks?

Mr. Butler

I have not been able to find words in the statement alluded to which would be correctly interpreted by the phrases in the question, but the article as a whole appears to come within the view stated in the Prime Minister's reply to the hon. and learned Member's question on 21st November last.

Mr. Henderson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the article stated that Britain and France regard as legitimate the raping of nuns and the crucifying of priests, and does not he consider that to be an insult to this country?

Mr. Butler

I have read the article, and I think it does come within the expression used by the Prime Minister, that such articles have a most unfortunate effect upon our relations.

11. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government has recently made representations to the Spanish authorities concerned in favour of an armistice?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir.

Mr. Harvey

In view of the statement of the Prime Minister last week, will not the Brtish Government use their influence in order to get an armistice?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Government are watching the situation, but do not consider it advisable at present to take the responsibility of sponsoring any particular terms of settlement.

Miss Rathbone

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed that a wireless broadcast from an official source in Burgos, recorded in the "Times" this morning, sneered at the democratic Governments for their humanitarian negotiations?

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

Cannot something be done in regard to an armistice between the Reds and the Spanish Government in Madrid?

5. Mr. Benn (for Colonel Wedgwood)

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the action by the British Fleet at the beginning of the civil war in rescuing refugees from various Spanish ports who were in danger from the Government side, he will see that the Fleet is now employed on similar humanitarian work at Cartagena, Valencia, and Almeria in rescuing persons who are now in danger from General Franco's side, and including all those who have held official posts in central or local government or in the army of the Republic?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

His Majesty's Government are not prepared to act without the concurrence of the Spanish Government, but in the event of an agreement being reached between the latter and some responsible authority on the Republican side for the safeguarding and the evacuation of refugees, prisoners and others, they would be prepared to consider assisting in the execution of the agreement, if asked to do so, and if satisfied that their assistance was required for humanitarian reasons.

Mr. Benn

Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Government are not prepared to rescue Republican refugees without the consent of the acknowledged Government of Spain?

The Prime Minister

I said that we are not prepared to interfere without the consent of the Government.

Mr. Benn

That is to say, that these refugees could not escape without General Franco's consent?

The Prime Minister

I did not say that at all. The question put to me was whether the British Government would enable them to escape.

Mr. Benn

Does that mean that facilities would be denied unless the prior consent of General Franco was secured?

The Prime Minister