HC Deb 22 April 1941 vol 371 cc9-10
13. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare what action he is taking to prevent the export of large quantities of iron ore from Bilbao to Germany; and whether this question was taken into consideration when the recent loan of £2,500,000 by Great Britain to Spain was made?

Mr. Dalton

So far as I am aware, no export of large quantities of iron ore from Bilbao to Germany is taking place. I shall, however, be very glad to receive any information which my hon. Friend may have on the subject. All relevant considerations were borne in mind when the recent loan agreement was negotiated.

Mr. Mander

Does the right hon. Gentleman really think it wise to lend large sums of money to Spain at a moment when that country appears to be so hostile to us, and will he be careful not to pay too much attention to the views of the grand appeaser in Madrid?

Mr. Dalton

There is a Question later on the Order Paper to-day, put by my right hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) to the Leader of the House, on the subject of the loan agreement. Perhaps the House will be willing to wait for the reply to that Question.

50. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement regarding the proposed loan to the Spanish Government of over £2,000,000; and whether the House will have a chance of debating and voting on the issue before the transaction is completed?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made a statement on the subject of this loan agreement on 10th April last. The agreement will be laid as a White Paper. It would not be a good thing to debate it—just now—certainly not in public.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is the Prime Minister aware of the fact that this money will go straight into German pockets; is there any chance of any of it being saved; and is not our representation by the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) in Spain a little too expensive?

The Prime Minister

Many people thought in July of last year that Spain would enter the war against us, and I think that it is very largely due to the brilliant discharge of his duties in Spain that our relations with that country have tended to improve and not to deteriorate at this critical time.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the handing-over of this money to Spain is causing deep anxiety throughout the country and a great deal of unrest and that the public cannot see in the newspapers of Spain and in the public utterances of Spanish statesmen any gratitude or recognition whatever of this country; and are we to wait for another fait accompli from Spain?

The Prime Minister

I do not know what is meant by the last remark about another fait accompli at all. This policy has been most carefully considered, and the state of our affairs in every part of the world does not allow matters of this kind to be handled in a rough and reckless or debonair fashion. We do not wish to do anything which would give any excuse for a breach at the present time between us and the Spanish Government; and I certainly consider that the starving condition of the people of Spain fully justifies assistance being given by Great Britain, and by the United States, if she chooses so to act, irrespective of whether any expressions of gratitude are forthcoming or not.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Speaker


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