HC Deb 29 July 1941 vol 373 cc1238-40
25. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether, in view of the recent attack on the democracies made by General Franco, it is proposed to continue to permit the passage of supply ships through the British blockade to Spain?

The Minister of Economic Warfare (Mr. Dalton)

I would remind my hon. Friend of the Reply which he received on Thursday last from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. My right hon. Friend referred to my statement of 30th July, 1940, when I laid it down that it was not the policy of His Majesty's Government to extend the blockade to neutral countries so long as supplies could reach these countries without the risk of falling into the hands of the enemy, that we were prepared to grant navicerts on such a scale as to allow imports adequate for domestic consumption, and, further, that it was the policy of His Majesty's Government not merely to allow such supplies to pass through our controls, but also to assist neutral countries to obtain them. As regards General Franco's speech on 17th July, my right hon. Friend pointed out that this speech displayed complete misunderstanding of the general war situation, and also of British economic policy towards Spain. He added that this speech made it appear that General Franco did not desire further economic assistance for his country and that, if this were so, His Majesty's Government would be unable to proceed with their plans, and that their future policy would depend on the actions and attitude of the Spanish Government.

Mr. Mander

Does that mean that, in the meantime, shipments are held up, that nothing further will be allowed to go through until we are satisfied that General Franco does not mean what he says?

Mr. Dalton

No, Sir. No further decision has been taken in that sense. We are waiting for elucidation of the intentions of the Spanish Government.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the ships despatched by the U.S.A., the "Scheherezade," actually discharged a cargo at Dakar, which is under German control?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir, but Dakar is not in Spain.

Mr. Shinwell

That is worse.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend continue to exercise the utmost vigilance in order that nothing will reach Spain which would increase General Franco's power to go to war against us?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Garro Jones

As General Franco does not appear to understand the position and intentions of the British Government, and the British Government do not appear to understand the intentions, of General Franco—

Mr. Speaker rose