HC Deb 05 July 1944 vol 401 cc1130-4
5. Mr. Leach

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the continued assistance given by the Franco Government to Germany at Pamplona, in testing explosives and pilotless planes, in the use of Spanish shipyards for war production, in the organisation of nitrogen factories by German engineers, the training in Spain of Luftwaffe personnel and the continued export to Germany of iron ore, tin and zinc; and can he make a statement on these matters.

15. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that Spanish territory under the control of General Franco has been used for the testing of flying bombs by German research scientists; what representations have been made to General Franco on this matter; and wile further action is to be taken.

16. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the broadcasts by the Moscow radio on 24th June stated that the testing of the flying bombs was carried out at Pamplona with the aid of the Spanish Government; if he has received any official communication from the Soviet Government to this effect; and whether any protest has been made to that Government.

Mr. Eden

I had already inquired into recent Press and radio reports regarding alleged assistance to enemy scientific research at Pamplona and I am satisfied that these reports are without foundation. The Spanish Ambassador has just informed me, on the instructions of his Government, that they are absolutely untrue. I have received no official communication from the Soviet Government on this matter. There is no information available to His Majesty's Government suggesting that Spanish shipyards have been working for German war production. I understand that two nitrate factories are being constructed in Spain for which machinery is to be delivered from Germany. German engineers are reported to be engaged in installation work at one of these factories, neither of which have yet been completed and the production of which will be to meet Spanish requirements. I am satisfied that no training of Luftwaffe personnel is taking place in Spain. Iron ore and some zinc has been exported to Germany from Spain but I have no information of any exports of tin. Exports of zinc this year show a very marked decrease on the 1943 figure. It is, of course, the constant policy of His Majesty's Government to ensure that exports of essential raw materials from neutral countries to Germany should be reduced as far as possible.

Mr. Leach

While thanking the right hon. gentleman for his very excellent reply, which was reassuring, may I ask whether he will be so good as to look a little further into the details of this information, as it comes from Russian sources, which are usually quite reliable?

Mr. Eden

I did go to some pains to look into this matter. I telegraphed to Madrid myself, and I am absolutely satisfied that our sources of information are absolutely reliable on this Pamplona story.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

In view of the delicacy of the present international situation, will my right hon. Friend take such steps as lie in his power to prevent these stupid and mischievous attempts to sow dissension between ourselves and Spain?

Mr. Eden

I certainly think it is desirable that all of us should be careful in what we say, and that we should not make statements that we cannot substantiate.

Sir Percy Harris

Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that the Germans are developing a nitrate factory in Spain for purely benevolent purposes?

Mr. Eden

My right hon. Friend has misunderstood the position. I did not say that the Germans were developing a nitrate factory. I said that they were delivering the machinery for it. Of course, there is trade between Germany and Spain. Germany and Spain, no doubt, have a trade arrangement, as we and Spain have a trade arrangement. We try to cut down their trade as far as possible. I think it is very likely that the development of these nitrate factories is due to the fact that it is very difficult for Spain to get nitrates from abroad.

Mr. Shinwell

As this story apparently originated in Moscow, and was recorded on the Moscow radio, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend has considered approaching the Soviet Government to ask whether they have any evidence in support of this allegation? Has he considered doing that, if he has not already done so?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. I have not done that. I have not approached the Soviet Government. I am absolutely convinced that we know more about this matter than do the Soviet Government.

Mr. Shinwell

If in fact, as appears to be the case, the story did originate in Moscow, would it not be desirable to ascertain from authoritative sources there, whether there is any evidence in support of the allegation? Would not that be desirable?

Mr. Eden

The Soviet Government have made no comments to us on the matter. I have made my statement. Of course, I shall be quite ready to consider any observations they have to make.

Mr. G. Strauss

Not only from the point of view of information but on a point of courtesy, would it not be desirable, since this declaration came from Moscow, to ask the Russian Government where they got the information?

Mr. Eden

I do not think that any point of courtesy arises. This statement was put out from the Moscow radio. I have been asked by the House, as the House is entitled to ask, what our information is, and I have given our information.

Mr. Driberg

While appreciating that the right hon. Gentleman has said that he will gladly consider any representations that the Soviet authorities may make, may I ask whether he will not take the initiative in asking the Soviet authorities if they can find any evidence that would justify the story?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. I do not really see that this arises. The House of Commons, as it is entitled to do, often asks Ministers for information about statements made abroad. Ministers give that information. I have done it. If anybody has anything else to say, or any other evidence, I shall be very glad to see it.

Mr. Pritt

Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider this suggestion? He was asked to get information about a story which comes from an Ally of some importance, and the only person he does not ask is that Ally, who may know something about it. Will the right hon. Gentleman also remember, since he is very firm about his knowledge of Spain, that he once told us that there were no Italian troops in Spain——

Mr. Eden

I am perfectly ready to put my record on the Spanish question side by side with that of the hon. and learned Gentleman, at any time and in any place. I am equally ready to put my 1940 record side by side with his. As regards the statement I have made, I have not the least doubt, in view of the very friendly relations which exist between the Soviet Government and ourselves, that if that Government attached any importance to the statement from their radio, they would gladly have told us.

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