HC Deb 14 March 1945 vol 409 cc204-5
3. Mr. Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the reports of the destruction of 110,000 bibles, testaments, &c., the property of the British and Foreign Bible Society in Madrid, and the expulsion of foreign missionaries; whether he has any statement to make on this matter; and what action has been taken or is proposed.

Mr. Eden

I understand that these bibles and testaments were confiscated by the Spanish authorities in 1940. I have, however, no information to confirm that they have been destroyed. Repeated representations have been made to the Spanish Government on the subject, and His Majesty's Embassy have at last received from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs an oral assurance that they will shortly receive a favourable reply. Two British missionaries, Messrs. Davis and Ginnings, were compelled to leave Spain in 1940. I have no information of any other British or foreign missionaries having been expelled from Spain since that date.

I may add that an oral assurance has also been received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that compensation will be granted in respect of the British-owned chapels in Spain which were confiscated at the close of the Spanish Civil War. I can assure the House that His Majesty's Government will press for the fulfilment of these assurances.

Mr. Hynd

Is it not the case that the Government have received evidence of widespread religious persecution of Spaniards in Spain, and, in view of our proclaimed principle of freedom of worship, will strong protests be made to General Franco>

Mr. Eden

I would like notice of that Question; it is not what my hon. Friend is asking on the Paper. It raises questions concerning people other than British citizens.

Mr. Hynd

On a point of Order. Can you inform me, Mr. Speaker, in what way I can extract this information, because I was informed that questions concerning Spaniards in Spain cannot be raised in the House?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a matter for me. Perhaps the hon. Member might have a conversation with the Foreign Secretary.

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