HC Deb 27 January 1947 vol 432 cc592-3
38. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the reasons for the hurried withdrawal of His Majesty's Ambassador to Spain; if the counsellor and the secretarial staff of the Embassy will continue their duties as heretofore; and if any change is contemplated in the consular services in Spain.

Mr. McNeil

His Majesty's Ambassador was withdrawn from Spain on 25th December to conform with a recommendation of the General Assembly of the United Nations No further changes are contemplated.

Sir P. Hannon

In view of the importance which attaches to every action of the Foreign Office in these days, would it not have been better to go very slowly in this matter?

Mr. McNeil

I cannot agree that we were hurried in this matter. The Assembly, by a two-thirds majority, made its recommendation on 12th December, and it was a reasonable period—until 25th December—before we withdrew our Ambassador, but, of course, naturally, His Majesty's Government were anxious, above everything, to comply with such a recommendation from the Assembly of the United Nations.

Mr. Alpass

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the action mentioned was not very long overdue?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how long he thinks it will be before the Government realise their mistake in not having pressed more strongly at the Security Council that the Ambassadors should not be withdrawn?

Mr. McNeil

The subject was not discussed by the Security Council, but at the Assembly of the United Nations, and we have no need to apologise for our actions there.

Mr. Nutting

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the recommendations of His Majesty's Ambassador in Madrid on the likely outcome of this step on Spanish public opinion?

Mr. McNeil

That would not be normal practice.

Sir W. Smithers

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a most serious matter, in which we have surrendeied our sovereignty; that most of the propaganda against Spain is only a cloak to hide the real aims of Communism; and that our action in withdrawing the British Ambassador tends to aid and abet Communism throughout the world?