HC Deb 23 October 1961 vol 646 cc559-60
36. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Lord Privy Seal by whom Her Majesty's Government was represented at the recent celebration of the 25th anniversary of the coming to power of the present Spanish Head of State; and what part the representative took in the celebration.

Mr. Heath

The Minister at Her Majesty's Embassy in Madrid, who was at the time acting as Chargé d'Affaires, attended the ceremonies at Burgos along with the rest of the Diplomatic Corps.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is it not very regrettable that at a time when opposition is mounting in all classes and in all parts of the country against a brutal, corrupt and oppressive regime in Spain, the British Government—unlike some of our allies—should be officially represented at what was a celebration of the overthrow of Spanish democracy?

Mr. Heath

When we are in diplomatic relations with a country it is normal for our representative to attend functions of this kind, whether we approve of the official history of the functions or not. That occurs with Governments both of the Right and the Left.

Mr. Wall

Whatever the circumstances today, is it not a fact that the coming into power of the present Spanish Head of State saved Spain from Communism, and is not that a matter for congratulation?

Sir P. Agnew

Is it not the case that Her Majesty's Government share the view which is widely held that it is to the advantage of Europe and the world generally that the Spanish State and the civilisation it represents—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—should be brought ever more closely into the comity of Europe and the world again?

Mr. Heath

The point of this particular case is whether our representative should carry out a normal diplomatic function or not. This is normally done and he carried out this function.