Is there not a possibility of the event being postponed beyond 15th May, and would that be considered a breach?
The situation is being very closely watched.
According to our information, the recent movements of Spanish troops in southern Spain are a natural consequence of the measures of demobilisation which are being taken by the Spanish Government. His Majesty's Government have neither asked for, nor received, any explanation from the Spanish Government on the subject.
Is it not a fact that demobilisation of troops from Morocco makes it necessary for them to proceed to the South of Spain; have there not always been garrisons in that part of Spain, and is it not a fact that troops returning to Morocco must go to that part of Spain?
I said in my original reply that our information goes to show that the recent movements of these troops are a natural consequence of measures of demobilisation.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has further information regarding the forcible detention of a British merchant vessel and its crew in Palma; whether any assurances have now been received from General Franco regarding the payment of compensation to British shipowners and to the dependants of British seamen who were killed when engaged, legally and in accordance with the Pact of Non-intervention, in the trans port of food and commodities to and from Spanish ports; and whether he is pressing for immediate redress and fulfilment of the pledges regarding these and other matters given by General Franco and accepted by His Majesty's Government?
His Majesty's Ambassador at San Sebastian was again instructed on 21st April to press for the release of the steamship "Stangate" As I informed the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) on 6th February, the Spanish Government have never denied their liability to pay compensation in cases of deliberate attack. Arrangements are now being made for the examination and presentation of claims.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what kind of tribunal is to be set up to determine the validity of these claims?
There was a proposal, as the hon. Member will be aware, that a special tribunal should be set up to consider deliberate attacks on British shipping, but the shipowners did not finally like the suggestion, and it was therefore not proceeded with. Apart from that particular suggestion, I presume that the claims will be dealt with by a tribunal after the cessation of hostilities, in accordance with the usual precedent.
What is to happen to these people, who are still detained as prisoners by General Franco—sailors carrying on their legal business, whose ships have been detained by General Franco without any explanation being given? Are the Government satisfied that this should continue with impunity?
I have not said that we are satisfied. What I said was that in the case of the particular ship with which we are dealing we have pressed for its release, and will continue to press for it.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Government will do more than send polite notes to General Franco, but will take immediate steps to see that these men are released? They are fellow-countrymen of ours who are held there prisoners—not prisoners of war; will not the Government demand their release?
I have already indicated that the Government have taken the immediate steps that the hon. Member desires.
Are the Government making any proposals for the establishment of any tribunal of the kind of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke?