As regards the first and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 14th February last to my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson), of which I am sending him a copy. No compensation has been received up to date.
As I informed the House on a previous occasion, many of the claims now under consideration will have to wait until the conclusion of hostilities in order to ascertam the total amount.
Complaints of alleged breaches of the Non-intervention Agreement have been put forward under this procedure by His Majesty's Government and by the German, Italian and Soviet Governments. In no case was it possible to prove to the satisfaction of the committee that a breach of the agreement had occurred.
asked the Prime Minister what form of inquiry is being undertaken to ascertain whether the steamship "Stanwell," bombed in Tarragona harbour on the 15th March, was the object of a deliberate attack; whether such inquiry is now completed, and, if so, what is the result thereof; and what action he proposes to take thereon?
His Majesty's Government have now completed their inquiries on this question, and after careful consideration of all the evidence they have come to the conclusion that the vessel was the object of a deliberate attack. The British Agent at Burgos has accordingly been instructed to inform the Nationalist authorities to this effect and to enter a strong protest against this attack which His Majesty's Government must regard as entirely unjustifiable, and for which they must hold those authorities responsible. Sir R. Hodgson has further been instructed to demand an immediate investigation into the incident, and to reserve the right of His Majesty's Government to claim in due course full compensation for the damage to persons and property resulting from the attack.
In view of the Under-Secretary's statement that compensation in these cases is not likely to be paid until the conclusion of hostilities, may I ask whether the seamen concerned in this attack are being compensated now, and, if so, from what source?
Since the Prime Minister assured the House on 21st February that the Italian Government had accepted the British formula, and since the formula is totally inoperative without the acceptance of the basic figure on which it is founded, in what sense have the Italian Government accepted the proposals of the British Government?
The hon. Member will remember that their acceptance was dependent on the agreement of other Governments concerned, and it is impossible to give details, as this matter has not been decided to be published by the Nonintervention Committee.
May I put a question to the Prime Minister? Seeing that he has told us that his conversations with Italy were dependent on the acceptance of a certain formula, how can he possibly deny to this House this information merely because of some private arrangement with the Non-intervention Committee with which we are not concerned?
The right hon. Gentleman has not represented accurately what I said. I did not say that our conversations with Italy were dependent on the acceptance by the Italian Government of the formula. I did say that the Italian Government had voluntarily given us that assurance.
Have the military attachés been asked for reports, and have the very large number of impartial Press men now in Spain been asked to give any information to the Government as to the state of affairs on the front now?
The procedure for dealing with alleged breaches of the Non-intervention Agreement submitted to the Nonintervention Committee by Governments was laid down by the Committee in September, 1936. The main features of this procedure are that a complaint may only be submitted to the Committee by one of the Governments represented thereon, and that it must be regarded by that Government as being of sufficient importance and as being founded on evidence of sufficient weight to afford a reasonable presumption that, in fact, some breach of the Agreement has occurred. Under the Observation Scheme adopted by the Committee in March, 1937, it is the duty of the officers of the Non-intervention Board to report to the board any breaches of the scheme which may come to their notice in the performance of their duties. It has then been the practice of the Secretary to the board to circulate information regarding such breaches to the Non-intervention Committee, who can of course, if they so desire, debate them. If, however, any Government wished to base a complaint against another Government on information obtained in this manner, it would be necessary to comply with the procedure laid down by the Committee as I have already explained.
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Nonintervention Committee last met on 4th November and the Chairman's Sub-Committee on 3rd February, and considering the relation of present events in Spain to the policy of non-intervention, he will at once convene a meeting of the Non-intervention Committee or the Chairman's Sub-Committee in order that the present deadlock may be resolved or its causes made known?
asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government will propose that a meeting of the Non-intervention Committee be held as soon as possible; and whether His Majesty's Government will propose at such meeting that a commission of inquiry be immediately despatched to both sides in Spain, with a view to ascertaining the extent of the help in men, aeroplanes and artillery received by both sides from foreign sources?
A meeting of the Chairman's Sub-Committee has been fixed for to-morrow. I would remind the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) that under the plan at present under the discussion of the Non-intervention Committee, it is already proposed that, with the consent of the two parties in Spain, commissions should be sent to both sides to estimate the numbers of foreign volunteers engaged in the conflict. I do not consider that any attempt to widen the mandates of the commissioners would be practicable.
Will the British Government see that, in view of the present situation in Spain, this committee is kept in constant being and meets every week instead of once in two months, in order that either a satisfactory settlement shall be reached, or that the whole principle of non-intervention shall be seen to have broken down?
asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to obtain information regarding the supply of war material and men from Germany and Italy during the present year to the insurgent forces in Spain, he will ask for reports on the subject from the British representative at Burgos, the British Consular authorities in Spanish insurgent territory, the British Consular authorities at Hamburg and other German centres, and from the British Ambassador at Rome?
It is the function and practice of His Majesty's Representatives and Consular Officers to report on all matters that may affect British interests; and His Majesty's Government call for reports on specific subjects whenever it may appear advisable for them to do so.
No official decision has been taken on this matter, and the fact that the current term "Nationalist" has been used instead of "Insurgent" does not signify any change of policy on the part of His Majesty's Government.
It is not clear to me what intentions or designs the hon. and gallant Member has in mind; but if he refers to territorial questions, the German Chancellor stated in the Reichstag on 20th February last that Germany possesses no territorial interests which could have any effect on the civil war in Spain.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information or reports upon the arrival of the Italian ships "Franca Fasscio" and "Palos" at Seville on or about the 1st March and 12th March, respectively, and of the German ship "Pasajes" at Larache on 10th March; whether, in view of the official statement by the Spanish Government that these ships carried war material, he has received or called for any report from His Majesty's representatives at Seville and Larache, or from any other source which would place His Majesty's Government in a position to raise the matter with the Non-intervention Committee and whether these vessels carried a non-intervention officer?
As a result of inquiries which have been addressed to the Bureau of the Non-intervention Board in regard to the movement of these ships, I understand that none of them were in the ports in question on the dates given. The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise. As regards the last part of the question, the "Franca Fasscio" had observing officers on board on 1st March, the "Pasajes" embarked an observing officer on 13th March before proceeding to a Spanish port, and the "Palos," not having been to a Spanish port, did not embark an observing officer during the period in question.
I have obtained information from the Non-intervention Board which describes the movements of these ships. The first ship, which had observers on board, was not at Seville but at Palma bound for Marseilles. The second ship passed Finisterre on 11th March and arrived at Casa Blanca on 14th March. It seems hardly possible for her to have taken the course suggested. I have similar information about the last ship.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many submarines were in the possession of the Spanish insurgents at the outbreak of the insurrection; how many submarines have passed into the service of the insurgents since the outbreak; at what date His Majesty's Government received information of the acquisition of submarines by the insurgents; and what inquiries were made and on what dates to ascertain the country of origin of such submarines?
With regard to the first and second part of the question, I would refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) on 7th July last. With regard to the third part of the question, a report was received from the Spanish Embassy on 1st February last to the effect that. General Franco had received two Italian submarines. I am not in a position either to confirm or to deny the accuracy of this report.
I do not think any representations have been made to the Nonintervention Committee, but that is not a question for the Admiralty. It is a case for the Foreign Office.
Since these are the vessels which have been engaged in piracy, and since that fact has meant a very heavy burden of expenditure on the British taxpayer, it is not desirable that the Government should endeavour to find out where they come from?
On a point of Order. Is it not an abuse of the procedure of the House to take up so much time with Spanish questions, and so little with British affairs?