Oral Answers to Questions — Spain.

– in the House of Commons on 18th May 1938.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of Signor Mussolini's declaration on Saturday last referring to the Spanish war and the French-Italian negotiations, he will give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will support the French Government in resisting Italian pressure to compel them to change the French policy in relation to the Spanish Government?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The hon. Member may rest assured that the good offices of His Majesty's Government are always at the disposal of both the French and Italian Governments, should they desire them, with a view to expediting a settlement of the Spanish situation.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

In view of the fact that the policy of the French Government and of His Majesty's Government in relation to Spain is the same, do the Government intend to allow the Italian Government to drive a wedge between the two Governments on this question?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I do not necessarily accept the interpretation the hon. Member places on Signor Mussolini's speech. Therefore, I cannot give the assurance he desires.

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

Is it the policy of the French Government to break in every way the policy of nonintervention?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I can only be responsible for the Government I represent.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to allay the anxiety of relatives of prisoners of British nationality held by either side in Spain, he will ask the insurgent and Government authorities to supply a complete list for publication?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The British Agent at Burgos has already asked for, and been promised, full particulars of all British prisoners captured by General Franco's forces. These particulars, which will, I hope, be received in London shortly, will be available for publication. I have no reason to think that any British subjects have been captured by the Spanish Government forces.

Photo of Mr Henry Croft Mr Henry Croft , Bournemouth

Can nothing be done to speed up the exchange of prisoners and other humanitarian work?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

That is another question, with which I have dealt with in previous answers. We are at present proposing to submit a new proposal to the Spanish Government.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

Do I understand that the Foreign Office will publish the list when it is received?

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Smethwick

Is it not the fact that the sole obstacle in the way of arranging an exchange has been the attitude of the Barcelona Government?

Miss Rathbone:

asked the Prime Minister how many men serving on British ships engaged in legitimate trade with Spain have been injured or killed by the insurgents or their allies since the beginning of the war in Spain; and in how many of these cases has compensation been paid to these men or their dependants, and by whom?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

So far as I am aware, 27 have been killed and 37 injured. As regards compensation, I have nothing to add to the answer given on 2nd March to a question by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr.Shinwell).

Miss Rathbone:

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why less insistent claims are made in the case of these British seamen than the claim made in the case of the British Ambassador at Tokyo; and will he say how it is possible to assess damages at a later date, which may be years ahead?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

A claim was not made in the case of the British Ambassador.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if, in his previous answers on this subject, he was able to say whether compensation of the dependants of seamen has been paid, and, if not, will be obtain information and satisfy himself on that head?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

In a previous reply to the hon. Gentleman reference was made to the arrangement made by the National Maritime Board for the payment of special compensation in these cases.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the National Maritime Board deal with rates and conditions for men employed aboard ship, and have nothing to do with the question of compensation arising out of the killing of men in Spain?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

It is some satisfaction to know that arrangements have been made by the National Maritime Board for the payment of special compensation in these cases.

Photo of Commander Sir Peter Agnew Commander Sir Peter Agnew , Camborne

In view of the delay which necessarily arises before any compensation can be paid by a foreign administration, and of the very high profits which are believed to be made out of this class of freight, would it not be best for the Government to invite the owners of these ships to give compensation to the dependants of these men?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Are we to understand from the answer of the hon. Gentleman that the National Maritime Board are accepting an obligation that ought to be imposed on the Burgos Government?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir. I said that the National Maritime Board have made arrangements for special compensation, and the further question is under consideration.

Mr. Noél-Baker:

asked the Prime Minister whether he can now define the circumstances in which His Majesty's Government will consider that a settlement of the Spanish question has been arrived at?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I cannot go further than the statement which the Prime Minister made in the House on 2nd May.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Do His Majesty's Government accept or repudiate the definition which Signor Mussolini has now given, that there must be a victory by General Franco before a settlement can be arrived at?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The policy of the Government is given by the Prime Minister, and not by anybody else.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Is not the the hon. Gentleman aware that the Prime Minister positively refused to give the House any explanation whatever as to what was meant by the settlement, and, as we have had it from Signor Mussolini, may we know whether the Prime Minister agrees with it?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The Prime Minister's refusal to define what he means by these words stands as it did in the Debate on 2nd May. He said that it may be that later on we shall get nearer the time when we can give a definition, and he authorises me to say that that time is not yet.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Is the Minister aware that Signor Mussolini has said that he cannot make an agreement with the French Government until that Government accepts General Franco's victory, and does that mean, since we have an agreement, that the Prime Minister has accepted a General Franco victory?

Photo of Mr William Leach Mr William Leach , Bradford Central

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the British Consul at Barcelona has removed some 40 miles away; and what arrangements have been made to obtain' accurate information from Barcelona for the protection of British interests there?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Caldetas, to which the Consulate-General has been removed, is 25 miles away, but a branch office maintained in Barcelona is attended daily by members of the consular staff.

Photo of Mr William Leach Mr William Leach , Bradford Central

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether these three consuls explain the paucity of the Government's news and information about Spain?

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Prime Minister in what terms he explained the meaning of the words "a settlement in Spain" in the conversation he had in February with the Italian Ambassador?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The conversation between the Italian Ambassador and the Prime Minister was private, and he is not prepared to answer questions as to its nature. The right hon. Member must not, however, assume that my right hon. Friend gave an explanation of the words quoted in the question.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Manchester, Gorton

Are we to understand that the Prime Minister insisted that a settlement was a condition of the Agreement, but did not give any explanation of what he meant by it?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

We have already discussed this matter by question and answer.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Is the hon. Member aware that some of his questions are misleading?

Mr. Davidson:

asked the Prime Minister whether, as a result of recent discussions at the League of Nations, His Majesty's Government have altered their attitude to the Non-intervention Committee; and has he any statement to make?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

My Noble Friend made it clear during the recent discussions of the League Council that His Majesty's Government had no intention of modifying their policy of non-intervention in Spain or their support of the Nonintervention Committee.

Mr. Davidson:

Is the hon. Member aware that the Spanish representative at the League of Nations submitted definite evidence, proving beyond dispute that non-intervention had been broken on a large scale by Italy and Germany? Has that statement been considered by the Cabinet since' it was made?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, Sir, it has been considered. It is admitted that there have been breaches on both sides, but His Majesty's Government are continuing the policy of non-intervention.

Mr. Davidson:

rose

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The question has been answered.

Mr. Davidson:

The Under-Secretary did not answer the second part of my question.

Miss Rathbone:

asked the Prime Minister how many British ships have been sunk or injured by the insurgents or their allies since the beginning of the war in Spain; and in how many of these cases have complaints and claims for damage been made against General Franco?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Three British ships have been sunk, and, apart from those struck during bombardments when in harbour, three have been damaged. Protests have been made in respect of all these ships and His Majesty's Government have reserved their right to claim full compensation. Some 25 British ships have been hit, the majority of them very slightly, during air raids on Spanish Government ports. From the evidence available, His Majesty's Government came to the conclusion that four of these ships had been deliberately attacked, and a protest was accordingly made, the right to claim compensation being reserved. His Majesty's Government are considering further evidence regarding the most recent bombardments.

Miss Rathbone:

What is the machinery for assessing these claims?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

So far, we have just notified the claims, and the actual machinery for assessing claims must be considered later.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Why have our Government not pressed for immediate satisfaction against a government which is not recognised, while they demand immediate satisfaction from a de jure government like the Government of Japan?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I explained the matter at some length in the Debate on 12th May.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The hon. Member has not given any reason at all, either in that Debate or anywhere else, why we did not press these claims against a government which is not recognised, and which may fall at any time.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I gave the reasons, to the best of my ability, in the Debate on 12th May.

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the protest has been addressed to the direct authors of the crime, namely, the Italian aviators, flying under the Italian Government's orders?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Are we to understand that the British Government are incapable of defending their own nationals?

Miss Rathbone:

May I ask a further question?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Gentleman has already answered several questions.