asked the Prime Minister whether the assurances he has received from Signor Mussolini include, at the end of the war in Spain, a complete withdrawal from submarine bases, aerodromes and fortifications, of all Italian personnel; and whether any assurances on this general question of the withdrawal of Germans at the close of the war have been received from the German Government?
I would refer the hon. Member to the exchange of notes forming part of the Anglo-Italian Agreement under which the Italian Government have undertaken that on the termination of the Spanish civil war all remaining Italian volunteers would forthwith leave Spanish territory. As regards Germans now in Spain, I was informed by Herr Hitler at Munich that he would be ready to withdraw the German volunteers whenever other countries were prepared to do the same.
(2) whether he has had any report from the British representative at Burgos as to the conditions prevailing in the concentration camp at San Pedro and the treatment of the prisoners there; whether any complaint has been made to the British representative by British nationals as to their treatment while in that camp; and whether any approach has been made to the Burgos authority on the question by the British representative?
I understand that 55 British members of the International Brigade are still held prisoner by General Franco's administration. Of these, 39 have already been transferred to San Sebastian for evacuation, and they will be released as soon as an equal number of Italian prisoners on the other side have been embarked. His Majesty's Consul at Valencia is taking all possible steps to expedite these arrangements. Of the remaining 16 prisoners, the British nationality of one or two of whom is doubtful, three are at Bilbao and 13 at Burgos. Negotiations for their exchange are proceeding as quickly as possible. A member of the staff of the British Agency has during the past year frequently visited the camp at Burgos, listened to any of the prisoners' complaints and reported them to the competent authorities, and he appears to have been satisfied that conditions were improved, and that the prisoners were on the whole well cared for.
The delay is due to the difficulties of the exchange negotiations, and the last batch are waiting for an equal number of Italians to be embarked. I hope that that will take place very soon. As regards the other point, I will certainly continue my investigations into the case of Mr. Ryan which already has been communicated to me by another hon. Member.
asked the Prime Minister the date upon which the last meeting was held of the Non-intervention Committee and the number of meetings held by this committee to date; and whether any recent statements have been made on the reasons for withdrawing representatives from either the committee or the chairman's sub-committee?
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that the principal Paris newspapers, together with 10 special French delegates, four of whom are military officers of high rank, have accepted an invitation from the Burgos Administration to visit any part of Spain they desire with a view to disposing of un founded rumours as to the establishment of aerodromes, fortifications, and submarine bases under foreign control; and whether he can arrange for an independent British Commission to visit Spain with the same object?
The invitation in question was to certain newspaper representatives. If a similar invitation were to be received here, it would not be a matter for His Majesty's Government unless their views were asked.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will inform all Governments concerned, that in order to ensure that Spanish affairs are decided by the Spaniards themselves, His Majesty's Government will not be a party to any alteration of the régime in or constitution of Spain, until all foreign intervention has ceased in that country?
Will the right hon. Gentleman realise the effect on British public opinion that will be produced if the Government recognise the Persians whilst Leonidas is still fighting in Thermopylae?
asked the Prime Minister whether the refusal of His Majesty's Government to grant belligerent rights to General Franco on the ground that there was no civil war in Spain owing to intervention of foreign Powers on one side or the other will be followed in relation to the recognition of the Spanish insurgent authorities as the de jure or de facto Government of Spain?
No, Sir. His Majesty's Government are bound by international agreement in the case of granting of belligerent rights, but no such agreement exists in connection with the granting of recognition.
If His Majesty's Government were influenced by the fact that foreign Governments had intervened in the Spanish war when they refused to grant belligerent rights, is it not right that they should take that same fact into consideration when making up their minds whether they should afford recognition?
While appreciating the reasons for the Government's wish to act without delay, may I ask whether it is not quite unprecedented for action of this sort to be taken without communicating with the accredited representative in this country of the Government concerned?
Would it not have been perfectly possible, at any rate, to notify the Spanish Ambassador in London at the same time that action was taken, and would not that have been in accordance with courtesy and precedent?
asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that His Majesty's Government still regards the Republican Government of Spain as the only legal Government existing in that country and that all major decisions affecting Spanish affairs will be communicated to that Government or, failing the possibility of establishing contact, with the Spanish Ambassador in London?
asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government are willing to take active steps to secure a settlement of the Spanish war on the basis that all foreign troops should be withdrawn, that there should be no reprisals, and that the Spanish people should have an opportunity of choosing their own form of Government?
Mr. Edmund Harvey:
asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government will now use their good offices to bring about a settlement in Spain by proposing to both sides an armistice, with an undertaking that there shall be no reprisals on either side, and that provision shall be made for a general amnesty?
His Majesty's Government are most anxious to see the termination of the war in Spain without further bloodshed, and they will maintain touch with both sides in case their services should be desired to bring them together. But they do not consider it advisable at present to take the responsibility of sponsoring any particular terms of settlement.
As I have already informed the House, His Majesty's Government took no part in the negotiations for the surrender of Minorca and made themselves in no way responsible for the conditions of that surrender. They merely provided a channel of communication between the two parties. It was at the independent suggestion of General Franco's representatives that His Majesty's Ship "Devonshire" agreed to embark certain refugees.
Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement made by the captain of the "Devonshire," widely reported in the Press, in which he states that the Governor of Minorca agreed to surrender only on condition that the cruiser "Devonshire" did take off a specified list of refugees? Is that statement correct or not?
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will call for a report from the commanding officer of His Majesty's Ship "Devonshire" concerning the identity of the aircraft which recently made seven air raids on Port Mahon, Minorca, while that vessel was in the harbour?
No, Sir, we have already had a report from the commanding officer of His Majesty's Ship "Devonshire" which indicates that those aeroplanes which were seen from his ship to be engaged in bombing Minorca appeared to resemble an Italian type.