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Volume 344: debated on Wednesday 1 March 1939

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asked the Prime Minister whether the British Government have incurred any financial liability in respect of the repatriation from Spain of British nationals who have been serving in the International Brigade of the Republican Government in Spain?

His Majesty's Government undertook to pay for the repatriation of volunteers of United Kingdom nationality from the Franco-Spanish frontier to their final destination on substantially the same conditions as apply in the normal course to the repatriation of distressed British subjects.

Does the same principle apply to the repatriation of officers and men of the Mercantile Marine who may be stranded in foreign ports?

Have not these men a far better call on the public purse than men who contravened the Government's policy of non-intervention in Spain?

Is it not a fact that men of the Mercantile Marine who are stranded are always repatriated at the Government's expense?


asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government, following their recognition of the Spanish insurgent authorities, contemplate granting any form of financial assistance, whether by way of loan or credits, to the Franco Government?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is great opposition in this country to any form of financial assistance while foreign troops remain in Spain?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of any financial assistance having already been provided to General Franco?


asked the Prime Minister whether the recognition of the Spanish insurgent authorities as the de jure Government of Spain will affect the right of the Spanish Republican Government to be represented at the meetings of the League of Nations?


asked the Prime Minister whether any assurance was sought from General Franco on the subject of his intended treatment of vanquished opponents, to the effect that he would not attempt to enforce the provisions of the State law, published at Burgos on 13th February, which foreshadow the punishment of all persons who had opposed the Nationalist movement, excepting children under 14 and totally disabled men?

I would refer the hon. Lady to the Prime Minister's speech in yesterday's Debate, in which he read to the House the terms of the announcement which was received from General Franco's Government early last week.

Have any efforts been made to get from General Franco what interpretation he puts on the words "criminal charges" which were used in the Prime Minister's statement, and whether he attaches to this phrase the ordinary interpretation which we should attach to it, or whether he applies it to the long list of political activities outlined in his law of 13th February?

In view of this question, I asked to see the law of 13th February, which contains 98 articles. It has just been received at the Foreign Office and is being examined. At first sight the hon. Lady seems to be under a misapprehension as to the scope and purpose of the article in question, but I will give the matter further examination.

Is not the question of criminality a matter for the Spanish interpretation of their criminal law?


asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the communication from the Engineering Shop Stewards Committee asking him to receive a deputation from their members on the subject of allowing arms to be sent to the Spanish Republic; and what answer he has made?

I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. The Prime Minister replied to the Committee informing them that he was unable to receive a deputation.

Is not the Patronage Secretary aware that this very important section of the community, which is vital for the defence of the country, is in complete opposition to the rotten policy of the Prime Minister?

Is it not quite impossible for the Prime Minister to receive deputations from every body that might wish to approach him on this matter?


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether His Majesty's Government are prepared to offer full rights of asylum to all those Spanish Republican leaders and their followers who are desirous of entering this country through inability to remain in Spain because of possible reprisals?

His Majesty's Government are always anxious to maintain the traditional policy of this country of offering asylum to foreigners who wish to take refuge here for political, racial or religious reasons. The number of persons who can be so admitted is necessarily limited, but if arrangements can be made for the maintenance here of a limited number of Spanish Republican leaders and their followers, applications for their admission will receive my right hon. Friend's sympathetic consideration.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether His Majesty's Government will get into touch with the Spanish Republican leaders with a view to giving effect to the offer which the hon. Member has just made?

I think that it is not my right hon. Friend's responsibility to take the initiative in this matter. I said that he is prepared to consider applications if they are made.

Will my hon. Friend be careful to see that they do not shout down the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison).

Will my hon. Friend see to it that asylum is not granted to subjects who have been guilty of criminal acts?