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Spain (Diplomatic Relations)

Volume 464: debated on Monday 9 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if His Majesty's Government will oppose the rescinding of the United Nations' resolution regarding Spain of 12th December, 1946.

A resolution was moved in the Political Committee on Saturday last to rescind that part of the 1946 resolution which deals with diplomatic relations with Spain. As my hon. Friend will no doubt be aware, the United Kingdom Delegate abstained from voting.

As the resolution to which my hon. Friend refers only partially covered the resolution of 1946, would he answer in full the Question on the Order Paper, and tell me, therefore, whether this attitude of neutrality means that his right hon. Friend has so far not been able to make up his mind on this very important question; because, if he has made up his mind, then surely the Foreign Secretary in Great Britain should give a lead by boldly proclaiming whether—

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Government will follow up the excellent common-sense advice given to the United Nations the other day by the Minister of State, that the conditions of trade with Spain should not be overruled by purely political considerations?

If His Majesty's Government are convinced, as they must be, of the futility of withdrawing our Ambassador from Madrid, will they take the straightforward course of voting in favour of the motion rescinding the 1946 resolution?

No, Sir. We do not want to risk any misunderstanding of our political attitude in this case.

As this is not a question of trade but of political attitude, will my hon. Friend suggest to his right hon. Friend that this is a case where solidarity within the Commonwealth would be the right attitude to follow?

Has the hon. Gentleman any hope that by the time this matter comes before the Assembly the Government will pluck up courage to vote one way or the other?

Of course, it is not a matter of courage at all. We are pursuing a perfectly consistent policy in this question. We have always said that we do not regard this as a matter in which we had strong feelings. On the one hand, there can be practical advantages of having an Ambassador in Madrid, and, on the other hand, there is the danger of having our political attitude misrepresented.

As my hon. Friend does not want our policy to be misunderstood, will His Majesty's Government make it quite clear whether this country favours or disfavours the inclusion of Fascist Spain in the comity of nations?

That has been made clear on several occasions, and I have nothing to add to a recent reply.

Leaving aside any opinion on the Government of Spain, is the hon. Gentleman aware that my hon. Friends on this side of the House attach particular importance to maintaining the closest diplomatic contacts with Spain and in being properly represented in Spain by an Ambassador?