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Spain (Minister's Visit)

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 3 May 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will take the opportunity of his visit to Spain at the end of the month to inform General Franco of the opposition of Her Majesty's Government to any proposal that Spain should be admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Will the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the situation, expand that brief Answer a little more? Can he assure us that the return of the Foreign Secretary to his former spiritual home has not resulted in any commitment or arrangement which this country might regret and disapprove of if it knew about it? Can he say whether or not the Government are opposed to the entry of Franco into N.A.T.O. so long as his Government continues in its present way of governing the country?

I have several times in the House in recent weeks made plain the position about this matter and that it is not before N.A.T.O. The only assurance that any Government can give is that when a matter is raised it should be considered in the light of the circumstances of the time, and that is the position of the Government. The visit of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary is to help to maintain good relations with a friendly Power.

Would the Minister bear in mind, in view of his Answer, that all sane, mature, and unprejudiced minds in the free world would welcome the inclusion of this great and proud nation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation?

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the failure of the Spanish Government to prevent the escape of two rebel generals to join the rebellion against France in Algeria recently constitutes yet another argument against accepting Spain into N.A.T.O.?

I really cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's remarks in that context. All sorts of people have difficulty in preventing other people from escaping.