MEMORANDUM OF INTERVIEW.
Date 20th- April, 1937-
SUBJECT. SITUATION IN Spain - BILBAO
Time 4.30 to
present Senhor Santiago
Aznar, And an interpreter, Mr. Wm Gillies and
Sir Walter Citrine.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, 20th April, 1937 I received a visit from Senor Aznar, the Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Basque autonomous Government.
He explained to me that the Basque Government were very much concerned about the situation which was developing. The action of the British Government in warning vessels not to proceed to Bilbao was causing great concern in his country. The food situation was fast becoming critical, and it was imperative that vessels should reach Bilbao as soon as possible.
I informed Senor Aznar that after my interview with him on Thursday, 15th April, I had written to the International Federation of Trade Unions expressing our great anxiety at the situation* and suggesting that it would help us In this country if M. Jouhaux were to bring pressure to bear upon the French Government, who in turn could influence the British Government.
I explain d that I had already arranged an appointment with the Permanent Under-Secretary for . Foreign Affairs, Sir Robert Vansittart, for the morning of Wednesday, 21st April, and that I was also endeavouring to see Mr. Eden.
Senor Aznar said their principle concern at the moment was to avoid anything being said in the debate in the House of Commons that day which would make matters still more difficult. He felt that if the Labour Party pressed the Government too strongly it would drive them into obstinacy and that would bolt and bar the door, so that a change for the better would not be possible.
He realised that this would mean sacrificing some political advantage, but, at the same time, he felt that the position of the Labour Party would not be misunderstood by its members, and it would certainly help the Basque Government if It were made possible for the Government to make a conciliatory reply.
He asked me was it possible for me to see Mr. Eden before the debate took place?
I replied that I would try to do so, although I thought it was difficult, and I suggested that Senor Aznar should accompany me to see Mr. Attlee, the Party Leader.
Senor Aznar felt that that might cause him embarrassment, and preferred to entrust the matter