5th June, 1940.
Mr. E. Bevin,
The Ministry of Labour,
Dear Mr. Bevin,
You will be aware that for some fifteen months we have been providing maintenance for Spanish seamen in this country who declined to return with their ships to Spain at the close of the Spanish Civil War.
We have been trying, for some time, to secure work for them and at the moment the number has been reduced from approximately 300 to 76. These men, together with their dependants mean that we have to make a weekly provision for something like 100 persons.
The men are classed as friendly aliens, and there appears to be some difficultly in securing employment in British boats. Many of the men, however - who are mainly of Basque nationality - followed the occupations of farmers or fishermen during the months they were not at sea.
It is a point to be determined as to how the services of these men can best be utilised in the present emergency. We are unable to provide for their maintenance much longer, but it does seem that they should become self-supporting and perform useful work if their services were called upon.
We understand that the Ministry of Agriculture is attempting to secure Norwegian seamen for agricultural work. In recruiting alien labour the Ministry of