I move "That the Bill be now read a Second Time." In the Act which was passed some weeks ago concerning the Spanish Civil War, for the purpose of implementing the non-intervention agreement provision was made for the prohibition of the export of contraband, of war material, to Spain. The International Committee for the application of that agreement, which consists of representatives of the Governments of all the parties to it, has deemed it expedient to establish a system of observation around the Spanish frontiers for the purpose of ascertaining whether that non-intervention agreement is being effectively observed. The resolution which embodied a scheme of control was adopted at a meeting on Monday last and it was then decided to bring the scheme into operation as quickly as possible. A board, to be known as the International Board for non-intervention in Spain, has been set up to administer the observation scheme. It will have as its officers a number of administrators and observers who will report breaches of the international non-intervention agreement and furnish material which will enable the participating Governments to take whatever action is necessary.
It is obvious that observation and control on the sea frontiers require the imposition of certain obligations upon merchant shipping and it is for that reason that this Bill is necessary. It is necessary to provide that any shipping proceeding to Spanish territory will, in accordance with the scheme of control, call at a particular place en route for the purpose of taking on board one of these international observers, who will remain on the ship during its stay in Spanish territory and be brought back by it to a port of disembarkation, one of the observation stations. It is necessary to give, by law here, the members of that international staff powers of interrogating passengers and crews and examining cargoes and documents relating to them and also to provide for their accommodation and subsistence on board ship. It is also necessary to provide in our law for the conferring upon the officers of the naval forces of the countries France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, which will be patrolling the Spanish coast, power to board our ships approaching the Spanish coast and to interview the officers and examine the documents. It is for that purpose this Bill has been framed. It has been framed in a manner which gives fairly wide powers to act by regulation.
It is not intended to bring the Bill into operation until the scheme of control is brought into operation simultaneously by all countries. Legislation has already been introduced by some countries—all the countries that are parties to the agreement have undertaken to do so. It is hoped to bring the scheme of control into operation at a fairly early date and it is desirable, therefore, that this Bill should pass before Easter. The two main purposes are to provide for this regulation of merchant ships by the placing on them of this obligation to call at an observation port and take an observer on board and, secondly, to confer on the officers of patrolling naval forces the right to regulate Saorstát ships. The Bill is consequential on the principal Act passed some weeks ago dealing with non-intervention in Spain and it is necessary, because our law does not make provision for the regulation of merchant shipping in this way in the ordinary course.