1,700 Still in Britain They Dance to Keep Themselves
From Our Diplomatic Correspondent IT IS PROBABLE THAT THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT WILL IN THE NEAR FUTURE MAKE REPRESENTATIONS TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FOR THE RETURN OF ALL THE BASQUE CHILDREN AT PRESENT BEING KEPT IN ENGLAND BY THE BASQUE CHILDREN'S COMMITTEE, WHOSE PRESIDENT IS THE DUCHESS OF ATHOLL.
There are still about 1,700 Basque children in this country; of whom about a hundred are in Catholic schools or convents. Song and Dance
For some time past the Basque Duke of Wellington is chairman, has worked for the return to Spain of these hundred children.
Interviews with the British Government, however, have produced no satisfactory result, the Government taking the view that the sole responsibility for the children rests with the Basque Children's Committee.
The Basque children who still remain in Britain are looked after by private charity, though a good deal of the money necessary to maintain these children is raised by the children themselves in concerts of Basque songs and dances.
So many concerts, however, have been and are being given that the Basque Children's Committee should be able, when it has no more Basque children on its hands, to romp in on the business of theatrical management and tours.
In the March 19 issue of Busk() Deya — Basque separatist journal printed in France—there is a full account of the activities of the Basque children in England. In the past live or six weeks concerts have heen given by Basque children at Macclesfield, Hanley, Stone, Amersham, Wendover, Dunstable, Beaconsfield, Folkestone, Halifax, Southampton, Newcastle, Devizes, Swindon, Salisbury, Taunton, Dorchester, and Bath. Fly To Winter Sports
Six of the Basque children who are staying at Guisborough Hall, Middlesbrough, went by air to Zurich at the beginning of January and toured the winter sports resorts, making altogether more than £300. .
Euzko Deya notes that children staying at a Margate home are continuing their tour of Kent, whilst another group of children at Watermiliock is beginning a tour of North Cheshire.
The Basque Children's Committee refuses to repatriate any of the 1,700 children still in its care until it has requests from these children's parents for their return.
Unfortunately, in some cases the parents are dead and in others they are in prison.
Spanish Government authorities, however, have made full provision for looking after all 1,700 children irrespective of the records or conditions of their parents.
Three members of the Basque Repatriation Committee were recently in Spain inspecting conditions to which the Basque children would return. These members satisfied themselves cornpletely that there would be full and proper care of the children without any discrimination. " They Cost £1,000 A Week"
At a recent meeting near Oxford, Mr A. Loveday, a member of the Repatriation Committee and formerly a member for fifteen years of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, described the taking of Basque children out of Spain, ten thousand of them altogether, as unnecessary, for General Franco had offered them safe territory under the administration of the British Red Cross Society. The children were sent to Russia, France, Belgium, Mexico and England. Of the 4,000 who came to England, 2,300 had been returned, but only after the Basque Repatriation Committee had obtained from parents in Spain petitions for the children.
Mr Loveday estimated that the 1,700 children still in the country were costing at the very least 41,000 a week. Ile suggested that the money was more urgently needed by other causes.
" What is better for the children," he asked, " that they should remain here, in a foreign country dependent on private generosity which is badly needed for other things, or that they should return to their own land with their safety and well-being guaranteed?"