Page 10, 6th March 1959

6th March 1959
Page 10
Page 10, 6th March 1959 — F REE speech was claimed by Saar Manuel Fraga, the leader
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F REE speech was claimed by Saar Manuel Fraga, the leader

of seven Spanish M.P.'s invited here by their opposite numbers in Britain's House of Commons.

"We are wide open to any questions," he told me.

But to the question when would Spain be given a king, he could make no reply beyond confirming that the initiative lies with General Franco, who could, if he so wished, tomorrow propose someone to the Cortes as king or as regent to take over on his death.

Were the General to die without taking this step, then a regency comprising the senior of the bishops enjoying membership in the Cortes, together with the President of the Cortes, and the senior serving officer, would come into being.

The Cortes is the name given to the Spanish Parliament, and although one does not hear much of its main sessions, which are held comparatively rarely, it is a busy institution, Sr. Fraga explained — "somewhat similar to the United States system, in so far as its members are split up into 18 committees, all of them in more or less permanent session."

Reminders

We welcome the invitation from the British M.P.s," said Sr. Fraga, one of whose companions is a woman M.P. "Spaniards want to consider themselves as really part of the European family, and similar exchanges of visits have been arranged with France, Belgium and Italy as well."

I could not expect Sr. Fraga to say that all goes well in Spain; he didn't. " Of course, the bishops talk freely in their pastorals about the need for social reform.

" And it is their business to remind us of it," he agreed. "But there is inflation, there is the rush from the country to the cities, there is the worry of adverse balance of payments.

"People want their higher standard of living, their cars and motor-scooters, and they work longer hours to get them and to face up to the inflation. Of course, people are hurt in the process. the old-age pensioners and the Civil servants among them."

Concerned

Spain's young priests, Sr. Fraga told me, are interested in social and and liturgical matters, and in his own church in Madrid he attended Dialogue Mass.

" No longer do the theatres reopen, as they used to, on Holy Saturday night," he said. "They do so on Easter Sunday, and Catholics have, as the result of the new Holy week order, accustomed themselves to a Saturday that is a continuation of Good Friday."

Sr. Fraga is very concerned with the increasing numbers of young Spaniards arriving to work here who are known to stop practising their religion for want of priests and a suitable church.

" I shall personally approach the Bishop of Madrid-Alcala on my return," he said, after I had suggested that surely there was need of the establishment in central London of a Spanish church which should be served by Spanish clergy,

The seven Spanish M.P.'s are to be received at Archbishop's House, Westminster, on Sunday.




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