Committee's Supreme Control
From Our Diplomatic Correspondent.
The Basque Children's Committee still refuses to disclose the list of Basque children: it possesses the only list and, if any children are lost, no one will know anything about it.
The Franco ship to take back children may reach here by December 14, but there are still difficulties.
The Catholic Herald is informed that the conditions now being laid down by the Basque Children's Committee in regard to the repatriation of 500 children by means of a Nationalist ship are by no means wholly satisfactory.
The Committee appears to be unwilling to co-operate in this repatriation with the Catholic authorities and the Wellington Committee which represents Nationalist interests.
It will be recalled that such co-operation was asked for in the findings of the Legal Commission which decided on immediate repatriation for a large number of children.
The Basque Committee still insists upon its sole right to decide which children are to be sent bark. It also has not yet seen its way to disclosing its list of Basque children in this country which list it regards as " confidential."
Home Office Ignorance
A most surprising point about this list is that even the Home Office, the Catholic Herald understands, does not possess a copy. This means that the Basque Committee is in complete control of the destiny of the children and independently not only of Catholics and Nationalists, but of the very Government of this country. Mgr. Antoniutti, Apostolic Delegate, has himself stated that he has no list which is not surprising in view of the circumstances of the evacuation under Basque rule.
Were any children to be lost—as has happened in thousands of cases with Basque children shipped to Russia and Mexico—no one but the Basque Children's Committee would be any the wiser.
It appears likely that the Nationalist ship will reach 'England about the middle of December, but until these difficulties are cleared up, the question of which children are to be repatriated is in suspense.
It should not be overlooked that the Catholic authorities and the Wellington Committee may be forced to send back all the children in Catholic homes by this ship without any further reference to the Basque Children's Committee which has no authority whatever over these particular children.
Propaganda Last week, a Colonel Alexander stated in The Tint= that none of the Bug=
children on his estate wanted to go back. The Wellington Committee has answered:
" It is easy to overestimate the significance of the desire of some children to remain in this country, as mentioned by Colonel Alexander. But parents have a right to be considered and we have before us pamphlets, specially written and printed for circulation amongst these children, in the interests of the Barcelona government, which give some indication of the sort of moral pressure which has beyond all question been brought to bear upon some of them unknown, of course, to the Duchess of Atholl's Committee."