22 OCTOBER 1937, Page 1


TTALY, who, having pledged herself to non-intervention 1 in Spain, has admitted officially that she has 40,000 soldiers serving there, cannot complain if any conciliatory proposal made by her is subjected to a studiously rigorous scrutiny. Common prudence requires that the statement made by Count Grandi to the Nom:Intervention Committee on Wednesday should be considered in that light. Mr. Eden rightly welcomed it as a notable step forward. Italy is prepared now to agree to an immediate investigation into the number of foreigners fighting on both sides in Spain, to the immediate " token " withdrawal of an equal number from each side and to a postponement of the grant of belligerent rights till " substantial progress " has been made with the main task of withdrawing all foreigners. This is substantially the British plan of last July, and on the face of it the Italian proposal must commend itself both to Britain and France. It must be observed, none the less, that General Franco's assent to the plan is considered necessary, and he may have many motives for withholding it ; that Italy has not agreed to abandon the claim made by Count Grandi on Tuesday that the main withdrawal shall be in equal numbers from each side (which would leave a large balance with General Franco when all the Government foreigners had gone) ; and that the plan provides plenty of opportunity for wasting time, pending a final Franco offensive, unless Britain and France are ruthless in vetoing delays. Altogether the new turn of events is to be hailed with relief, but hardly yet with enthusiasm.