§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for foreign Affairs whether the 1156 Government have any information to show that looting and pillage have been committed by British or other European troops in or near Peking or Tientsin, and that valuable property thus plundered has been publicly sold under the direction of British officers; whether such conduct is contrary to the modern usages of war as declared by the Hague Convention; and whether the Government intend to adopt any means for the restitution of the property so taken, and for the punishment of the offenders as their conduct may deserve.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
So far as I know there has not been any pillage or plunder by British troops in China in the sense implied by the question. General Gaselee reported in August last that "looting was openly tolerated among certain of the allied troops," and every effort was made by him to prevent our soldiers from participating in the indiscriminate plunder and wanton destruction of property which was prevalent elsewhere. In the areas assigned to British occupation there were a number of derelict houses. General Gaselee directed that the ownerless property so left should be taken charge of by authorised search parties, and where the legal owner could not be found sold by public auction for the benefit of all. There has not been any violation of the Hague Convention.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Would it be possible to have General Gaselee's report presented to the House?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
Possibly that may be so, but it does not necessarily follow that the things were looted by British troops. As to the question of the hon. Member for Dundee, I am rather doubtful, as General Gaselee's report referred not only to British but to other troops.