HC Deb 10 February 1927 vol 202 cc280-1

asked the Prime Minister what number of troops or other armed British forces are at present at Shanghai available for the defence of the international settlement in that city; what is the total number of warships of all sorts and the strength of the crews of same at present in Chinese waters and on the way thereto; what is the exact number of troops of all armies, including the Air Force, that are at present on the way to China; and the approximate number of British citizens resident at Shanghai and the estimated number resident in China.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The total number of British subjects resident in Shanghai is about 9,300. The latest returns available show the number of British subjects resident in China, to be 15,247. It would not be in the public interest to give the detailed information asked for by the hon. Member in the earlier part of the question.


If it is true, as stated in the Press, that 20,000 troops have been sent out to China to protect these people's lives, would it not have been cheaper to have taken them to some place of safety rather than send troops?


In view of the many statements as to the number of troops and other forces on the way to China, would it not be well that we should have a statement giving accurately the number of additional troops that have been sent?


I am sure the hon. Member will recognise this, that the troops will not be used unless an attack is made on the safety of British lives. That attack can only be made by mobs or by troops, and I think the hon. Member will also recognise that, if anyone is going to make an attack on foreigners in Shanghai, it is not desirable that they should know too many details about the defence force.


Would it not beadvisable, in order to prevent attacks, that those who may be likely to attack should know what they are to receive? Would it not be in the interests of the safety of the people who you profess to want to defend?


I think the matter is more appropriate to debate than to question and answer.