HC Deb 17 July 1929 vol 230 cc402-3

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Shanghai municipal council is proposing to sell their electricity undertaking for about £10,000,000, of which under £4,000,000 represents book value and over £6,000,000 goodwill, and that this goodwill is largely the result of expenditure borne by the British taxpayer; and whether, if the sale proceeds, he will invite the council to contribute £3,000,000 to that expenditure?


The ratepayers of the International Settlement at Shanghai have approved the proposal of the council to accept an offer of 81,000,000 taels (approximately £10,000,000 sterling) for the municipal electricity undertaking. I have no information as to how much of this sum is represented by book value and how much by goodwill, nor what part, if any, of the goodwill value is the result of expenditure borne by the British taxpayer. I sympathise with the view that the residents of Shanghai should bear a proper share of the cost of their own defence, but it would obviously be improper for an international municipality on Chinese soil to contribute towards the cost of the British Army.


Has not the Shanghai Defence Force, which was sent out by the previous Government at the request of the International Municipal Council, been responsible for giving that security which made for this goodwill, and ought they not, therefore, to contribute something towards it?


Do the Government party now realise that the sending of this expeditionary force to Shanghai was necessary?


Not necessarily.


A good many supplementary questions have been put from time to time which are quite out of order. I would remind hon. Members that there are very strict Rules regarding the putting of supplementary questions, and I shall have to apply the Rules more strictly if such questions continue to be put.