HC Deb 27 July 1931 vol 255 cc1930-1

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Sir Miles Lampson has now seen the report made to the Chinese Government regarding the disappearance of Mr. John Thorburn; what facts have come to light in regard to this matter; and what further action is being taken?


The report of the Chinese Commission of Inquiry states that all concerned, including the local Chinese authorities, deny knowledge of any foreigner having been arrested. Sir Miles Lampson has, therefore, been instructed to make representations to the Chinese Government in the following sense:

Independent inquiries have established beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr. Thorburn, who is under suspicion in some quarters of having shot at and fatally wounded two Chinese gendarmes, was arrested and handed over to the custody of military authorities, who have found means to silence the witnesses possessing knowledge of the facts. It is the duty of the Chinese Government, in the first place, to discover Mr. Thorburn's whereabouts and hand him over to the British authorities in China if he is still alive; and, in the second place, to inflict suitable punishment on any military authority who may have been responsible for maltreating him or causing his death. His Majesty's Government therefore most earnestly and strongly urge the Chinese Government with all expedition to find means of persuading the military authorities concerned in the present case of the urgent necessity of enabling the Chinese Government to carry out the ordinary obligations of a civilised State.

Sir Miles Lampson has been instructed to convey the foregoing as a special message from His Majesty's Government to Marshal Chiang Kai Shek, the President of the National Government, adding that he has instructions to raise the question with the highest authority, since His Majesty's Government must insist on proper protection being afforded to British subjects.


While thanking the hon. Gentleman very much for his reply, may I ask if it is really a question of persuading the Chinese military authorities? Is it not a question of the Chinese Government ordering those authorities, not persuading them?


It is because of our desire that orders should be given in the appropriate quarter that we have decided to go straight to the front of authority, namely, Marshal Chiang Kai Shek himself.