HC Deb 02 June 1931 vol 253 cc21-4

asked the Secretary of State for India if he has any further statement to make with regard to the rebellion in Burma?

34. Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for India whether there has been any further spread of the insurrection in Burma; and what are the total casualties to date?


I am circulating a report on the situation up to the 30th May, which includes information regarding casualties.


Are the military operations in Burma under the sole control of the military authorities, or are they subject to civil supervision?


If the Noble Lord will give me time to give a considered answer, I shall be grateful.


Can the right hon. Gentleman have it made clear in his statement whether they are military or police operations?


There is reference to that in the statement, but, in order to be quite clear, I would ask that a specific question should be put on the Paper.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an approximate idea of the extent to which the forces available in Burma to-day exceed the normal establishment?


I issued a report last week, and I am giving this week all the information at my disposal. If the hon. Gentleman has a specific question to ask and would like more detailed information, I will telegraph and get it for him.


Is the statement made to-day about further military action in Burma accurate?


I do not know to what particular statement my hon. Friend refers, but naturally the Government are anxious to take all measures to bring the trouble to an end.


Is there any Press censorship in Burma?


That question does not arise out of the answer.

Following is the report:

Situation in Burma for week ending 30th May, 1931.

Two large rebel camps have been attacked and destroyed in the Tharawaddy district, and casualties which included some important leaders killed and captured, were inflicted. There have been other minor successes by Government forces and no successful attacks by the rebels. Dacoities continue to occur but there has been no marked change in the situation during the week.

2. Attacks upon Indians are still ocurring and have spread to Myaungmya district. Anti-Indian feeling is very strong among the Burmans and is fostered by violent articles in the Burmese Press. It is very difficult to detect outrages, but action is being taken by police patrols, and joint responsibility of villagers under Village Act is being enforced. Many Indians have left the districts and have come to Rangoon where arrangements have been made for their accommodation.

3. Mr. Booth-Gravely, the Commissioner of Pagu division, has been appointed Special Commissioner for the districts of Insein, Tharawaddy, Prome, Henzada and Thayetmyo, which are in rebellion. He will act in co-operation with the Officer Commanding Rangoon Brigade in order to effect unity of command in the whole rebel area. Arrangements are being made for the new troops all of which should be in position by the end of June.

4. With regard to the economic situation, the principal feature is the extraordinary fall in the price of everything except oil. Prices for paddy and beans are 50 per cent. and for cotton 80 per cent. less than last year. The fall in the value of minerals and timber is about 35 per cent., and it is uncertain whether the full depth of the depression has yet been reached. The price of paddy, which recently rose a little, is again falling. Exports of rice are not less in quantity than in normal year. The prices of agricultural produce are probably less than cost of production in some districts and in consequence agriculturists cannot pay the loans which they borrowed last year. Financiers are unwilling to advance more money for crop loans and the agricultural credit required to grow this year's crops has almost vanished. There is a movement amongst tenants to force landlords to reduce rents and to advance money for the expenses of cultivation, which the landlords are unwilling or unable to do. The collection of revenue is slow but not unsatisfactory. Government has allotted further 20 lakhs for agricultural loans. Owing to land going out of cultivation the unemployment problem is serious and is receiving the Government's consideration.

5. The Government casualties up to 25th May as a result of the rebellion were as follows: Army, killed 2, wounded 5. Military Police, killed 9, wounded 25, including 2 British officers. Civil Police, killed 27, including I British officer, wounded 18. Other Government servants, killed 4, wounded 1. Village headmen, killed 12, wounded 3. The number of villagers killed in dacoities has not been ascertained, and the number of rebel casualties is impossible to ascertain, but is very large.