HC Deb 25 May 1936 vol 312 cc1608-11

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will give a table showing the German exports of coal to the principal European and South American destinations for each of the last six years, together with those of the first four months of this year?


I have been asked to reply. As the reply involves a statistical Table, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The Table is as follows:

Chinese Customs service, on which foreign loans are secured, to discuss the possibility of preventing the wholesale smuggling which is now in progress in Northern China?

8. Mr. McENTEE

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of the British Government has been called to the official report by the head of the Imperial Chinese Customs as to the growth of smuggling in Northern China; and whether he will state the nationals who are mainly carrying on this traffic, which is injurious to British trade and finance?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the serious loss to the Chinese Customs revenues, he will negotiate with the Japanese Government to permit the Chinese Customs guards in North-East China to be armed, and also permit Chinese gunboats within the three-mile limit there?

15 and 16 Mr. MOREING

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he has received reports as to the officers of the Chinese Customs service being prevented from carrying out their duties on trains running south out of Hopei; and under the authority of what Government these officers are hampered in the performance of their duties;

(2) whether his attention has been drawn to the report by the Inspector-General of Chinese Maritime Customs that unless the Customs preventive men were again free to re-arm normally, both afloat and ashore, and unless the railways were permitted to co-operate with the Customs by ceasing the transport of smuggled goods, there could be no improvement in the existing serious situation; and whether he has drawn the attention of the Japanese Government to this report and invited their co-operation?

17 and 18. Mr. HANNAH

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he is aware that cruisers of the Chinese Customs revenue service within the three-mile limit of the coast of East Hopei have lately been interfered with in the performance of their Customs duties by officials purporting to act on the authority of the Japanese Government; and whether he will make representations on the subject to that Government;

(2) whether he is aware that Customs guards at the ports of East Hopei who formerly carried arms for the better performance of their duties have been forbidden this protection by officials purporting to act on the authority of the Japanese Government; and whether he will make inquiries into this matter?

21. Mr. MORGAN

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the damage to British and other trade by the extensive smuggling in Northern China, he can state whether the Imperial Chinese Customs service in the demilitarised zone are forbidden to carry arms, as is the case elsewhere; and whether the British Government will suggest to the Chinese and Japanese Governments the desirability of more effective action?


His Majesty's Government have received from His Majesty's representative at Peking information regarding the report of the Inspector-General of Chinese Maritime Customs to which the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) alludes, and this is now under examination. The information at the disposal of His Majesty's Government tends to confirm that Customs officials at the shore stations in the demilitarised zone, as well as vessels operating in its coastal waters, are prevented by the Japanese military authorities from carrying arms. There is, moreover, reason to believe that difficulties of the nature mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing) are experienced by Chinese Customs officials on trains in the demilitarised zone. The principal agents engaged in the smuggling traffic in North China are said to be Japanese and Koreans, although some Chinese may be taking part. The House is already aware of the concern with which His Majesty's Government view the situation caused by the growth of smuggling in North China and of the steps which have been taken to bring the need for more effective action to check this illicit traffic to the urgent notice of the Chinese and Japanese Governments. In particular, His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo, in his handling of this matter, has kept in close touch with the representatives of the other Governments interested. I understand that representations have also been made to the Japanese Government by the United States Ambassador. His Majesty's Government will continue to watch the situation with the closest attention, and will give special consideration to the points raised by my hon. Friends as well as to the report of the Inspector-General.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether any other foreign Governments besides the United States have made representations to Tokyo?


I should like to have notice of the question. We have certainly been in communication with other foreign Governments, but whether they have yet acted I do not know.


asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has received any report from His Majesty's Consuls-General in Shanghai and Hankow as to the injurious effect on British trade in those centres and in the Yangtze Valley by the competition of goods smuggled into Northern China through East Hopei?

Captain EUAN WALLACE, (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)

The injury to British trade of this illicit traffic is known to be widespread, but it has not so far been possible to obtain any precise estimates of the effects of smuggling in the areas to which ray hon. Friend refers.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider communicating with the Consuls-General at Shanghai in an endeavour to get some information as to the extent of the damage that is being done?


I am sure that His Majesty's Consular officers and the Commercial Counsellor to His Majesty's Embassy in China are fully alive to the gravity of the situation, and I am certain that we shall get reports from them as soon as they have some precise information to give.


In view of the great damage being done to British trade in those parts, according to reports which have reached many hon. Members, will the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider having placed in the Library a copy of this report when it is received?


When we get the report, we will consider that.