HC Deb 06 April 1938 vol 334 cc316-9
2. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement concerning the position of the Government of the Republic of China set up by the Japanese military authorities at Nanking?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

An administration calling itself the "Reformed Government of the Republic of China" was inaugurated at Nanking on 28th March. According to a manifesto issued at the time, the new Government is a provisional régime with authority over the two provinces of Kiangsu and Chekiang, and will be amalgamated with the Provisional Government established at Peking, as soon as through communication is established on the TientsinPukow and Lunghai railways.

Mr. Strauss

I take it that that is really a Japanese-controlled Government?

3. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Prime Minister what efforts have been made during 1938 to secure any understanding with the Japanese Government in Tokyo regarding British interests in Hong Kong and South China; and what were the results of such efforts?

Mr. Butler

There have been no serious hostilities in South China, and consequently only minor interference with British interests there or at Hong Kong. Such matters as have arisen have been the subject of representations. A certain measure of satisfaction has been obtained and certain matters are still under discussion.

Mr. Strauss

May we take it that there has been no general understanding arrived at?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir.

5. Mr. Mathers

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any report on the work of the English-speaking medical unit in China; whether they have adequate supplies of clothing and medicaments; and how far such supplies are provided by the Lord Mayor's Fund?

Mr. Butler

The English-speaking unit works under the direction of the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, to whom it reports and by whom its medical and other supplies are furnished. It has no connection with the Lord Mayor's Fund.

Mr. Mathers

Does that mean that in the event of any shortage of supplies this medical unit could not look to His Majesty's Government for any assistance?

Mr. Butler

No, it is under the League, and we are awaiting a report from the League.

6. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister the total amount of claims against the Japanese Government for compensation for war damage filed by British subjects with the British consular authorities in China?

Mr. Butler

I am unable to give exact figures, since the details of many claims are not finally determined. According to the reports which have so far reached me, the amount at present is in the region of £300,000.

Commander Marsden

Can my hon. Friend give any indication as to when we may expect a settlement of these claims, many of which concern small traders whose businesses have been entirely ruined?

Mr. Butler

I hope as soon as they have been thoroughly investigated and submitted.

8. Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the attempts of the Japanese authorities in North China to set up a Japanese wool monopoly in respect of wool produced in Mongolia, Hsinchiang and Kansu, to the exclusion of British buyers; and whether he will protest to the Japanese Government against this interference with free trade in wool?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. An organisation is reported to have been formed at Kalgan for the purchase and export of sheep and camel wool, but it is not yet clear to what extent British interests will be affected. His Majesty's Ambassador in China has been instructed to watch the situation closely and to report any developments which might call for representations to the Japanese authorities.

Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

Is my hon. Friend aware that the stock of wool in the hands of Chinese and British merchants has been sealed, bought by the Japanese at their own price and shipped by Japanese steamers away from the holders, and will he protest against such action through His Majesty's Ambassador?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Ambassador has been instructed to watch this situation closely, and I think the hon. Gentleman can be assured that that will be the case.

Mr. George Griffiths

Do the Government expect that Japan is going yonder for the benefit of Britain? Nothing of the kind.

18. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the excesses and outrages which have been committed by Japanese troops during the Japanese conquest of Central China; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to make any protest to the Japanese Government?

Mr. Butler

A number of reports of excesses committed by Japanese troops at Nanking, Shanghai and Hangchow have been received. These, however, all relate to events antecedent in date to the question put by the hon. Member on 7th February last. No official representations have been made by His Majesty's Government, but the Japanese themselves dispatched a high officer to Nanking and Hangchow early in February, and I understand that as a result conditions have now improved.

Mr. Henderson

Is it not a fact that only recently an outrage was committed against a British subject in Shanghai?

Mr. Butler

I have given the hon. Member the information in my possession, and I trust that the dispatch of this high officer may prevent any future incidents of this sort.