HC Deb 05 December 1938 vol 342 cc849-50
11. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to remove the pressure which is being exercised by the Japanese authorities in North China upon Chinese firms to compel the latter to ship goods in Japanese or German ships instead of in British ships?

Mr. Butler

The position is that a ban exists at Chefoo and other ports in Shantung on the export to South China of certain articles, not being the property of third Power nationals. In one case, which has been brought to the notice of my Noble Friend, shipment in a foreign vessel was permitted, although the goods were apparently Chinese-owned. Representations have been made to the Japanese authorities in China and to the Japanese Government both as regards interference with trade in British ships and the discrimination in favour of a foreign vessel.

Mr. Leach

If representations are made in these cases, as in the case of General Franco, what do the Government do when no satisfaction is achieved? Do they apologise?

12. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the conveyance of goods in lighters between ship and wharf, which is enforced by the Japanese authorities at Tsingtao, necessitates the exposure of the cargo to the full violence of the weather in this exposed port and renders the shipment of certain types of cargo impossible; and what action he is taking to protect British trade?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, and urgent representations have been made to the Japanese Government that British ships should be allowed to berth in the commerclal harbour.

Miss Wilkinson

Have the Government got any satisfaction in this case?

Mr. Butler

We have not yet obtained a satisfactory reply.

19. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, after the Chinese retreated from Hankow, British bluejackets were sent to cut wires and remove explosives laid by the Chinese in Japanese buildings; by whose orders this was done; and what was the reason for this interference with legitimate Chinese military operations?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. After the withdrawal of the Chinese military forces from Hankow, British naval patrols were landed to maintain order in the former British Concession. On taking over temporary charge, the British naval authorities removed the dynamite and other charges from certain buildings there which had previously been prepared for demolition. This was done in order to prevent damage to adjoining British property and loss of life in the former British Concession, which was then crowded with refugees. As regards the last part of the question, my Noble Friend is satisfied that in the interests of humanity the action was fully justified.

Mr. Moreing

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the buildings in which explosives were laid were, in all cases, adjacent to British property and were not in fact in many instances in quite separate parts of the town; and in that case did this not constitute interference with Chinese military operations?

Mr. Butler

If the hon. Gentleman has any information that he would like to give me, I will certainly consider it, but on the information in our possession, we consider the action justified.