HC Deb 20 June 1938 vol 337 cc682-5
9. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the recent proceedings of the Opium Board at Geneva; and whether he proposes to make any representations to the Japanese Government concerning the evidence there given that that Government is actively aiding and abetting illegal drug traffic in China?

Mr. Butler

I have seen Press reports of the allegations made against the Japanese Government before the Opium Advisory Committee at Geneva, but as I have not yet received any official account of the proceedings, I am unable to state what action, if any, it would be proper for His Majesty's Government to take in this connection. The question of representations to the Japanese Government is being given careful consideration by the Departments concerned.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Have the Government any independent evidence of their own on this matter and, if so, does it tend to confirm the statements which were made at Geneva?

Mr. Butler

I should rather await the official information and the report of the Opium Advisory Committee. We do receive reports from various sources.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

I asked whether the Government do receive such reports; may I ask whether they tend to confirm statements that were made at Geneva on the subject?

Mr. Butler

I am afraid that I have nothing to add to the answer which I have given.

17. Mr. Chorlton

asked the Prime Minister what action His Majesty's Government have taken upon the report of the Commander-in-Chief, China station, on the question of freedom of transit for British shipping on the Yangtse?

Mr. Butler

Following upon his return from a tour of inspection of the River Yangtse, the Commander-in-Chief, China station, pressed the Japanese military and naval authorities at Shanghai to allow freedom of transit for British merchant shipping through the boom at Kiangyin in order that trade with ports above this point might be resumed. The Japanese replied regretting their inability to accede to the request on the grounds of military necessity. His Majesty's Government feel that while there may be some grounds for the refusal based on the above reason, provided no discrimination is permitted, they are not satisfied with the position and are considering whether any further steps can be taken in the matter.

18. Mr. Charlton

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to make a detailed statement on the extent to which British interests have been affected by the seizure by the Japanese of Chinese cotton mills in which British subjects have an interest, whether by mortgage of the machinery or otherwise, and particularly whether the machinery, which is the subject of a lien for money advanced, has been removed to Japan?

Mr. Butler

Although there have been frequent reports that the Japanese authorities intend to confiscate and operate Chinese mills in the areas under their control, I am not aware that there has been any actual seizure of such mills, and I am consequently not in a position to make a detailed statement. It is, however, clear that the continued non-operation of many Chinese mills in which British subjects are interested, whether by the supply of machinery or otherwise, is bound to have an adverse effect on British interests in the Chinese textile market. As regards the machinery removed from Sung Sing Mill No. 7, to which I presume the hon. Member refers, this was restored as a result of strong representa- tions by His Majesty's Government to the Japanese Government.

22. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether a considered reply has now been received from the Japanese Government to the protest made by His Majesty's Government against the recent air bombing of the civilian population in Canton, China?

Mr. Butler

I have at present nothing to add to what I said in my reply to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) on 15th June.

Mr. Henderson

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that, since this protest was sent to the Japanese Government, the chief of the special navy section in Shanghai has stated that the Japanese intend to continue bombing operations on Canton, and have done so on several occasions since?

Mr. Butler

I am aware of that, but we hope to receive a considered reply, and will certainly inform the hon. Member when we do so.

27. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet received a satisfactory reply from the Japanese Government to the representations of His Majesty's Government that an opportunity should be afforded to the representatives of the British bondholders of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway to inspect and survey the line, and that the necessary measures should be taken to safeguard their financial interests in the line?

Mr. Butler

Further representations in the matter have been made to the Japanese Government, but I regret that the position is still as stated in my reply to the hon. Member on 23rd May.

28. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet had any satisfactory reply to his representations to the Japanese Government that they should permit the free circulation of the tramcars of the British-owned Shanghai Electric Construction Company in the Hongkew and Yangtzepoo districts of the international settlement, particularly in order to facilitate the resumption of work in British and other factories in the districts?

Mr. Butler

My Noble Friend is awaiting a report from His Majesty's Consul-General at Shanghai on the most recent steps taken by him in this matter.

Mr. Moreing

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that there is no evasion on the part of the Japanese authorities in regard to giving an answer to the strong representations which His Majesty's Government are making on this matter? It is some time since the matter was raised; has any reply been received?

Mr. Butler

I hope we shall receive a reply. The whole question of the restoration of the northern district of Shanghai is under our constant consideration.

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