HC Deb 25 May 1938 vol 336 cc1179-81
1. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Prime Minister what steps His Majesty's Government are proposing to take to give effect to the recent resolution of the League of Nations Council urging members of the League to do their utmost to give effect to previous resolutions of the Assembly and the Council, in respect of the needs of Chinese defence; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to accede to the request of the Chinese Government for the granting of long-term credits for defence purposes?

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

As my noble Friend informed the Council of the League of Nations on 14th May, His Majesty's Government have done their best within the limits which the situation imposes on them to implement to the full their obligations to China under the League resolutions. His Majesty's Government will continue as they have done in the past to give serious and sympathetic consideration to any requests they may receive from the Chinese Government in conformity with these resolutions. I am not aware that the Chinese Government have made any request for long-term credits specifically for defence purposes. The hon. Member was informed by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 14th April, that if the Chinese Government found it possible to obtain long-term credits from British financial institutions, any request for the consent of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to such an operation would be sympathetically considered.

3. Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

asked the Prime Minister what staff is employed in Shanghai in connection with the claims made by British subjects for compensation owing to damage to property; how many claims are still outstanding; and whether consideration has been given to the desirability of strengthening the personnel dealing with the large number of applications which are being made there?

Mr. Butler

The staff employed at any particular moment varies at the discretion of His Majesty's Consul General, who allocates his staff in accordance with the needs of any given duty, and the question of strengthening the personnel of the claims department is at present being considered. According to my latest report, dated 13th April, there were then 453 claims which were still uncompleted.

8. Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet received detailed reports from His Majesty's Ambassadors in China and Japan on the Japanese wool monopoly in North China?

Mr. Butler

The expected report from His Majesty's Ambassador in China has not yet been received. Some information on the subject has reached me from His Majesty's Ambassador in Japan, but as it does not add materially to what I said in reply to my hon. Friend on 2nd May, I should prefer to postpone making any statement until I have received fuller details.

Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

Has the hon. Gentleman put before the representatives of His Majesty's Government the fact that at present British trade there is at a standstill owing to the fact that the Japanese are in entire control of the railway and are only allowing Japanese consignments to go forward?

Mr. Butler

We understand that the full report which we are expecting, deals with the difficulty to which my hon. Friend has referred.

11. Mr. Chorlton

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Japanese authorities refuse to permit the shipping of other nations to proceed up the Yangtze above Nanking; and whether he will cause instructions to be given to the Commander-in-Chief, China station, to notify the Japanese authorities in this area that, as from a certain date, British merchant vessels will proceed up the Yangtze above Nanking, if necessary, under the escort of His Majesty's ships?

Mr. Butler

I am aware that the Japanese authorities refuse to permit the shipping of other nations to proceed up the Yangtze above the boom at Kiangyin, owing chiefly to the existence of extensive military operations in that area. The Commander-in-Chief has just returned to Shanghai from a tour of inspection up the river, and his recommendations on the situation in regard to trade are now being considered with a view to deciding what further steps shall be taken.

Mr. Chorlton

From the trade point of view, can the hon. Gentleman say how soon this report will be considered?

Mr. Butler

I hope immediately.

Sir Percy Harris

Have the Japanese any right under international law to interfere with shipping? As they are technically not at war with China, what legal justification have they for these actions?

Mr. Butler

I should require notice of that question.

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