HC Deb 07 June 1939 vol 348 cc387-9
1. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make arising out of the report of His Majesty's Consul-General at Shanghai, relating to the forcible entry of Japanese marines into the Hongkew general hospital on 24th April last?

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

The hospital is situated in Hongkew, which is under the control of the Japanese naval landing party. No forcible entry took place, but a Japanese marine having been fatally injured in the accident on 24th April in which Dr. Lillie was unfortunately killed, a Japanese naval detachment proceeded to the hospital and asked to see the survivors at once. While they were there, an altercation appears to have arisen between the officer in charge of the detachment and Assistant-Commissioner A. H. Sansom, a British subject in the employ of the Shanghai Municipal Police, during which Mr. Sansom was struck a blow in the face by the officer in question. His Majesty's Consul-General has addressed a protest to his Japanese colleague against the assault and similar action has, it is understood, been taken by the Shanghai Municipal Council.

Mr. Bellenger

Is this a British hospital, and if it is, cannot steps be taken to protect those British individuals who are, for various reasons, forced to enter our hospital?

Mr. Butler

The reason why we made a protest was in order to stop incidents like this happening in future.

Mr. Bellenger

Is it not obvious to the right hon. Gentleman that his protests have no use whatever, and can he not take definite steps to protect British lives in this hospital and other British places?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member may rest assured that we shall do all we can to protect British lives.

Mr. Thurtle

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that all the British Government can do is to make mild protests of this kind?

5. Mr. Day

asked the Prime Minister what claims have been made by His Majesty's Government against the Japanese Government for maltreatment of the crew of the steamship '' Sagres ''; and what reply has been received?

Mr. Butler

The full information necessary for the formulation of detailed claims is not yet available. As the Prime Minister stated, however, in reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair) on 24th May, His Majesty's Government reserve all their rights in respect of compensation.

Mr. Day

Can the Minister say whether this ship has now been released?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir.

6. Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that British passengers to Hankow are, or were required, to have Japanese landing passes; whether this was done with the consent of the British authorities in China; and whether he will give instructions to His Majesty's diplomatic and naval representatives in China that they must at all times insist on the right of British subjects to unrestricted entry into Hankow?

Mr. Butler

Japanese military passes are at present required by all passengers proceeding to Hankow and other up-river ports, and the British authorities have acquiesced in the issue of these passes in order to enable British subjects to proceed up the River Yangtze. His Majesty's Government do not, however, in principle recognise the right of the Japanese to restrict or control the movements of British subjects in China and His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo has been instructed to enter a formal reservation on this point with the Japanese Government.

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman

Why did the Government acquiesce in the granting of these passes?

Mr. Butler

The situation on the Yangtze has not been normal, and we thought it better to acquiesce in order to obtain these facilities while making reservations on the general ground.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

Are the passes required for the movement of British warships?

Mr. Thurtle

The right hon. Gentleman says that the British Government do not acquiesce in the principle, but are they not continually acquiescing in the practice?