HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc871-5
6. Mr. Day

asked the Prime Minister whether he will say, from the latest reports received, the number of British subjects at present residing either in the Amoy or Kulangsu Islands, China; and whether any British subjects have been recently evacuated from these islands?

Mr. Butler

My Noble Friend is calling for a report of the exact numbers of British subjects residing at Amoy or Kulangsu. There are believed to be approximately 30 in both islands together. No evacuations have recently taken place.

Mr. Day

Has any claim been made by His Majesty's Government on behalf of any of those British subjects in this district?

Mr. Butler

Not so far as I am aware.

7. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information to give the House concerning the death of Mr. R. M. Tinkler at Shanghai.

18. Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the attempts of the Japanese press to inflame Japanese public opinion against Great Britain by distorting the Japanese attack upon and murder of Mr. Tinkler at Shanghai and the detention of the British military attaché at Kalgan into lawful actions in defence of Japanese rights; and what action he has taken to cause the true facts of the case to be published in Japan?

27. Mr. Robert Morgan

asked the Prime Minister for what reasons the military guard of British marines has recently been withdrawn from the British- owned mill in Pootung, Shanghai, in defence of which Mr. Tinkler was assaulted by the Japanese and eventually fatally injured; and whether the Japanese gave any undertaking in writing to the Shanghai Municipal Council or British authorities in Shanghai that upon such withdrawal they would preserve order and protect British subjects from violence?

Mr. Butler

Strikes broke out on 20thMay and following days at the China Printing and Finishing Company's mill at Pootung and their works at Nantao, both of which are situated outside the settlement. His Majesty's Consul-General at Shanghai requested the Japanese authorities to afford adequate protection without delay, and pending receipt of a reply British armed parties were sent to assist in maintaining order. Satisfactory and full assurances in writing were received by His Majesty's Consul-General from his Japanese colleague and the British parties at both places were then withdrawn. At the time of their withdrawal the situation was reported to be quiet. On 6th June a clash occurred between Chinese employés of the company and strike agitators at the entrance to the Pootung mill and Japanese marines were called in to restore order. The actual facts are not yet established but it would appear that a fracas ensued during which Mr. Tinkler fired a revolver shot. In the struggle which followed Mr. Tinkler received several bayonet wounds. He was first removed to the hospital attached to the Japanese naval landing party headquarters at Pootung and in the evening was brought to Hong-kew General Hospital for an emergency operation, but I regret to state that he died the following morning.

His Majesty's Consul-General has protested to his Japanese colleague against the action of the marines in bayoneting Mr. Tinkler and against the refusal of the Japanese authorities to hand Mr. Tinkler over at once when requested to do so, or to allow a British doctor to see him at an earlier stage. Representations are also being made by His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo. Such information as it has been possible to give to the press as regards the treatment of British subjects has been made available to the British and international news agencies.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware how perturbed public opinion is becoming in this country at these repeated anti-British actions by Japanese in the Far East by the interception and detention of British ships, the trespass upon British property and so forth; and is no action possible except protests?

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman

Is anything actually being done to get the true facts of the case made known abroad?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir; that is the reason why the information in our possession on these subjects has been given to the British and international news agencies.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Are His Majesty's Government contemplating any action except by way of protest; and is not retaliatory action considered possible in regard to these Japanese outrages?

Mr. Butler

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be aware, protests and representations are being made to the authorities on the spot, and at Tokyo, and I think we had better await their result.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is it not a more serious case than that of the Russian engineers, when the Government stopped trade with Russia?

16. Mr. W. Roberts

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement with regard to the extent of the occupation by the Japanese of Hainan Island and the Spratley islands and whether any joint discussions with the French authorities have taken place with regard to it; and, if not, whether such discussions will be considered in view of the threat to the interests of these two countries in the Far East?

Mr. Butler

According to my noble Friend's information the Island of Hainan has been only partially occupied, while it appears that there has been no actual military occupation of the Spratley group by the Japanese. His Majesty's Government are keeping in close and constant touch with the French Government in this matter.

20. Mr. Hannah

asked the Prime Minister whether he has conferred with the American and French Governments on the subject of the latest pronouncement of the Japanese Government to the effect that they propose to disregard extra-territorial rights in the International Settlement in Shanghai when, in their opinion, the safety of their forces is endangered?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo is in close contact with his French and United States colleagues in this matter as in all matters of common concern to the three countries.

22. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister on what grounds the recent arrangement with the Japanese authorities at Canton for an occasional steamer service between Hong Kong and Canton has been interrupted by the Japanese?

Mr. Butler

The Japanese allege that the agreement has been broken on the British side by a refusal to consider permission for a visit to Hong Kong of the"Shirogane Maru," on the ground that she was not a vessel genuinely chartered to the Japanese Government.

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