HC Deb 06 March 1939 vol 344 cc1733-5
7. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he can tell the House what guarantees he has received from the Japanese Government that they will not maintain a permanent military occupation of the island of Hainan?

Mr. Butler

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) on 15th February.

9. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement concerning the present situation in the International Settlement at Shanghai?

Mr. Butler

A working understanding for co-operation between the Shanghai Municipal Council and the Japanese authorities has been reached which, my Noble Friend understands, does not impair the authority of the Council.

Mr. Noel-Baker

May we assume that the Government will continue to support the municipal council in their local negotiations with the Japanese authorities?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir.

10. Sir Percy Harris

asked the Prime Minister whether any representations have been made to the Japanese Government about the stopping of commercial communications between Canton and Hong Kong by the closure of the Pearl River on 13th October last, and the occupation of the Canton Delta by Japanese forces; and whether complaint has been lodged by the British Chamber of Commerce at Canton as to the disastrous consequences this will have on British trade, especially in Lancashire and other industrial centres, and on British prestige in Canton?

Mr. Butler

As stated in the reply given to my hon. Friend, the Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing) on 13th February, representations have been made to the Japanese Government about the closure of the Pearl River, but no representations have been made about the occupation of the Canton Delta. My Noble Friend has from time to time been kept informed of the views of the Canton British Chamber of Commerce, and is fully aware of the effect on British trade and British interests generally of the maintenance of the present restrictions. His Majesty's Government will continue through His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo and through the local authorities at Canton and Hong Kong to press for the early resumption of traffic.

Sir P. Harris

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the urgency of this matter, and the serious effect that it is having on Lancashire, which is already suffering quite enough unemployment, without any additional burden?

Mr. Butler

That is why I referred in my answer to representations which we have made to the Japanese authorities for the resumption of traffic.

11. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the official announcement that on and after 10th March all business transactions in North China, including Tientsin, must be financed in federal reserve banknotes and the resulting foreign exchange be paid into the Yokohama specie bank, otherwise no permits to export will be granted; and whether, in order to counteract this discrimination against British banking and business, he will take steps to prohibit the entry of all exports from North China into British and Crown Colony ports unless accompanied by a consular certificate that they have been financed through a British, American or French bank?

16. 16. Mr. Hannah

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that on and after the 10th instant the Japanese have announced that all business in North China must be transacted in federal reserve banknotes, and the resulting foreign exchange paid into the Yokohama specie bank; and whether he will take suitable retaliatory action against Japanese trade unless this discrimination against British interests is abandoned?

Mr. Butler

My Noble Friend is informed that an announcement of measures of this nature to take effect on nth March has been issued, and that on and after that date a large number of North China products will not be allowed to pass the customs unless accompanied by a certificate that the foreign exchange involved has been sold to the Federal Reserve Bank. As regards the second part of the question, His Majesty's Government will consider all practicable measures for the defence of the British interests involved.

Mr. Moreing

Would my right hon. Friend give a more definite answer to the second part of my question, which asks the Government not only to consider what steps are to be taken, but to take steps? It is not a question of consideration, but of action.

Mr. Butler

I will consider whether any further action is necessary.

Mr. Hannah

Is not some other action absolutely necessary against Japan?

15. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister whether there is a British Consul at Ichang; and, if not, whether he will cause one to be sent there immediately for the maintenance of British interests and rights in Ichang, in view of the new Japanese drive up the Yangtze against that town?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir; one of His Majesty's ships is present at Ichang and the commanding officer can be relied upon to take the necessary measures for the protection of British life and property. Nevertheless, should circumstances appear to demand the presence of a consular officer, one could be sent at short notice from Chungking.