HC Deb 13 March 1939 vol 345 cc6-9
5. Major Stourton

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the confiscation of the British-owned Chun Tah cotton mill on the Soochow Creek by the Japanese authorities; that, though the Japanese Embassy spokesman promised to investigate the matter six months ago, there has been no result; and whether he will make representations to the Japanese Government with a view to bringing about the immediate restoration of the mill to its rightful owners?

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

The Chun Tah mill has been occupied on behalf of a Japanese textile company and access denied to its rightful British owners. Renewed representations were recently made by His Majesty' s Ambassador at Tokyo, in consequence of which the Japanese Government have sent to the local Japanese authorities at Shanghai fresh instructions which it is hoped will furnish the necessary impetus towards a settlement.

Major Stourton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is only one of many instances of the confiscation of British-owned property by the Japanese authorities, with consequent damage to Lancashire trade?

Mr. Butler

I am aware of the difficulties in this case, but, as I say, steps have been taken which, I hope, will lead to a settlement.

12. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Prime Minister how many notes of protest have been sent to the Japanese Government since the commencement of the Chinese war in connection with attacks on British property and citizens; how many apologies have been received from the Government of Japan in connection therewith; and in how many cases has compensation been paid or an arrangement made to pay compensation?

Mr. Butler

Notes dealing with some 22 cases of damage suffered by British subjects in their persons or property have been addressed to the Japanese Government: apologies have been forthcoming in respect of nine of these, while compensation has been paid in respect of four cases and promised in respect of three others.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not about time the Government were taking more definite action in the way of financial or economic sanctions, in order to stop the Japanese Government from continuing the policy which is being carried out at the present time?

Mr. Butler

The success of the action taken, in several cases, is indicated in the answer which I have just given.

13. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement on the new currency regulations to be introduced by the Japanese authorities in Northern China, and their effect on British trade?

Mr. Butler

The so-called "Provisional Government of the Republic of China" have announced that as from nth March the export of 12 specified commodities, which together account for a high proportion of the export trade of North China, will not be permitted unless the foreign exchange proceeds are sold against Federal Reserve Bank notes at 1s. 2d. Representations are being made to the Japanese Government on the ground of the interference likely to be caused 10 legitimate British trade interests.

Colonel Nathan

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say how, if at all, this affects the proposed stabilisation arrangement?

Mr. Butler

I should want notice of that question.

14. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement concerning the present situation in the foreign concessions at Tientsin?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. His Majesty' s Ambassador at Tokyo addressed a note to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs on 4th March, in which, after pointing out the scrupulously correct attitude of the British authorities at Tientsin, he drew attention to the various actions directed against the British concession there since September, 1938, and requested that early instructions should be issued to ensure a moderation of the attitude of the local Japanese authorities.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would it be correct to say that the British concession has virtually become a Japanese concentration camp?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir, it would not, but the seriousness of the situation is in no way minimised by my answer.

18. Mr. de Rothschild

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Japanese intend to build a new bridge across the Haiho which would have the effect of cutting off shipping from the British Concession at Tientsin; and what steps he intends to take in this matter?

Mr. Butler

The new bridge in question has been completed and was opened to traffic on 10th March. It. crosses the river between the Italian and Japanese Concessions, but, as it is upstream from the British and French Concessions, the last part of the question would not appear to arise.

22. Mr. Moreing

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that there are more than 100 British subjects at Hankow who require passage to Shanghai, in addition to those who for business reasons desire to proceed from Shanghai to Hankow; and what arrangements he has been able to make for their safe and speedy transport?

Mr. Butler

My Noble Friend is fully aware of the position, which is at present under active consideration.

Mr. Moreing

Is my right hon. Friend aware that British ships are not allowed to carry on their lawful trade on the Yangtze and that British subjects are not allowed to travel in Japanese ships, and will he consider consulting with the Admiral Commanding the China station to see what steps could be taken to open this international highway to the legitimate trade of all nations, including ourselves?

Mr. Butler

We have already been in touch with the officer in question, in view of the importance of the matter.

Forward to