HC Deb 17 May 1939 vol 347 cc1377-80
2. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister what reply has been received from the Japanese Government to the protest of His Majesty's Government against their action in prohibiting exports from North China unless the foreign exchange proceeds are sold against Japanese federal reserve banknotes at is. 2d; and whether the foreign trade of Tientsin is still affected by this prohibition?

Mr. Butler

As the reply is necessarily rather long, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The reply of the Japanese Government stated that the measures taken were intended to secure that the Federal Reserve Notes, which were the only legal currency in North China, should adequately fulfil the functions of a trade currency. It was not the case that general control of trade and foreign exchange transactions in North China was under contemplation. Endorsement of transactions would be obtained without discrimination provided that traders conformed with the prescribed procedure, and British interests would meet with no unfair obstacles. The Japanese Government considered that no question of treaty rights could arise in connection with such measures, because the Provisional Government had full sovereign rights in the matter of import and export systems. For these reasons the measures in question did not conflict with the Japanese assurances that the interests of third Powers would be respected, and the Japanese Government were therefore justified in co-operating in the establishment of the new system.

These measures continue seriously to affect the foreign trade of Tientsin. His Majesty's Government regard the Japanese reply as unsatisfactory, and further strong representations are under consideration.

3. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the impending seasonal rise in the level of the Yangtse, he intends to send British merchant vessels up the river above Shanghai under convoy of vessels of His Majesty's Navy?

Mr. Butler

The whole question of the freedom of navigation on the Yangtse is under discussion with the competent Japanese authorities, and I am not at present in a position to make a statement.

4. Mr. David Adams

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any report with regard to the bombing of Chuanchow, north of Amoy; whether any British interests were affected; and what is the nature of the damage to life and property?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir, but a report has been called for.

7. Mr. Day

asked the Prime Minister particulars of the reply received from the Japanese Government to the Note pre sented by His Majesty's Ambassador on 14th January last, relative to the occupation of Inner Mongolia by Japanese troops in violation of the obligations under the Nine-Power Treaty?

Mr. Butler

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) on 13th March, to which I have nothing to add.

Mr. Day

Can the Minister say whether any similar reply has been received by the French or the United States Governments?

Mr. Butler

We should have to ask the French and the United States Governments.

8. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider proposing to the League of Nations that representations should be made to the Japanese Government with regard to the continued slaughter of civilians by bombing at Chungking and other places?

Mr. Butler

As I informed the hon. and learned Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) on 15th May, strong representations have already been made on this subject by His Majesty's Government and other Governments. It will, moreover, be recalled that the League of Nations made clear its attitude in the resolution passed by the Council in January last, condemning recourse to methods which are contrary to the conscience of mankind and to the principles of international law. In these circumstances my Noble Friend is not convinced that a further initiative is required.

Mr. Mander

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many thousands of civilians were killed in this action?

Mr. Butler

I gave a statement of the number who, I regret to say, were killed, in a recent reply which I gave.

13. Mr. Leslie

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the Government's declared policy against aggression, the Government will instruct their representative on the Council of the League of Nations to advocate at Geneva the prohibition of the export and sale to Japan of petroleum and of minerals essential for carrying on war in China?

Mr. Butler

The appeal of the Chinese Government is on the agenda of the League Council at its forthcoming session, and it will accordingly be discussed by the Council as a whole. I cannot anticipate the course of those discussions.

Mr. Leslie

What instructions have been given to the British representative?

Mr. Butler

My Noble Friend will be attending the Council himself, and I am afraid that I cannot say anything more at the present time.

Mr. Leslie

Are not the Government aware of the huge quantities of nickel ore being sent from Canada to Japan, and is it not time that some action was taken?

Mr. Butler

No doubt consideration will be given to the point to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is it not the case that when the British Government send a delegate to a conference they instruct him on the line he is to take, and I want to know whether they have given this delegate instructions in the sense of what is stated in this question?

Mr. Butler

I said in my original answer that there will be discussions on this question, but that I cannot say what my Noble Friend will do at Geneva.

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