HC Deb 22 July 1942 vol 382 cc1-4
1. Mr. Lipson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will arrange with the Japanese Government for an exchange of British civilian prisoners from Singapore, as has already been done for American nationals?

2. Mr. Orr-Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the repatriation of British subjects in the Far East, in exchange for Japanese from British territory?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

I apologise if the answer is a little long, but I think the House will be interested to hear the facts. I am glad to be able to announce that, after protracted and difficult negotiations, an agreement for an exchange of Allied nationals with Japanese nationals has been reached with the Japanese Government. By the terms of this agreement, 1,800 British and Allied nationals from the Far East will be exchanged against 1,800 Japanese and Siamese nationals from the British Empire. The exchange will be carried out at Lourenço Marques, where the Portuguese Government have been good enough to undertake to act as guarantors. It will take place in two parts.

The first party, due to arrive at Lourenço Marques on the 27th August, will consist of all British and Allied officials in Japan, Manchuria, Indo-China, Siam and the Philippines; Allied officials in Hong Kong and 580 non-officials from occupied China, Japan, Manchuria, Indo-China and Siam. Some of the British and Allied party will return at once in the ship which took out the Japanese party from here. They should arrive in England about 30th September. The remainder will be accommodated in South Africa until the arrival on 7th September of the second party from the Far East numbering 900. They will then leave together, and should arrive in England about 7th October. The second party will consist of all British and Allied officials in occupied China, together with a further contingent of non-officials from there.

The Japanese Government have not agreed to include in this exchange British subjects in Hong Kong, Singapore and other British territory occupied by them since 7th December, 1941. Similarly, the United States' exchange now proceeding does not cover United States citizens in the Philippines. British non-officials in the Philippines will be included in a subsequent exchange to which the Japanese Government have agreed in principle. The question of the areas to be covered by this new exchange is already being studied.

The selection of the 1,050 non-officials included in the present exchange has necessarily had to be left, subject to certain general principles, to His Majesty's representatives on the spot, and those of the Allies. The names of the non-officials are consequently not at present known, but the Swiss authorities—through whose good offices the negotiations have been carried on—have been requested to telegraph the names as soon as the ships leave the various ports of embarkation. When received they will be made public.

Mr. Lipson

While thanking my right hon. Friend for what he has been able to do, may I ask whether he can give an assurance that he will do all be can to ensure the liberation of nationals not covered by the agreement?

Mr. Eden

My hon. Friend will appreciate that this has been a very difficult piece of negotiation. I hope that something more will be possible, but I do not think we shall aid it very much by public discussion.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Have arrangements been made with the German Government for safe conduct for these ships? What is the position, in this regard, of the guarantors? Will enemy aliens be allowed ashore at Lourenço Marques, or will they be transferred between ship and ship without contact with the shore at that port?

Mr. Eden

As regards the safe conduct, that is being awaited and will, I hope, be received any day now. As regards the detail of the arrangements, I would rather not go into them now by way of Supplementary Question and answer.

Mr. Garro Jones

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say from which Government safe conducts are being asked for on each side?

Mr. Eden

The handling of the safe conducts is being done by the Swiss Government from the belligerent Governments on either side. Agreement is reached. What we are waiting for is the safe conduct itself, and I hope we shall get it in a day or two, but that, of course, I cannot guarantee.

Professor Savory

I was not quite able to follow the statement of my right hon. Friend. Has he any information with regard to the Ulster missionaries in Manchuria, especially the lady missionaries? Were they included in his statement?

Mr. Eden

We have no details of the names of the non-official nationals who are coming home, but those names will be telegraphed to us shortly. Until we have the names I do not know who they are.

Mr. Hannah

Has any progress been made in getting a list of prisoners of war who are in the hands of the Japanese?

Mr. Eden

That is another question altogether.