HC Deb 23 August 1945 vol 413 cc777-8
39. Major Wyatt

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma whether he will now take steps to see that military administration in Burma will be discontinued immediately in all areas except where it is necessary for the maintenance of lines of communication, and in its place establish a Government of representative Burmans under the Governor on Burmese soil pending the holding of general elections under the Government of Burma Act, 1935; and whether he will give an assurance to the people of Burma that it will be the policy of this Government to end direct rule as soon as the military situation allows and without consideration of any other factors.

The Under-Secretary of State for Burma (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

Consultations are now taking place between the civil and military authorities in Burma for the purpose of arranging the transfer from military to civil government in the shortest possible time. In this connection the hon. and gallant Member will, I am sure, appreciate that sufficient supplies and adequate transport facilities inside Burma by river, rail and road, are an essential prerequisite before civil government can function. Pending the holding of a general election and the restoration of government under the Government of Burma Act, 1935, it is intended that the Governor will be assisted by an Executive Council including non-official Burmese public men and exercising administrative powers, and also that an interim Legislative Council as representative as possible of all shades of political thought should be created at an early date.

As regards the last part of my hon. and gallant Friend's Question, it is the intention of His Majesty's Government that direct rule shall end as soon as conditions are sufficiently restored to make it possible to hold an election and to terminate the operation of Section 139.

Mr. Maxton

Can the Minister say whether U Saw, who was Prime Minister at the outbreak of war and in the early period of hostilities, has now been liberated by His Majesty's Government and will be able to return to his home in time for the election?

Mr. Henderson

I would like to have notice of that question.