HC Deb 17 October 1945 vol 414 cc1151-4
31. Major Guy Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether General Christison had communicated with the Government before announcing that we were not going to interfere with the political position in Java and that we were not going in to put the Dutch back into power; and whether he will state the Government's policy in relation to the overseas territories of our Dutch allies.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I understand that General Christison's remarks were much distorted when they were reported in the Press. The hon. and gallant Member may rest assured that General Christison is fully informed of the wishes and intentions of His Majesty's Government by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. His Majesty's Government, of course, recognse no authority but that of the Netherlands Government in all the territories which are under the sovereignty of our Dutch allies.

Major Lloyd

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he is satisfied that we have sufficient liaison with our Dutch Allies on this and other Allied questions?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, I think I can give that assurance.

Mr. Driberg

If British arms are to be used for this purpose, are the Government making representations to our Dutch Allies with a view to encouraging them to offer a liberal programme to these territories?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I understand the Dutch Government have gone very far in offering a liberal programme, but my hon. Friend can rest assured that the liaison between the Dutch Government and ourselves is very close.

46. Mr. Callaghan

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on British policy in Indonesia and give what information he can about the present course of events.

48. Captain Marples

asked the Prime Minister whether urgent steps are being taken, in conjunction with our Dutch Allies, to free the Allied authorities in Java from any dependence on the Japanese armed forces there for the maintenance of law and order.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

Upon the Japanese collapse we were suddenly faced with the task over a very wide area and in various territories simultaneously, of disarming the Japanese forces, releasing Allied prisoners of war and internees and helping to restore normal conditions. With available resources of man-power and shipping strained in this way, problems such as have arisen in Java present particular difficulty. There, as indeed throughout the whole area of South-East Asia Command, it was necessary in the first instance to place responsibility on the Japanese forces for the maintenance of law and order outside key areas. But in Java we found that, outside Batavia, control had in fact been largely relinquished by the Japanese to an Indonesian independence movement. While we have had to take account of the existence of this movement we must be careful about accepting its claims at their face value. It has been sponsored by the Japanese for two or three years and during this time the people of the territory have been cut off from all outside developments.

Meanwhile, as the House is no doubt aware, Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands issued in December, 1942, a very liberal statement promising a large degree of self-government to all Dutch overseas territories. The Lieutenant Governor-General, who is now on the spot, has been authorised to discuss with the local Indonesian leaders how it is intended to apply these promised reforms in the case of Java.

I need hardly say that His Majesty's Government do not desire to be unnecessarily involved in the administration or in the political affairs of non-British territories and their object is to withdraw British troops as soon as circumstances permit. Meanwhile not only have we a strong moral obligation towards our Dutch Allies as the sovereign Power until they are in a position to resume control; but also the maintenance of law and order is essential to the fulfilment of the military tasks which arise out of the termination of the war with Japan and in particular to the safety of the several thousand Dutch nationals interned in the interior of the country.

I can assure the House that the whole of this delicate problem is engaging the most careful attention of His Majesty's Government and that they are in close and constant consultation both with the Netherlands Government and with Admiral Mountbatten about the measures to be taken.

Mr. Eden

While endorsing what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I ask him if he will bear in mind, as I am sure the Government will, that the difficulties of the Dutch in this area are very largely due to their own action as Allies in declaring war on their own account against Japan?

The Prime Minister

We are very conscious of the fact that throughout these years the Netherlands Government have stood with us and that difficulties that face them inevitably arise from the conditions of waging war. We are keeping in very close touch.

Mr. Sorensen

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that quite a number of Members of the House are very disturbed at what seems to be the case, that the Japanese and ourselves are collaborating in using force against the actual inhabitants of Indonesia?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member and his friends, if they think that, are of the wrong impression.