HC Deb 03 June 1946 vol 423 cc1602-5
32. Sir B. Neven-Spence

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma how Mr. Stanley, a Burma railways official, lost his life on or about 14th April.

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

I have received the following report. Mr. Stanley and his wife were travelling with six others in a compartment of a train from Mandalay to Rangoon. In the early morning of 20th April three unknown Burmans entered the compartment and when the train was in motion held up the passengers with a revolver. Mr. Stanley did not appear to understand Burmese and did not comply with the demands of the robbers who thereupon shot and killed him and subsequently jumped from the train between stations. Arrests have been made and an identification parade is to be held.

Sir B. Neven-Spence

Was this an isolated instance, or have there been hundreds of cases of murder and serious injury due to the operation of armed bands?

Mr. Henderson

I am not prepared to say that there have been hundreds of cases. In reply to a later Question, I shall be dealing with the general position as regards internal security.

39 and 40. Lieut. -Colonel Corbett

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma (1) if he will give further information about the incident in April, when an omnibus on the Prome road about 60 miles from Rangoon was held up and three Indian soldiers were shot by dacoits;

(2) how many cases have been reported of looting of railway goods trains in Burma.

42. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma, why defence guns have been withdrawn from villages in the Lewe township; and if he is aware that this has resulted in many poor and defenceless villagers being victimised by dacoits.

43. Commander Galbraith

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma if he is aware that armed dacoits recently attacked and looted a motor sampan and a vessel called " Yetama " at Padokawa; that they announced their intention of looting the " Yindaik " as soon as she might appear; and what steps have been taken to round up this gang.

65. Sir Stantey Reed

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma how many cases have occurred of armed hold-ups on the Taungdwingi railway in which the railway staff were involved.

66. Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma whether he will give further details of the attack made by dacoits in April on a police post near Shwegyin in the Toungoo district when four policemen were murdered.

67 and 68. Lord John Hope

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma (1) if he is aware that at Shwebo, dacoities often involving murder are of frequent occurrence; and what steps he is taking to prevent them; (2) if he is aware that in the Pyinmana, Toungoo and other areas in Burma, employees of firms who are endeavouring, under Government control, to re-establish the country, are unable to tour the country without an armed escort of 20 men, and what measures he is taking to alter these conditions.

69. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma whether he is aware that no vessel can proceed from Mandalay to Upper Burma unless accompanied by a military guard and an armed escort vessel; and what steps he is taking to deal with this situation.

Mr. A. Henderson

I have asked the Governor for the specific information for which hon. Members have asked and will communicate with them on receipt of his reply. Meanwhile I can assure them that I am well aware of the serious situation as regards law and order which the authorities in Burma are facing at the present time. In some parts of Burma it is generally better than it was in the earlier months of the year, but in others, it continues to give grounds for anxiety and special steps, both general and local, have been taken to meet it. In particular additional measures have been concerted with the military authorities whose cooperation is proving most valuable and effective in dealing with well-armed bands of dacoits whose suppression is in a number of cases beyond the unaided resources of the police. Other measures, such as the provision of additional police officers on loan from the Army, extra armed police in all areas and for the rivers, armed guards on trains, and naval craft for the protection of river traffic, are all being put into operation.

Sir S. Reed

Has the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman been directed to the perfectly staggering figures in an official return, which says that there have been 785 robberies, 265 murders, 347 cattle thefts and 558 robberies with attempted murder in March in districts excluding Rangoon?

Mr. Henderson

I was not aware of those exact figures.

Mr. Driberg

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the situation in Burma is very serious indeed, and that the best way of restoring good order is by securing the enthusiastic cooperation of the Burmese Nationalist leaders instead of maintaining the stuffy old-fashioned Imperialist attitude still maintained by Government House, Rangoon?

Mr. Lever

On a point of Order. Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for an hon. Member opposite to call out "Traitor " when speaking of an hon. Member on this side?

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear any hon. Member use that word, but if one hon Member accused another of being a traitor it would be out of Order and he should withdraw the remark.

Mr. Henderson

I am not prepared to accept the view that the policy carried out from Government House, Rangoon, is an Imperialistic policy. The policy which the Governor is carrying out is that of His Majesty's Government, who have made it clear, time and time again, that they are seeking to move as quickly as possible towards granting full self-government to the people of Burma.

Commander Galbraith

In view of the interruption of trade on the waterways of Burma, is the hon. and learned Gentleman able to inform the House that drastic steps are being taken in order to see that that trade is allowed to proceed as quickly as possible?

Mr. Henderson

I had hoped that my reply would have made it clear that the Government of Burma were taking every step possible to deal with this problem.

Mr. Bossom

On a point of Order. When one hon. Member, Mr. Speaker, accuses another of saying something unparliamentary, should he not name the hon. Member concerned? No one on this side heard the remark referred to.

Mr. Lever

I distinctly heard the word "Traitor," but I am not prepared to identify the individual hon. Member who called out the word.

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear it myself, but I think it would be better to let the matter drop.

Back to