HC Deb 15 March 1946 vol 420 cc1411-2

11.35 a.m.

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

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in pursuance of the provisions of Section 309 of the Government of India Act, 1935, praying that the Government of India (Adaptation of Acts of Parliament) (Amendment) Order, 1946, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament. The object of this Order is to extend up to 30th November, 1946, the period in which Burma goods enjoy exemption from the Import Duties Act, 1932. Prior to the separation of Burma from India in 1937, Burma, as part of India, came under Section 4 of the Import Duties Act which, as the House will know, deals with preferences given to various Dominions, India and Southern Rhodesia. For the same reason, India was a party to the Ottawa Agreement Act, 1932, and thereby became entitled to receive Imperial preference as provided under the Ottawa Agreement Act for that year. On separation, however, Burma, not being specified among the Dominions, was classified as a Colony and, therefore, became entitled to the exemption of its goods from the United Kingdom Customs. This, however, was difficult to justify as Burma was, and is, entitled to settle her own trade, and consequently in order to give the Government of Burma time to enter into one of the 1932 Agreements, it was necessary to pass an Order in 1937. That Order has been extended year by year up to date, with the exception of last year, when, owing to inadvertent omission, no order was issued, and it is now desired to give to the Government of Burma a further year in which to enter into such an agreement. Consequently, for that purpose, it is essential that this Order be passed.

In view of the fact that an Address has to be presented by both Houses of Parliament in the same terms, it will be essential, on the termination of the present discussion on this Order, that further consideration of the Order should be postponed and final approval given at a later date. That will also apply to the remaining Motions on the Order Paper.

11.37 a.m.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

I am reluctant to agree that further discussion on the Order should be postponed. I feel that we have a particular duty towards Burma and that it is not right that this House should let go one of the few opportunities ever presented to it to express its sympathy with Burma in its present unhappy condition. I wish to impress on the Government the desire which we feel that some opportunity should be given to discuss the fate of that unhappy Dominion, the only part of the British Commonwealth to be twice campaigned over, and its sad economic and political condition. I hope that this request will be considered sympathetically.

Ordered: '' That the Debate be now adjourned." — [Mr. Mathers.]

Debate to be resumed upon Wednesday next.