HC Deb 10 March 1947 vol 434 cc934-6
17. Mr. John Paton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the recent strikes and general unrest amongst industrial workers in Japan, he will instruct the Commonwealth representative on the Allied Council to press for an investigation into working conditions.

Mr. McNeil

Working conditions in Japan are under constant study by the Labour Division of General MacArthur's Headquarters, acting on behalf of all the Allies. His Majesty's Government are kept fully informed on the labour situation and my right hon. Friend does not consider any useful purpose would be served by pressing at this stage, for any additional investigation to be made. The principles which now govern trade union activity in Japan were laid down by the. Far Eastern Commission in an important policy decision dated 6th December, 1946, which has the full support of His Majesty's Government. I have arranged for a copy of the text to be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Paton

While I accept from my right hon. Friend that there is machinery for investigating these conditions, may I ask him whether, in view of the fact that these conditions recently were such as to give rise to a threat of a general strike, which was only quelled by the action of the Supreme Commander, he would see that the Allied Commission in Washington give a directive to remedy these conditions?

Mr. McNeil

It is to that directive that I am directing the attention of my hon. Friend. If will read it, I think he will agree that it is a good basis for the development of trade union policy there.

Mr. King

Is it not a fact that this country has no representative on the Allied Council and, therefore, we cannot instruct? There is an Australian representative on the Council, who is representative of all the Dominions. Further, is it not a fact that we have withdrawn all troops from Japan, thereby limiting our responsibility, and that we cannot limit our responsibility and increase our influence?

Mr. McNeil

I will reply to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, which I think is the only relevant part. It is true that we would not seek to instruct the Australian representative, who represents the Dominions as well as ourselves, but we have a Commission in Washington on which we are represented.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is not this a matter for our Special Commissioner in the Far East, who sends his representatives to Japan? If not, what other functions does he perform?

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

Did General MacArthur consult the Allied Council before issuing his orders to forbid the recent strike?

Mr. McNeil

May I say, in reply to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher), that I have just pointed out that we have a representative on the liaison mission.

Mr. Chamberlain

May I have an answer to my question?