HC Deb 30 April 1952 vol 499 cc1452-3
38. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if General Templer's threat to destroy crops in Malaya by chemical means was made with his approval.

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir. Destruction of crops grown for the terrorists or likely to fall into their hands is a preventive measure of which, of course, I approve.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of State last Wednesday stated that this threat, as he himself admitted, applied to all crops which might fall into the hands of the terrorists, and are we to understand quite clearly that this applies to and includes crops grown by the villagers?

Mr. Lyttelton

Generally speaking, that is not so. Of course it depends upon the actual circumstances and it is easy to find out what crops are grown for the terrorists. Where there is doubt it is always decided in favour of the villagers.

Mr. Rankin

Further to that point. For the benefit of the House could not the right hon. Gentleman make it clear whether or not this threat is to apply, or is not to apply, to those crops which are grown for the sustenance of the villagers in Malaya?

Mr. Lyttelton

I can give the hon. Member an unequivocal answer to that couched in general terms. The answer is "No." We have to be satisfied that they are being grown for the terrorists or in some place where the terrorists are compelling the inhabitants to grow crops for them.

Mr. Martin Lindsay

Is it not desirable that hon. Members of this House should give the Commander-in-Chief their support in his efforts to protect the lives of our men and in his attempts to bring this war to a successful conclusion, instead of putting down Questions on the Order Paper like this one, which only tend to destroy confidence?

Mr. Harold Davies

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would give the greatest possible support to the Commander-in-Chief if his Government would have the courage to give political status to the Chinese and now offer a date for independence?

Mr. Lyttelton

That raises questions which are not concerned at all with the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Davies

It would be much more effective.

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