14 and 24. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) if he is aware that the Foreign Assets Control, United States Government, officially stated on 14th October, 1954, that they will not release the frozen dollar assets of British companies maintaining operations in China and doing business with China; and what special representations he is making to the United States Government on this matter;
(2) whether he has now consulted the Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the evidence that a British subject, and not merely a trading company, was being treated by the United States Government as an enemy national under the provisions of the United States Trading with the Enemy Act, 1917; and what steps he is taking to maintain Her Majesty's Government's protection of British subjects.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Anthony Eden)
I assume that the right hon. Gentleman's reference to an official statement by the United States Government on 14th October, 1954, relates to a letter which was sent on that date by the United States Consulate-General in Hong Kong to the chairman of the firm of China Engineers Limited about the blocking of their dollar assets in the United States. As regards representations to the United States Government in cases such as this, I would refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend on 25th October. As for the right hon. Gentleman's question about the designation of British subjects under the United States Foreign Assets Control regulations, I have, as I promised on 8th November, consulted the Colonial Secretary, and I would refer him to the letter addressed to him by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary on 18th November, which explained this position in considerable detail.
Since the letter in question is at variance with the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman a fortnight ago, and since that answer was at variance with a letter I received from the Colonial Secretary, is it not about time that the 1229 two Departments got together and started to protect British interests in this Colony?
§ Sir A. Eden
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is in any way justified in what he has just said. The regulations under which the United States are acting have been in force since 1950, when the right hon. Gentleman was himself a member of the Government, and they are very widely drawn. They are not being put into force in such a way as to show prejudice against British interests as compared with those of other countries, and, that being so, the right to representation is just as difficult as it was when the right hon. Gentleman was in office.
But at that time the assets in question, having been frozen, were unblocked. Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that despite contradictions and statements from two Departments, my original allegations about what was going on in Hong Kong are correct? If the right hon. Gentleman is in any doubt, will he ask not only hon. Members on this side of the House but also hon. Members on his own side of the House, including the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), who recently visited Hong Kong, whether my original allegations were thoroughly justified?
§ Sir A. Eden
What I am quite clear about, and what the right hon. Gentleman has not challenged, is that this American action has been taken under the regulations of 1950, of which the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member were fully aware. There has been no variation of those regulations, and if I thought they were unfairly applied to Britain I would immediately have grounds for representation, but if they are being applied to all foreign countries in the same way then, as everybody knows, and above all the right hon. Gentleman, I have no further grounds for complaint.
Is it not a fact that during the period of this Government the individual in question, not a firm, has, although he is a British citizen, been declared a Chinese national? Even if other countries are involved, has not this resulted from the activities of the over-inflated American consular staff in Hong Kong, and will the right hon. Gentleman 1230 not exercise for this gentleman the protection normally accorded by the Foreign Office?
§ Sir A. Eden
This gentleman was put in that position because of his relation to this particular company.