HC Deb 29 March 1956 vol 550 cc2350-1
Mr. Baird

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a personal statement.

At Question Time yesterday I asked about the repatriation to Hong Kong of the Chinese Nationalist saboteur who placed a time-bomb in the Indian plane which was refuelling at Hong Kong on its journey from Peking to Bandaung on 11th April, 1955. After Question Time the matter was raised on a point of order by my colleague the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines), who objected to my statement that this saboteur had been paid £40,000 indirectly by the Americans for this dastardly work.

The hon. Member did not inform me he intended to raise the matter and I was not in my place to defend myself. Answering a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), you said, Mr. Speaker: One has to rely on the co-operation of the House and the good sense of hon. Members to avoid this sort of regrettable incident in future."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1956; Vol. 550, c. 2162.] I believe that my statement was quite correct. I based my charges on the official Colonial Office hand-out on this subject, on 10th January this year, which says: In the course of the subsequent police investigations of persons who had been associated with Chow Tse Ming"— that is, the saboteur— before his departure for Formosa evidence came to light to suggest that he had been procured by persons connected with a Kuomintang intelligence organisation and had been offered a reward. There was also evidence that on four separate occasions subsequent to the crash he had admitted his complicity. The accounts of what he is alleged to have said on each occasion varied slightly in detail but in general they strongly corroborated each other and contained statements that he admitted that (a) he had sabotaged the aircraft; (b) he had been promised a reward of 600,000 Hong Kong dollars"— that is the equivalent of £40,000— (c)he had used a small time-bomb which made a slight ticking noise; and (d) he intended to stow away to Formosa. In addition, there was evidence that shortly before the crash and subsequently until he went to Formosa, Chow Tse Ming spent some hundreds of dollars, o a sum well beyond his normal means. This man was paid by a Kuomintang intelligence agency, but as the Formosan Government is only sustained by the military and financial subsidies of the Americans and could not exist without that support, I feel that I was quite justified in what I said. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to say on what grounds you considered my question a "regrettable incident"?

Mr. Speaker

I thought it proper to allow the hon. Member to tell the House what was in his mind when he asked his question. The language he actually used, referring to the saboteur, was: …saboteur who placed a bomb in the Indian plane which was refuelling at Hong Kong…I believe that he was afterwards paid £40,000 indirectly by the Americans for doing it…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1956; Vol. 550, c. 2161.] The hon. Member now has told us that what he meant was that, as the Americans give money by way of subsidy to the Kuomintang, the money must originally, in his view—or may originally, in his view, though he adduced no evidence about it—have come from the Americans. If I misunderstood the hon. Member's reference to the man's having been paid £40,000 indirectly by the Americans, I was not the only one who did so. I thought it proper to allow him the opportunity of explaining to the House what was in his mind.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Heath]

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