HC Deb 01 March 1965 vol 707 cc896-7
2. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what developments have taken place with regard to the expropriation of British property in Indonesia since Her Majesty's Ambassador in Djakarta handed a note to the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs on 1st December regarding the Indonesian Government's decree of 26th November.

Mr. George Thomson

There has been no response from the Indonesian authorities to the Note delivered to the Indonesian Government on 1st December last. On instructions from Her Majesty's Government, therefore, our Ambassador at Djakarta delivered a further Note to the Indonesian Government on 25th February, drawing their attention to the fact that no reply had yet been received.

Mr. Taylor

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is a quite shocking state of affairs that almost 100 days have passed since the first Note was handed and the assets involved are between £100 million and £200 million? Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this rather weak and timid reaction by Her Majesty's Government to a flagrant violation of international law constitutes an open invitation to other countries to solve their own financial problems and make ours worse by seizing British assets, or achieving the same object by subjecting British companies to savage taxation?

Mr. Thomson

No, I cannot accept that. Her Majesty's Government are doing everything they can in the circumstances. I think that it would be foolish to believe that one will get any very helpful response in the present circumstances from the presentation of these Notes, but we are determined to protect the rights of British people in these circumstances in every way that is open to US.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Has the Minister of State pointed out to the Indonesian Government that expropriation without compensation is most discouraging to British investors, not only in Indonesia, but in all other developing countries?

Mr. Thomson

Yes. The original Note said exactly that.

Mr. Paget

When a country puts itself outside the jurisdiction of the United Nations by walking out and continues to flout international law, does not the time come when some sort of reprisal, perhaps seizure of cargoes at sea, is appropriate?

Mr. Thomson

There are very few Indonesian assets in this country. In any case, Her Majesty's Government do not believe that the right way to deal with this kind of action by the Government of Indonesia is to imitate their behaviour.