HC Deb 16 November 1939 vol 353 cc831-2W
Mr. R. Morgan

asked the Prime Minister whether he is able to make a statement with regard to the opening of the Yangtse and the approaches to Canton to British and other foreign shipping?

Mr. Butler

The general position has not changed during recent months. The Yangtse and Pearl Rivers remain closed to third-Power shipping, but the temporary arrangement on the Pearl River, to which reference was made in the answer given on the 31st July to the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) is still in force.

Sir R. Gower

asked the Prime Minister whether he can now make any statement as to the firing by the Japanese on the Imperial Airways plane in the Gulf of Tongking; and whether the plane has been handed back to its owners?

Mr. Butler

According to the latest information received by my Noble Friend, the Imperial Airways liner "Dardanus" was forced down on Waichow Island by Japanese aircraft on 8th November. The crew, consisting of a pilot and first officer and three passengers, were flown to Canton by a Japanese naval aeroplane, whence the passengers proceeded to Hong Kong. The crew were detained under armed guard at the Japanese naval headquarters at Canton until 15th November, when they were handed over to His Majesty's Consul-General. The local Japanese authorities at Canton have apologised for their detention.

The aeroplane is still at Waichow Island and arrangements are being made for the necessary repairs, after which it will be handed over to Imperial. Airways. His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo has made representations to the Japanese Government in the matter and arrangements for an amicable settlement are now in progress.