HC Deb 30 September 1942 vol 383 cc804-5W
Mr. Bartlett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any report on the present conditions of British subjects imprisoned in Hong Kong; and what are the prospects either of sending food or money to them or of arranging for their transfer to some other area?

Mr. Eden

Recent reports show that while conditions in the internment camps have to some extent improved since the early days, the general health of the internees has seriously suffered from lack of proper food and medicines. As regards relief in cash a sum of money has been allocated for this purpose from official funds and has been transferred through the Swiss Government to the International Red Cross delegate at Hong Kong. But our information is that owing to shortage of local supplies which can be purchased by the internees, only temporary relief can be afforded by this method. The Japanese authorities have refused to allow special relief ships for prisoners of war and interned civilians to be sent to Hong Kong and other territory occupied by them; they have, however, agreed that food, clothing and medical comforts might be sent by the ships on which British and Japanese officials are being exchanged on their return voyage. This means that unless and until the Japanese Government alter their decision, the scale on which it is possible to send relief supplies is strictly limited. Full advantage was taken of the exchange ships and the total amount of the supplies shipped in them was about 4,000 tons. Arrangements have been made for an equitable proportion of these supplies to be landed at Hong Kong, and the first ship is due to reach Hong Kong within the next few days. Further supplies are available for shipment as soon as this becomes possible. As regards the question of evacuation, His Majesty's Government intend to enter into negotiations with the Japanese Government with a view to the removal of more British subjects from the Far East, but I do not think that those negotiations would be helped if I were to make any further statement on the subject to-day.