HC Deb 20 December 1945 vol 417 cc1700-1W
Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any statement to make about the negotiations now being carried on with the Government of Siam; and about British policy generally towards that country.

Mr. McNeil

In his speech in the House on 20th August my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs referred to developments leading up to the issue by the Regent of Siam on 16th August of a proclamation denouncing the Siamese declaration of war on this country as null and void and set out the factors on which His Majesty's Government's attitude to Siam would depend.

Subsequently the terms upon which His Majesty's Government were prepared to terminate the state of war with Siam were communicated by Mr. Dening, acting as British plenipotentiary, to a Siamese delegation on Kandy. Unfortunately, discussions between Mr. Dening and the delegation had to be suspended when events in the Netherlands East Indies made it imperative for Mr. Dening, as chief Political Adviser to Admiral Mountbatten, to proceed urgently to Batavia. It was only at the beginning of this week that Mr. Dening and the Siamese delegation were able to meet again at Singapore, and it is hoped that a preliminary agreement will be reached shortly.

Until the final conclusion of the negotiations the House will not expect me to make any detailed statement about the terms. In view, however, of the very misleading and tendentious statements which have recently appeared in the foreign Press, I welcome this opportunity of stating that His Majesty's Government's policy towards Siam is based on a desire to renew as soon as possible the friendly and cordial relations which existed between the two countries before the war and to see Siam resume her place as a sovereign, independent and prosperous country. His Majesty's Government feel entitled, however, to require the Siamese Government to take measures of restitution for the injury, loss and damage caused to British and Allied interests and to which my right hon. Friend referred on 20th August; the terms also include provision for Siam's participation in international security and economic arrangements and for the contribution by Siam of her exportable surplus of rice accumulated during the Japanese occupation to assist in meeting the present scarcity amounting to famine in many places.