Oral Answers to Questions — Far East (Situation).

– in the House of Commons on 31st July 1939.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement on the Anglo-Japanese negotiations in Tokyo and the situation generally in the Far East?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will await a statement on these matters which I hope to make in the course of to-day's Debate.

Mrs. Adamson:

asked the Prime Minister whether the Anglo-Japanese agreement provides for the termination of the insults to British subjects at Tientsin and elsewhere; and whether in any case precautions will be taken at least to prevent any extension of such insults as a result of the agreement?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

As the Prime Minister explained to the House on Monday last, the formula agreed upon with the Japanese Government covers the background against which the present conversations at Tokyo are being conducted. No agreement on local Tientsin issues has yet been reached. In point of fact, however, there has recently been a cessation of incidents affecting British subjects, who are now passing the barriers at Tientsin without difficulty, although there is sometimes considerable delay. No special measures appear to be necessary, but the situation will, of course, continue to be closely watched.

Photo of Mr John Banfield Mr John Banfield , Wednesbury

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give instructions that special care is taken to safeguard the well-being of British subjects in China who are the objects of Japanese suspicion or malevolence?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The local British authorities at all times take such measures as are possible for the protection of British subjects, and no special instructions in this connection appear to be called for.

Photo of Mr John Banfield Mr John Banfield , Wednesbury

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British subjects in North China are very seriously disturbed by this information? Cannot they have something more definite than that very vague statement?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I thought the statement I made was very definite in that the British authorities at all times take such measures as far as possible for the protection of the British subject. I am aware of the hon. Member's anxiety, and that is why we have to watch the situation.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

Have His Majesty's Government made any direct representations to the Japanese Government about this anti-British campaign, fomented by the Japanese army authorities in China?

Mr. J. J. Davidson:

Did they get any satisfaction?

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

asked the Prime Minister whether the formula recently agreed to by His Majesty's Government and the Japanese Government in then negotiations at Tokyo grants or implies any recognition of the jurisdiction of Japanese courts in the Chinese territory which has been invaded by the Japanese army?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir. The formula implies no change of attitude towards Japanese courts in this territory.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Since there are no courts which have legitimate jurisdiction in occupied China, will the Government assure the House that they will not hand over the four Chinese from Tientsin to the Japanese?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

That is a matter which is being discussed in the negotiations upon which I can make no statement to-day. On the subject of the courts, the only courts of which we are aware are Japanese Consular courts, which deal solely with the Japanese.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

If there are no courts which have any jurisdiction over the alleged murderers, surely the Government will not hand over these men to the Japanese?

Photo of Mr Thomas Kennedy Mr Thomas Kennedy , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

May we assume that the aggressive attack on Chinese territory by Japan is not approved by His Majesty's Government?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Most definitely it is not.

Photo of Mr Ian Hannah Mr Ian Hannah , Wolverhampton Bilston

asked the Prime Minister the present position with regard to monopolies on the export of commodities in China imposed by the Japanese authorities in respect of areas in their occupation, with particular reference to wool, cotton, hemp, hides, and skins?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The commodities mentioned by my hon. Friend are not subject to export monopoly but they are, in North China, subject to an export embargo imposed on grounds of alleged military necessity.

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make representations to the United States Government assuring them that in the event of their deciding to impose an embargo on war supplies to Japan, His Majesty's Government would be prepared to take similar action?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I cannot say what action His Majesty's Government might decide to take in such a case, but prior consultation with the Dominions would be necessary.

Photo of Sir Hamilton Kerr Sir Hamilton Kerr , Oldham

asked the Prime Minister whether he can undertake that in any Anglo-Japanese negotiations no proposal is agreed to which would diminish legitimate British trade in China?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, Sir. The interests of British trade will be kept fully in mind in the course of these negotiations.

Photo of Sir Hamilton Kerr Sir Hamilton Kerr , Oldham

Can my right hon. Friend say whether trade questions will be discussed in Tokyo?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The discussions in Tokyo relate solely to the situation in Tientsin.

Photo of Sir Hamilton Kerr Sir Hamilton Kerr , Oldham

asked the Prime Minister what representations have been made to the Japanese Government against the widespread propaganda against British trade and interests which has been arranged by the Japanese authorities throughout the coastal regions of China from Tientsin to Canton?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Strong representations have been made by His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo and by His Majesty's Consular Officers at the ports concerned.

Photo of Sir Hamilton Kerr Sir Hamilton Kerr , Oldham

Have the Japanese Government undertaken to limit their activities?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

They have stated their own responsibility for law and order in the occupied territories, and His Majesty's Government look to them to protect British lives and property in the areas under their control.

Mr. Davidson:

Have the representations which have been made by His Majesty's Government met with a favourable response from the Japanese?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

They have, at any rate, been noticed and registered by them.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the abrogation of the United States-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1911 by the United States Government, His Majesty's Government will consider taking similar action in relation to the Anglo-Japanese Trade Agreement of 1911?

Photo of Mr Robert Morgan Mr Robert Morgan , Stourbridge

asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to take parallel action with the United States, which has just denounced its commerce and navigation treaty with Japan?

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the denunciation by the United States Government of the trade treaty between the United States of America and Japan; and whether he proposes to take any similar action?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

This is a matter which will require careful consideration and I regret that I am not in a position to make any statement to-day. Consultation with His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions would, anyhow, be necessary.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

In view of the fact that both His Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States are committed to maintain the principle of the Nine-Power Treaty, does not the Prime Minister consider it desirable that the British Government should as far as possible pursue the same policy as the Government of the United States in relation to the problem created by the Japanese invasion of China?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Broadly speaking, I think the aims of the United States Government and of this Government are similar, but, of course, the conditions are not exactly the same in the two cases.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Is not one of the differences the fact that we have had far greater provocation than have the Americans; and will the Prime Minister assure us that he will immediately start consultations with the Dominions with a view to action parallel to that of the United States to restrain aggression?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

We are keeping in touch with the Dominions on this subject.

Photo of Mr Robert Morgan Mr Robert Morgan , Stourbridge

asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to issue to British nationals in China any statement giving effect to the Anglo-Japanese formula recently reached at Tokyo; and whether, in that case, he will place the text on the Table of the House?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Until the conversations now proceeding at Tokyo have been concluded, my Noble Friend considers that it would be premature to amplify what is said in the formula.

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman:

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet received any reply to the representations made to the Japanese Government on the discrimination against British trade at Tsingtao, with particular reference to landing permits being required for each separate bill of lading and the refusal of adequate berthing and warehouse accommodation?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I understand that what is required is a separate permit for each commodity imported, not for each bill of lading. The matter has been under discussion between His Majesty's Consul-General at Tsingtao and his Japanese colleague and my Noble Friend is at present awaiting reports on this matter and on the subject of berthing and warehouse accommodation.

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman:

Is it not a fact that there is no lack of berthing and warehouse accommodation, and that this is said to be reserved for Japanese ships with the idea of keeping out our ships?

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

asked the Prime Minister what direct or indirect proposals have been made by the Japanese Government to His Majesty's Government, to the effect that His Majesty's Government should make no further efforts to support the exchange value of the Chinese dollar?

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Will the right hon. Gentleman categorically repudiate the statements which have been made that there have been verbal assurances to the Japanese Government that we will not give any further support to Chinese currency?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I will certainly repudiate that, as I repudiated the suggestion in the question of the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any request has now been made by the Japanese authorities to hand over Chinese silver at Tientsin?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

May I ask whether in the discussions between our Ambassador and the Foreign Minister at Tokyo any mention whatever has been made of this subject?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I should want notice of that question.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

asked the Prime Minister whether British shipping is now permitted to use the Pearl River as the approach to Canton; if not, what restrictions have been imposed by the Japanese; and what steps he has taken in the matter?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The Pearl River is still closed to British shipping, but, by a temporary arrangement reached by the British and Japanese local authorities, British passenger ships are permitted under certain conditions to make periodical visits to Canton. It is expressly stated in this agreement that this arrangement does not prejudice the treaty right of British merchant vessels to free navigation of the Pearl River, and the attitude of His Majesty's Government on this subject has been made clear to the Japanese authorities.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Has anything been done by the Government to protect the commercial interests of our traders who are likely to be serious affected by this ban on goods as opposed to passengers?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, Sir; it is something that there is this limited permit to voyage periodically on the Pearl River.

Photo of Mr Robert Morgan Mr Robert Morgan , Stourbridge

asked the Prime Minister whether the Japanese authorities still refuse to allow the inspection and survey of the line of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway Company which is required in the interests of British bond-holders; and what action he has taken in the matter?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, Sir. Further representations have recently been made to the Japanese Government on this subject by His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo.

Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

asked the Prime Minister what reply has been received from the Japanese Government to the representations of His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo against the action of the Shanghai Customs, at the instance of the so-called Reformed Government in Nanking, in requiring owners of vessels wishing to clear for nine specified inland ports to obtain certificates from the Japanese military authorities?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The position remains as stated in my reply to my hon. Friend on 19th July.

Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this falling in with the desire of the Japanese Government in this connection would mean the recognition of the so-called Reformed Government at Nanking, and would not that be a very dangerous position for us?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

It was in view of the dangers which are envisaged in my hon. Friend's question that His Majesty's Government made the strong representations to which I referred in my previous answer to him.