Oral Answers to Questions — Penang Evacuation (Destruction of Material).

– in the House of Commons on 27th January 1942.

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Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can give any particulars of the difficulties experienced with the civil authorities at Penang over the destruction and removal of works, ships and materials; and whether the authorities were Malayan officials?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am glad to have the opportunity of explaining that in the statement of my hon. Friend the Joint Under - Secretary of State in the House on 20th January it was to difficulties experienced with the civil population that he referred, and that he had no intention of suggesting that there were any difficulties between the military authorities and the civil authorities. The Resident Counsellor in Penang and his staff did everything possible to comply with the military orders and to co-operate under conditions of great difficulty for all concerned.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Does that mean that the civil population opposed the necessary steps being taken? If so, can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say why?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

No, Sir, I did not say that they opposed the step.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman explain what was meant by the statement that difficulty was experienced with the civil population in destroying the necessary materials?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I think that what was meant was the difficulties of the situation inherent at that time.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Is the Minister aware that demolition is entirely the duty and responsibility of the military authorities? Why did they not carry out their duty?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I think all that was explained by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary.