American Citizens, Penang (Evacuation Arrangements).

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance. – in the House of Commons on 26th February 1942.

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Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement concerning the evacuation of civilians from Penang, with special reference to the question of American citizens? Ministry outstations at works directorate offices, maintenance units, and Royal Air Force stations, respectively; Air Service clerks, grade I, grade III; Air Service assistant clerks, established, unestablished, temporary; temporary clerks, grade II, male, female; temporary clerks, grade III, male, female; shorthand typists, established, temporary; copying typists, established, temporary, and teleprinter operators, male, female?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

As the information asked for can most readily be presented in tabular form, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the information:

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

According to information received from the Governor of the Straits Settlements, the evacuation of civilians from the Island of Penang was carried out on the nights of 13th, 15th and 16th December, beginning with women and children who wished to leave, and ending on the 16th with persons who had been engaged on duty in essential services. The arrangements were limited by the shipping available, by the heavy destruction from air attacks on the city, and by the need for speed and secrecy in carrying out the evacuation. I am happy to inform the House that certain serious charges made by an American citizen, which were given wide publicity in the Press, as to failure of the authorities to afford the same opportunities to American citizens as to others, have now been fully and frankly withdrawn by the gentleman in question. Wide publicity to this retraction has been given in the American Press.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement will give great satisfaction and help to dispel a most unfortunate impression?

Mr. Creech Jones:

When the right hon. Gentleman refers to civilians, has he in mind merely European and American civilians, or all civilians?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

No discrimination of any kind was made in connection with opportunities for evacuation.