asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether the Singapore banks were ordered to send elsewhere securities in their custody; what action was taken; and what is being done to prevent the enemy obtaining benefit from any securities they have seized?
The Governor of the Straits Settlements was advised on 15th December to arrange for the evacuation or destruction of bearer securities held by banks in Malaya, particularly those realisable on international markets, and all easily negotiable valuables. No detailed report was received before the fall of Singapore, and it is, therefore, not yet known what action was taken; but I am informed that the Malayan Government Bearer Bonds held by the banks on their own behalf and in custody for their customers were registered. There is no effective market outside Malaya for securities usually dealt with on the Singapore market, and it would be impossible for anyone to obtain value for these or for Straits Settlements currency—for which temporary special arrangements have been made in favour of refugees—without proving bona fide non-enemy ownership.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether a restraint can De placed on the transfer of registered securities which may have fallen into enemy hands, in view of the fact that the holders might be compelled to execute transfers under enemy duress?