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Shanghai Municipal Pensioners

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1942

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the British Government was prepared to pay the pensions of French civil servants in Madagascar, he is willing to reconsider his decision with regard to the pensioners of the Shanghai municipality; and to recommend that a loan be granted to the London agents of the municipality on the security of the present and future assets of the municipality, which will enable these pensions to British subjects to be paid?

I am unable to accept my hon. Friend's suggestion that the two cases are comparable. The offer to Madagascar was a consequence of the general offer, made after the French Armistice with Germany, to guarantee the pay and pensions of the officials of any colony which continued the struggle. I would point out that such a guarantee would not necessarily involve payments from public funds, since the territories concerned would, so far as possible, continue to provide the necessary revenues. As regards the last part of the Question, His Majesty's Government have every sympathy with these victims of enemy action, but I regret that I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Mr. A. Hopkinson) on 6th May.

Considering the tens of millions of pounds which this country has received from Shanghai, does not my right hon. Friend feel that the British Government might take a more generous attitude towards the Shanghai Municipality and might make them a temporary loan till the close of the war to enable them to meet their just obligations?

As I have said, we have every sympathy with those people, but it would be wrong if the House were to think that they are alone. There are others whose claims might be as strong or even stronger. I am going carefully into the matter, and at the moment I can add no more to what I have already said.