asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma if he is aware that the Research and Statistics Sub-Committee of the All-Burma Trade Union Congress is now engaged in preparing a revised cost-of-living index for Burma; and if he will ensure that any official co operation that may be needed for this work is made available.
I have no information about this and have ascertained that no approach has yet been made by the All-Burma Trade Union Congress to the Burma Government on this matter.
If such an approach is made, could my hon. and learned Friend say that it will be sympathetically considered?
sked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma how soon it is proposed that a general election shall be held in Burma; if this election is to be held on a basis of universal adult suffrage; how soon he intends to introduce such legislation as may be necessary to amend the appropriate schedules of the Government of Burma Act, 1935; and by what date he anticipates that Burma will have achieved the status of a self-governing Dominion
His Majesty's Government are anxious that a general election should be held in Burma at the earliest date that conditions permit. It will be necessary, however, first to arrange for the complete revision of the electoral rolls, the restoration of communications and the re-establishment of those stable conditions in which the requirements of a democratic system of government can be met. This must inevitably, in view of the disorganisation caused by the war, mean some little delay.No decision has yet been taken as to the basis of the franchise. This is a matter which is now engaging the urgent attention of the Governor and his advisers. No time will be lost, once the Governor's recommendations have been received and considered, by His Majesty's Government in introducing any necessary legislation to amend the appropriate schedules of the Government of Burma Act of 1935. As regards the last part of the Question, it is the policy and the wish of His Majesty's Government that Burma should attain full self-government within the British Commonwealth at the earliest moment that practical considerations make possible. My hon. Friend will appreciate the difficulty of fixing a precise date for the conclusion of those stages. But he may rest assured that His Majesty's Government are determined that there shall be no avoidable delay in implementing the undertakings that they have given.
While appreciating the difficulties to which my hon. and learned Friend has referred, may I ask him to consider the tremendous psychological effect, not only in Burma but throughout South-East Asia, that the fixing of such a date would have, as reinforcing our promises and our guarantees; and will he constantly bear it in mind?
Yes, Sir, but we must also bear in mind the practical difficulties that I have mentioned.
War Damage Compensation Claims
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma what arrangements he is making for the registration and consideration of claims to compensation for damage in Burma resulting from the war against Japan.
The Government of Burma are keeping a register of all claims for compensation on account of war damage. These claims will have to be investigated and it is hoped shortly to make the necessary arrangements for this to be done. I am not yet in a position to state the extent to which it may be possible to award compensation in respect of verified claims and accordingly registration must not be taken as committing the Government of Burma to the payment of compensation.
:Does the Burma Office agree that if industry and trade in Burma are to be encouraged to get going again, a quick settlement of these claims is essential?
:The Government of Burma fully realise the need for a quick settlement, but they are not waiting for that before giving financial assistance in order to rehabilitate economic conditions in Burma.