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Malaya And Singapore

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Banned Broadcast (Mr Anthony Brooke)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Department of Broadcasting of the Malayan Union and Singapore refused to allow Mr. Anthony Brooke to broadcast on the situation in Sarawak without first examining the script.

The Director of Broadcasting is under no obligation to afford facilities to anyone who wishes to broadcast. But the reason, as given to Mr. Anthony Brooke by the Director, was that the Government were not prepared to allow their broadcasting system to be used for a broadcast which was likely to be definitely critical of Government policy in neighbouring territories, and which was also designed to promote a change in the Government of Sarawak and to undermine His Majesty's rule there.

How do the Government know that this was likely to be critical if they did not take the trouble to see what the broadcast was?

First of all, in his application to the Director, Mr. Anthony Brooke stated that he wished to broadcast all the facts relating to the cession of Sarawak, and the position that had arisen as a result thereof. Mr. Brooke has not subsequently challenged the basis of the decision taken by the Director.

Official Emoluments


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total expenditure on the personal emoluments and other annual recurrent charges of the Governor-General of Malaya, the Governor of the Malayan Union and the Governor of Singapore; and what were the corresponding figures for 1938 for the Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner, Malay States.

The amounts provided in the 1947 Estimates for the personal emoluments of the Governor-General, Malaya, the Governor of the Malayan Union and the Governor of Singapore are £9,500, £7,500 and £6,500, respectively. For other annual charges exclusive of office expenses, the amounts provided are £8,633, £3,684, and £2,018, respectively. In 1938 the personal emoluments of the Governor of the Straits Settlements and the High Commissioner for the Malay States amounted to £8,000 and £2,969 was provided for other annually recurrent charges.

In view of the increase of this expenditure, does the right hon. Gentleman propose to review the whole of this arrangement, the cost of which is falling today on the Malayan people?

Obviously, when the Constitution of Malaya has been concluded and certain other developments have taken place in that part of the world, the whole of the set-up of this problem can come up for further consideration.

Internment Pay (Widow's Claim)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that Mrs. Meredith, the widow of the late Registrar of Vehicles under the Singapore Municipality who was interned by the Japanese, has been unable to obtain any satisfaction for her claim for the balance of her husband's salary during internment; and, in view of the fact that in official correspondence the Colonial Office has promised full pay during internment to municipal employees, when this claim will be settled.

This is a matter for the Singapore Municipal Commissioners. The President states that Mrs. Meredith has been paid the total of her husband's Provident Fund Account to 31st January, 1942, and she has also received an advance of £1,870 on account of internment pay, leaving a balance of approximately £2,200. The resealed Grant of Probate was received by the Commissioners on 17th May, 1947; they are now prepared to make a further payment of £2,200, on request, pending the finalising of the account, and I understand that Mrs. Meredith is being so informed.

Is the Minister aware that application for the payment was made to the municipal authorities two months and more ago, and that no reply has been received? Does the Minister repudiate the last paragraph of my question that the Colonial Office guaranteed payment to the municipal employees during their internment by the Japanese?

This is really a matter for the municipal authorities. I think in regard to this particular case a settlement will now be finalised with the payment of the £2,200.

Natural Rubber (Usa Restrictions)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement indicating the extent to which unemployment and hardship are being caused in Malaya through the embargo which the U.S. have placed on the import of rubber; and what steps are being taken by him to deal with this situation.

Regarding the alleged embargo, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 7th July. Generally speaking, the standard of living of the small holders and employees on rubber estates has fallen below the prewar level; this is due principally to the high cost of imported foods and other supplies, and has not, till now, been seriously accentuated by the recent drop in the price of rubber. Nor has there yet been any large increase in unemployment. The matter is one which is receiving careful attention, and I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade to my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T, Reid) on 3rd July.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable fear that there is in fact an embargo which is having this serious effect and that the people think that an embargo is in force, though whether in specific terms or in consequence of the effect of some other regulation they do not know?

There is really no embargo but there is the fact that rubber goods manufactured in the United States-must contain a percentage of synthetic rubber.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Crawford Act insists on 50 per cent. being incorporated in manufactured goods and is, in fact, an embargo? Is he further aware that the resulting fall in the price of rubber loses 100 million dollars a year to this country, and is having the effect implied in this Question of unemployment and distress, which will eventually lead to political unrest in Malaya?

His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the problem in regard to rubber and they are giving it immediate and effective attention.

Have the Government made it clear to the United States that the whole system of unilateral trading, by which they set such store, will break down unless they buy sterling commodities of this description, which is the only way we can pay our debts to the United States.

We are fully alive to the problem, but the question obviously should be addressed to the Board of Trade.

Surely, this is a matter of tremendous importance. I should like to know what steps the right hon. Gentleman has taken to bring home to the United States the disastrous effect of the policy they are pursuing?

I can only answer that appropriate steps have been taken by the Government in this matter as a result of the representations of my office.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us that appropriate steps have been taken. Will he tell us what the appropriate steps were?

I have said that the Colonial Office in consultation with other Departments concerned are fully alive to the importance of this matter, and particularly its importance to Malaya—

—and consequently have taken appropriate steps—[HON. MEMBERS: "What steps?"]. I will repeat that—the Government have taken appropriate steps both in regard to international conferences meeting just now and in regard to the Government of the United States.

Has the Minister seen a statement of the chairman of the Rubber Company that America has forced down the price of rubber to one-third of its prewar value, and can he do anything in regard to that?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the rubber planters in Ceylon are contemplating cutting out all rubber and turning over their estates to something else, because of the fall of the price of rubber below the cost of production caused by the action of the United States?

Constitutional Negotiations


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the latest developments in the constitutional negotiations in British Malaya; and, in particular, whether Singapore is to be a member, on the same terms as Penang, of the Malayan Federation.

I hope to make a statement before the end of the Session. With regard to Singapore, I am unable to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) on 18th June.

In view of the anxiety that is being felt in Malaya that a settlement should be arrived at, could my right hon. Friend make a statement as soon as possible?

The statement will be made very soon indeed, but the delay is not unduly long because obviously a number of problems have to be resolved before a statement can be made.

Is the delay due to the fact that there are so many different Governments and so much over administration in Malaya?