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Burma (Anglo-Burman Community)

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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asked the Prime Minister whether before introducing the Burma Bill foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech, he will receive a deputation of Anglo-Burmans, and make arrangements for the early return to Britain of its members at the public expense.

In 1944 by a resolution adopted at the Simla Conference, the Anglo-Burman community decided to throw in its lot with Burma and to ask for no special privileges. I have received no indication that the community as a whole have abandoned this policy, and their representatives took part in the recent Constituent Assembly. In these circumstances no useful purpose would be served by sending a deputation to this country. The Bill, of course, has already been introduced.

Is the Prime Minister aware that I have received a heart-rending letter from Anglo-Burmans in Burma, and in view of the changed circumstances will he reconsider his point about receiving a deputation? Is he further aware that the withdrawal of British influence from Burma will have an effect similar to what is happening in India where there have been troubles of all kinds, and will he receive this deputation?

With regard to the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary Question, it is very unwise to draw comparisons of that kind, and make unwarrantable assumptions. With regard to the first part, if the hon. Member can give me evidence that there has been a change in the position of the Anglo-Burman community on this matter, I will certainly look into it, but my information is that the Anglo-Burman community have accepted the position and are co-operating in framing the new constitution.

While I would not contradict that statement of the Prime Minister, may I ask is he aware that many Anglo-Burmese are anxious to leave Burma? Will he bear in mind the extraordinary suffering of that community at the hands of the Japanese during the war, far worse than any other community in the world?. Will he look sympathetically on individual representations or group representations that are made to him?

Certainly, I will always consider any individual hard cases, but the point put to me was rather one of the Anglo-Burman community than any particular person.

Would not the Prime Minister agree that the Anglo-Burman community is not completely integrated and cannot be spoken for as a whole?