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Malaya (Security Measures)

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reinforcements it is now proposed to send to Malaya so that law and order may be restored within the foreseeable future, and to ensure that the great strain under which all engaged in the production of rubber and tin are now living will be quickly and progressively reduced.

I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's written reply on 11th March to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher).

Is the Under-Secretary aware that unless some effective action is taken, and taken soon, the strain on key men in the rubber and tin industries will be such that they will relinquish their posts, with the most dangerous consequences to this country, since Malaya earns more dollars than the whole United Kingdom exports?

I am well aware of the strain imposed upon planters and tin miners, and we are very grateful to them for the magnificent work they have been doing and for standing up to the sort of life they have had to lead for the last few months. I am glad to say, however, that although the position is still serious in Malaya, there has been a much more hopeful turn just lately and public morale is certainly better than it was a few months ago.

Has it been possible to meet the request of the military local police authorities for suitable aircraft to be sent out to assist them in their work?

All the indents that have been put in by the Government for police supplies have been met.

What reports does the hon. Member receive from unofficial sources, apart from the official reports from his representatives, because he may sometimes get the truth in unofficial reports?

We are constantly receiving letters from people in Malaya who are known to us personally or from people whom we do not know. In addition, we have Press cuttings from the various Malayan newspapers.

Will the Under-Secretary not consider bringing the British Forces home and, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, "Setting the people free"?

Do the unofficial reports and letters that are received give any indication of this more hopeful turn during the last few weeks, because that is certainly not the gist of the letters I and probably other Members in all parts of the House receive?

I think that they do. I noticed the day before yesterday a note in the "Financial Times" that the Stock Exchange prices in the rubber market had risen because of more hopeful news from Malaya. That, I think, justifies what I have been saying; that the rubber industry itself and others which effect the stock market prices have heard of this more hopeful news.

Surely the rise in Stock Exchange prices will not be of much comfort to the planters in Malaya?