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Far East (British Property Losses)

Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the hardship suffered by British subjects in Northern China when their property was stolen or looted during or immediately after the war; what hope there is of their obtaining compensation from the Japanese authorities; and if he will consider the use of the balance of the Aid to China Fund for helping these deserving British subjects.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." The payment of compensation in respect of losses in Far Eastern foreign territories incurred as a result of the war with Japan will depend on the terms of the eventual Peace Settlement with Japan. It is clearly not possible for me to forecast what these terms will be. With regard to the last part of the Question, I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the British United Aid to China Fund. This is a purely private fund over which His Majesty's Government have no control.

Is it not silly and farcical to pretend that these people are ever likely to get anything from Japan? If, however, the hon. Gentleman feels there is a chance of getting something from the Japanese, would it not be as well for His Majesty's Treasury to make advances to the people who are destitute as a result of the war?

No, Sir, I cannot agree with the last part of the question. I will neither deny there is a chance, nor will I raise the hopes of those who hope to benefit, because quite clearly the chance is not a good one.