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Burma (British Policy)

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any statement to make about the policy of His Majesty's Government towards Burma.

In the course of the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan and Ceylon met together to consider the Burmese Prime Minister's request for assistance in the early restoration of law and order in Burma. They are agreed in their desire to give whatever support they can to the Government of Thakin Nu, to the end that peace may be rapidly restored in Burma. Necessary machinery has been set up to ensure speedy implementation of this decision.

Is any loan to be given to the Government of Burma to achieve this end?

That all depends on what is recommended by this machinery. We shall take into account financial assistance, arms assistance, or other assistance. The whole matter is being coordinated by the Governments I have mentioned.

Is there, among the various forms of assistance that are being considered, the provision of technical advisers; and in view of the extreme urgency of the situation in Burma, would he do his best to speed the conclusions?

Is this same machinery, which according to the right hon. Gentleman will consider the advisability of a loan to Burma, also considering the very large claims which dispossessed industries in this country have against the Burmese Government.

Our position in that regard has been made perfectly clear. It is essential for South-East Asia that steps be taken to get order in the whole of that territory, and this is a co-ordinated effort to try to assist in getting law and order first.

Does not the Foreign Secretary realise that the most urgent need is to see that a flow of consumer goods gets into the hands of the rice producers in Burma so that the flow of rice so badly needed shall come out regularly?

Well, I think that the rice exports up to now, notwithstanding the civil war, has been remarkable this year—far better than we expected. We are ready to assist in the distribution of consumer goods, or in supplying them or any other supplies. We felt it was essential that instead of having one Commonwealth Government appealing against another, we should co-ordinate their efforts, and we adopted this method.

Would the right hon. Gentleman enlarge upon the machinery to which he referred? What sort of machinery? What does he mean exactly? Would he explain a little more what kind of machinery has been set up for this purpose?

It has been mainly the Ambassadors in Rangoon providing the technical assistance and the people available.