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Burma (Nationalised British Interests)

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 26 May 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present position regarding the nationalisation of British interests in Burma; what companies have been taken over and scheduled for nationalisation; in how many cases has compensation been paid in full; and how many British interests have objected to the amount of compensation offered.

The concerns so far taken over or scheduled for nationalisation by the present Burmese Government are the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and the Rangoon Electric Company. One-third of the concessions granted to the timber companies has also been taken over. All these companies are at present discussing terms of compensation with the Burmese Government.

Has the hon. Gentleman any reason to believe that the companies are in the least satisfied either with the amount offered or with the prospect that they will ever get their money; and will he also bear in mind what has been done in regard to British interests in Burma before his Ministry is prepared to sanction any further loans or gifts to Burma?

The allotments to the companies are mainly matters for discussion between the companies and the Burmese Government, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we have already made representations to the Burmese Government on the subject.

Is the hon. Gentleman right in saying that this is a matter betwen the Burmese Government and the companies, in view of the fact that, in the Burmese concessions, a scorched earth policy and other policies inimical to the interests of these people were placed in front in the general interest, and is there not a great moral responsibility on the Government?

As I have said, the Government have already made the type of representations which we think are most likely to be effective.

As the hon. Gentleman said some three months ago that he had made these representations, can he now say what further progress has been made and give any support to the hope which he then held out that fair compensation will be paid?

The Burmese Government have pledged themselves to fair compensation, and discussions with the companies are now going on and they have not broken down.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the representations have produced any reply or have had any effect?

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that it will not be a condition of any loan to Burma that it should be spent on compensation, rather than on the rehabilitation of the country?

There is nothing about any loan in this Question, and that is quite another matter.