§ Mr. Boothby
I desire to make a brief personal statement. Yesterday the hon. and gallant Member for the Wycombe Division of Buckinghamshire (Sir A. Knox) put the following question to the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department:Whether, under the scheme of export credits to China, purchases and sales were tendered for openly by existing British trading interests in Great Britain and China; and, if not, what method was adopted and for what reason?The Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department replied:I am not quite clear as to what transactions my hon. and gallant Friend refers. The question of the method of purchase is primarily a matter for the Chinese Government.The hon. and gallant Member for the Wycombe Division then put a supplementary. He said:Is there any truth in the rumour that the Export Credits Department advised the Chinese Advisory Committee to deal entirely with the organisation called Trade Facilities, Limited, of which the chairman is Mr. Serge Karlinski: and why were the interests of British traders in China, who have recently been hard hit, disregarded?To that supplementary, my right hon. Friend replied:The hon. and gallant Member was good enough to send me a memorandum which formed the basis of his question, and I have looked into it and find that most of the statements are entirely unfounded and a large number are deliberate misrepresentations."—[Official Report, 5th June, 1939; col. 15, Vol. 348.]The hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe was apparently unsatisfied with that answer, and gave notice to raise the matter on the Adjournment. I am a director of the Industrial Facilities Corporation, of which Mr. Kar1inski is chairman. The hon. and gallant Member was aware of that when he put the question, bue he gave me no notice that he intended to ask it. He gave notice yesterday that he intended to raise the matter on the Adjournment, and, personally, I sincerely hope that he will do so; but, in case he 210 should think better of it, I desire to assure the House without further delay that there is not the slightest foundation for the imputation cast not only against the company with which I am associated, but also that against the Civil Service which is contained in the supplementary question he thought fit to put.
§ Major-General Sir Alfred Knox
Let me say a short word of explanation. First of all, I would like to apologise to the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) for not having given him notice that I was going to call attention, by a supplementary question, to this company of which he is a director. I did not think that necessary, because I did not intend to make any charge or accusation in any form against that company or its activities. If I had, I would undoubtedly have told the hon. Member, who I knew was a director of the company, that I intended to do so. As regards the paper to which he alluded, I some time ago, a couple of weeks ago, received a representation from a body of traders in Shanghai, complaining that, as regards the £3,000,000 credit to China, they got no part or share in making the purchases or promoting the sales. As they have been very hard hit in China during the recent war and the war that is going on now, I considered it my duty to send the paper to the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade. I accompanied that statement with the following letter:I am sending you, in confidence, copy of a statement I received from Shanghai. Of course, I have no means of checking the accuracy of it, but it would seem, at all events, that the interests of British merchants in China who have been hard hit by the war might have been considered.I think you will agree with me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and perhaps the House will agree, that it was my duty as a Member of Parliament to send that statement to the Minister. That is all that I have done.
If I understood the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) rightly, his remark was grossly disorderly.
§ Mr. Gallacher
May I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that the hon. and gallant Member who spoke last was the Member who took the most violent action against British shipping interests in Spain?