§ 1. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement on the present position of the Chinese customs administration, including the lighthouse department, the Debt Commission and the harbour department; and whether the organisations have been able to resist foreign interference?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)
I am glad to say that, despite obvious difficulties during the past three years, this international service has been able to continue to function, under the able administration of the Inspector-General, Sir Frederick Maze. The lighthouse and harbour departments, which have an important bearing on foreign shipping, are under the technical control of the coast inspector. The present holder of that post is an American citizen, recently appointed by the Inspector-General, and under his administrative control. The International Bankers Commission, to which my hon. and gallant Friend presumably refers, ceased many years ago to exercise effective control over the Customs revenue.
§ Sir A. Knox
Does the Minister realise that these organisations are the only foundation on which trade, shipping and finance rest in China, and that, if any other foreign Power gets hold of them, British interests will be irretrievably destroyed?
§ Mr. Butler
The important international character of these organisations is fully appreciated. I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend has done a service by drawing attention to their importance.