§ 48. Major Guy Lloyd
asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the appeal from the chairman of the Batavian Red Cross for the evacuation as quickly as possible from Java of 200,000 people, all said to be in danger of being kidnapped or butchered; and what steps he is taking to meet the appeal.
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. McNeil)
I have been asked to reply. I have seen a Press report of an appeal on the lines indicated in the hon. and gallant Member's Question. The appeal itself has not yet reached me, but I have received a copy of another appeal addressed to the Dutch Lieutenant-Governor-General on 26th November by 1909 members of women's camps in Batavia regarding the evacuation of women, children and aged and sick persons from Java. It is not yet clear how many persons would be involved. I have, however, instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at The Hague to seek the views of the Dutch Government on the whole problem as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, we are urgently investigating certain possibilities relating to reception areas and shipping facilities.
§ Major Lloyd
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the immediate danger is that a large number of these women and children are, apparently, in the interior, that it is not a question of getting them out of the country so much as bringing them into a safe part under British protection, and that the Batavian Red Cross are deeply concerned lest a most terrible tragedy might occur unless some action is immediately taken?
As I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman appreciates, the difficulties here are manifold, but I do assure him that His Majesty's Government are zealously concerned with this project and will not easily be halted.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the country as a whole will firmly support any definite and determined steps which are taken to help these people, but will never forgive any half-heartedness and lack of decision?