§ 43. Mr. Gallacher
asked the Secretary of State for War for what purpose it is necessary to retain in Indonesia 54,000 Japanese troops under British control under arms as well as 60,000 British and Indian troops and 20,000 Dutch troops, in view of the fact that there only 26,000 unarmed Japanese troops remaining in central Java.
It has not yet been possible to evacuate all the Japanese from Indonesia because of the shortage of shipping. A start has been made, however, using Japanese coastal shipping in which the Japanese are being moved from Java, Sumatra, Bali, Lombok and Madura to islands in the Riouw Archipelago. Some of the Japanese remaining in Indonesia have been allowed to retain their arms because there are not enough Allied troops to guard them, their arms and their stores.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Can the hon. Gentleman explain how it is that the Japanese they were going to round up are still bearing arms and using those arms in Indonesia, 1097 while our troops are used against the Indonesian people?
Unfortunately there are a lot of Japanese troops still in Indonesia, including 26,000 with whom we are not in contact. We are doing our best to evacuate them, but I am afraid it is going to take a very long time.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what is the definition of "Indonesia" for the purpose of these questions?
I think I should want notice of that question. I have referred to some of the places in my answer. I have an idea that the hon. Gentleman opposite knows as well as I do, probably even better.
I should not like to vouch for them. I have some figures here, if the House wants them. The original total in Sumatra was 70,000 odd, of whom 25,900 odd have been evacuated. In Java there were 68,000 odd, of whom 2,500 have been evacuated.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
My question is not in any sense a catch question. This word is being used in varying senses, and it is quite impossible to debate or question unless we can be certain what is the official meaning attached to it in official pronouncements. I would ask the hon. Gentleman, what is the meaning of the word in relation to this Question, in the view of the War Office?
I think that would be a very appropriate question to put to the Ministry of Information.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
This matter may appear to be rather a joke, but it is treating the House with disrespect if the War Office uses the word "Indonesia" and does not know what it means by it. If that is so, then really it is time for an inquiry into the hon. Gentleman's mental condition.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think the Financial Secretary to the War Office was the first to use the word. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) 1098 referred to it in a Question, and thereafter the Financial Secretary has been using it for the purposes of answering.
§ Mr. Nicholson
With great respect, I am not criticising anybody's attitude, except that of the War Office. The War Office was asked a Question and answered it. It obviously meant something to the War Office, or the War Office thought it meant something. I understand "Indonesia" has some geographical significance.