113 Sir George Pearce, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr H. Fitzmaurice, U.K. Consul-General in Batavia

Letter (air mail) 26 November 1937,

I have the honour to refer to previous correspondence in regard to the general position in Portuguese Timor and to the Staughton concessions.

I have been informed by the London Office of the Department of External Affairs that you recently suggested in a despatch to the United Kingdom Government that Mr Lambert, His Britannic Majesty's Vice-Consul at Batavia, should visit Portuguese Timor to investigate conditions there, and you further suggested that the Commonwealth Government might care to submit a questionnaire to which Mr Lambert might supply answers. I understand that Mr Lambert will be leaving on 14th December, 1937, and that he will endeavour, among other objects, to ascertain the extent of Japanese penetration in Portuguese Timor and the attitude of the Portuguese authorities towards foreign concessions. Both of these questions are of great interest to the Commonwealth Government.

I am enclosing questionnaires (Annexes 'A' [1] and 'B' [2]) from the Department of Defence and the Department of External Affairs respectively. You will note that Annex 'A' relates to defence matters and Annex 'B' to the Staughton concessions.

I fully realise that Mr Lambert may experience considerable difficulty in obtaining answers to the questions raised, but I would be grateful for any information which he might reasonably be able to obtain on any of the points enumerated.

1 Not printed. This document, approved by the Defence Committee on 22 November 1937 (minute 44), requested information on the extent of foreign influence in Portuguese Timor and technical details concerning aviation facilities (including geographical and meteorological conditions), harbours and shipping, resources, internal security and relations with Dutch Timor (see AA : A981, Timor (Portuguese) 22, ii).

2 Attached below to this Document.

Annex B

Questionnaire on Staughton Concessions

n.d. [C. 26 November 1937]

1. Have the Staughton Concessions been definitely and formally cancelled? 2. What work, if any, is being done to comply with the conditions of the concessions? 3. Is the Timor Government still accepting lease payments in respect of these concessions? 4. If the concessions have not been cancelled, but are subject to cancellation, what immediate action is required by Staughton to keep them alive? 5. Is there a possibility of Staughton or his nominee being granted an additional prospecting area to that covered by the present concessions? If this is so, what might be the extent of the area and what would be the conditions of such grant?

[AA : A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, ii]