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Hong Kong (Communist Periodicals)

Volume 478: debated on Wednesday 25 October 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the bookshops in Hong Kong are filled with periodicals imported from China and devoted to spreading the Communist ideology; if he will consider the banning of such literature; and what steps are being taken to disseminate knowledge of the British way of life.

It has been the policy of the Hong Kong Government to avoid imposing controls unless they are concerned with activities that are contrary to the law or prejudicial to public security in Hong Kong. The position is, however, being closely watched. This is a matter in which the Governor is in the best position to judge what policy to pursue and I am not prepared to interfere with his discretion.

The British way of life is, of course reflected in the methods and ideals governing the administration of Colonial Territories. Responsibility for the positive dissemination of information on this subject in Hong Kong is shared by the Public Relations Department in Hong Kong, the Regional Information Organisation of South-East Asia and the British Council.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether any representations have, as yet, been made by the Governor about the danger of these publications, in view of the very isolated position of Hong Kong?

The Governor was in this country quite recently and this was one of the many problems I discussed with him.

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that it is undesirable to suppress expressions of opinion? Does he not agree that in Hong Kong it will be completely impossible to impose any ban that could be made effective?

Is the Minister aware that I have warned on several occasions that, on good authority, I have heard that the dissemination of literature and propaganda by wireless from Hong Kong, and in that area generally, leaves a great deal to be desired?

Hon. Members on all sides will realise that the decision whether or not to ban a publication is an important one and has to be thought about very carefully. For example, banning a publication may have the opposite effect to that desired.