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Hong Kong

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will appoint a commission to investigate the allegations made recently concerning corruption in the Hong Kong Police to which individuals could give evidence in camera if they so wished.

No, Sir. The Independent Commission Against Corruption set up by the governor has been in operation for just over a year, and has already achieved distinct success. It has received a large measure of support from the Hong Kong public and must be given a proper opportunity to fulfil its task.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that there is widespread disquiet about the allegations which are being bandied about regarding the standards of the Hong Kong Police, that the public and the police in Hong Kong need an assurance that those allegations will be properly investigated, and that in their opinion that can be done only by an inquiry set up by the right hon. Gentleman's office? Is it not also necessary to assure potential recruits from this country to the Hong Kong Police that they are entering a force which is as good as it should be?

I am aware of the widespread disquiet, which has existed for some time. It was because of that that an independent commission was set up. Nothing which I say or which anyone else says in this House should undermine the confidence of the people of Hong Kong in that commission, and the commission must be allowed to continue its work.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the many charges laid at the door of the Attorney-General's office by a Councillor Mrs. Elsie Eliot, who is well known to many hon. Members on both sides of the House? Will my right hon. Friend say how many prosecutions laid before it have been dropped by the Attorney-General's office, on instructions of that office? Would not it carry more conviction and give far more confidence to the people of Hong Kong if a Royal Commission were sent out there, based on and advised by officers of Scotland Yard itself?

On the specific allegations by the lady to whom my hon. Friend referred, I am afraid that I can give no information today, but I take note of what my hon. Friend says, and I shall try to answer his detailed question. As for a Royal Commission, I say again that the commission in Hong Kong must be allowed to carry out its work. Suggestions that it will not or cannot do so will not help it in doing so.

Is not speed of the utmost importance in this matter, and is not an objection to the appointment of any further commission, especially any further commission from the United Kingdom, that that would delay considerably the very necessary rooting out of corruption which the Cater Commission is doing so well?

Although I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman's point about the necessity for speed is a good one, the main point about alternative forms of investigation must be the implication that the present form is not working well. We have no evidence to suggest that that is the case.