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Hong Kong

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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8.

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects to meet the Governor of Hong Kong.

My right hon. Friend has, at present, no plans to do so, but the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker), met the Governor on Friday 11 January.

Will the Minister instruct the Governor to repeal the Draconian public order law that makes it a criminal offence for three or more persons to hold a meeting in a public place? Is he aware that it is a law that may be used by the police to intimidate workers and others who are threatened with eviction from their homes and work places, such as is the case of the villagers of Muk Min Ha in the New Territories? Is he not ashamed to have responsibility for a British colony where such fascist legislation still exists?

We do not instruct the Governor, but the hon. Gentleman probably knows that extensive discussions have been taking place on the public order ordinance. The Hong Kong Government expect to introduce amendments to that ordinance in the near future to deal with the problem that he has mentioned.

Will my hon. Friend make clear to the Governor and the people of Hong Kong our appreciation of the way in which they are accommodating a substantial flow of immigrants into their country and giving sanctuary to a large number of refugees? In spite of the economic difficulties to which these factors give rise, the colony is still a most significant market for British goods in Asia.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for saying what I think should be said about the extraordinary successes of Hong Kong economically and in terms of humanitarian assistance in dealing with refugees from all quarters. There are still 55,000 Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong. I am sure that the House will appreciate that that is an enormous burden on the Administration of Hong Kong.

Is not the fact that there are still 55,000 boat people in Hong Kong a comment on the resettlement programmes which have been introduced, which are obviously failing in terms of speed and time scale to deal with the serious problem that has arisen?

The people of Merthyr volunteered to take refugees from Vietnam, as did many other communities.

What is the position with the large-scale illegal inflow of refugees or immigrants into Hong Kong from China? What was the result of the important discussions with the distinguished Chinese guests of a few months ago?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it presents a major problem to have so many Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong. About 10,000 of them are about to come to the United Kingdom. Others will go to other countries. The more that can be done to persuade other countries to accept more of these refugees for permanent settlement, the better. As for immigration from mainland China, the recent visit of Chairman Hua Kuo-feng has resulted in much improved border security arrangements. The flow has greatly reduced, to the great assistance of Hong Kong.