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Hong Kong (Housing)

Volume 986: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what has been the total completion of public and private housing in Hong Kong each year for the last five years; and what completions are anticipated each year for the next five years.

In the last five years the average annual total completion of public and private housing was 40,128 units. The estimated average annual total completion for the next five years is 64,498 units. I will circulate in the Official Report figures for each of the years in question.

Is not that a wonderful achievement when we recall that Hong Kong is short of land and building materials? Should not the House congratulate Hong Kong and take note of what it has done, bearing in mind that private enterprise gets on with the job and provides much-needed housing?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In the housing context, as in others, the Hong Kong story is one of success.

Is the Minister aware that the proposals for the re-introduction of elections recently announced by the Hong Kong Government in some of those areas where new housing has been provided are welcome, even though they do not go as far as some of us would like? Will the Minister seek to ensure that the House has an opportunity to express an opinion on the Green Paper dealing with the new democratic structure in Hong Kong before discussions on it are concluded, before the end of August this year?

I think that we are getting away from the subject of housing in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, I take the opportunity of welcoming the hon. Gentleman's remarks. As regards an opportunity for a discussion in the House, I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's comments to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in some matters we treat Hong Kong as a colony but that in others, such as overseas students, we treat its people as foreigners? Does he think that this is fair?

There is a difficulty in our relations with Hong Kong because of its relations with China. Again, we are getting away from the issue of housing in Hong Kong.

No Hong Kong building programme will be able to meet the growing problem of refugees entering Hong Kong from China and the Vietnamese boat people. Will the Minister tell the House how many Vietnamese boat people are still in Hong Kong? Has he had reports of new arrivals in boats in Hong Kong and neighbouring territories? Does he anticipate that there will be another wave of Vietnamese boat people entering Hong Kong in the next two weeks?

There has been a slight increase in the number of Vietnamese boat people coming to Hong Kong recently. We have no evidence to suggest that this is a deliberate change of policy on the part of the Vietnam Government. We think that it is connected more with the seasonal winds.

It is true that the enormous influx of people into Hong Kong from both China and Vietnam has placed a tremendous burden on the Hong Kong authorities. It is very much to their credit that they have managed to keep up so well with the situation. The latest figures that we have for the number of Vietnamese boat people still in Hong Kong—[Interruption.] This is relevant to housing if hon. Gentlemen would just follow the point. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) is entitled to raise this matter. The latest figure that we have is about 40,000.

Following are the figures :

In the last five years total completions in public and private housing were as follows :
1975–7631,290 units
1976–7729,906 units
1977–7835,724 units
1978–7943,720 units
1979–8059,998 units

The following estimated total completions are anticipated :
1980–8168,420 units
1981–8270,944 units
1982–8364,092 units
1983–8462,656 units
1984–8556,280 units