asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has had about the Hong Kong Public Order (Amendment) Ordnance; and if he will make a statement.
We have received a number of representations about this ordinance. In reply we have made clear that while this is primarily a matter for the Hong Kong Government, we support the action they have taken. The legislation passed by a large majority in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on 11 March included the repeal of a number of stringent provisions of the control of publications ordinance that had been part of the laws of Hong Kong for many years, but which have not prevented the Hong Kong media from being among the most free and outspoken in Asia. In reviewing this legislation and deciding upon these repeals, the Hong Kong Government considered that in such a small and densely-populated place as Hong Kong, it was nevertheless necessary to retain some power to act against anyone publishing false news likely to cause alarm to the public or disturb public order. The provision is not, therefore, a new one, and the result of the legislation passed on 11 March represents a major liberalisation compared with the position before that date.