HC Deb 21 March 1890 vol 342 cc1510-2
MR. SAMUEL SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to some Ordinances recently promulgated by the Government of Hong Kong for the regulation of prostitutes, especially to Sections 30 and 31, which make it the duty of the Registrar General of the colony to keep a permanent record of immoral houses and of their female inmates, in the same manner as marriages are registered, and that his office must be furnished with a photograph of each; whether he is aware that anyone daring to open an unlicensed house is liable to severe penalties, and whether Section 56 of this Ordinance actually empowers the "Governor in Council" to take steps to provide for the safety and escape of inmates in immoral houses "in case of fire;" whether women are given to understand that they are expected by the officers of the law to go up as usual for periodical inspection, and that they do so; and, whether the officers under the new Ordinance are the same as those under its predecessor?


An Ordinance has been passed by the Government of Hong Kong, containing the provisions referred to in the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of the hon. Member's question, but the Secretary of State has directed that it should be amended in respect of several of its provisions. The Secretary of State has decided that the system of registration and supervision of brothels should be maintained in Hong Kong (as in the Straits Settlements), because it is regarded as a valuable means of checking the too general practice of kidnapping girls, and brothel slavery. The Ordinance repeals the law relating to the compulsory medical examination of women, and it has been clearly explained to the women that they need not attend for examination unless they wish to do so. Some women do voluntarily so attend from time to time, but not at fixed intervals, or on any specified days. Some of the officers under this Ordinance are the same as under the repealed Contagious Diseases Ordinance, but their duties are differently defined.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that owing to the intense heat of Hong Kong, and the mode in which the houses are constructed, fires often spread with terrible rapidity, and result in considerable loss of life; and if it is not desirable that steps should be taken in the shape of issuing an Ordinance, or otherwise, to prevent the inhabitants from being roasted alive?


The latter part of the question of the hon. Member is self-evident, and in regard to the former part I have no information. I will inquire if the hon. Member will put the question on the Paper.

* MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered that part of the question which relates to photographs. Is it true, as suggested in the question, that photographs of all unfortunates are required compulsorily to be sent to the officials?


I have no information on that point.