HC Deb 20 July 1925 vol 186 cc1805-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Hong Kong Legislative Council has recently passed an Ordinance authorising the Governor to put into practice the method of flogging in the case of Chinese pickets and others who are attempting to intimidate would-be workers in connection with the present shipping strike; and, in view of the effect which such authority, if used, will have upon anti-British feeling in China, whether he will say what instructions he has given to the Governor upon this matter?


The Governor has now reported by telegram that the Legislative Council has recently passed an Ordinance validating emergency regulations which permitted flogging as a punishment for intimidation by violence or threatened violence. No such punishment has, however, had to be inflicted, as the fact that this penalty existed has been a sufficient deterrent. Previous to the issue of the regulations, two murders had already been committed, and there had been one case of bomb-throwing. The Governor reports that both the Chinese and the European populations strongly approve the action taken to deal with the widespread terrorism which was being organised from outside Hong Kong for purely political motives.


Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the promulgation of this Ordinance may have a very serious effect upon anti-British feeling in China?


I am quite confident that the Governor of Hong Kong's first duty is to protect the lives of innocent people from being threatened by armed terrorists and bomb-throwers, and he has got to take emergency measures to prevent outrages upon innocent persons.


The question I asked the hon. Gentleman was whether he had looked at the matter from the point of view of what may be the effect in China?


I am sure the governor of Hong Kong, who is on the spot, has looked at it from that point of view, and he was supported by the Chinese members of the Legislative Council.


Does not the hon. Gentleman think the punishment might be in some other form than flogging?


In this country, in the case of crimes of personal violence, we do the same thing, and I do not think it would be proper for the Secretary of State for the Colonies or this House to interfere with the discretion of a Colonial Governor and a Colonial Legislature in face of such an emergency as there is at this moment.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Do not these Ordinances have to be approved by the Secretary of State in any way at all?


Not in emergencies of this kind. This has been done entirely on local responsibility. Sir Reginald Stubbs did it, naturally, straight away, with his own Legislative Council, and we have telegraphed to him saying that we would support him in any measures that may be necessary to protect the lives of the people of Hong Kong.

Colonel APPLIN

Is not the Governor following the example of General Gordon?


We cannot have a Debate.