HC Deb 12 March 1947 vol 434 cc1319-20
18. Mr. W. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the increase in the population of Hong Kong, as far as can be ascertained, in 1946; and at what monthly rate immigration is taking place in 1947.

Mr. Creech Jones

The increase in the population of Hong Kong in 1946 is estimated at between 500,000 and 600,000. The monthly rate of immigration in 1947 is estimated at 10,000.

Mr. Fletcher

While realising that this is a great compliment to British rule in Hong Kong, may I ask the Secretary of State what steps he proposes taking to see that this enormous influx from China does not create an impossible situation from the feeding and housing point of view beyond the capacity of the very efficient local government to handle?

Mr. Creech Jones

Yes, we fully appreciate the considerable difficulties in the control of immigration; it does impose a very great strain on the British administration in Hong Kong. These are problems which are exercising our attention.

Sir R. Ross

Is this not largely due to the fact that the International Settlement in Shanghai is going back to Chinese control and the citizens of Shanghai are trying to get under British rule?

Mr. Creech Jones

Oh, no. The situation is a little more complex than that. Hong Kong attracts people from all parts of China who wish to get away from the regime in China.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the increase in population and of the necessity for our exports, would the right hon. Gentleman consult with the Minister of Transport to see that no ships of ours go to the Far East with empty holds?