HC Deb 24 November 1959 vol 614 cc198-200
35. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many of those classified as refugees in Hong Kong are now employed; how many of their children are receiving education; what further progress has been achieved in rehousing them; at what rate refugees are still entering Hong Kong; how many refugees have settled in the rural area of the new territories; and what plans exist or are being considered for the dispersal of the refugee population to areas outside the Colony.

Mr. J. Amery

It is neither possible to distinguish refugees from other people in Hong Kong, nor to give a reliable estimate of new arrivals. The hon. Gentleman may, however, like to know that complete unemployment as distinct from under-employment is believed to be slight; approximately 85 per cent. of the Colony's children of school age receive some form of education; nearly 300,000 squatters have been rehoused; there are at present no figures available for refugee settlement in the new territories; there are no plans for dispersal outside the Colony.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that constantly we are informed of the number of refugees in Hong Kong? How can he say that it is not possible to discriminate between one type of inhabitant and another? Is it not possible to contemplate agricultural settlement of some of these refugees in the rural areas of the new territories? Surely there is a vast area there which could be used in this way. As it is, Hong Kong is becoming overcrowded with industrial development.

Mr. Amery

In answer to the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, many of the refugees have settled in the so-called new territories. Although I have not the exact figures, the figures of the number of refugees are very far from accurate.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is it not a little unfortunate that the Governor of Hong Kong should have to come to this country and seek what amounts to private charity from the World Refugee Fund in order to meet this problem? Should not the Government themselves give more generous direct help towards meeting this refugee problem on the borders of Communist China?

Mr. Amery

The Government of the United Kingdom have done a certain amount and the Government of Hong Kong has done a good deal. I hope that nothing which the hon. Member has said will do anything to discourage voluntary charity also helping.