HC Deb 10 December 1963 vol 686 cc196-7
7. Dr. Bray

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when married women Government servants in Hong Kong will be given equal pay

Mr. Fisher

As the hon. Member is aware, I have asked the Governor to examine further the question of the differences in pay between single and married women Government servants. I am sure that he will do this as quickly as possible.

Dr. Bray

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that while income tax stands at such a derisory level in Hong Kong neither married women Government civil servants, roof-top dwellers, nor any other of the needy people there can be persuaded that there is not the money available to meet their needs? Will the hon. Gentleman take a firmer line with the Hong Kong Government in meeting their responsibilities?

Mr. Fisher

I sense a difference of approach in this matter. Unlike hon. Members opposite, I think that it is a rather good idea for Governments to have low taxation instead of high taxation. It is not only a question of money. An assessment of priorities must be made. Hong Kong is relatively rich, but no country, however rich, can meet every demand at one and the same time, and housing and schools may have greater priority than Civil Service pay.

Mr. Paget

How do they pay for housing or anything else at this derisory level of taxation?

Mr. Fisher

As I am sure the hon. and learned Member well knows, there are special reasons why it is important for Hong Kong to attract investment and enterprise. As the leading trading centre in that part of the world it must attract and retain capital from outside, and therefore I think that the Government's tax ratio is geared to the particular requirements in Hong Kong.

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