HC Deb 24 March 1964 vol 692 cc229-30
23. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further developments have taken place in respect of the water supply and resources of Hong Kong.

Mr. Fisher

Emergency action has been taken to import water by tanker from the Pearl River. These measures have removed the immediate danger and should enable supplies to be maintained, at least at their present level, until the rainy season.

Discussions are being held with the Chinese authorities in order to obtain extra supplies of water from China from 1965 onwards. Meanwhile, good progress is being made in the construction of new reservoirs and in the investigation of a desalination scheme.

Mr. Sorensen

Whilst expressing appreciation of the fact that some arrangement has been reached between the Hong Kong Government and the Chinese People's Republic, may I ask how long the water supplies would last if the supplies from China proper were entirely cut off?

Mr. Fisher

I am afraid that I do not have that information. We depend a great deal upon China, as the hon. Gentleman knows. Long-term plans are now well in hand for the creation of new reservoirs at very considerable cost, and I think that the position should be all right after this next season. But I will find out for the hon. Gentleman about the dependence on China, and let him know.

Mr. Rankin

Is the hon. Gentleman able to guarantee to the people of Hong Kong an adequate water supply without being dependent on sources in Chinese territory?

Mr. Fisher

No, Sir. I cannot give any such guarantee. It is perfectly obvious that our sources are not adequate, and that in this matter we depend greatly on China. Even those sources are not adequate if we have a low rainfall, such as we have had lately.

Sir W. Teeling

Can my hon. Friend say, roughly, for how many hours of the day people in Hong Kong are now allowed to have water?

Mr. Fisher

The position is very bad. The supply of water in Hong Kong is at present restricted to three hours every fourth day.

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