§ 35. Mr. A. Royle
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Hong Kong.
§ 37 and 38. Mr. Rankin
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Hong Kong;
§ (2) if he will make a statement on constitutional development in Hong Kong.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Frederick Lee)
With permission, I will answer Questions No. 35, 37, 38 and 41 together.
§ Mr. Rankin
On a point of order. May I ask my right hon. Friend to note that Question No. 38 is quite different from the other three and should, therefore, be answered separately?
§ Mr. Lee
The purpose of my visit was to see something of the outstanding social and economic progress which has been achieved in recent years and to discuss plans for future development.
1140 It was not my purpose to look into constitutional development. However, I heard many views on the subject, and I remain in no doubt that progress towards self-government or independence is not possible, for reasons which are generally understood in the Colony. Where I feel that there may be scope for change is in the field of urban and municipal affairs. The possibilities are being studied.
In the course of my visit I initiated discussions with the Hong Kong Government about possible economies in the garrison and the Colony's contribution to its cost, in the context of our balance of payments problem. Detailed consideration of these matters is in progress.
§ Mr. Royle
In view of the agitation for constitutional development by many of his hon. Friends, will the right hon. Gentleman stress the dangers, bearing in mind Hong Kong's geographical position? Will he also underline the impressive work which has been done in the social, housing and education spheres by the Hong Kong Government?
§ Mr. Rankin
Did my right hon. Friend discover that there is no such thing as free public education in Hong Kong? Will he note that and consider what should be done about it? On the economic side, was he not impressed by the abundant wealth of Hong Kong on the one hand and the extreme poverty that exists on the other? What suggestions did he make to the Governor to try to iron out that discrepancy?
§ Mr. Lee
I should have thought that in the last few years some very great advances indeed have been made for the elimination of these two peaks. I certainly discussed with the Governor the future economic progress of Hong Kong, given the circumstances of which all hon. Members are aware. I believe that the Hong Kong Government have made outstanding progress in the last 10 years.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The fact that the hon. Member's question may not have been answered does not raise a point of order for me. Mr. Luard.