HC Deb 17 April 1969 vol 781 cc1332-4

The following Written Question stood upon the Order Paper:

Lieut.-Commander MAYDON: To ask the Prime Minister if he will consider whether the Hong Kong Police Force should be accorded some mark of distinction in recognition of the loyal and outstanding services rendered by the Force over the years.

The Prime Minister

With permission I will now answer Unstarred Question No. 42.

I am most grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for raising this matter. I am glad to be able to inform the House that Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to accord the title "Royal" to the Hong Kong Police and Auxiliary Police Forces. In addition, Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra, has consented to accept, in an honorary capacity, the appointment of Commandant General of the two forces.

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

In thanking the Prime Minister for that reply, may I say that I am sure that there will be widespread delight at Her Majesty's gracious decision in this matter, and that that pleasure will be echoed by the loyal subjects of Hong Kong, both of British and Chinese stock? May I add that it is a rare honour for a police force to receive, the only other which comes to my mind is that of the Royal Canadian Police——

Mr. McNamara

And the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Lieut.-Commander Maydon

Is not that honour enhanced by the acceptance of Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra, of the honorary rank of Commandant-General of the Royal Hong Kong Police and the Royal Auxiliary Police Forces?

The Prime Minister

I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It was a happy coincidence that he should put this Question down at just about the time when the Government reached a decision to make their recommendation to Her Majesty The Queen, after the hon. and gallant Gentleman has pressed this matter for a considerable time. I am most grateful to him for raising it and for the initiative that he has taken.

I will not spoil the occasion by giving a list of the other Royal police forces—there are one or two in the Caribbean. I will join with him in welcoming what has been done and regarding it, as I know he does, as a tribute to the very great spirit, vigour and courage shown by the now Royal Hong Kong Police Force in the very severe difficulties that they have had to face in recent years.

Mr. Rankin

In reaching the decision which the Prime Minister has announced, did he keep before him the fact that Hong Kong as a State stands for everything that we in this country reject? There is no such thing as popular representation in Hong Kong——

Hon. Members

Nor is there here.

Mr. Rankin

—and that system is loyally backed up by the Hong Kong Police Force. Is he aware that in those circumstances it seems anomalous that it should have had conferred upon it the title "Royal"?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry about my hon. Friend's lack of enthusiasm in this matter, and I would not accept his account of the position in Hong Kong or of the police. It certainly was not the impression which I formed on my two brief visits there. No doubt my hon. Friend formed his own view. Of course, it is a colonial territory. It is a colonial territory living under continuous pressure, not only from Communist China, but also from infiltration from some extremely strange gentlemen from Taiwan who are the cause of a great deal of unsettlement and insecurity there. It is in this situation of almost double threat and double provocation that I think the Hong Kong police force has discharged its duties with singular integrity.

Mr. Royle

Is the Prime Minister aware that the House agrees with what the Prime Minister has said and totally rejects the comments made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin). The appointment of an immensely popular Princess will be widely accepted and well received in Hong Kong. There is a great need in Hong Kong for further political support from Her Majesty's Government. Will the Prime Minister do all he can——

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a Question about honours paid to the police force, and the hon. Gentleman must not go wider than that. Mr. Heath, business questions.

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