HC Deb 05 May 1969 vol 783 cc21-3
26. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British subjects are now detained without trial in China; and in how many of these cases has consular access been refused.

Mr. M. Stewart

There are at present twelve British subjects detained without trial in China. Consular access has so far been refused in all cases. We will continue to make representations to the Chinese for access.

Mr. Onslow

How many children are involved? When the Secretary of State speaks of making continued representations, may I ask whether this will include making it clear to the Chinese that if they persist in this inhuman conduct we must revise our attitude to their admission to the United Nations?

Mr. Stewart

I think that I am right in saying that there are two children involved.

On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I do not believe that this would be a relevant reaction. The question of the position of the Chinese in the United Nations is simply a recognition of fact. I do not think that a change of policy on that would be of any use for the purpose which we both have in mind.

Mr. Molloy

Has my right hon. Friend made it clear to the Chinese authorities that we in this House and the British people generally find their action utterly disgraceful, that it offends every tenet of decent human behaviour, and that they are tarnishing the name of the Chinese people by continuing this vulgar action?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, Sir. I believe that the same sentiment has been made clear by the other countries whose nationals are similarly treated.

Mr. McMaster

What ultimatum has the right hon. Gentleman given to the Chinese? Is he aware that words are not enough and that some trade sanctions or other means must be used to compel the Chinese to act in a humane way?

Mr. Stewart

There have been a good many suggestions about action of that kind. I do not believe that any that have so far been suggested to me would help these British subjects.

Mr. Manuel

Will my right hon. Friend inform the House whether he has any information regarding my constituent, Captain Will, who has now been held for many months? This is causing great anxiety to his family. Will my right hon. Friend say whether he has found out where in China he is and if he is being treated well?

Mr. Stewart

I think that I should write to my hon. Friend giving him in detail the latest information that we have. We know that he is detained for investigation into alleged violation of Chinese laws. I will try to keep my hon. Friend informed.