HC Deb 20 July 1970 vol 804 cc25-6
33. Sir G. de Freitas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British subjects are known to be in Chinese custody either in prison or under house arrest; and what proportion has not been brought to trial.

Mr. Anthony Boyle

Seven British subjects are at present detained, or believed to be detained, in China: I will, with permission, circulate a list of their names in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Only one, Mr. George Watt, has been brought to trial and sentenced.

Sir G. de Freitas

Is it not a fact that for some strange reason sentenced prisoners in China are less badly treated than those awaiting trial? If this is so and we cannot obtain the release of those who are there, can we press that they should be brought to trial?

Mr. Royle

We share the right hon. Gentleman's deep concern on this matter, and the previous Government made repeated representations to the Chinese. More recently on 9th July I raised this matter on behalf of the present Government with the Chinese chargé d'affaires in London. We consider that this is a very grave matter, and we will continue to press the Chinese.

Mr. McMaster

Will the hon. Gentleman press the Chinese so that ordinary access may be available to Mr. George Watt and others in the custody of the Chinese?

Mr. Royle

We have several times raised with the Chinese the possibility of Mr. Watt's three-year sentence being in part remitted. This was raised officially on 2nd July with the Chinese chargé d'affaires. We will continue to press them.

Following is the list:


Mr. P. D. Crouch, Second Officer of the "Demodocus" detained at Shanghai on 3rd April, 1968.

Mr. D. C. Johnston, former Manager of the Shanghai branch of the Chartered Bank, arrested on a spying charge on 25th August, 1968.

Mr. George Watt, a Vickers-Zimmer engineer arrested on 26th September, 1967, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment for alleged spying by a Lanchow court on 15th March, 1968.

Mrs. Gladys Yang, a British wife of a Chinese national who worked as a literary translator and is thought to have been detained in July, 1968.

Mrs. Epstein, Mr. Michael Shapiro, Mr. David Crook, were employed by the Chinese authorities and are thought to have been detained towards the end of 1967.