HC Deb 27 March 1972 vol 834 cc26-8
29. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in establishing the whereabouts in China of Mrs. Gladys Yang, a British subject, from whom relatives have not heard since 1968; and if he will instruct the British Embassy in China to request the Chinese Government to permit Mrs. Yang to write to her brother and sister in England.

Mr. Anthony Royle

I am glad to inform the House that our Ambassador in Peking was informed earlier today that Mrs. Yang would be allowed to return to her home tomorrow. The Chinese official also told the Ambassador that investigation into the other three cases relating to British subjects was continuing and that he would inform the Ambassador when there was further news. He hoped it would be soon.

Mr. Woodnutt

May I thank my hon. Friend for that very satisfactory reply? Is he aware of the immense relief that this will bring to the relatives of Mrs. Yang who have been so desperately worried over the last four years and who would wish to thank him, his Department and my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) for their painstaking efforts? Would he also agree that it is in these acts of human kindness that the Government of China can best improve the already improving relationship between our two countries?

Mr. Royle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks and particularly for his tribute to the efforts of officials, both here and in Peking, to secure the release of Mrs. Yang. I also believe that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North played a considerable part in reaching this satisfactory conclusion. It is a most encouraging development coming so soon after our agreement to exchange ambassadors.

Mr. Gorst

May I add my congratulations to those of my hon. Friend particularly for the persistent and unremitting efforts which have been made by the Foreign Office? May I put two questions? Is this not a significant example though it may be a small one of the way in which relations have improved since the exchange of ambassadors? Secondly, can my hon. Friend say whether it will be possible now for the relatives of Mrs. Yang either to correspond with her or to obtain visas to visit China if they so desire?

Mr. Royle

I agree with my hon. Friend's first remarks. We do not yet know whether Mrs. Yang wishes to leave China. There may be difficulties about this since her husband and children are Chinese. Our representations have been directed towards obtaining consular access and securing her release from detention. Certainly we will be happy to give any help we can to members of her family who may wish to try to obtain visas.