HC Deb 27 March 1974 vol 871 cc436-8
11. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an early visit to Hong Kong.

Mr. Ennals

My right hon. Friend has no present plans for a visit.

Mr. Sillars

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a large number of ILO conventions which operate fully inside the United Kingdom are not applied fully inside Hong Kong? Is my hon. Friend further aware that we want him either to go personally or to send a commission of inquiry to Hong Kong to see how we can match that model economy's technological advance with similar measures in employment protection?

Mr. Ennals

The statistics of human rights conventions show, at 31st December 1973, 20 ILO conventions which had been applied without modification to Hong Kong, and nine which had been applied with some modifications. That compares very well with other countries in the area. I understand my hon. Friend's question, and I can tell him that the overseas labour adviser recently paid a visit to the colony. I expect his report shortly. I think that it will throw new light on the situation. I shall bear in mind the points made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Royle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is severe concern in Hong Kong following the Budget speech yesterday of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The statement indicated that Her Majesty's Government may be considering withdrawing from South-East Asia. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that Her Majesty's Government are determined to support Hong Kong, to stay in Hong Kong and to maintain the garrison in that colony?

Mr. Ennals

The hon. Gentleman will remember that my right hon. Friend referred in his Budget speech also to the defence review being carried out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. Clearly, it is an all-embracing review. It would be unwise—I have no intention of doing so—either to trespass on his territory or to answer questions that relate to particular parts of the review. Before the hon. Gentleman leaps to his feet, I can assure him that no changes will be made affecting any part of the world without the fullest consultation with our allies and the occupants of the area.

Mr. George Cunningham

Does my right hon. Friend recall the case of the British police officer in Hong Kong who committed a criminal offence there, came to this country and could not be returned to stand trial in Hong Kong? Are there any plans to avoid a repetition of that situation, so that people who commit an offence in a British colony cannot then seek refuge in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Ennals

This is a difficult problem. The offence alleged against the gentleman in question, in respect of which a warrant has been issued in Hong Kong, concerns a matter which is not an offence in this country. It is an offence under Section 10 of the Hong Kong Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, but, since there is no corresponding offence in this country, the Hong Kong Government are not in a position to seek his return under the Fugitive Offenders Act. It would not be easy, therefore, to produce legislation that would enable this to take place in the case of a matter which is not an offence in the United Kingdom.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when his party, in earlier years, proposed to withdraw from east of Suez, it never proposed to withdraw from Hong Kong? Does he recognise, also, the absolute importance of maintaining confidence in Hong Kong?

Mr. Ennals

I can give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. There is no doubt that Her Majesty's Government's commitments to Hong Kong will remain, and there is no suggestion at all that our presence in Hong Kong should be withdrawn.