§ Mr. Ennals
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the plight of the boat people in the South China Sea and Britain's response to this massive human tragedy".It is a specific matter, Mr. Speaker, in that there are now thousands of refugees from Vietnam drifting in small boats in the South China Sea, including over 2,000 who were towed out yesterday from Malaysia. The matter is also specific, in the very grave problems that the House know this creates for Hong Kong—problems that the Governor has been discussing with the Government in the last few days.
The matter is urgent, because unless there is a rapid, realistic and humane response from other nations, there could be 921 a death toll of monumental proportions. The matter is urgent also because decisions need to be taken quickly by Asian countries and by the rest of the world. Malaysia must expect some response if we are to expect that country to change a policy that has already been condemned in the House.
The matter is important to this Parliament because of Britain's responsibility for the British colony of Hong Kong, because Malaysia is a member of the Commonwealth, and because of our responsibilities to British shipping and our own standing in the world.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) gave me notice this morning that he might seek to make an application under Standing Order No. 9.
The right hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the plight of the boat people in the South China Sea and Britain's response to this massive human tragedy".I listened with care to the exchanges on the matter earlier this afternoon. As the House knows, I do not decide whether a matter is debated; I merely decide whether there is to be an emergency debate tonight or tomorrow. That is the limit of my responsibilities in the matter. The House has directed me to take into account the several factors set out in the order but to give no reasons for my decision.
I listened with obvious care to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but I cannot rule that his submission falls within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.