§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Blaker)
There are no plans to repeal the Public Order Ordinance, but a review has been carried out of certain of its provisions. The Public Order (Amendment) Ordinance 1980 received the assent of the Legislative Council on 4 December and will be brought into operation soon.
§ Mr. Parry
The Minister will be aware of the arrests under the statute that have taken place in recent years of housewives, school children, worker priests and social workers, and also of the criticism of the Hong Kong trade unions. Does he agree that it is now time to repeal this draconic measure?
§ Mr. Blaker
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is right. Hong Kong, just as any other country, including the United Kingdom, requires a statute about public order. In the light of one or two problems that have arisen in the past it is right to look at the existing ordinance and to repeal it where required. The new ordinance narrows the definition of a public meeting, narrows the definition of a public procession and changes the arrangements whereby one had to apply for permission in advance to hold a public meeting. That provision has been replaced by one that arranges for notice to be given of the intention to hold a procession. I think that the House will agree that that is an improvement.
§ Mr. Canavan
Until such time as the Public Order Ordinance is repealed, will the Minister tell the Hong Kong Government to stop infiltrating and keeping secret files on organisations that are suspected of being subversive, especially when the list of suspects includes such innocuous bodies as the Education Action Group, the Heritage Society and the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee?