HC Deb 25 July 1983 vol 46 cc780-1
21. Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will propose the creation of a Select Committee on the British dependent territories.

Mr. Biffen

No, Sir. Matters relating to the British dependent territories will be within the general terms of reference of the departmental Select Committee on Foreign Affairs when it is re-established.

Mr. Stanbrook

Unlike most subjects considered by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Parliament is directly responsible for the economic and social welfare and defence of residents of British dependent territories. Such people cannot expect independence, and most do not desire it. In the circumstances, would it not be right for them to have their own regular scrutiny of their own interests through a Committee of this House?

Mr. Biffen

No. I am anxious not to encourage the proliferation of departmental Select Committees, for I think that that would react against their impact. I take that view all the more because the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs has the power to create a Sub-Committee.

Mr. Dalyell

What would be the promotional chances of any Tory member of a Select Committee who criticised the Prime Minister over the Falklands?

Mr. Biffen

The Tory Party has an unequalled record of promoting critics of Prime Ministers.

Mr. Adley

How do the Government intend to give effect to the pledge in the Gracious Speech that the people of Hong Kong will be consulted on any future arrangements for the dependent territory?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend knows that that question goes much wider than the establishment of a departmental Select Committee. He may be encouraged by the fact that the departmental Select Committee on Foreign Affairs has already taken a keen interest in Hong Kong.