HC Deb 29 November 1989 vol 162 c712
15. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Vietnamese boat people are currently living in camps in Hong Kong.

Mr. Hurd

There are almost 57,000 Vietnamese boat people living in camps in Hong Kong, 12,800 of whom are refugees. The remainder either await screening, or have been determined after screening not to be eligible for refugee status as defined by the 1951 United Nations convention and 1967 protocol.

Mr. Alton

Now that the Vietnamese Government, in another cruel and ironic twist, have said that they will not accept any refugees who are forcibly repatriated, will the Foreign Secretary tell the House where that leaves British policy? Does he accept that in the light of international opposition to forcible repatriation and the payment of blood money we should drop that odious and repugnant policy and put our efforts into finding an internationally acceptable, compassionate and civilised solution?

Mr. Hurd

We are talking about the repatriation of people who, after careful screening, have been found not to be refugees. The international community has accepted that the right place for those people is Vietnam. That was the nature of the agreement last summer. There is nothing unique about such repatriation. It occurs frequently in many places. I have read the press report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. As I told the House on Friday, we are discussing ways and means with the Vietnamese Government and that remains the position.