HC Deb 19 February 1990 vol 167 cc656-8
48. Mr. Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what environmental protection measures Her Majesty's Government propose to take in respect of Tibet.

Mrs. Chalker

The Government have no plans at present to finance environmental protection measures in Tibet.

Mr. Bruce

Will the Minister acknowledge the concern caused by the Chinese Government's attitude to Tibet, in terms of forcing changes to unsuitable crops, which has led to starvation, the stripping of rain forests and the area being used as an environmental dump? In those circumstances is not it appropriate that the British Government should apply some pressure to the Chinese Government to stop those practices and protect the interests of the native population of Tibet?

Mrs. Chalker

The hon. Gentleman knows that the environment throughout the world is central to our agenda. I fully acknowledge that developing countries will need additional resources to tackle problems, whether they be crop substitution or deforestation. As yet, we have had no request to help with environmental problems in Tibet. I sincerely hope that it will become possible, throughout that area, to take all such measures internationally as will prevent deforestation and the flow into the gulf of Bangladesh, which I have just visited, of much of the soils from those high regions.

Mr. Cormack

Does my right hon. Friend agree that China's record in Tibet is disgraceful by any standards?

Mrs. Chalker

Successive British Governments have regarded Tibet as autonomous, although recognising the special position of the Chinese authorities. That continues to be the Government's view, but we sincerely hope that China will give the people of Tibet their rightful stance.

Back to