HC Deb 05 February 1992 vol 203 cc282-3
16. Mr. Michael J. Martin

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the number of seats that will be directly elected to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong in 1995.

Mr. Hurd

Before I answer the question, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will allow me to record the shock with which the Government and, I imagine, the whole House heard of the tragedy of the deaths of 21 Vietnamese in the Shek Kong camp in Hong Kong on 3 and 4 February. Our sympathy goes to the bereaved and the injured.

As for the question on the Order Paper, we have two linked objectives. First, we want steady progress towards a greater degree of democracy in Hong Kong. Secondly, we want this progress to be sustained without interruption after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997. In order to achieve that, it is obviously necessary to discuss arrangements for the next elections—the 1995 elections—with the Chinese Government when the time is right.

Mr. Martin

Since Tiananmen square, the Hong Kong community has been very worried about the future. I hope that every step will be taken to negotiate the best possible deal for a democratic future for Hong Kong. Will the Minister make sure that such assurances are given to the hard-working community in Hong Kong?

Mr. Hurd

Most people in Hong Kong have two ambitions, which are not always easy to reconcile. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the first; in my original answer, I showed how we intend to work towards it. The second is the desire that the transition between now and 1997 and thereafter should be smooth and that the principle of two systems in one country should be honoured. We repeatedly emphasise that point to the Chinese Government, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did to Mr. Li Peng in New York last week.

Sir Peter Blaker

Will my right hon. Friend convey to the Governor of Hong Kong my congratulations and those of the House on the skilful and successful way in which he has conducted the affairs of Hong Kong in difficult circumstances for the past five years? Will he confirm that contrary to some suspicions expressed in various parts of the media and by some politicians, the major factor in the mind of Her Majesty's Government when forming their policy towards Hong Kong is protecting the interests of Hong Kong and its people?

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend is quite right in what he says about Sir David Wilson and also about his second point. We try to make it clear to people in Hong Kong and to the Government of China that the main component in our relationship with the People's Republic of China must be Hong Kong and carrying the 1984 agreement to success.

Mr. Loyden

What are the impediments to the universal franchise for Hong Kong?

Mr. Hurd

That it would come to an abrupt end in 1997.