HL Deb 22 June 1967 vol 283 cc1571-602

4.35 p.m.

LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the political, economic and internal security positions in Hong Kong; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, we in this House frequently nowadays discuss matters over which we have little or no authority, but the subject we are to discuss to-day is not only one over which we have authority but one for which both Her Majesty's Government and Parliament have a great deal of responsibility. The origin of our connection with the island and the State of Hong Kong goes back to 1841, when the island was ceded to us, I think much to the annoyance of the Government here, since Lord Palmerston described it as "a barren island with hardly a house upon it." I think that was probably an artistic or politician's rather than a geographical way of describing the island of Hong Kong, because some years ago I met there at dinner one evening an elderly and most charming old Chinese gentleman, who was a grandson of the one of the three headmen who were present when the island was ceded. So I imagine that there were a few more than one or two houses on the island.

In 1860 a part of the mainland opposite the island of Hong Kong, the peninsula, was, for obvious reasons, ceded; and the island and part of the peninsula, Hong Kong, became, with the adjoining islands, a great and prosperous free port, becoming—as Raffles said of Singapore—an emporium of trade with China and many other countries, both in and outside Asia. In 1898 the new territories—that is to say, the portion of the mainland opposite the island of Hong Kong—were leased to Britain for 99 years from 1899. There was, at one time when I was dealing with these matters at the Colonial Office, a query about the old city, the tiny little city, of Kowloon. But I do not intend to go into that to-day, unless the Minister wishes me to do so. It was, as Joseph Chamberlain once said in another place, the size of a London square.

In December, 1941, the Japanese occupied Hong Kong. They remained in occupation for three years and seven months. When we went back in 1945 the population was about 600,000. By the end of 1947 it had grown to 1,800,000; and when the Communist insurgence came about and the Nationalists were driven out of China the numbers went up, especially from refugees coming from the Treaty ports, of Shanghai and other places, and to-day the population is about 4 million. We talk about crowding in this country; but an increase from 600,000, in 1945, to 4 million to-day is not a bad rise.

Of course, this immense increase in the population in a tiny little State such as this has imposed problems. The Colony is prosperous, enormously active commercially; it has large sterling balances, and for trade with China it is a valuable outlet, both to the Chinese Government and to ourselves. But of course it has many problems: problems of overcrowding, poverty, a rapidly expanding population and a shortage of water. It has been described as "the Switzerland of Asia"; and there is something in that. I think it is important to noble Lords who do not know the territory well to realise that Hong Kong depends greatly on China for food and water. That is always a problem in the minds of those dealing with Hong Kong.

Apart from industry and commerce, 100,000 people are farmers and fishermen, and very important people they are. I have long been interested in them and in their co-operatives, and on my visit in 1949 they were good enough to present me with a very handsome, hand-painted book from the farmers and workers in the farmers' co-operative, dedicated to me as a memento of my visit and in appreciation of my interest in their welfare. The last part is certainly true, for I have always taken a very great interest in them. The pictures portray vegetable growers in the new territories. There was also a poem from the T'ang dynasty describing the hardships of those who work on the land.

China is, of course, their next-door neighbour, and conditions in China immediately affect the conditions in Hong Kong. In August, 1965, Chairman Mao Tse-tung launched his "Cultural Revolution". The origin is not quite clear, but it seems to those best able to judge that it was probably due to the distress of Chairman Mao in seeing China, in spite of the revolution which he led, failing to become a purely proletarian State and failing to impose its political, social, economic and military pattern on other States in Asia, Africa and perhaps elsewhere. He has blamed both the Soviet Union and his own intellectuals and Party leaders—all this in spite of the failure of his disastrous "Leap Forward" policy. Chairman Mao then launched his Red Guards to achieve his ends, which he had failed to do in other ways, by mob rule. By so doing China has lost a lot of her moral influence.

Lately there has been the development of the hydrogen bomb, which is a very ominous development, not only in regard to potential in war but also from the point of view of fall-out. It is rather uncertain who actually controls the hydrogen bomb in China. It would seem now to be under the control of General Wang En-mao, and to what extent General Wang En-mao and Chairman Mao are in sympathy one with the other it is difficult to say—I should imagine it is not very great. It is very sad to me, as one who has had a great love of the Chinese people ever since my early days nearly 40 years ago in Penang. I have always appreciated their remarkable qualities. They are a cultured, artistic, hard-working, cheerful people, with an intense family life. When we see the sort of situation that has come about in China in the last year it is sad for me and for the many other people who are friends of the Chinese and of China.

The effect of all this on Hong Kong has been very great. I thought it would be, and that is why some months ago I put down the Motion which we are discussing to-day. On May 6 there was a labour dispute in two factories in Hong Kong which were making artificial flowers, and those disputes led to minor disturbances during picketing of one of the factories. Immediately the Communists took advantage of those labour disputes and organised demonstrations, with the aid of a number of hooligans, most of whom were paid. The police controlled the situation with a minimum of force and did an admirable job. Firearms were used only once, when just one man was wounded. Thirty-six police and 70 demonstrators were wounded in all. There was only one death, and that was of a bystander who was hit by a stone—it had nothing to do with the police. There were 815 arrests; the soldiers were available there, if necessary, but were not called in.

The reaction of the Hong Kong people has been very interesting, when one realises that in the past, certainly in China, the Chinese people were not, as a rule, wholeheartedly on the side of the Government. In fact the position was usually the other way about, with their feeling that the Government was more likely to do them harm than good—and they were usually not far wrong. But the reaction in Hong Kong has been wholeheartedly in favour of the Government, and at least 97 per cent. of the population of Hong Kong has come out in favour of the Government: 582 organisations, clansmen's, business organisations, and so on, have come out in support. Urban and rural Chinese including my old friends the farmers and fishermen of the new territories have been practically unanimous in conveying their support to the Government. It was proposed that a police education fund should be set up to educate the children of the police, particularly in higher education, and this purely voluntary fund had brought in over 3½ million dollars from the people of Hong Kong—which is quite remarkable, but is of course entirely deserved.

The Hong Kong Government's attitude throughout these troubles has been commendable. It has been firm, fair, dignified and patient—all one could wish. It has been very different from the attitude in Macao, the Portuguese Colony which is quite near to Hong Kong. Because of the weakness shown in Macao, the Communists, especially the Red Guards, have practically taken over there, and I gather that the Macao authorities have actually appealed to Mr. Chou-en-Lai for assistance. I am afraid they are not likely to get very much sympathy from him. It is essential, however, to maintain confidence in the Hong Kong Government's determination to rule firmly and wisely, not only among the people in Hong Kong but among people outside Hong Kong, in the world at large.

I should like to turn for a moment to the future and to explain what I, for one, feel that the Government should do. First of all, I feel that it is essential to maintain firmly, and with justice to all, law and order in Hong Kong. And in this the police and the Government have the overwhelming support of the majority of the people there. Furthermore, they must take the opportunity to ensure that police pay and conditions are satisfactory in modern circumstances. This was not always so, by any means, but I hope that if there are any ways in which it can be improved they will be acted upon by the Government. Thirdly, I would ask the Government to look into the practices of the Communist banks in Hong Kong, because they are pursuing quite extraordinary courses. They have opened what is called an "anti-persecution fund", and are putting considerable pressure upon their customers. They even go so far—and this will cause a shudder of horror among those of your Lordships who are bankers—as to go through the accounts of their customers and bring pressure on them to subscribe to this fund. There is no doubt that some of the banks have been centres of Communist organisation in Hong Kong.


My Lords, would the noble Lord be ready to add one other object, and that is to secure some minimum wage for the workers? The appalling conditions in the factories have led to the strike which brought about the beginning of these troubles.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, and would remind him that I have not yet finished. I have only got as far as number three of my suggestions, and I have several more things to say. One cannot finish off the whole matter by three suggestions to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, from whom I know they will receive sympathetic consideration.


I understood the noble Lord to be laying down the conditions.


Yes, and I still have a few more. I would ask the United Kingdom Government to back the Hong Kong Government in all these proposals which I am making, for they cannot do these things without the support and the authorisation of the British Government. I would also ask them to make sure that, when we talk about "withdrawal East of Suez" we always exclude from the policy of withdrawals East of Suez—as the Liberal Party has always advocated—the Colony of Hong Kong. It is our responsibility, and we must take the necessary steps to ensure that the Crown Colony is secure.

Then I would ask the Government to pursue an energetic and imaginative development of industry, commerce, farming and fishing. I do not want any suggestion to be made that there is any let-down in future development, and I am glad to see that the Hong Kong Electricity Company is already making plans up to 1986 for its future development. I strongly urge not only the Government and the Urban Council, but also industrial and commercial firms, to do the same, and to plan well forward Hong Kong's economic development.

I now come to the proposal for reform to which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has drawn my attention. The Hong Kong Government has been faced with the problem of the enormously increased population and it has put great effort into the social services. But there is a vast need for greater educational, housing, health, welfare, employment and medical services. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has said, in a way the recent incident started in the factories, and it is important that the conditions of employment in the factories, not only in regard to wages, should be of the best possible kind. In addition, I ask the Government to give all possible assistance to the old, the widows and the fatherless. I am very glad indeed that the Women and Young. Persons' Regulation Bill, which regulates employment, is to be introduced very shortly. That, I hope, will help the young persons and the women in their conditions of service in the factories, and in other commercial and industrial undertakings.

In regard to constitutional progress, the one body on which there are any elected members at the moment is the Urban Council. There are 26 members; 6 of them are ex officio, 10 are nominated and 10 are elected. So only 10 out of 26 are elected. I think the people of Hong Kong, by their conduct and by their support for the Government, have shown that they are in every way suited to have a greater representation of elected members on the Urban Council. They themselves would like—and I am sure they are right—the scope of the Urban Council to be widened in such matters as social welfare, education and medical services, municipal transport and fire services, and I would support the Hong Kong Civic Association, whose plan that is, in that direction.

I also believe that there should be more women on the Council. I do not know whether there are any on it at the moment, but if there are not then there should be. If there are, I am quite certain that there are not many and there probably should be more. I have not been able to get hold of that figure.

The Hong Kong Civic Association have also proposed that the Urban Council should be renamed the Municipal Council, and I would commend that also. In addition, I think there should be a Rural Council with the same status as the Urban Council, or Municipal Council, for Hong Kong. That is not the case to-day, and I should like to see that brought about, with elected members on that Rural Council.

Then there is the Legislative Council, which consists of 5 ex officio members, 8 nominated and 8 unofficial. None of them is elected, and there is only one woman on the Council. I believe that there ought to be more women on the Council, and I think there should be more unofficial members, because 8 is a very small number. The Hong Kong Civic Association suggested that instead of direct elections to the Legislative Council there might be a system whereby elected members of the Municipal Council and of the Rural Council, when it is created, are appointed to the Legislative Council. In other words, there will not be a direct election to the Legislative Council, but the members will come from the elected members of the other Councils. I hope I have made that clear. That is what the Secretary General of the Civic Association, Mr. Hilton Cheong-Leen, said quite recently. Both the Hong Kong Civic Association, with whom I have been in touch for many years, and the Reform Club are responsible bodies of moderate opinion whose views are well worth taking into account.

As it stands at the moment, the Legislative Council is the old type of Crown Colony Legislative Council. It is exactly the same type of Council that we had in Penang when I was Secretary of the Penang Straits Settlements Association nearly forty years ago. So they do not seem to have moved very far in Hong Kong. So far as I am aware, they are not at the moment asking for direct representation—at least, Mr. Hilton Cheong-Leen is not doing so—and I have no doubt that they would be satisfied to have an interim measure such as I have described.

In conclusion, may I say that I think the British Government and the Hong Kong Government should press on with the measures needed to create a democratic and enlightened society in Hong Kong. We ought to make it not only an emporium of trade, which it is, but also a shop window for democracy in East Asia. I should like to send messages of congratulation and good wishes from this House to the Government of Hong Kong, to her security forces and to her splendid people. I beg to move for Papers.

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, we must be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for having put down this Motion to-day, despite the fact that the situation in Hong Kong still seems somewhat uneasy and we must obviously be careful of what we say. I think the noble Lord has been very careful. I must say that I agree with virtually everything he has said, and with the excellent suggestions and proposals which he made regarding both social conditions and the municipal and legislative system.

At the outset I should like to join the noble Lord in paying tribute to the Governor, Sir David Trench, and his staff who, we hope, will bear the present problems which they have to face as stoically as possible. They clearly have the sympathy of the whole House in their present very difficult tasks. I should also like to join the noble Lord in congratulating the police in Hong Kong, who appear to have handled what was undoubtedly an explosive situation with admirable resolution and restraint. It is indeed a remarkable thing that the 7,000 Servicemen there were not required to give help to the civil power. With a population of about 4 million, 50 per cent. of whom are under 21, squeezed into its relatively small area—which I, too, have seen for myself—the possibility of a breakdown of law and order must be an ever-present danger. I am glad that there has been such considerable support for the Government from the many elements of the Chinese community.

Law and order has been preserved at least for the time being, and despite the recent troubles I feel it is most important that we keep the disturbances which have occurred in their proper perspective. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who is to answer for the Government, will tell me whether I am right in thinking that there is a considerable degree of normality in Hong Kong now; and whether the disturbances, which received so much publicity in other parts of the world, in fact occurred in only a very limited area at a time. I was glad to see in The Times this morning that the Hong Kong stock market reopened yesterday after having been closed most of the month.

My Lords, I feel I must refer for one moment to the five-point demand which the Chinese Government presented to us on May 15. I will not go into those points now, or specify them exactly; I think the noble Lord knows what they were. They are, of course, a grotesque travesty of the facts, and I hope Her Majesty's Government have not answered them. I think I am right in saying that they have not been answered. In the past the British Government have always honoured their treaty obligations in regard to this Colony, and we have always hoped that the Chinese Government would the same. I hope your Lordships will agree that it has always been accepted in the past that the Chinese Communist Government do not want us to leave Hong Kong, at least not until the lease of the Colony expires in 1997. I assume our own Government—I hope I am right in this—will also respect our treaty obligations until then, and will not be moved from this policy.

I hope, too, that the Government will be able to give us an assurance—and I hope that it may be an unequivocal statement—that they will in no circumstances allow Hong Kong to pass under the domination of another Power, whether directly or indirectly, as appears to be the case in Macao, where, among other things, the unfortunate Portuguese Government (and our sympathies must be with them) were not in a position even to protect our own Consul.

The value of the free port of Hong Kong to the world—and China, after all, represents a very large part of this world—must not be underestimated. From its early days as a British Colony until the outbreak of the Second World War the economy of Hong Kong was based, as the noble Lord has said, on its position as a great entrepôt port for trade between China and the rest of the world. In the post-war period the Colony has developed a wide range of industries, but at the same time the economy remains basically that of a free port having few natural resources and dependent on overseas trade to pay for the imports of food, raw materials and equipment which it needs. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, one of the most vital of Hong Kong's imports is the water that it receives from China. I understand that requests have been made to increase the quantities of water for the Colony, and I should be grateful to the noble Lord, to whom I have given notice of this question, if he would tell me whether progress has been made in this direction. They certainly need more water.

My Lords, this remaining outpost, set as it is along the coast of China, represents an especial responsibility for this country. The people of Hong Kong, and indeed we too, have much to be proud of, as the noble Lord has said, in the educational and welfare services; and much is being done, as I understand it, to investigate and put right the labour disputes which caused the sparking off of the recent troubles. However, as the entire livelihood of this small Colony depends so much upon its ability to trade with the rest of the world, I hope the Government will agree that we must do all that we possibly can—and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, agrees with this—to give confidence, to assist the people in their efforts to find markets for their products, and to direct as much trade to them as our own economy will allow.

With the ever-growing power of China as their neighbour, their position is not an enviable one; but in regard to the explosion of China's first H-bomb, I hope we may feel somewhat reassured by the most recent thoughts of Chairman Mao—we are all interested in the thoughts of Chairman Mao—when he said that the Chinese solemnly declare once again that at no time and in no circumstances will China be the first to use nuclear weapons. He added, We always mean what we say. My Lords, I happened, quite by chance, to be in Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia when China exploded their second atom bomb in 1965, and I can assure your Lordships that those who knew that this had been done—and, of course, the man in the street did not—were very uneasy there, too. But in regard to Hong Kong I would say this: that the position and the value of the Colony in its present status can be of very real importance to the future economies of many countries. I hope she will long remain so; and, however red his banner may be, I hope Chairman Mao fully recognises its value and will always stand by his solemn declaration.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, may I, too, express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for having raised this subject to-day? Some years ago I sat in the office of a prominent businessman in Hong Kong overlooking the harbour, and I said to him, "Tell me something about the occupation by the Japanese." He said: "I saw them swimming across the harbour; they came across the Bund; they came up the steps of this office; and, while they were coming up the steps I wrote something on a piece of paper, put it on the top of my documents in the safe, locked the safe door and, when the Japanese pushed the door in, I handed them the keys. "He was whisked off to Shanghai, to spend the war there. I was dying to ask him the question, "What had you written on that piece of paper?"—and I did. He replied, "Things are never as bad as they seem." I hope that he is thinking the same kind of thoughts now.

I agree with points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—law and order, pay for the police, anti-persecution fund, military security and social reform—and also with his references to reform of a political nature. But I venture to suggest that the situation in Hong Kong is totally different from that which we have experienced in any other part of the world where we have been an occupying authority, because the Chinese, wherever they be throughout the world, are a closely-knit community. Their expatriates throughout the world send donations amounting to many millions of Hong Kong dollars back to their homeland in China, and this shows intense loyalty to the Chinese mainland. I am one of those who believe in progress towards more democracy in the world in agreed things, but the problem with which they would be faced in Hong Kong would be the charge by China of alienation of the Chinese in Hong Kong if the democratic process went too far.

These are the facts—and they have to be faced—that make the difficulties of the Governor and his Administration so much more acute. The Governor and the police have been praised, and rightly so. They have really done a first-rate job. So has the public in Hong Kong. That has been said, and I will not go over the ground again. That firmness, that belief in their own future, I believe must be supported from this country. The firmness of action during those days and weeks surprised the Chinese Communists. They expected an easy run—as they had in Macao.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned what had been done in other territories. I remember the first time I ever went to Hong Kong. I remember the cirticisms I had made in another place of the administration and of the way they ran things. I can recall the charges about low wages and all the rest of it. Then I remember getting to Hong Kong and seeing the energy and brilliance of their operations, both commercial and industrial, and the way in which they were coping with the ceaseless pouring-in of an endless number of refugees, and with the building of their houses—although the accommodation, 14 square feet per person, was small by our standards. But you can go to other countries which are supposed to be very forward and advanced in terms of housing, countries such as Russia, and you can see, even to-day, that they are putting up buildings for the workers with no more than nine square metres for each. I have seen their shift system of schools, starting at seven o'clock in the morning and finishing at eight o'clock or nine o'clock at night. I have admiration for them. There are many things that they could learn; there are many things they are doing wrong; but it was evident to me that there was a real and sincere striving to progress and that they were succeeding. Films and books portray Hong Kong as a kind of snob area, where the old-style taipan sits and sips his whisky attended by servants, until it seems that this image has produced in many people here a kind of Walter Mitty envy of their success and their enterprise.

My Lords, mention has been made about what is happening on the mainland. Not having been there for 12 months I make perhaps a risky contribution here. In China you see an example of a shift in Communist policy. You have Mao as the pure Marxist, and you have the Party, the Communist Party, trying to embark on a new policy altogether—imitating the Russians who, as your Lordships know, during these last three years have moved from the Marxist conception over to the acceptance of profit as a yardstick of industrial confidence. The two champions of this move in China were Lin Shao-chi and Tung Shao-ping. For 18 months they have been incommunicado; while Mao has raised feelings in the country for a return to dogmatic Marxism. Old-timers who know China well say that Chinese military strategy is based on surrounding your enemy on three sides—you always leave him the fourth side from which to escape if he can. These two leaders are still in Peking. They have not taken the fourth side escape, so they are in a position of strength yet. Mao closed the schools. He gave 15 million students the title of Red Guards, and off they went on a rampage; and they enjoyed it.

No wonder there were repercussions in Hong Kong. China's foreign policy has resulted in her near-total hostility towards the whole of the world, with the exception of one country, Albania. They have been at loggerheads with the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., and with Portugal over Macao. There has been verbal war with Indonesia; they have "taken on" Mongolia; there is trouble in the Sinkiang region, trouble in Sushow and in Hunan Province. And now this great civilised race is reduced to splashing glue over departing diplomats. Yet I am sure they will emerge as time goes on as one of the finest races in the world. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who has expressed his admiration of them.

It is interesting that during this last day or two there has been a new directive in Peking. It is backed by the Party and by the Government and the Army. It outlaws the excesses which have been so much in evidence during these last few week. The directive forbids violence, the illegal seizure and illegal entry into Party and State premises, as well as private dwellings; it bans the seizure of State and Party documents—all of which has apparently been going on. That is why we must be a little patient. We must support the steadiness and firmness of the people on the spot—and I have admired the sentiments of both the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, and the moderate terms in which they have couched their speeches.

It is easy to "blether" on a subject like this but it is one that is charged with danger. The Chinese have lost face over the way in which the authorities in Hong Kong have handled the situation. I was interested in the question which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, put to the Minister about what had happened with regard to the five demands. All the time this was going on I never heard any mention whatever by any spokesman in China of what they would do if the demands were not met. Perhaps the Minister will be able to enlighten us on that.

In conclusion I would say that the immediate and pressing need is to take steps to restore confidence. There are people in Hong Kong who are steady, strong and firm, and who need all the support which can be given to them by this Government. Confidence is needed by the local and overseas investors, and I ask Her Majesty's Government to give assurances to them about their future. I will put it in no more demanding a way than that. I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will have to work out a suitable formula which, in the present turbulent conditions in China, will appear firm but not provocative. If not, a sudden surge of animosity could do irreparable damage. It may be that that formula cannot be indicated in an answer to-day. We should not expect that, but we hope it will soon be made. We should encourage those who are willing to go ahead by whatever means are available to us: by Government assistance or through the banks, or businessmen. The recent negotiations with the British firms regarding the construction of the cross-harbour tunnel should be helped forward. This applies to other large public works and projects. They, too, should be encouraged and advanced. This is no time to carp about the shortcomings of anyone there. This is the time to give them the means to restore their own confidence and the confidence of those about them. Our businessmen should continue to ship their raw materials to Hong Kong, and to place orders for manufactured goods.

Trading in the Far East is a tough job, as anyone knows who has had experience of it. The noble Lord, Lord Erroll of Hale, who successfully led a London Chamber of Commerce mission to the Far East—where I had the pleasure of meeting him—knows this as well as anyone in your Lordships' House, and I think he would back up what I am saying. In the Far East we are in danger of being overwhelmed by Japan regarding our exports to this part of the world. Any foothold we have there should be carefully and firmly held; because in the generations to come this part of the world will be one of the most important places for our exports. If the Government can provide some measure of assurance, they will find a ready response from the millions who have found Hong Kong a place where, at any rate, they could get a reasonable livelihood.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, I also join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for raising this subject this afternoon, the more so because the Motion has been on the Order Paper for a considerable time—a fact which shows a great deal of foresight on the noble Lord's part. Perhaps he foresaw possible difficulties which have since become realities.

I should like to start by disagreeing completely with the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough. I am not prepared to trust Chairman Mao to the extent that the noble Earl is prepared to. Also, Chairman Mao is a very old man, and it is quite possible that his successor, who may not have spent the same amount of time as the noble Earl has in studying Chairman Mao's thoughts, may act completely contrary to them. Anyone who has been in a mob, especially a Chinese mob, will know that there is a great lack of logic in such a mob. There is also a lack of acceptance of any direction. It may be true to say that the people of Peking would have no authority at all over a mob in those circumstances, and therefore, even though he was as good as his word, Chairman Mao could not really be held responsible.

For these reasons, my Lords, I think it very important to start by looking at the internal and external security position in Hong Kong as it is to-day. I have no military background. I was an ensign for two years when doing my National Service, but that was enough to teach me that Hong Kong is militarily totally indefensible. If I were not able to judge that from my own knowledge, I should not have to look far to find it confirmed by people who know the subject very well. If it is a fact that Hong Kong is militarily indefensible, and if a concerted effort were made by the Chinese to attack it, what should we do? Why are there 8,500 troops in Hong Kong? That is a ridiculous number. It is either far too many or nothing like enough, depending on what our policy is. If we intend to defend Hong Kong militarily, 100,000 troops will be hardly sufficient. If we do not intend to make a fight for Hong Kong, in the event of its being attached, are 8,500 Servicemen necessary to maintain order in the Colony?

Would the Government seriously consider entering into a war on the mainland against Communist China? I could hardly believe that possible—certainly not after the example set to the world by the tragedy of Vietnam. If we do not intend to enter into a war with the Communist Chinese on the mainland, who is the potential enemy in that area? Is it Japan? Is it the forces of the United States on Okinawa? Or is it the Philippines? It would seem hardly likely that any of those was the potential enemy, and certainly none of them would be a potential enemy that 8,500 troops could do anything whatever about. The troops in Malaysia are facing a different problem and are a different subject.

If the troops are there to deal with internal riots, I would draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that there are 10,701 police officers, men and women, in Hong Kong, and 2,437 auxiliary police. I think that they have proved that they can take care of a very nasty riot without calling on the military. But, if they have to call on the military, surely the first to be called on would be the 600 members of the Hong Kong Regiment, who will be there in any case. It may also be possible to make out a case for leaving a battalion of Gurkhas, in case it was absolutely necessary to call out troops to maintain law and order. But surely they would be more than enough. I think it is important that what troops remain in Hong Kong should be Gurkhas, because in the event of their being called out it would be possible to avoid any charge of racialism. Photographs) of Gurkhas putting down a riot are far less provocative in certain parts of the world than pictures of the Grenadier Guards doing exactly the same job.

I come now to the endless and unanswerable question of whether China will attempt to take over Hong Kong or not. It is a long subject, in which their political gain must be balanced against their economic loss. I, for one, would certainly not set myself up to give an opinion on this subject because most of the old China hands or Chinaologists (as the Americans now seem to call them) appear to disagree completely with one another on this point. What we must decide is what is our duty and where does our interest lie, and then we must try to strike a balance between these two. Our interest is in preserving the Colony so long as possible while abiding by our responsibilities and duties, and in the meantime avoiding provocations.

As the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, has just said, we must not provoke the Chinese any further than is absolutely necessary to maintain law and order. I do not consider the maintenance of law and order is a provocation. What I consider to be a provocation is the presence of American warships in the harbour of Hong Kong at any time whatsoever while the Americans are at war, directly or indirectly, with the Communist Chinese in Vietnam. I also consider it a provocation to have members of the forces actively fighting in Vietnam coming to Hong Kong for rest and recreation. A quarter of a million such soldiers came to Hong Kong last year. Surely this is a provocation which could well be avoided. Certainly the Hong Kong Government wish to have the extra revenue these soldiers leave behind, but I do not think it is that important to them, since they survived very well and made handsome profits in their businesses before the quarter of a million came, and would do so after the quarter of a million went.

Another form of provocation which must be avoided at all costs is the bad behaviour of Brtish citizens in the Colony. There was a case three years ago when the daughter of a non-commissioned officer stationed in Hong Kong had a motor accident in the Wan Chei area, when presumably under the influence of drink, and the breadwinner of a large Chinese family was badly hurt. She did not face any court but was sent back to England as a punishment. Is this really the correct way of handling such things? Unless provocation is avoided, Hong Kong faces more trouble and generally a worsening business climate. I would stress again that in my opinion firm administration and law enforcement do not constitute a provocation.

Hong Kong is a borrowed place, living on borrowed time. We must be fully prepared to pull out of it if the necessity to do so arises. What I should like to see is some plan for an organised withdrawal in the case of military attack. China is under pressure from other Communist countries, who are laughing at the Chinese and saying, "You cannot set yourselves up as authorities on world Communism when you have a colonial Power sitting on your own territory". This argument in itself might weight the balance in the minds of the rulers of Communist China and force them to feel that the political gain would outweigh the economic loss if they were to remove us militarily from the Colony. We all hope that it is not going to happen, and I certainly agree with that; but are there any plans for the evacuation of Hong Kong if it becomes necessary? This is a question which I should like the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, to answer when he comes to speak.

Particularly, I should like to know what would happen to the loyal members of the Chinese Police Force who, we have already been informed by the Communists in China, would be the first for the "chop" if they ever got into power in the Colony. I think that their behaviour has been magnificent, when one takes account of the fact that they were being told in Chinese from loudspeakers on the top of skyscraper buildings throughout the riots that they were going to be killed as soon the Communists took over. They have remained loyal to us in face of that. Is there not going to be some provision for their evacuation if the Colony had to be evacuated? I should also like to know from the noble Lord what would be the position of the holders of British passports, as citizens of Great Britain and the Colonies, if it was necessary to evacuate the Colony. Are there in fact any plans at all?

May I now come to our duties in Hong Kong while we remain there? Listing these in order, they are education, health, housing, social security, constitutional reform and opportunity for the Chinese. First, with regard to education, half the population of Hong Kong is under the age of 15, and 150,000 Chinese children do not get education even up to primary standard. Furthermore, the people who are educated have no future whatsoever. If they are lucky, they get jobs as dustmen. So far as housing is concerned, the Government of Hong Kong have made one of the most magnificent efforts in the history of the world. Unfortunately, this magnificent effort, which nobody could possibly criticise in any shape or form, is insufficient. About 25 per cent. of the people in Hong Kong have not got what we should call a proper home.

The position in regard to health is also pretty intolerable. The infant mortality rate is 2.5 per cent. This is what is admitted, and one suspects, if one knows the Colony at all, that it is considerably higher. What is really needed in Hong Kong is a greater degree of Socialism. The fat profits which are being made by certain members of the community should be shared more equally, and a greater degree of constitutional reform should follow. A greater degree of self-government is surely an essential. As my noble friend Lord Ogmore said, at the moment the only elected representatives in Hong Kong are 10 of the 20 unofficial members of the Urban Council—and after they have been elected, what are they in control of? It is called "Public Health and Sanitation", but in practice it has come to mean the administration of garbage collection and renaming the streets.

The cause of the present difficulties stems from unofficial strikes in two small factories. This is going to happen again and again, unless the cause of these complaints is removed. It is no use just saying: "Well, we have done a magnificent job; we have put this riot down, and we are back to normal". It is true that this has been done. But that is not enough, because unless something is done to remove the cause of these strikes there will be more of them, and more riots; and the situation will go from bad to worse. Factory workers, if they are lucky, get £2 a week. They work seemingly unlimited hours. They are laid off at the employers' will, and are penalised mercilessly. There must be industrial legislation now, and it must be properly enforced. The Hong Kong Government try very hard, and they have achieved miracles, but they are often still out of touch with the people. The people must be given industrial legislation and a firm political future.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for putting down this Motion, and I hope he will forgive me if my remarks are not fully prepared: I had not expected to attend the House today. What has been said has been extremely interesting, and it provokes me to make a couple of points. First of all, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, that the Hong Kong Government should be congratulated and backed up with all the support that we can give them in their firm action in putting down these riots. In this connection, probably the best defence against that kind of thing is a properly organised and efficient Special Branch. The parallel requirement exists in Singapore; and I should like to come to that in a moment.

The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was absolutely right in saying that industrial legislation, and the other measures which he enumerated, ought to be put in train forthwith in order to get at the root of the problem. The fact remains, however, that this kind of organised rioting does not happen just by mistake; it is not quite spontaneous.

If we divide the Chinese threat to Hong Kong, and also to other parts of Asia, into two, I think it will be easier to understand. First of all, so far as the external threat is concerned, I have illustrated in your Lordships' House before, and have given much more detailed reasons, the fact that China has not yet indulged in external aggression of any kind. The most warlike act they have done as an external threat, which has upset people outside, is the making of the bomb, and particularly the making of the hydrogen bomb, shortly to be followed, before many years, by the vehicle to carry it. This is an external threat, of course, and if it matures in ten years' time, then the other nuclear Powers will have to take serious account of it. But, so far as conventional external aggression is concerned, I cannot remember any by China in the last twenty years.

The only time China has employed her forces on the ground has been when she thought she was threatened; namely, by the Allied forces in Korea. She has had plenty of opportunities for using external aggression, and using the force of her armies, in their rubber shoes and with their light machine guns, in the jungle. She could have taken over Burma quite quickly at any time during the last fifteen to twenty years had she wanted a port on the Indian Ocean for aggressive purposes. She could have invaded Thailand, and she could have supported North Vietnam with armed forces. She has not done so. In fact I do not believe that, even if she contemplated external aggression, it would suit her book at the present time. It would invite severe retaliation by the United States, who have much more modern weapons, and would throw the Chinese Air Force out of the sky almost as quickly as the Israelis did the Egyptians a week or so ago. We ought to be realistic in this matter, and recognise that China is unlikely to indulge in external aggression at the present time.

Coming to the case of Hong Kong, I am well aware of the fact that it takes X divisions to defend it; and even then they lose the war. We proved that, if it needed to be proved, in a horribly bloody war in 1942, when we had two or three divisions out there, and they might as well not have been there from the point of view of defence, except for the individuals concerned. The existence of a brigade of 8,500 troops in Hong Kong at present, so far as I know, has always been put down by the Government in the Defence Papers—or, later, in Defence Reviews—as for external security purposes; and I do not think that that force has had any other duty except border patrol. I think we ought to be clear about that. In other words, my Lords, invasion of Hong Kong is most unlikely at the present time. It would not be consistent with China's policy. Incidentally, it would not be consistent with her economic policy, because China gets far more out of Hong Kong, in the way of foreign currency and exchange, under British management than she would under her own.

When it comes to subversion, I agree that the threat is much more severe. The recent riots in Hong Kong are probably a classic example of this. As I have already said, these riots do not happen by mistake. Perhaps they start spontaneously in a factory—in an artificial flower factory, in the recent case—but they certainly do not go on for a week, with parades outside the Governor's residence, by spontaneity. They are organised, and organised by Chairman Mao's agents. This is where an efficient Special Branch comes in, and I think the Hong Kong police and their Special Branch are to be congratulated on dealing so efficiently with these riots within a reasonable time. If they had required to do it more quickly, and by stronger methods, they could easily have called in the Gurkhas. In other words, in Hong Kong we must be prepared for another outburst of this kind; and we must put it down quickly. We have seen what happens if the authorities are weak: the case of Macao was quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.

Similarly, the risk is fairly high in Singapore, though curiously enough, it is not so high now that the British have given up the government of Singapore as it was when we were in full control. The reason for this is that Lee Kuan Yew is running a very firm Government. It is not only a popular Government, as your Lordships will find if you go there, as I do regularly, but a very firm Government. There has not been, to my knowledge, a Communist-inspired strike in the schools or in the trade unions since Lee Kuan Yew took over—or, if there have been, they have been put down very quickly, and have not reached the stage of requiring Malay or Singapore troops to put them down. We were a little nervous at one time when we handed over the responsibility for internal security to the Malay and Singapore troops. But we need not have worried. The system there, with a very efficient Special Branch, left by the British and carried on by the Singapore Government, has been sufficient to keep the situation under control. The threat is always there. I think we are much more likely to have Chinese riot troubles in places like Manila, where perhaps they are not quite so ready for this sort of thing as they are in Hong Kong and Singapore. They might start in Thailand, though I very much doubt it, because here again we have an extremely efficient police force which is quite ruthless in putting down Communist risings.

My Lords, the lesson I read from all this is that we must be ready to deal with subversive threats at any point on the Chinese perimeter but that we need not worry unduly about conventional Chinese aggression.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, my noble friend Lord Rhodes, and Lord Moynihan and Lord Bourne, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for introducing the debate this afternoon. I am also grateful to him for the interesting historical preface which he gave to us. As the noble Lord said, this fascinating and dynamic Colony is our undoubted responsibility. But it is also true, as Lord Rhodes emphasised, that this is quite different from any other of our colonial territories. Because of its special position, it is not possible for Hong Kong to progress towards self-government in terms of an elected Legislature, as has been the normal development in other colonial territories. We must therefore, as Lord Ogmore himself said and as Lord Rhodes said—though I rather feel that the "Red Guard" of the Liberal Benches was not in agreement with this—look towards the development of the local system, the local government administration, for ensuring that the ordinary citizens of Hong Kong can associate themselves with the administration of the Colony. It seems clear that the best chance of providing this opportunity is in the sphere of local government.

In August, 1965, the Working Party on the Urban Council Franchise recommended that the franchise should be extended to all persons meeting the following criteria: first, that they make a contribution to the community of Hong Kong through service to the community, or professional skill or knowledge or educational standards; secondly, that the claims of persons to belong to the categories so defined are relatively easy to check. The Report went on to define the categories of persons which the Working Party considered met these criteria. The result of this recommendation, which was accepted, was that 240,000 people were enfranchised. They were required, however, to register before they could exercise the vote, and only 26,000 of them enrolled. In answer to the direct question of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I would emphasise that there was no difference between the qualifications of men and women.

Subsequently a further Working Party criticised that franchise as being too complicated, and recommended what they described as a ratepayers' franchise. This latter recommendation is now being studied. The 1966 Report, which made this criticism of the 1965 Report, also considered the structure of the local authorities which might be established, and the additional functions with which they might be entrusted. I quite agree with what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Moynihan and Lord Ogmore, that it would be advisable to extend the functions of these local authorities, and this is in fact in accordance with the recommendations of the 1966 Working Party now being considered. But it is not, of course, a straightforward matter. Although the total population of the Colony is relatively small, there are certain areas where the density is as high as 5,000 persons to the acre; and this aspect is one among a number of difficult factors which bring their own problems and which require particular study.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I thought gave us a very fair description of the recent events concerning internal security. The internal situation now is well under control; and I am glad to give the assurance for which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, asked. But there are within the borders of Hong Kong—


My Lords, may I ask which assurance that is?


My Lords, the noble Earl asked whether we had returned to normality, and I am glad to give him that assurance.

There are within the borders of Hong Kong some of the most densely populated areas in the world, and these obviously present, as Lord Bourne particularly will understand, a very difficult internal security problem. But I feel that recent events have shown that the security forces are fully conversant with this problem and with the most effective means of meeting it. The fact that they were so successful in confining the recent disturbances to relatively small areas of the Colony merits the praise which has been bestowed upon them so freely and generously in this discussion. I am myself particularly happy to associate myself with the well deserved tributes that have been paid to the Governor and his advisers, and the Hong Kong police force, in carrying out their duties so calmly and so efficiently. I would add that their task has been made easier by the good sense displayed by the general public in Hong Kong, and by the widespread support they have given to the measures taken by the Government to maintain public order. Although, as the noble Earl said, the Hong Kong garrison is available should need arise, it has not in fact been found necessary to ask for its assistance in the recent disturbances. The authorities have all the powers necessary for maintaining law and order.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, strongly urged the importance of long-term economic planning. Hong Kong is financially self-supporting, apart from the cost of its external defence, and to this also it makes a very substantial contribution. The annual revenue expanded from £18¼ million in 1950–51 to £102 million in 1965–66. The Colony has been able to charge against current revenue all capital expenditure, other than a comparatively small amount financed by borrowing, and in 1965–66 capital expenditure totalled nearly £46 million—that is for that one Colony.

The large increases in population have generated internal economic activity which has substantially raised yield from taxation and other sources of revenue, without any appreciable increase in the rate of taxation. These large increases in population have naturally brought attendant problems; and the Hong Kong Government, while seeking to expand existing services to meet growing needs, has inevitably found that there is a time lag before those increasing needs could be met. The budget for 1966–67 introduced increases in taxation estimated to provide an additional £5½ million, but the Government's programme of public works, mainly for new schools, medical facilities, housing, water supplies and other projects, makes it unlikely that revenue will be able to continue financing all capital expenditure.

As has been said by noble Lords earlier, the population, which stood at some 1,600,000 in 1946, is now more than 3½ million. And the achievements in providing the necessary health, housing, educational and other facilities for this population explosion are wholly praiseworthy. The Colony's resettlement estates have attracted worldwide attention, and it is worthy of note that nearly one-third of Hong Kong's entire population now lives in homes built with public funds. Only last week the Hong Kong Government announced as part of its housing programme its intention to build homes for a further 31,800 people with low incomes, at a cost of £1½ million. Since the war Hong Kong's economic development has been linked to industrialisation, and the Colony is now established as an industrial territory with its economy based on exports, rather than as formerly on the domestic market and on its entrepôt trade with China.

An essential ingredient in this economy, as the noble Earl emphasised, is dependent upon confidence—confidence on the part of overseas customers particularly; and this the Hong Kong Government has so far been able to provide. Recent disturbances in the Colony may have given rise to doubts in some quarters about the stability and reliability of the Colony as a trading partner, but I feel noble Lords will agree with me that the measures taken by the Hong Kong authorities to deal with them, with the full support of Her Majesty's Government and the support of the overwhelming majority of the people, have successfully contained the activities of the troublemakers. As I said earlier to the noble Earl, the situation now is very much a matter of "business as usual". In fact I have here last month's figures of exports and re-exports, which show increases of 16½ per cent., in the case of exports, and 22½ per cent., in the case of re-exports, over the corresponding month in 1966.

There appears to be some difference of opinion on the Liberal Benches about future defence facilities in the Colony, and the thinking of Her Majesty's Government in this matter is more in accord with what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said than with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. We have in the course of the Defence Review made some small economies in military forces in Hong Kong. No final decision has been taken on the size of those forces but it is our intention to maintain an adequate garrison there.

The question of labour matters, as a factor in the recent disturbances, has been mentioned and I agree that they are important. Rather more than 1½ million people work in Hong Kong, and of these over half a million are engaged in the manufacturing industries. Factory regulations regulate conditions of safety, health and welfare in registered industrial undertakings, as well as the hours of work of women and young persons. The Hong Kong Government employs a large Factories Inspectorate with considerable and recently increased power to ensure that statutory minimum standards are observed. Of course wages are low by British standards, though not by Asian standards. Among Asian countries, however, the conditions of work in Hong Kong are second only to those in Japan. It must also be borne in mind that Hong Kong has to meet the low-cost competition of neighbouring countries in overseas markets. Wage rates, in fact, increased overall by more than 70 per cent. during the period 1958 to 1965, and since the cost of living is reported to have risen by 14 per cent. over roughly the same period these increases represent a substantial advance in terms of real wages.

My honourable friend the Minister of State has for some time now been in consultation with the Governor about further legislation to improve labour conditions, more particularly to curtail the hours of work of women and young persons. The Hong Kong Government has, in the last week, published a Bill providing the necessary additional powers to control the employment of women and young persons in particular industries. It is expected that the Bill will be considered by the Legislative Council within the next few weeks. But to consider that labour con- ditions in the Colony were the underlying cause of the recent disturbances would be a mistake. There is much in labour relations in Hong Kong which we wish to alter, but the disturbances were clearly instigated for a political purpose and as a deliberate challenge to the authority of the Hong Kong Government.

I was asked about the progress of education and I have a good many statistics about that subject, but in view of the time I will not go into all of them. I will simply say that if one takes the overall expenditure of the Colony on education one finds it has increased from £5.1 million in the period 1958–59 to £20.5 million in the period 1967–68. This latter figure represents 17 per cent. of the Colony's annual budget, and under the Government's programme it is likely to be still further increased in the next two or three years. I will just pause there for a moment to answer the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who asked me about the situation with regard to the wage rates of policemen. I am glad to tell him that the police salaries and conditions were revised early in 1966 as a result of the Report of a Salaries Commission.

I was asked by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, about water supplies and whether I could give him any assurance on that subject. As a result of very considerable expenditure by the Hong Kong Government on water supply schemes the Colony's water supply situation has been much improved in recent years. To meet the seasonal shortage the Chinese authorities, we understand, have now agreed to make additional supplies available as from June 26. During the year 1966–67 no less than £10 million was allocated for the purpose of improving the water supply situation. There is also a programme covering the continuation of work on the final stage of the giant Plover Cove scheme which, on its completion in 1968, will add 30,000 million gallons to the Colony's existing storage capacity of about 16,000 million gallons. It is hoped that this vast increase in capacity will meet the demands of Hong Kong, and its rapidly expanding population and industries, for some years to come.

I should like to add a few brief comments on the observations about the Chinese attitude. Some of them were helpful, and I much enjoyed listening to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and my noble friend Lord Rhodes. I did not find myself in such close agreement with some of the other speculations—if I may call them that—from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord I should like to say that it is not so much a question of "speculation". We all hope that something like that will never happen. What I asked the noble Lord was whether there were any plans in case something like that did happen, much to everybody's consternation.


My Lords, I am certain noble Lords generally will not expect me to disclose such matters in this House.


Of course not.


The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, expressed some views with regard to Chairman Mao's policy on nuclear war. I hope, with him, that the policy will be followed. Frankly, to us, the attitude and the future intentions of China are not clear. It is true that official Chinese organisations, both in Hong Kong and on the mainland, have strongly supported, by propaganda and, we have reason to believe, by money, the activities of the local Communists.

The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough asked about the "Five Demands". We have not, as he thought, answered them. It is hardly to be expected that we should respond to accusations such as, for example, that we should desist from so-called "Fascist atrocities". This is a complete travesty of the measures we are taking in Hong Kong. It is the duty of the Hong Kong Government to continue to preserve peace, order and good government, and they have the full backing of Her Majesty's Government in such measures as are necessary to maintain their authority. In short, it is our intention to maintain our position and our authority in Hong Kong.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested that messages of congratulation and good wishes be sent to the Governor, to his staff and to the police and Service authorities, and indeed to the people of Hong Kong. I am sure that all of us would warmly agree with him that such messages should be sent.

6.10 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, and indeed to the noble Lords who have listened and who have been very attentive. I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, to the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, to my noble friend Lord Moynihan, to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, and to the Minister, Lord Beswick, who has taken such trouble to try to answer the various questions raised. I feel it has been a valuable and, to me, at any rate, an interesting debate. It is remarkable, I think, that the speeches after mine managed to cover such a number of issues, in fact most of the issues; and they will be noted, I have no doubt, in Hong Kong.

Although I do not suppose that much notice will be taken of the debate, unfortunately, in the Press and radio and television in this country, because there is a very interesting and exciting Party debate in another place to-day which will get all the headlines and all the scope, this debate will be very widely reported—and this is the important thing—in Hong Kong. We have been speaking to people in Hong Kong, our friends in Hong Kong. I hope that our friends in Hong Kong will realise that there has been a great deal of unanimity in this debate. We have had Labour speakers, Labour Government representatives, the official Conservative Opposition, the Liberals—incidentally, I did not notice the great diversity of opinion on the Liberal Benches which struck the noble Lord, Lord Beswick so forcibly. We have also had, of course, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, speaking from the Independent Benches. I think it is significant and important that there should be this unanimity in regard to the affairs of Hong Kong.

Although I did not myself raise the military issues to-night, I think it is just as well they were raised. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, asked whether it was necessary to keep 8,500 troops in the Colony to defend it. As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, pointed out, they are not there to defend the Colony but basically as a long-stop for internal security purposes. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, intervened, because I remember him extremely well in the old terrorist days in Malaya, seeing him there when he was doing such a splendid job of work in command of the forces in Malaya at that time. He speaks,' of course, with great authority on that part of the world and on this aspect of the troubles.

There is one minor point I would make on his remarks. While I agree with his general attitude about the lack of external aggression by China, I am not at all sure that the Indian Government and the Tibetans would completely confirm what he said. And I think that from time to time the Burmese also had a great deal of suspicion of the Chinese.


My Lords, will the noble Lord forgive me for reminding him that the Chinese actually stopped and went backwards in the Himalaya mountains, just North of Calcutta?


Yes; but I am also reminded that they got there first. I entirely agree with the noble Lord's general thesis, which has always been one of my own arguments in dealing with problems with the Chinese, that they have never in history, except for these border incidents, waged a war of aggression.

May I add one further comment before I conclude? I am extremely interested in the military situation in Hong Kong because the 1st Battalion of my own regiment, the Welch Regiment, is there, and I read continually in the regimental magazine, appropriately named Men of Harlech, of their exploits and the fine work they are doing. I hope that Her Majesty's Government and the Hong Kong Government will consider urgently and favourably the various points that have been made by speakers in the debate to-night, and will put into operation the proposals we have made from these Benches. With those few remarks, I again thank everybody. I am very grateful to my old friend, if I may call him that in a non-political sense, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for the trouble he has taken. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.