Orders of the Day — Hong Kong

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:51 am on 10th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber 1:51 am, 10th March 1988

The hon. Gentleman is being flippant, which is not entirely unexpected at this hour.

What is the status of this document? Perhaps the Minister will tell us. He was making facial, if not verbal, comments during the hon. Gentleman's speech. The Government must know that there is a fear that there could be no directly elected element carry over from before to after 1997.

Fourthly, and lastly, there is already a drain of people from Hong Kong. The hon. Member for Wrexham spoke about that. There is probably nothing that one can do to halt that at this time, but assurances about elections and the protection of the legal people's system would prevent its increasing. I do not suppose that we can affect those who are set on leaving, but we seem to be placing obstacles in the way of their coming to the United Kingdom. That leads to many of them going to Canada, for example. Why should we place barriers in the way of people of talent and resource?

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed told me that his general impression was of a community "anxious but not despairing." If we are to ease that anxiety and fulfil our enduring responsibility to the people of Hong Kong, we must make certain that there is a determining group in the legislature that is directly elected. It does not have to be 100 per cent., but it should be a determining group. The House should never forget its reponsibilities, and that must be reflected in the Minister's reply.