Hong Kong

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:36 am on 12th November 2020.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 10:36 am, 12th November 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this urgent question. One of her points was about whether I would meet her; of course, I am more than happy to meet her. I know how important this issue is to her and other Members of this House, and my door is always open for conversations with me and my team. I can tell her that we have already seen statements from our partners thus far on this particular issue. Australia, the USA, Canada and Germany have all made statements on the matter and we will continue to work with all our Five Eyes partners to hold China to account. The actions we have taken at the UN over the last few months are testament to that and proof of our leading diplomatic role in this regard.

The hon. Lady asked about sanctions and we will continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime. She will appreciate it is not entirely appropriate to speculate on who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future, as that could reduce the impact, but we are carefully considering further designations under the scheme.

She was right to mention the action we have taken on British nationals overseas. The Home Secretary issued a statement on 22 July on the new route for BNOs, which states that

“in compelling and compassionate circumstances, and where applications are made as a family unit, we will use discretion to grant a visa to the children” of BNO status-holders

“who fall into this category…the existing youth mobility scheme is open to people in Hong Kong aged between 18 and 30, with 1,000 places currently available each year. Individuals from Hong Kong will also be able to apply to come to the UK under the terms of the UK’s new points-based system”.—[Official Report, 22 July 2020; Vol. 678, c. 115WS.]

The hon. Lady asked about the number of BNOs. From July 2020, BNO citizens and their dependants have been eligible to be granted six months’ leave outside the rules at the border to the UK, and from 15 July to 14 October 2020, a total of 2,116 BNO citizens and their dependants have been granted that. That data is not a reliable proxy for the number of people who may apply for the visa when it opens in January, but it does suggest that the number of BNO citizens seeking to come to the UK in the short term is unlikely to be at the high end of the scale.