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Mr. Greenway : Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that I had the honour to teach many children driven from Hungary at the time of the invasion by Russian tanks? They were very fine children and their parents came with them. Many others were driven out by the murderous regime of Ja no s Ka dar. My right hon. and learned Friend has the support of all parties in welcoming the
Column 964improvements in Hungary. However, will he assure the House that the developments in Hungary will be to the advancement of the people of that nation in a truly democratic form and to the elimination of the past wickednesses they have suffered?
Mr. Waldegrave : Progress is very marked, and there is free and open discussion of all the issues that my hon. Friend mentioned, including the past and the rehabilitation of Imre Nagy. The reburial on 16 June was truly a watershed. I do not think, however, that any hon. Member should underestimate the deep suspicion with which people in the opposition groups in Hungary view even the most liberal members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' party which was responsible for those previous regimes.
Mr. Heffer : Is the Minister aware that those Opposition Members who stood four square behind the people of Hungary during the revolution in support of attempts to create a society which was genuinely democratic very much welcome what has been happening in Hungary recently? Is he also aware, however, that some of us feel even today how regrettable it was that we in this country could not give our full attention and support to the people of Hungary because the Government of the time were involved in a silly business--Suez.
Mr. Waldegrave : I am not sure that I can reopen the question of Suez. I am sure that there will be quite a lot of agreement on both sides of the House about that. Having said that, I welcome the hon. Gentleman's powerful support for what is happening in Hungary and above all for the openness with which the truth is being told about 1956 and the years after 1956. The memorial to Imre Nagy is not the only moving sight in that graveyard. One also sees monuments to unknown people, many of whom were executed up to five years later, and the truth is at last being told about that.
Mr. Michael Marshall : Does my hon. Friend agree that, in addition to the ministerial contacts that he described, which I greatly welcome, opportunities are, increasingly presenting themselves for British and Hungarian industries to get together to consider opportunities for inward investment in Hungary as a way of assisting the growth of its economy? Is that a task in which the Government could take an interest and involve themselves?
Mr. Waldegrave : We have an investment protection agreement with Hungary, which is very welcome. I am glad to see the United States catching up with Britain in some respects, and we welcome what the President has announced, although I am happy to say that some of the arrangements were already in place. Hungary has never rescheduled her debts and deserves a proper response from Western investment now that she is welcoming it, although we believe that there is still a long way to go in opening up a market economy, as one would expect after 40 years of Communist nightmare.
Mr. Alex Carlile : Does the Minister agree that Hungary is as much a country of central Europe as Austria is? Will the Government take steps to ensure that the European Community regards Hungary in much the same light as Austria, though needing very much more help to assist it towards economic and democratic success?
Mr. Waldegrave : I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has considerable knowledge of these matters, welcomes the fact that the European Community has a very good agreement with Hungary, and I am glad that the Government played some part in carrying that through. It is true that Hungary is a European country and part of European culture, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said resoundingly in her speech at Bruges.
Sir Eldon Griffiths : As one who stood alongside Imre Nagy in 1956 when he proclaimed a new deal for Hungary, and who ended up a prisoner of the Red army for my pains, let me ask my hon. Friend whether he regards the rehabilitation of Imre Nagy and the movement of Hungary back towards freedom as one of the remarkable historical changes that we have witnessed in recent years? Is it not true, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlisle) suggested, that we should now be trying to open the door for Hungary to become associated in some way with such western organisations as the Council of Europe and, eventually, the EEC?
Mr. Waldegrave : Hungary does have guest membership--observer status --at the Council of Europe, and that is a good thing. I support what my hon. Friend says. I hope that it means exactly what it says. In his speech to the Council of Europe Mr. Gorbachev said that countries were allowed to choose their own paths. If Hungary is allowed to choose its own path, we know which it will be.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : We and our European Community partners have firmly condemned the brutal actions of the Chinese Government. I made this plain to the Chinese charge d'affaires on 5 June. On 27 June the European Council adopted a declaration on China, which reiterated our condemnation and called on the Chinese authorities to respect human rights. In accordance with this declaration, ambassadors representing the Twelve have been instructed to seek the admission of independent observers to attend trials and visit prisons.
Mr. Hughes : In the light of other countries restricting their trade with China, will the Foreign Secretary say whether the 48 group, which includes BOC, Plessey and Pilkington, is still going ahead with its massive trade mission in November? Are the Government giving that trade mission their blessing? If they are, how can they justify the use of Department of Trade and Industry funds to subsidise it, only a month after the Tiananmen square massacre, and when executions are still taking place and human rights are being abused? Are the Government adopting a mercenary manner by ignoring those horrendous happenings and saying that business will go ahead as usual?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : As I have told the hon. Gentleman, the Government, in common with all Governments of the world, have in no uncertain fashion expressed their horror at what has taken place. Equally, Her Majesty's Government, in common with all Governments of the Economic Community and of the economic seven--not
Column 966least that of Hong Kong, strongly urged by the people of Hong Kong--do not believe that it would be right to impose economic sanctions in our relationships with China. I have no doubt about that. Every other Government take the same view. Of course we have postponed consideration of concessional financing for new projects, and of course we are looking carefully at any particular case involving DTI support for trade missions. It is for that reason that the Sino-British trade council announced on 7 July its postponement of the all-British exhibition scheduled for November. The DTI is still in consultation with the 48 group to which the hon. Gentleman referred about its plans to mount a mission to China in the autumn.
Sir Peter Blaker : Is it not in the interests of China to take early steps to restore the people of Hong Kong's confidence in the future of their rights, for example by agreeing that the People's Liberation Army will not be stationed in Hong Kong after 1997 and that the right of interpretation of the Basic Law shall rest unambiguously in Hong Kong?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : My right hon. Friend has drawn attention to two articles of the draft Basic Law which were most frequently pressed upon me on my recent visit to Hong Kong. On each of those matters I have already expressed a view which my right hon. Friend has just now expressed.
Mr. Mullin : May I say how much many Opposition Members welcome the Government's rediscovery of human rights in China and hope that they will now extend to Tibet? Who knows, when the Dalai Lama of Tibet next comes to London, perhaps the Foreign Secretary will find time to meet him.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The scale of events in Tibet and of those in Peking recently were completely different. In any event, at the time of the last tragedies in Tibet, Her Majesty's Government made clear their deep concern about what was happening there. As the hon. Member knows, the Dalai Lama did, indeed, come to London.
Mr. Adley : As one of the purposes of maintaining diplomatic relations is to pass to Governments messages that sometimes have to be passed, however unpleasant they may be, will my right hon. Friend, through whatever channel is open to him, convey a message to the Chinese Government, advising them against seeking to influence opinion in western Europe with a propaganda booklet entitled "The June Turbulence in Beijing"? That booklet is unlikely to win them friends, change any minds in the West, or to gain them any respect.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to the book, which I have not yet studied. I shall certainly do so in the light of his advice. He is no doubt well placed to convey similar advice to the Chinese Government.
Mr. Foulkes : Does the information that the Foreign Secretary gets from missions in China confirm the information that I received today that the purge and repression is much worse than is reported in the western media, and that in the past few weeks, thousands of students have been rounded up in Szechwan province?
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that trade visits and all other contacts are being ruthlessly exploited by the
Column 967Chinese Government for propaganda purposes? For both those reasons, will he say that the 48 group's October visit must be cancelled, like the Sino-British trade exhibition? Does he accept that we have a moral responsibility to the demonstrators, to whom we gave our encouragement, to stand by them until all the repression is ended in China?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : Nobody doubts the importance of the moral message that the hon. Gentleman is uttering. The entire collection of western Governments has expressed that very strongly. The fact must be faced that Hong Kong, for which the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) claims some responsibility, is intimately dependent, economically and politically, upon what takes place in China. The advice of people in Hong Kong, which is upheld by Governments around the world, is that it would not be helpful to the advancement of the cause of respect for human rights in China to rupture economic links with them.
Mr. Bill Walker : Does my right hon. and learned Friend find it a fascinating contradiction that the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) did not take the same view about the Falklands? Does he agree that we have to face the fact that Hong Kong exists, that we have responsibilities, that we have a very short period in which to ensure the survival of the way of life of Hong Kong, and that that can be achieved only by working with and talking to the Chinese?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : Our responsibility to the people of Hong Kong can and should be achieved by making it absolutely plain to the Government of China how shocked we and the rest of the world were by what took place in Peking six weeks ago, and by seeking at the same time a change, including the method of change. We also seek the continuity of economic relations between Hong Kong and China. That is the view not just of this Government, but of all the Governments of the European Community and of all the substantial trading partners.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : As I told the House on 5 July, we shall be re- examining current plans for the development of representative government in Hong Kong. As the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs pointed out in its report published on 30 June, the wishes of the Hong Kong people themselves must be crucial to our approach to this question.
Mr. McFall : In the light of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on Hong Kong and of the official opposition view that, by 1991, 50 per cent. of the Legislative Council should be elected and that by 1995, 100 per cent. should be elected, what is the view of the
Column 968Government on these proposals and, more particularly, will they implement them so that, before the handover date of 1997, full democracy is operating in Hong Kong?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : We shall, as I have made clear already, review the rate of progress toward representative government in Hong Kong in the light, above all, of evolving opinion in the territory. The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs pointed out--I have already made this point-- that the wishes of the Hong Kong people must be crucial to our approach to this question. The last considered opinion expressed in Hong Kong was that expressed unanimously by the Office of the Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils of Hong Kong on 24 May. It is now reconsidering the matter. It is already clear, as I have made plain, that plans for 1991 will certainly need to be looked at again. We shall consider what needs to be done before 1997 once those views have been expressed clearly within Hong Kong.
Mr. David Howell : Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that he is absolutely correct that it is the wishes of Hong Kong about the pace of democracy which must prevail, although, as he rightly says, there are signs of increasing strength of feeling about the need to have democracy well entrenched by 1997? Will he try to explain to Opposition Members and to those outside this House, when they talk of economic sanctions and other attempts to break links with China, that 40 per cent. of Hong Kong's manufacturing industry is physically placed up the Pearl river in China? The ideas of Opposition Members would put a dagger at the heart of Hong Kong.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for both his comments. It cannot be stated too often that China is the largest commercial and financial partner of Hong Kong and that Hong Kong is the largest commercial and financial partner of China. It would be absolutely catastrophic to begin to approach this matter by deliberately savaging those crucial and important economic links.
Dr. Bray : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that there is a job to be done by a directly-elected democratic executive and legislature in Hong Kong in securing rights of refuge and settlement of abode--or however he cares to describe it--for larger numbers of people in the world than the Foreign Secretary or any British Government would have the moral authority to secure? Has he therefore made arrangements to receive advice individually from members of LegCo and ExCo, and not solely through the Government?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The members of LegCo and of OmelCo--the Office of the Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils of Hong Kong--are well placed to extend their advice individually as well as collectively. I had the opportunity of meeting them together when I was there and each expressed strong views. I have no doubt that we shall subsequently hear from them individually as well as collectively.
Mr. Kilfedder : Will the Foreign Secretary give an assurance that the people of Hong Kong will be allowed to draft and approve a Bill of Rights and when that has been achieved, will he persuade his Cabinet colleagues to provide a similar Bill of Rights for the people of Northern Ireland?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I would not seek to match my hon. Friend in his willingness to seek to address the questions and aspirations of the people of Northern Ireland. However, he can be sure that we intend to introduce a Bill of Rights at an early stage in Hong Kong. Indeed, the Governor will be making an announcement about that in October.
15. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what training in the technical processes of democracy Britain can offer to countries emerging from totalitarian regimes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tim Eggar) : We offer training in the technical processes of democracy through a wide range of visits, seminars, legal exchanges, and media and management training courses.
Mr. Boswell : Does my hon. Friend agree that the cause of democracy is now advancing widely throughout the world, especially in eastern Europe? While I pay tribute to our hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for his offer to Poland--and, I believe, to Hungary--of support of that kind, does my hon. Friend agree that it is entirely appropriate that the Government should add a measure of cash and training resources to complement our skills, strengths of tradition and knowledge in the processes of democracy?
Mr. Eggar : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his recognition of the £5 million know-how fund for Poland. In addition, the Great Britain-Eastern Europe Centre is planning a series of seminars on democracy. We also receive and respond to a wide variety of requests for help in this area from emergent democracies throughout the world.
Mr. Winnick : Can we take it from the Minister's reply that the large majority of the people in South Africa, and people in Chile, Guatemala and other Right-wing dictatorships will also receive all the kinds of assistance that the Minister has just explained, as they move, we hope, from dictatorships to democracy?
Mr. Eggar : The hon. Gentleman is aware that as part of a long- standing policy, supported by Governments of both parties, we have brought over many of the democratic opposition candidates and that we have assisted with visits by parliamentarians, especially to Chile. That will continue. There is a good case for examining whether there is any more that we can do in that area, right across the board.
16. Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made on negotiated reciprocal arrangements with other European Community members to combat drugs.
Mr. Eggar : On 26 June my right hon. and learned Friend signed a bilateral agreement with Spain to trace, freeze and confiscate the assets of drug traffickers and combat the misuse of drugs. We are currently in active discussion with four other European Community countries with a view to signing similar agreements.
Mrs. Hicks : In congratulating my right hon. and hon. Friends on the recent agreement that has been signed with Spain, and in view of the fact that this is only the first agreement with one of our partners since the introduction of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986, may I ask whether he is convinced that our European partners recognise the urgency of the escalating problem now facing us and that they are ensuring that Latin- American drug traffickers are not using Europe as a distribution centre and as the front door to the United Kingdom?
Mr. Eggar : We must accept the fact that Europe as a whole is being targeted by the cocaine barons and, as part of Europe, we face a considerable threat both from crack and from cocaine. I have no doubt about our Community partners' commitment to fighting the menace from drugs. It is, however, a difficult technical matter to reach agreement with countries that have a different kind of legal system to ours. We are working hard at it, and I am hopeful that we will soon be able to sign further agreements.
Mr. Cryer : Is it true that the number of seizures of drugs at United Kingdom borders by Customs officers exceeds the number of seizures by every other EEC state? If so, will the Minister assure the House that borders will not be dismantled after 1992, but that we will still maintain scrutiny, against, for example, drug merchants and terrorists, to ensure that traffickers are stopped? Otherwise, the Minister could be accused of subordinating the interests of United Kingdom citizens to the interests of the multinationals.
Mr. Eggar : I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern. It is, of course, essential that we maintain the ability to impose frontier controls after 1992 for the reason that he has given and for other reasons too.
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