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Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: My Lords, indeed he did.

Lord Bancroft: My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that as an official I served two of the previous First Secretaries of State? One was Lord George-Brown, an engaging and tempestuous acquaintance, who failed to reach No. 10. The other was Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, a close and admired friend. Is the noble Viscount further aware that when the then Prime Minister appointed Lord Butler to the offices of First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister, without the backing of a great department of state, it was widely believed, rightly or wrongly, that part of the intention was to impede his further progress to No. 10, and so it proved? In the light of those precedents, and the absence of departmental authority attached to Mr. Heseltine, will he confide in us the intention and reasoning lying behind the appointment of the present distinguished incumbent?

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I can think of many bodies in which I would less rather confide than your Lordships' House because I regard your Lordships' House as infinitely more discreet than a number of the bodies with which I am occasionally associated. However, in spite of the temptation to speculate, which the noble Lord lays before me, I would say merely that it is perfectly clear from the short but distinguished record which my right honourable friend has already laid before the nation in his capacity as First Secretary of

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State and Deputy Prime Minister that he has an important function to fulfill and he is doing that with great distinction.

Hong Kong Legislative Council and China

3 p.m.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications for relations with China following the recent elections to the Legislative Council in Hong Kong.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, prospects for co-operation with China over Hong Kong and more generally are improving all the time. The Legislative Council elections were an important step in the development of representative government in Hong Kong. We welcome both developments.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I had the benefit of visiting Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago and I am fully aware that the issues relating to Hong Kong require more attention than is possible in answer to a Question today. Does the Minister agree that the results of the recent elections show that the people of Hong Kong want good relations with China and the ability to retain their democratic and free institutions and general structure? It is important that we recognise the fact that they have both those motives; and that the campaign to denigrate the Governor of Hong Kong, who I believe is doing an excellent job, should be resisted. Will the Government send a signal that they have full confidence in Chris Patten and the work that he is doing?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, we welcome the fact that the noble Lord was able to visit Hong Kong. I expect to hear from him in detail about his visit. Secondly, I agree about the outcome of the election results. Yes, I believe that the people of Hong Kong want good relations with China while at the same time retaining their democratic rights and freedom of action. The results of the Hong Kong election reflect a broad cross-section of community interests. The pro-China candidates won 15 of the 60 seats in total.

I further agree with the noble Lord about the campaign that is being run against the excellent Governor of Hong Kong, Mr. Chris Patten. The Governor and the Hong Kong Government are continuing to play a fundamental role in the formulation of our policy towards Hong Kong. The proposals which we agreed during the visit of Mr. Qian Qichen here were drawn up in Hong Kong. There is no question of sidelining the governor, whose authority is very much enhanced as a result of the action that he has taken. I refer your Lordships to the policy address of 11th October. I hope that Members of this House will take the opportunity to meet with the governor while he is here this week to address the all-party group on Hong Kong.

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Lord Avebury: My Lords, how can relations with China be compatible with the continuation of the democratic rights of the people of Hong Kong when the proposal of the Chinese Government is to abolish the LEGCO on day one of their administration? Will the Minister comment on the Chinese Government's recent criticism of the Bill of Rights which is enacted by LEGCO and which they have said they will also repeal on day one? How can that be compatible with China's undertaking to continue with the operation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Hong Kong? Has the Minister anything further to say about the obligation that the Chinese Government should have undertaken, but which they have repudiated, to report on their performance under the international covenant? They are obliged to do that as part of that commitment.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in his supplementary question goes further than I can do justice to in a Question and Answer session in your Lordships' House. We have heard some proposals from bodies such as the Preliminary Working Committee. That is an unusual body which does not necessarily express Chinese Government policy and is making proposals about which we rightly have real concern. We have expressed that concern to the senior Chinese representative of the Joint Liaison Group.

I understand the noble Lord's concern with human rights, but he must realise that it was agreed in the Joint Declaration and in Article 39 of the Basic Law that the international covenants will continue to apply to Hong Kong. We will be resolving some of those matters at the meeting which starts next week. As regards the other matters, I shall write in detail to the noble Lord.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, will the Minister say whether Her Majesty's Government agree with the proposal of the Governor of Hong Kong that an additional 3 million people should be given the right of entry to this country? If not, why not?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, my right honourable friend Mr. Michael Howard has made quite clear that it would not be possible for so many people to come to this country. Most Hong Kong people would not need to come to this country. When the Governor of Hong Kong spoke he was repeating the policy of the Hong Kong Government. There was absolutely nothing new in his remarks.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in asking the Minister a question about trade with China I should declare an association with several companies which are actively doing business in China. Is the Minister aware of some concern in British industry at the continued exclusion of China from the World Trade Organisation, with particular implications for China's treatment of intellectual property rights breaches? Do the Government support the inclusion of China into the WTO and will they take action to ensure that that occurs in appropriate circumstances?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, that is certainly a matter with which we are dealing. We already have very large trade with China. I believe that

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the United Kingdom is the largest European investor in China and we are building up trade relations all the time. It is surely something that must follow.

Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

3.7 p.m.

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Atomic Energy Authority Bill

3.10 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Atomic Energy Authority to make schemes for transfer of property, rights and liabilities if so directed]:

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 8, leave out ("or schemes").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4. They are straightforward because, not surprisingly, we have already covered quite a lot of the ground.

The essence of the amendments is to amend the Bill as presented to your Lordships with a view to achieving what I think everybody who has looked at this matter agrees should happen, setting aside the whole question of privatisation of this part of the Atomic Energy Authority. That is not ground that I wish to go over again because it has been dealt with fully.

The question returns to one of form. As I say, everybody who has studied this matter, whether they are doubtful or enthusiastic about privatisation, argues on every ground imaginable—on grounds of economics, efficiency and business grounds—that this section of the AEA should be transferred to a single successor company; what one would call unitary privatisation.

That is not ruled out by the Bill but I believe that the reason it is not in the Bill is that the Government are a trifle afraid that there will not be a bidder for the thing as a whole and they wish to keep their options open. I have tabled these amendments on Report not to go over

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the ground again but simply in the hope that the Government have something more to tell us about it, either about their intentions or something along those lines. I beg to move.

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