Hong Kong National Security Legislation: UK Response Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Hong Kong National Security Legislation: UK Response

Alistair Carmichael Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd June 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent questions. I do think Hong Kong is part of a pattern, although it is not a uniform one. He referred to the violation of the UN convention on the law of the sea—I think that is what he was referring to in relation to the South China sea—and we could add cyber-attacks and the treatment of the Uighur Muslims. At every step, the right approach for the United Kingdom, as a matter of principle and also of effectiveness, is to call out behaviour that is contrary to international law on its own terms. In answer to the Chairman of the Select Committee and others, that is how we will build a coalition of like-minded countries to stand firm in the face of such behaviour.

My right hon. Friend asked about BNO passport holders. We have made a commitment, which he has heard today. It is important that we did that as a matter of principle, rather than waiting for others to agree in concept. However, we are already discussing with our partners—I raised it on the Five Eyes call yesterday—the possibility of burden sharing if we see a mass exodus from Hong Kong. I do not think that that is likely in the last analysis, but he is right to raise it, and we are on the case diplomatically.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
- Hansard - -

May I particularly welcome the commitment in relation to BNO passport holders? The Foreign Secretary has heard me make that plea on many occasions in the past. He will be aware, though, that the BNO offer was closed in 1997, so the announcement today does not offer any protection to those born after that date, who are, by definition, the brave young Hong Kongers who are out there demonstrating on the streets, and who are most vulnerable and in most need of protection. Will he look at what we can do to assist these people?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman and pay tribute to him for his long-standing and principled position on this issue; he is absolutely right, and we appreciate all the cross-party support on this. He asked about those who do not qualify for BNO passport status. I would just point out that we are talking about over 300,000 people who do qualify. Of course, he makes a reasonable point about the cut-off date, but that would not apply to dependants. We have set out—based on principle, in the right way—the commitment that we are making but, as others have already mentioned, what will be important is that the international community comes together to ensure that there are options for the wider group to which the right hon. Gentleman refers.