Tories chided for seeing swearing-in

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 1997, 12:00am

Three senior Tories have been accused of breaking the cross-party consensus in Hong Kong by attending the swearing-in of the provisional legislature.

Foreign Office Minister of State Derek Fatchett called on shadow foreign secretary Michael Howard to condemn Sir Edward Heath, Michael Heseltine and Lord Howe.

Mr Fatchett was replying at House of Commons question time to Tory MP Nigel Waterson, who said: 'Can you explain the rationale behind the last-minute volte-face whereby British representatives were after all permitted to attend the swearing-in of the provisional new legislative council? 'If it is still the view of the Government that that body is in fact illegal, how can one actually rationalise those two different views?' Mr Fatchett retorted: 'I am surprised that you raised that question. The policy of the Government was that no ministers would attend the swearing-in ceremony for the provisional legislature.

'It has always been our understanding that there will be a consensus of policy over Hong Kong.

'We were deeply disappointed to see three senior representatives from the Conservative Party attending the swearing-in ceremony.' Mr Fatchett said he hoped Mr Howard would condemn the Conservative members for going against policy.