GOVERNMENT figures recently revealed successful applicants to the British Nationality Selection Scheme (BNSS) only have an average of 1.8 dependents, half of the originally anticipated 3.5. When the BNSS was approved by Parliament in 1990, it was presented as a package which would offer full citizenship to 50,000 ''key'' people and their families, running to a maximum of 225,000 people. This was calculated by using an average family size of 4.5 people. It was unclear how the British Government arrived at 4.5, as the average size of Hongkong families was 3.8. According to figures supplied to the Legislative Council Subcommittee on Nationality which I chair, up to the end of November last year, 49,984 people had been registered as British citizens. They included 18,039 heads of households and 31,945 dependents.The disclosure that far fewer people than anticipated have benefitted has stirred bitter feelings of being cheated and short-changed. As my colleague Mr Martin Barrow noted, the number of dependents is running at only 77 per cent above principal applicants whereas the original assumption was that it would be 250 per cent, that is, 50,000 principal applicants plus 175,000 dependents. I agree with Mr Barrow that if the BNSS continues at this rate, dependents will only total 88,000, making a grand total of 138,000. This would be 87,000 less than the original estimate of 225,000. Apart from the small quota, I am also deeply dissatisfied with the tardiness of the implementation. Up to the end of last year, only 20,000 principal applicants and their families had been registered. The Government said it would take another year to register another 20,000. The second phase will start in 1994. The intention of the BNSS is to give successful applicants a safety net as swiftly as possible so these people can have the peace of mind to stay in the territory. Taking almost four years to complete the first phase of registration is unacceptably long and begs the question of Britain's sincerity. I hope the Hongkong and British authorities will review the procedures and speed them up considerably. The fact it had to take a massacre in Beijing in 1989 to force the British Government to grant full citizenship to a small number of Hongkong people was degrading and humiliating. The BNSS falls far short of meeting Britain's moral obligation towards her several million subjects in the last major territory. Any erosion of the BNSS commitment can only be taken as further betrayal. It is understood the British cabinet had considered giving citizenship to 60,000 Hongkong families, but at the last minute reduced it to 50,000. Given the Hongkong and British authorities must be fully aware of the average family size of the BNSS' primarytargets - people aged between 30 to 40 - one can assume London has known all along that less than 150,000 Hongkong people will benefit. Nevertheless the multiplier of 4.5 was used to inflate the total figure, presumably looking less mean. I guess the Hongkong people will never know whether members of the Executive Council and the then Director of Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, protested against the British tactic, which some critics described as a confidence trick. Given the possible 87,000 shortfall, I agree with Mr Barrow that Hongkong should re- open negotiations with Britain to secure more places in the BNSS. In considering the question of enlarging the BNSS quota, the British Government must admit its worry that the country will be inundated by thousands of Hongkong Chinese has not materialised. According to the Hongkong Government, no successful applicants have moved to the UK. As Britain is not going to give Hongkong independence, there is a powerful argument all Hongkong British subjects should be given full British nationality. THE main reason British politicians object to giving Hongkong people full citizenship is racism. I have a suspicion that had Hongkong people been white, we would have got a better deal. In a letter to the Governor Mr Chris Patten last week asking for full democracy, I urged him to impress upon Britain the question of moral responsibility for the British subjects here. The Hongkong people may not be kith and kin, but they are as British as Mr Patten and the Prime Minister, Mr John Major. The Sub-committee on Nationality is also looking into the knotty problems of the non-Chinese ethnic minorities and the 30- odd war widows. The British refusal to give citizenship to the handful of old ladies is disgraceful and regrettable. The question of the ethnic minorities is a much harder nut to crack, mainly because of the racial bias against them. The Government estimates there are about 7,000 ethnic minorities, mainly of Indian and Pakistani origin, who are Hongkong British citizens. I share the ethnic minorities' fear their descendants may become stateless since there is no reason to believe they can successfully apply for Chinese citizenship after 1997. Some do not want to become Chinese nationals. Even though many Legislative Councillors support the ethnic minorities' case for full British citizenship, the Government has refused to give its endorsement. Instead, it urged the ethnic minorities to apply under the BNSS. When asked how many succeeded, the Government could not give an indication. I do not think it is fair to ask the ethnic minorities to compete with other Hongkong people for the limited quota under BNSS. Because of the likelihood of their descendants becoming stateless, they are particularly vulnerable and deserve special treatment. If the Government's estimate of 7,000 is correct, then we are only talking about 2,000 families. I hope Mr Patten can persuade the Home Secretary, Mr Kenneth Clark, to do the decent and honourable thing. Legco members are sympathetic to the plight of the ethnic minorities and will continue to do battle on their behalf. As the Chinese Government stepped up its attacks on the Governor's constitutional reform package, it should be abundantly clear the issue at stake is the territory's autonomy, before and after 1997. Having seen the unreasonable and shocking behaviour of the Chinese officials in the past few months, I urge British politicians to search their conscience and re-examine the question of British citizenship for the Hongkong people.