THERE is a new voice for Hong Kong in the European Parliament where Graham Watson, formerly manager of external affairs at the Hongkong Bank in Britain, is one of Britain's two Liberal Democrat MEPs. And Mr Watson is determined to use his voice to give Hong Kong issues a hearing at the increasingly powerful parliament. It is a parliament derided by some in Britain as irrelevant, a talking shop. But the Maastricht Treaty on European integration turned it into a slowly ticking time bomb for the so-called Euro-sceptics. It is growing in power almost by the day - so much so that China's ambassador to the European Union makes sure his diplomats lobby hard for Beijing's point of view among the 567 MEPs. Graham Watson isn't rushing in with a huge agenda on human rights or democracy but he comments: ''Quite clearly I am going to keep in touch with both the Hong Kong and Legco offices and talk to them about what issues are important. ''And if I am able to be a friend at court then I am happy to be one. It has been my privilege to be associated with Hong Kong.'' He was adopted as Liberal Democrat candidate for the Somerset and North Devon constituency in September 1990 - not long after an earlier European election had seen the Greens push Paddy Ashdown's party into fourth place. There had never before been any Liberal Democrats from Britain in the Strasbourg parliament. The quietly spoken - and for a politician extremely modest - Scot claims he will be taking a 50 per cent drop in salary - although not in income. He denies that there is a champagne lifestyle, arguing that while the resources may seem generous he intends to put them into research and other staff as the only way properly to challenge the executive, the juggernaut of the European Commission and European Council. ''The money is not important to me but being an effective MEP is,'' he said. ''I have always been interested in European politics,'' he said. ''I think that the attempt to create a European Union is a fascinating one. As a linguist by profession, I have very little difficulty finding my way around. ''Having worked in the Commons and seen how things operate I was aware of how very imperfect our own democracy was although we claim to be the mother of parliaments. It has very little control over the executive these days and MPs have very little influence and really it is not a very interesting lifestyle. I think if I am going to achieve anything in my life then by the time I achieve it it is likely that the influence in Europe will be wielded in Strasbourg and Brussels rather than London.'' The bank could have held him to three months notice following his success at the polls but it agreed to two weeks as he was going into public office. He will sell his home in London and buy a house in Somerset, renting a place in Brussels. Parliament covers a week a month in Strasbourg, two weeks in Brussels and a week in the constituency. ''I have very much enjoyed having to be on top of everything that is happening in Hong Kong having to be involved in Hong Kong life and I would certainly be very keen to pursue my interests in Hong Kong in the European Parliament,'' he said. It sounds like an open invitation: ''If there is anything I am able to do in the parliament to help Hong Kong I would be very pleased to do it.'' He will join the European Parliament Legco Friendship Group but believes there is a need for the European parliament to be better informed on Hong Kong and Chinese affairs. ''I think that one of the dangers in Europe is that people tend to have a very Euro-centric view of the world,'' he said. ''What is important in the European Parliament is that its discussions are enlightened by a slightly wider global vision of people who have had experience of working in the Far East. It is terribly important because the decisions that are taken there are going to affect China and relations with Hong Kong. ''In just the same way as Baroness Dunn has been able to inject into the debates in the House of Lords a wider perspective so I hope that people in the European Parliament who have wider interests will be able to do the same there.''