HC Deb 21 March 1957 vol 567 cc523-4
6. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what steps he is taking to resolve the difficulties in British-Indian relations arising out of the difference of view regarding the Kashmir situation.

Mr. Alport

As Sir Pierson Dixon said in the Security Council on the 20th February, We approach the Kashmir question in the simple spirit of wishing to see a just and fair solution. We stand ready to consider our attitude to Kashmir on the merits of the cases put forward by both parties and in examining the cases put forward are deeply conscious of the vital necessity of making a positive contribution towards peaceful progress in the subcontinent. Her Majesty's Government's attitude is based on no other considerations whatsoever". This continues to be the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in relation to the Kashmir dispute. I think that as this is more fully understood many of the present misunderstandings will be dispelled.

Mr. Donnelly

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that British-Indian relations were strained enough as it was over Suez and that the new situation places yet another strain on them? Is he aware that there is a widespread feeling that it arises out of British commitments under the Bagdad Pact? Is he aware of the dangerous implications of the present drift? What is he doing to halt the drift, in view of the misunderstandings which exist?

Mr. Alport

I would not accept the hon. Member's contention. No doubt he has seen, as I have seen, a statement within the last few hours by Mr. Nehru on the subject of India's relations with the Commonwealth. In the circumstances of Mr. Jarring's presence in the subcontinent—we all hope that his mission will have a successful outcome—I think it will be best to leave the matter at that point at present.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Contrary to the implications in the last question, is not it a fact that the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this matter is nothing more than an endorsement of the policies carried out by successive Governments, both Labour and Conservative, as a result of the 1948 and 1949 substantive resolutions in the United Nations, agreed to by Great Britain, India, Pakistan and all countries represented there?

Mr. Alport indicated assent.

Mr. Boyd

In view of this country's position in the Commonwealth, have the Government considered whether it is wise to intervene so actively in this Kashmir dispute? Nobody could want more than I that this country should take an active part in most United Nations activities, but is not this a rather special case where our intervention is almost bound to magnify the dispute and in particular to magnify danger to the future of the Commonwealth?

Mr. Alport

I am anxious, as we have always been anxious, to do anything we possibly can to help our fellow members of the Commonwealth to reach a just and proper solution to a very difficult problem.