HC Deb 04 December 1962 vol 668 cc1134-6
Q2. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the recent mission to India, with particular reference to the possibility of economic help being supplied from under-utilised resources in Northern Ireland, north-east England, and Scotland.

The Prime Minister

The mission led by my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary went to India to consider the situation arising out of the Chinese aggression, and to assess India's military requirements. In considering the question of further economic assistance towards India's third Five-Year Plan we shall certainly keep in mind all relevant factors.

Mr. Dalyell

Does not the Prime Minister agree that the third Five-Year Plan is as great a priority as military aid? Will he consider these unorthodox steps in order to bring immediate help? Is it not clear that many of the products that the third Indian Five-Year Plan needs are manufactured on the North-East Coast, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland?

The Prime Minister

I quite understand the possibilities of this. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to it in the debate on the Address, in a sentence which I will quote. He said: I should be inclined to look a little more generously at a request for aid if the products that the people receiving the aid were going to buy were something that we could provide from our existing spare capacity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1962; Vol. 666, c. 636.] That principle will be borne in mind.

Sir C. Osborne

Is not the extra economic aid that we should all like to give to India and the depressed parts of this country conditioned by our ability to export more? Secondly, is not the question of exports one over which no Government, of whatever colour, has any control whatever?

The Prime Minister

The ability to give aid and to keep the balance of payments right depends upon our general exporting position, but the Question is related to another possibility. As hon. Members know, a great deal of the aid programmes us not in terms of free money but is related to certain products manufactured in this country. What is now further proposed is the question whether, in taking account of the necessity to provide more aid, we should have regard to areas where there is spare capacity and bear them in mind. That I undertake to do.

Mr. G. Brown

The Prime Minister will be aware of the fact that, yesterday, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations told us that one of the consequences of the Chinese aggression in India will be a slowing down of essential Indian economic progress. Will the Prime Minister therefore consider what help we can give, and whether, in giving that help, we can link it up, as my hon. Friend has suggested, with help to our own depressed areas? Would not that be a good thing to do?

The Prime Minister

That is exactly what I have just said.