HC Deb 06 July 1965 vol 715 cc1332-3
16. Mr. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will now consider a fresh initiative in an attempt to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Mr. Bottomley

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) on 30th March.

Mr. Jackson

In view of Her Majesty's Government's success in bringing about a peaceful conclusion to the Rann of Kutch dispute, would not my right hon. Friend treat as a matter of urgency the possibility of a new initiative over Kashmir, in view of the appalling defence and financial costs to both countries of that crisis?

Mr. Bottomley

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments about the satisfactory settlement of the Rann of Kutch dispute and the part played by Her Majesty's Government. I accept that this has created the right kind of atmosphere for further negotiations to develop between India and Pakistan, but this is a matter for those two countries in the first instance. As with the Rann of Kutch, British help would always be available if required.

Sir F. Bennett

Why does the Secretary of State find it so easy to be so pleased, with full justice, about what has happened in the Rann of Kutch but so reluctant to try to get at the basis of the trouble between the two countries, which is Kashmir? He must be as well aware as anyone in the House that all these other matters are merely symptoms of the basic malaise. Why does he not say something a little more encouraging about a new initiative?

Mr. Bottomley

I repeat that the initiative must come from the two countries concerned. This has been a long-standing problem. The fact that there has been a peaceful settlement over the Rann of Kutch leads one to hope for greater success in the future.

Mr. Longden

Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear that he considers it infinitely preferable that inevitable change in this as in other parts of the world had much better be brought about gradually than as a result of a bloodbath?