HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1288-9
20. Mr. Colin Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to pay official visits to India and Pakistan.

Mr. Thomson

At present no such visits are arranged.

Last year my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development paid an official visit to India and my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for Wales made official visits to both India and Pakistan. In addition, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my hon. Friends the Parliamentary Secretaries of the Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Overseas Development visited Delhi in February of this year for the second U.N.C.T.A.D. I naturally hope that, if agreeable to the Governments concerned, further visits can be arranged in the months to come.

Mr. Jackson

Would my right hon. Friend admit that, while relations between Wales and India are necessarily close, it would probably be more practicable for the Commonwealth Secretary to visit India and Pakistan at the earliest opportunity, bearing in mind the serious problems of South-East Asia, China, Vietnam and the future of Asia?

Mr. Thomson

Yes, Sir. The Secretary of State for Wales visited India as one of my deputies. My hon. Friend will be aware that we are approaching a merger of the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office, and I am sure that the first Secretary of State for the joint office will not overlook what my hon. Friend has said this afternoon.