HC Deb 12 July 1971 vol 821 cc24-6
13. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimates he has received from the British High Commissions in Pakistan and in India of the number of deaths among residents in, and refugees from, East Pakistan, and as to how such deaths were caused.

23. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Her Majesty's Government in regard to the situation in Pakistan.

26. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will grant further humanitarian aid for Pakistan.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

It has not been possible for our Missions in Pakistan and India to make estimates of the number of deaths caused. We are making a contribution of £1 million in cash or kind to U Thant's appeal for relief in East Pakistan. This is over and above anything given up till now.

Mr. Janner

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the situation has reached the stage of a major catastrophe, not only for the refugees but also for the Government and people of India? Would he not agree that there is a real threat to international peace? Will he reconsider raising the matter at the United Nations or at the Security Council?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think that there are two issues here. The first is how to help ameliorate the terrible conditions. The second is how to reverse the flow of refugees. Many Governments are giving active consideration to the issue. No positive proposals have come forward as yet, although I am considering one put forward by the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mr. Allaun

Approximately how much economic aid is being, or is to be supplied to West Pakistan? Should it not be ended entirely until the West Pakistan Army is withdrawn from East Pakistan, and the aid supplied to India instead?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

My right hon. Friend is shortly to answer a Question about that. The greater part of the new aid which we hope to be able to supply is in East Pakistan, particularly in relation to power and water, and it is very important that this should happen if it is at all possible. As regards West Pakistan, I think that my right hon. Friend will answer a Question about that.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is my right hon. Friend aware how much his statement is welcomed and how responsible throughout these tragic times the Government's attitude has been? In particular, I welcome the £1 million extra for humanitarian relief in East Pakistan because it is true, is it not, that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has emphasised the necessity for the long-term rehabilitation of the economy in the eastern wing of Pakistan?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think that the extra £1 million will help particularly the distress in the cyclone areas, where communications have been badly hit.

Mr. Shore

In view of the behaviour of the West Pakistan Army in East Bengal, can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he has used his influence with the American Government, with whom he has discussed these matters, to see that our decision not to supply arms to West Pakistan is shared by the American Administration?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Communications between ourselves and the American Government must be confidential. I am responsible for the United Kingdom Government's decision.

Mr. Jessel

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the behaviour of the West Pakistan Army goes far beyond what is needed to restore law and order in East Pakistan, and that the Army's conduct is the main cause of the enormous flood of refugees into India? Will he bring all possible pressure to bear to cause some change in what is happening?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I must say, as I have said before, that the flight of the refugees is largely due to fear. I think that it would not help if I were to say any more than that now. Again, I think that it is more helpful that our communications with the Pakistan Government should be private.

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