HC Deb 27 January 1972 vol 829 cc1609-10
Q1. Mr. Onslow

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to have an official meeting with Mrs. Gandhi.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I met Mrs. Gandhi when she visited London in November. Although we have at present no plans for further meetings, we continue to keep in close touch.

Mr. Onslow

If my right hon. Friend meets Mrs. Gandhi again in the near future, would he suggest to her that in the long run victory in war may be less important than magnanimity in peace? Would he add that people in Britain who contributed to repairing the tragic damage of the recent events in the sub-continent also have a right to expect that India will do everything possible to reach a lasting settlement with Pakistan?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. It is Her Majesty's Government's desire that there should be a lasting settlement between Pakistan and India. My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary will be in Delhi from 5th to 8th February having talks with the Indian Government. When Sheikh Mujib came to see me at No. 10, I explained to him that our policy was to try to get good relations between the three countries of the Indian sub-continent. I have since repeated that in personal messages to President Bhutto and Mrs. Gandhi.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Is the Prime Minister aware that the overwhelming majority of opinion in Britain is that the course taken by India in recent months has been one of great magnanimity, that it has undertaken, as a poor country, immense burdens and that it is hoped that Britain will help to relieve the hardship India has suffered as a result of the burdens she has undertaken?

The Prime Minister

As the House knows, we made a considerable effort to help India with the problem of 10 million refugees. We have already said—and I said this to Sheikh Mujib—that we would do our utmost to help Bangladesh in the present situation. We have already told President Bhutto that, in the work of the consortium, we will play our fair part in helping Pakistan.