HC Deb 25 January 1973 vol 849 cc642-3
Q5. Mr. Douglas

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to raise the matter of the exchange parity of the £ sterling when next he meets the Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Douglas

Does not the Prime Minister accept that this is a point of grave concern to Commonwealth countries, especially in view of the disruption of world trade and the fact that the developing countries, many of them in the Commonwealth, will suffer a reduction in their standard of living due to currencies fluctuating downwards?

The Prime Minister

I cannot agree with that analysis of the situation. The fact is that the prices of many raw materials from developing countries have been increasing rapidly. This is one of the problems facing this country today and obviously the developing countries are bound to have improved incomes as a result. The reason why I replied "No" is that all financial matters are discussed by the Commonwealth Finance Ministers at their annual meeting. They will meet in September as usual. If there are any questions affecting the financing of developing countries, they can be discussed at that meeting. Aid to the developing countries is normally discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting. It is a normal item on the agenda.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity at the next meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to raise with the Prime Minister of India the fact that there are 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war, including 18,000 civilians, still in prisoner-of-war camps, and that the recognition of third parties does not come into this question as the release of American POWs within 60 days of the cessation of hostilities has shown?

The Prime Minister

We are not waiting for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference to deal with these matters. We have been continuously in touch with all the Governments concerned to try to bring about a reconciliation and to solve these problems. There has been an agreement on this matter, and we are doing our utmost. We have been doing so for a long time.