§ Mr. Hurd
Is the right hon. Lady aware that the news of this agreement has been received with some bitterness by the small number of elderly people in this country whose pensions due to them from the Indian coal industry are at present blocked by Indian action? The sum involved must be very small. Is there not some way of using some of the aid the right hon. Lady has mentioned to ensure that these people get their due?
§ Mrs. Hart
I appreciate the problem. The answer is "Not directly". My right hon. Friend has drawn the attention of the Government of India to this matter. I am hopeful that solutions will be found. I do not think that it would be of direct assistance to relate the two matters in quite the way the hon. Gentleman is proposing. I hope that a solution will be found very shortly.
§ Mr. Michael Marshall
Is the right hon. Lady aware that many of the problems of the Indian coal-mining industry arise from transport bottlenecks? Will she consider trying to get some form of technical assistance and technical agreement between British Railways and the Indian railways with a view to resolving these problems?
§ Mrs. Hart
We are always ready to send out technical assistance. Indeed, many consultancy and technical assistance teams go out to India, financed by my Ministry. In this case naturally, in view of the oil crisis, the Government of India are anxious to exploit their own coal reserves rather faster than otherwise would have been the case. We have consultants and technical assistance people out there, some from the National Coal Board, but if there is a need to link up with the transport question I am certain that they will come back and tell us.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Does my right hon. Friend accept that if she instituted talks with the Department of Trade she would discover that India has a means of earning hard currency in this country which would deal with the pensioner problems which would arise and would also be a means of buying machinery for this industry in India? Is she aware that £270,000 worth of Indian films are imported into this country every year and that India could use that money to finance the purchase of the machinery?