HC Deb 17 June 1975 vol 893 cc1190-1
Q6. Mr. Tomlinson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his recent meeting with Mrs. Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister

We discussed a number of matters of mutual interest, including the tea industry in Sri Lanka, my proposals on commodities made at Kingston, the future development of relations between the South Asian countries and the European Economic Community, and the meeting of the non-aligned nations in Colombo next year.

Mr. Tomlinson

Can the Prime Minister give us any indication of any measures which Mrs. Bandaranaike proposes to take to deal with the problems to which the Government have given urgent attention in relation to the tea plantations?

The Prime Minister

Some problems have been discussed, some of which are of a bilateral character, as some of the plantations are owned by British interests. I have pressed that any changes made there should be accompanied, as is the usual and universally agreed practice, by compensation in cases where they are taken over.

On the question of tea and commodities generally, Mrs. Bandaranaike—when she visited London, as well as in Jamaica—gave wholehearted support to the initiative which I took on commodities and felt that it was relevant to the problems of Sri Lanka in relation to tea and rubber.

Dr. J. Dickson Mahon

In view of the Prime Minister's distinguished record in support of War on Want, which is deeply concerned with the position of the Tamils in Ceylon, will he tell us whether he raised the problem of these Stateless people, who are without votes, representation or sustenance in the tea estates, largely because of their political position?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the problem. I did not raise the matter with Mrs. Bandaranaike because it must be regarded—whatever the feelings of my hon. Friend, or of War on Want, of which I was a founder—as an internal affair of the Sri Lanka Government.