HC Deb 21 March 1984 vol 56 cc1039-40
10. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to pay an official visit to India.

Mr. Whitney

My right hon. and learned Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Durant

I understand the Foreign Secretary's difficulty in visiting India at present. However, is my hon. Friend aware that some of my constituents with relations in India are worried about the recent disturbances in Kashmir and the Punjab? Will the Minister express those anxieties to the high commission in London?

Mr. Whitney

Concern over what is happening in the Punjab is felt by all of us. It is a matter concerning internal political developments in India. We sympathise with the Indian Government over the level of violence. We believe that the differences between India and Pakistan about Kashmir should be settled by the two Governments. We hope that no worsening of the difficulties will occur and, certainly, that there will be no development of violence.

Mr. James Lamond

Has the Minister read the final document issued after the non-aligned conference in New Delhi a year ago, which said that the non-aligned countries were gravely concerned about the deployment throughout the world of foreign nuclear missiles, including cruise missiles, and about the severe impact of the arms race on developing countries, since three-quarters of global expenditure is undertaken by the developed countries? If those matters were brought up during a meeting with Mrs. Gandhi, would the Foreign Secretary be uneasy during the discussion?

Mr. Whitney

We also are concerned about continuing and increasing expenditure on arms, but our primary concern must be for the security of the United Kingdom and our allies. We therefore look to the Soviet Union to echo the concern that we have expressed and to respond to the numerous Western overtures.

Mr. Budgen

Does my hon. Friend agree that the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Mr. Durant) is a good illustration of the mistake made by the Government in allowing dual nationality under the British Nationality Act?

Mr. Whitney

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. The British Nationality Act made a positive contribution to race relations, but that matter is more properly one for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

Dr. M. S. Miller

If the Foreign Secretary goes to India, will he make it abundantly clear to Mrs. Gandhi that the British Government have no intention of joining in any demands for self-determination for the Sikhs in the Punjab?

Mr. Whitney

I certainly give that assurance.

Mr. Janner

As the "Easter Eye" programme has caused consternation in India by giving publicity to the case of the Kashmiri terrorists, will the Minister take this opportunity to express the condemnation and horror of the Government, the House and the British people at the assassination of Indian diplomat Mhatre?

Mr. Whitney

We have expressed to the Indian Government our condemnation of the extraordinary and alarming assassination and our great regret at the incident. With regard to the television programme "Eastern Eye", we understand the feelings of the Indian Government. The Indian high commission is in direct contact with the Independent Broadcasting Authority and with the television company concerned.

Mr. Michael Brown

If my hon. Friend makes representations to the Indian high commissioner, will he draw his attention to the fact that India has curtailed exports of tea, which has distorted and increased the price of tea on the world market, especially in the United Kingdom? Will my hon. Friend find out from the high commissioner whether there is any opportunity for a further increase in the amount of tea exported from India, especially to the United Kingdom?

Mr. Whitney

I have not made or envisaged any representations to the high commissioner on that, but I will certainly look into the matter.