§ 3.40 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, with permission, I should like to repeat a Statement which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has just made in another place. It will be appropriate, perhaps, if I use exactly his words.
"With permission, I wish to make a Statement about the action which Her Majesty's Government has taken in an attempt to be helpful to the Governments of India and Pakistan in resolving their difficulties over the Rann of Kutch.
"The whole House will have followed with deep concern the situation in that area. I am in no position, nor would the House wish it, to express any opinion about responsibility for recent events. But I have been profoundly anxious about continuing fighting between the armed forces of two Commonwealth countries and, above all, about the dangers of the fighting spreading. I am sure that no responsible people in either country would want this to happen and I have been greatly reassured by statements which have been made about this matter by President Ayub and Mr. Shastri. But I am equally aware of the strong feelings which have been aroused on both sides.
"On Monday, April 26, I authorised our High Commissioners to express to President Ayub and Mr. Shastri the profound concern of the British Government, the hope that an early ceasefire could be achieved, and our readiness to help in any way we could. I followed this by a personal message to both Mr. Shastri and President Ayub on April 28.
"Following a further series of exchanges, I received replies from both the President and Prime Minister, which have led to statements, which they have issued to-day, to the effect that neither side will take any action to aggravate the situation. There is good reason to think that the fighting has in fact come to a stop as a preliminary to a cease-fire and a settlement of this whole question. I am still in close contact with President Ayub and 950 Mr. Shastri and will of course report to the House if there are any further developments."
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl the Leader of the House for having made that Statement. We greatly welcome it and the action taken in this matter by the Prime Minister. We must all of us hope that the rather more hopeful tone of the last part of the Statement which the noble Earl repeated is right and that things will improve. In the meantime, probably the less said about it the better.
My Lords, I do not propose to say much about this, as advised by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, but I would endorse what he has said. This is very good news and I think that the Government should be congratulated on the outcome of these talks. It is also satisfactory that fighting has come at least temporarily to an end, and I hope that the Government will keep very well in mind not only this local difficulty but also the difficulties behind the whole situation—like those in Kashmir—and will not cease from giving their full support to both sides in trying to arrive at some amicable agreement.