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Kashmir

12. Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans next to meet representatives of the Pakistani and Indian Governments to discuss an agreement on Kashmir. [5739]

Mr. Fatchett: I discussed Kashmir with both Governments during my visit to India and Pakistan last month. In addition, I met the Pakistani Foreign Minister and the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs in Hong Kong, and we again discussed Kashmir. We shall continue to support both countries in their dialogue on the issues that divide them, including Kashmir.

Mr. Heppell: I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of the reports that the Indian authorities in Srinagar have in their possession audio tapes that could shed some light on the motives and the identity of the people who have taken British hostages? Will he raise the issue with the Indian high commission in London as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Fatchett: I can assure my hon. Friend that we have had close relationships with both the Indian and Pakistani Governments on the hostage question. Their help has been greatly appreciated. I am sorry to say that we have made no further progress, but I can give my hon. Friend and the families of the hostages every assurance that we shall continue to work closely and actively with both Governments until we find the hostages.

Mr. Colvin: Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the plebiscite that was promised to the Kashmiri people on their future in 1947 was denied them because the Labour Government of the day gave India and Pakistan independence six months earlier than had previously been agreed? Does he agree that this year--the 50th anniversary of those events--is a good window of opportunity to permit that problem to be resolved? Will he remind the House of the details of the criteria agreed by India and Pakistan, which must be met before that plebiscite can take place?

Mr. Fatchett: I congratulate the Indian and Pakistani Governments on their efforts to renew discussions between the two Governments. It is an act of statesmanship and leadership by Prime Ministers Gujral and Sharif. We hope that those talks are successful. I was delighted with the news that, in the talks last month, it was agreed to establish a working party on Jammu and Kashmir. I assume that all the issues to which the hon. Gentleman referred will fall within the remit of that

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working party. If that is the case, there are good prospects of making progress in an extremely difficult issue. We have made it clear to both Governments that, if they so wish, the good offices of the British Government will be made available to them.

Korea

13. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new proposals he has to improve relations with Korea. [5740]

Mr. Fatchett: At their recent meeting in New York, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the President of Korea agreed that the relations between our two countries were improving all the time. We shall work closely together further to enhance this important partnership.

Mr. Flynn: Does my hon. Friend agree that the decision to locate £2 billion of high-tech Korean investment in my constituency was made in the sure knowledge that the economy in Wales under a Labour Government and a Welsh Assembly would be a healthy one for growth and development? Is he aware that those jobs have been relocated three fields away from the site where British technology jobs once were, before they were relocated under the previous Government to countries that have both the minimum wage and the social chapter? What does my hon. Friend intend to do to ensure that the cordial relations between Korea and the United Kingdom improve this year, when we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first contact between those two countries?

Mr. Fatchett: I congratulate my hon. Friend on all his efforts and on the initiatives that he took to persuade the Korean inward investment to come to Newport. I am sure that his constituents will be extremely pleased with the success of his efforts, and that all hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish to congratulate him in that respect. He also looks to the future and I think that he, along with many other business people, will be encouraged by the decisions taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor last week, when he reduced the level of corporation tax to an all-time low. That will be very attractive to new inward investors, and they will also notice that, at last, we in the United Kingdom have a Government who are sensitive and friendly to business requirements. That is why we have the lowest level of corporation tax--something that the Conservative party talked about but failed miserably to achieve.

Mr. Rowe: Would the Minister care to share with the House his assessment of how long the present situation in North Korea can persist and what, if any, risk he perceives to South Korea from the impending collapse?

Mr. Fatchett: The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue; and we are naturally concerned about both the nature of the regime in North Korea and the condition of the people there. He will know that the Government have already made £1 million available to help with food shortages. We are also working with our European partners to bring assistance to North Korea. It is crucial, not only to North Korea's immediate neighbours, but to

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all of us, that the four-party talks are successful and that North Korea changes its political face and economic approach and gives its people the opportunity to achieve what has been achieved in South Korea. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that what is happening in North Korea has serious implications.

Zimbabwe

14. Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's relationship with the Government of Zimbabwe. [5742]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The United Kingdom enjoys close and warm relations with the Government of Zimbabwe. We are important partners of Zimbabwe across a wide field, including trade, investment, development co-operation and military training. This week, the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister will come to London to take part in, and chair, the Commonwealth ministerial action group, and I look forward to meeting and working with him in that process.

Mr. Davidson: I thank the Minister for his answer. Has he considered ways in which this country can assist the development of democracy in Zimbabwe by assisting non-racial, non-tribal opposition parties in that country and by encouraging greater democracy within the ruling party?

Mr. Lloyd: We have welcomed the Zimbabwean Government's proposals to make the playing field considerably more level, specifically in respect of election law and the financing of opposition political parties. We would urge that they carry forward that process so as to make sure that Zimbabwe develops into a proper and pluralistic society.

Mr. Ian Bruce: Why does the Minister believe that it is right to say that we should have export bans and stop people selling to certain other countries because of the problems they have with their democracies, when he does not propose that UK companies should stop trading with Zimbabwe? Is it not strange that we are keen to see Korean companies importing into this country, without sanctions, while constantly saying that we should have sanctions against British companies which are out there exporting?

Mr. Lloyd: Korea is in Asia and Zimbabwe is in Africa. Of course, the question of how we relate to other nations in respect of their human rights and their domestic and global responsibilities is one that varies on a case-by-case basis. That is the position of any Government--it was the position of the Government that the hon. Gentleman supported before the general election and it is certainly the position of the present Government. However, the hon. Gentleman will notice that we shall be a lot more consistent in our views and a lot more honest.

Indonesia (Human Rights)

15. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a

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statement on (a) the human rights record of Indonesia and (b) its impact on the licensing of future arms exports to that country. [5743]

Mr. Fatchett: We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in both Indonesia and East Timor. We look to Indonesia to improve its human rights record. As announced to the House on 22 May, we are reviewing the criteria used in considering licence applications to export conventional arms. We expect the review to be completed in the next few weeks. We shall not issue licences for the export of arms, to Indonesia or any other country, which might be used for internal repression or international aggression.

Mr. George: I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that a genuine concern for the well-being of civilians and in other countries is not tantamount--

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Take your hands out of your pockets.

Mr. George: I am sorry.

Does the Minister agree that it is not tantamount to a preoccupation with human rights, which Conservative Members implied was to be scorned? Has he sought legal advice as to whether the revocation of export licences would imply any compensation payments to those exporters? The legal advice that I have received implies that it would not.

Finally, will the Minister inform the House how quickly he will move on to the revocation of licences when the review is over?

Mr. Fatchett: I suggest that the hon. Gentleman never listens to any advice offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours). It has never worked for anyone else, so there is no reason to believe that it will work for him. As for the general points that the hon. Gentleman raises on human rights, he is of course correct to say that we are dealing with universal principles of universal application, and that those will be the criteria that guide Government policy.

As for the arms issues, I ask the hon. Gentleman to wait, with others, for the announcement of the results of the review that we have established.

Mr. Sheerman: I am pleased that my colleague is carefully examining Indonesia's human rights record. Human rights has emerged repeatedly as an issue during today's Question Time. However, it does worry some of us who want consistency when, post-Hong Kong, all we have heard about is gung-ho trade with China and the fact that we have an enormous trade deficit with that country, when surely no one can defend the human rights record of that country.

Mr. Fatchett: I suspect that my hon. Friend was not in the Chamber for the first question and the first answer that I gave; if he was, he may well have missed the point that I made about the human rights record of the Chinese Government and the need to engage that Government on the human rights agenda. All that we have said since the handover of Hong Kong, in replies in the House this afternoon and in statements, has been about the need to

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ensure that China honours the Joint Declaration. That is about human rights, and that is about a consistent and universal commitment to human rights. That will apply in Indonesia, Hong Kong and throughout our policy.

Mr. David Davis: I have a factual question for the Minister, which allows a yes or no answer. Given all the resources available to him in the Foreign Office, can he confirm that British-made Hawks are never used in East Timor?

Mr. Fatchett: The hon. Gentleman is asking me to follow a practice that he never followed in office, and I can never remember him giving such a factual answer. On Hawk and every other arms deal, he will have to wait until the conclusion of our review. We shall have to consider the criteria and make a judgment, and then he will be in a position to support or to criticise the Government. I am afraid that he will have to show patience and to wait.


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