My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and, separately, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, discussed bilateral trade and the Indo-British partnership initiative with the Indian Prime Minister during his recent visit. Both sides welcomed the success of the initiative. Since it was launched in January last year, business close to £2 billion has been generated.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Following the most welcome visit by the Indian Prime Minister, his excellency Narasimha Rao, is not the Indo-British partnership initiative, which has signed £2 billion worth of trade agreements, even more important? Does not the recent visit cement the final order of £1 billion by British Aerospace for Hawk trainers, providing jobs in my constituency and elsewhere? Is not it thoroughly good news for British industry, as a result of the 1994 Budget which deregulated industries involved in the Indian trade agreements?
Our exports to India are doing extremely well. They reached £1,130 million last year—a 20 per cent. increase. New contracts were signed, including those that my hon. Friend mentioned with British Aerospace. New contracts were signed during the Prime Minister's visit, in particular a memorandum of understanding for a 1,000 MW power plant in Maharashtra state worth £700 million.
Dr. John Cunningham:
Good political and economic relations with the Republic of India should be welcomed and so should our developing trade relations with the republic. I made that clear during my visit to India last week. As we all claim to be friends of the Indian Government, should not we take every opportunity to remind them of their duties and responsibilities for the human and democratic rights of all their people, including the people of Kashmir—which, as the Under-Secretary of State said, I was allowed freely to visit last week—and the people of the state of Punjab?
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. We do not have any substantive conversations with Indian Ministers without drawing attention to that problem, as, indeed, he did. He will know that there has been a substantial improvement in the Punjab. There are now elections there and the position has been transformed for the better since a couple of years ago.