Anglo-Indian Relations

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 2016.

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Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham 12:00 am, 12th July 2016

What recent assessment he has made of the strength of diplomatic and economic relations between India and the UK.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Our relations with India remain extremely good. Only this week, I spoke to a high-level group of Indian businessmen here in the United Kingdom, and of course they wanted to know what is happening now with our relationship with India following the recent referendum.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

For individuals and businesses in Cheltenham, the UK’s relationship with India is increasingly important. How will it change post-Brexit?

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

We still have in this country 1.5 million Indians or people of Indian descent, so the connections are huge and robust. People come to the UK a lot and people go to India a lot. Clearly, early talks about the shape of our trade relationship with India will form part of our discussions over the next year or so.

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Labour, Walsall South

On the diplomatic front, what discussions has the Minister had with the Indian Government about the recent events in Kashmir?

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

We are very saddened by the recent reports of unrest in Kashmir and we offer our condolences to the victims and their families. Our high commission in Delhi is monitoring the situation closely, and we have updated our travel advice accordingly.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

I am delighted that my right hon. Friend referenced the fact that discussion about a future trade relationship will take place in parallel with our exit negotiations from the European Union. What kind of capability does he need to recruit to his Department to get into the detail of those discussions?

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

My hon. Friend will know that trade policy is with UK Trade & Investment, but I will repeat what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier. We are aware that we need to recruit and retain more trade negotiators. We are still a member of the EU until the last of the negotiations have taken place, but there is absolutely no reason not to start having exploratory talks, and we are beginning to do that.