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India: Diplomatic Relations

Volume 634: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2018

Our relations with India remain excellent. The UK shares a long-standing and deep friendship with India covering economic and commercial ties, defence and security, and the living bridge of the people-to-people links, as I saw most recently on my visit to New Delhi and Chennai three months ago.

I thank the Minister for his answer. This April, Prime Minister Modi will be here once again. His last visit presented an opportunity for a joint address to both Houses of Parliament and an opportunity to interact with the Indian diaspora in this country. What plans are there for similar arrangements to enable us to use this opportunity once again?

I very much agree with my hon. Friend; there is no doubt that India will play a vital role in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in mid-April. We are obviously working closely with our Indian colleagues to develop a full agenda of areas of mutual interest, and I very much hope that we will be able to do something here in Parliament along the lines that my hon. Friend has suggested—although that is a matter for you, Mr Speaker—in the community in London and indeed beyond, where there is a significant number of members of the Indian diaspora.

Given that the Republic of India, a Commonwealth member, has now held my constituent from Dumbarton, Jagtar Singh Johal, in custody without charge for two months, will the Minister tell the House whether the Government’s approach to large Commonwealth states is nothing short of a Faustian pact in which we sacrifice our defence of due process to arbitrary detention on the altar of free-marketeerism?

I really do not think that that is the case at all. The hon. Gentleman has been a steadfast constituency MP on this particular matter. Members might not know that he and I have met in the House of Commons, and I very much respect the way in which he has worked hard on behalf of the Johal family. Mr Johal’s brother is also one of his constituents. I recognise that this is a difficult and distressing time for Mr Johal and his family. Consular staff have visited him on a number of occasions, most recently on 28 December, and I can confirm that there will be a further visit this Thursday, 11 January. I will continue to meet members of the family and the hon. Gentleman, having done so at the end of November, and we are keeping him informed at every stage.