Denis Healey – 1972 Speech on India and Pakistan

The speech made by Denis Healey, the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 18 January 1972.

First, I should like to join in welcoming, as the Foreign Secretary did, the wise statesmanship of President Bhutto in releasing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and sharing in his wish for close and friendly relations with the new Government of Bangladesh. I think that the whole House will want to take this opportunity to wish the people of the new State a peaceful and prosperous future after the tragic ordeal through which they have passed in recent years.

I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary two questions. First, many of us will be disappointed that the Government do not feel in a position to give diplomatic recognition to the new Government of Bangladesh. Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the real reason is that he is seeking to arrange for the largest possible number of European and Commonwealth Governments to give diplomatic recognition at the same time and that this is well understood by Sheikh Mujibur himself?

Secondly, on the question of economic aid, the Foreign Secretary will recognise that the scale of aid required for the new State will dwarf in magnitude even that required to deal with the problem of the refugees in India not so long ago. Will he assure the House that he will meet what I am certain is the unanimous wish that Britain should take the lead in organising international support of the new State as we took the lead, under the right hon. Gentleman’s initiative, in dealing with the earlier problem?