Back in October 2011 I instigated the first ever debate on holding a referendum on our membership of the European Union. It is sometimes difficult to believe how much the political landscape has changed since that original debate. Today, I am opening a debate on Kashmir the territory which was divided between Pakistan and India when the British colony of India was granted Independence in 1947. Since then it has been the subject of a dsipute between the two countries as to who should govern the area. This is the first time there has ever been a specific debate on this issue in the main Chamber of the House of Commons although of course it has been referred to in many other debates and it was debated in a Westminster Hall debate during the last Parliament.
There are many people of Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage in Bury for whom this issue is of real concern. There is no easy answer. Britain must be a good friend to both Pakistan and India and because of our historic ties to the area we are well placed to encourage both countries to commence talks leading to a permanent peaceful settlement.