HC Deb 01 February 1955 vol 536 cc899-900
46. Mr. I. O. Thomas

asked the Prime Minister if he will favourably consider making available to Members of Parliament travelling and other necessary facilities to enable them to visit the various Commonwealth countries and Colonial Territories so that they may become more closely acquainted with the various peoples and political institutions, and with their economic and social problems which are so much the responsibility of Members of this House for consideration and solution.

The Prime Minister

I do not think I can do better than repeat the answer to a Question given by the Leader of the Opposition—whom I am glad to see in his place—when he was head of the Government on 29th October, 1945: His Majesty's Government welcome all measures designed to promote a better understanding between the peoples of the British Commonwealth. As regards visits by Members of Parliament, the hon. and gallant Member will no doubt be aware of the longstanding arrangements made by the Empire Parliamentary Association for visits by Parliamentary delegations within the Commonwealth and Empire."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 29th October, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 200–1.] We have no intention at present of departing from that policy.

Mr. Thomas

Would the Prime Minister not agree that it would be a worthwhile investment and bring knowledge and understanding of the problems of the British Commonwealth if he were to enable hon. Members to have more direct contact with the nature of those problems, and thereby enable them to deal effectively with them when they are raised in the House? In relation to his reference to the arrangements made by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, is he not aware that every hon. Member who is selected for a delegation thinks himself extremely lucky if he gets one visit "out of the hat" in all the time that he is a Member of this House? If the right hon. Gentleman takes the problems of the Commonwealth seriously, I urge him to reconsider the matter so as to enable hon. Members to be given more opportunity for these visits.