HC Deb 27 January 1955 vol 536 cc397-8
5. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what official suggestions have been received that Ministers from the United Kingdom should visit Australia and New Zealand more frequently.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am not clear what the hon. and gallant Member has in mind. There have been a number of visits by members of the present Government to both Australia and New Zealand.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

As there have been complaints in Australia and New Zealand that they are too often neglected in this respect, will the right hon. Gentleman advise his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who also happens to be Deputy Prime Minister, that it would be a good thing if he paid a visit to our friends in Australia and New Zealand before he returns to this country from Singapore and the South-East Asian Conference?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I suggest that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should address that question to the Foreign Secretary, but I am authorised to say that the Foreign Secretary received an invitation from Mr. Holland to visit New Zealand after the Bangkok Conference, which he has had, with regret, to refuse, owing to the full programme of visits which he had already arranged to pay to other countries after the conference. Of course, I am proud that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should suggest that my right hon. and hon. Friends are in such demand, and they certainly will do their best to accept these invitations within the limits of the requirements of their Departmental duties. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will offer to pair with me, I will do my best to see that the opportunity is properly used.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Would the hon. Gentleman ask the Foreign Secretary to reconsider this? There has been a great deal of criticism in the Australian and New Zealand Press on this matter, and it is very important that leading Ministers of the Government of this country of whatever party should visit these countries when they are near them. This point ought to be looked at again.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am sure nobody appreciates that better than my right hon. Friend but he could not justify any further extension of his absence from the United Kingdom where, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the pressure on him is extremely heavy.