HC Deb 20 February 1969 vol 778 cc757-8
Q2. Mr. Derek Page

asked the Prime Minister whether he will propose to other Commonwealth leaders the setting-up of an Assembly of Commonwealth Parliamentarians to constitute a Common wealth Council for the discussion of matters of mutual interest.

The Prime Minister

As I told the House on 29th June, 1965, I made this proposal to the 1965 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting when it received less than general support and, therefore, did not make progress. I would, however, refer my hon. Friend to paragraph 74 of the Communiqué on the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting in January, which expresses appreciation of the valuable contribution to the strengthening of Commonwealth cooperation and understanding being made by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.—[Vol. 715, c. 308–14.]

Mr. Page

In view of the success of the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and the lack of enthusiasm in some parts of Europe, is it not the time to explore this idea more thoroughly?

The Prime Minister

I have put this suggestion to my Commonwealth colleagues. They are for the most part so pleased with the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association—it was interesting to see how many with C.P.A. ties were at the Conference—that I do not think they will want any change made in the existing arrangements.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

While I endorse the suggestion made in the Question, will the Prime Minister agree that equally if not more important would be the creation of a Commonwealth Court of Appeal? Will he say whether there is support for that amongst his Commonwealth Colleagues, or must we reluctantly abandon this as a practical possibility?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that it is warmly supported by many Commonwealth colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman will know the feelings that this has aroused in another Commonwealth country which is not an independent sovereign member of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. The right hon. Gentleman will rejoice at the progress made in co-operation on legal and judicial matters generally, as recorded in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué.