HC Deb 18 May 1976 vol 911 cc1206-7
Q1. Mr. Ridley

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to visit Australia.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I have at present no plans to visit Australia.

Mr. Ridley

That is a pity. Does the Prime Minister agree that it would be a shame not to have the chance to talk to Sir John Kerr and learn about the great efficacy and democratic use of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative to dismiss a discredited Government? Will he give an undertaking that the report of the Labour Party home policy committee, which suggests abolishing the Royal Prerogative in this country—taking the Queen out of politics—will be quashed and not allowed to become law by this Government?

The Prime Minister

The Crown normally remains outside the realm of party politics, although I understand that royalties are sometimes associated with other publications. In the course of Her Majesty's reign I have seen Dissolution on seven occasions. I thought that they were all eminently satisfactory, and on four occasions at least they were positively right.

Mr. Grimond

Without necessarily tearing himself away to go to Australia, will the Prime Minister consider instituting a further examination of federal systems, such as the Australian system, with a view to any possible lessons they might have to teach us about devolution in this country?

The Prime Minister

I should be ready to look at the lessons from other countries, but the stormy relationships between the State Governments in Australia and the Central Government there are hardly encouraging for us to draw any lessons from.

Mr. Hooley

If my right hon. Friend has occasion to go to Australia, will he discuss with the Australian Government the question of demand and supply for world commodities, especially metals, with a view to arriving at a more helpful and constructive attitude towards UNCTAD by the British Government than has so far been shown?

The Prime Minister

I think that Australia illustrates the difficulty of this problem. In no circumstances can Australia be described as a poverty-stricken country, but clearly it is the country that would benefit most from some of the proposals put forward at UNCTAD, precisely because it has control of many metals and commodities. For that reason, the British Government have not gone overboard for a common fund, but have preferred to deal with the matter commodity by commodity. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for illustrating this matter so well.