HC Deb 30 April 1981 vol 3 cc906-7
Q3. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement about the progress of discussions on the future of the Canadian Constitution.

The Prime Minister

Discussion in the Canadian Parliament is now in suspense until the Canadian Supreme Court has delivered its opinion. The court began its proceedings on 28 April and its opinion is not expected before late May or early June.

Mr. Adley

Will my right hon. Friend accept that presumably everybody in the House puts the highest priority on good relations between the British Government and both the Canadian Federal and provincial Governments? Does she agree that while a solution to this problem is obviously desirable, it should not be a solution at any price, and that we should not want to give Mr. Trudeau the impression that we would like to encourage him to force Westminster to find a solution that is not generally acceptable to the majority of Canadians?

The Prime Minister

I hope that good relations between this country and Canada will continue. Obviously further decisions must await the completion of the political and legal processes in Canada.

Mr. David Watkins

Will the right hon. Lady bear in mind the fact that there is considerable opposition inside Canada to Mr. Trudeau's devious moves in the matter of the Canadian constitution? Would not it be undesirable for this Parliament to be manipulated, or even to appear to be manipulated, in his interests rather than in the interest of the Canadian people?

The Prime Minister

I do not believe that at the moment it is for me to comment on what went on in another Parliament. We have not received a request from that Parliament. We shall not receive one until all the Supreme Court and parliamentary processes have been completed. I believe that we should have respect for another similarly elected Parliament.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith

Does my right hon. Friend agree that both the Government and Parliament in Britain would be well advised to await the informed guidance of the Supreme Court in Canada before taking up any fixed positions, in view of the rather paradoxical circumstance that we in this House of Commons, as the representatives of a unitary State without a federal constitution, are not best placed to advise on the intricacies of a federal constitution in written form?

The Prime Minister

I wholly take and agree with my right hon. and learned Friend's point. I am grateful to him for putting it.