HL Deb 05 March 1990 vol 516 cc965-6

2.42 p.m.

Lord Auckland asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have in mind to celebrate Commonwealth Day on 12th March.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, Ministers will attend the observance in Westminster Abbey and the Commonwealth Secretary-General's reception, both in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. Many of our diplomatic missions around the world will be involved in events to mark the occasion. The principal focus will, however, be on children, in schools and at a major event in the Commonwealth Institute.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful and informative Answer. Is he aware that I am the vice-president of New Zealand in Britain 1990? That committee includes at least a dozen very distinguished Members of your Lordships' House, including, I believe, at least two former Prime Ministers. Arising from that, is my noble friend aware that the Commonwealth Games in a city not unknown to me were a great success? Following the celebrations of 12th March, can my noble friend say what plans there are to increase trade with the Commonwealth, particularly in agricultural products? While the European Community is very vital, does he agree that the Commonwealth also has a very important part to play in the future?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I certainly agree with my noble friend's last remarks about the importance of the Commonwealth. I was aware of my noble friend's involvement in New Zealand in Britain 1990, having seen him at various events in connection with it. I also endorse that the Commonwealth Games were a great success in the city of Auckland.

Lord Bottomley

My Lords, is the Minister aware that in another place an Early Day Motion has been moved to celebrate Commonwealth Day? Can your Lordships' House be associated with those sentiments?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am not sure about having an Early Day Motion in your Lordships' House. We do not have such procedure. However, I am sure that the remarks made during Questions in this House today will endorse your Lordships' support for the Commonwealth.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there is particular reason for celebrating Commonwealth Day because of the return of Pakistan to the Commonwealth, which is most welcome?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I endorse that remark. It will be the first Commonwealth Day that has occurred since Pakistan rejoined the Commonwealth, I think last October.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, as the Minister and Members of the House know, the Commonwealth Institutes in London and Edinburgh have done excellent work. Can the Minister say what plans are afoot to establish a Commonwealth Institute in Cardiff? Will he be good enough to consult on that matter with Mr. Peter Walker without delay?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition on once again bringing Wales to the forefront of our attention and also the attention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales. I am sure that due consideration will be given to what the noble Lord said. I shall pass his remarks on to the present Secretary of State.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, is the Minister aware that on Commonwealth Day, 12th March, I shall be addressing a seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on the subject of the role of a Second Chamber? Does he consider that useful?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I was not aware that my noble friend was giving such an address. However, I am sure that it will be most useful to all those who are able to listen to it.