Fiji (Gift)

– in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 23rd July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire 7:15 pm, 23rd July 1981

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will give directions that there be presented on behalf of this House a gift of a Clerk's Table to the House of Representatives of Fiji, and assuring Her Majesty that this House will make good .the expenses attending the same. As hon. Members are aware, there is a very happy parliamentary and Commonwealth tradition that gifts are offered by this House to Parliaments of Commonwealth countries on the occasion of their independence. Today, I am moving two motions to give formal authority for such gifts.

The first is somewhat unusual. Fiji became independent, within the Commonwealth, in 1970, and a gift was offered to its Parliament at that time. However, Fiji was then hoping to build a new parliamentary building and asked if we would defer our gift. Over 10 years have passed and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Fiji has agreed that Fiji would now welcome a gift from the House of Commons, although the new Parliament has not yet been built. And I am sure the whole House will agree that it is only right and proper that this long-delayed gift should now be presented. After consultation with the Speaker of Fiji, it has been agreed that the gift should be a Clerk's Table, to be placed in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. Photographs of this good example of modern British furniture-making will be on display in the Library from today.

I commend the motion as an expression of the good will of this House to the House of Representatives of Fiji. Since that country became independent, relations between us have always been warm and friendly. It is a fortunate fact that the annual conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is to be held in Fiji in October this year. It is proposed that our gift will be presented immediately after that conference, which highlights its significance as a symbol of Commonwealth friendship. I am sure that all hon. Members will join me in wishing happiness and continuing prosperity to the Parliament and people of Fiji.

Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford 7:17 pm, 23rd July 1981

I gladly associate the Opposition with the motion. Anyone who has had the good fortune to visit Fiji will know how warm and friendly relations remain between that country and Britain. Although from time to time we have been known to be a little bruised after contact with Fijian rugby teams on the field, all of us are delighted to join the right hon. Gentleman in wishing Fiji well.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I had the great honour of being the guest of the Fijian House of Representatives and its Speaker in the autumn of last year. I know how much they value the thought that the House will present this gift to the people of Fiji, 80 per cent. of whom are Methodists.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will give directions that there be presented on behalf of this House a gift of a Clerk's Table to the House of Representatives of Fiji, and assuring Her Majesty that this House will make good the expenses attending the same.

To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.