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 Speaker's Gavel and Desk Set to the House of Assembly of Vanuatu, and assuring Her Majesty that this House will make good the expenses attending the same.
I look forward, Mr. Speaker, to your next intervention. I am equally happy to move this Address in perhaps more usual circumstances than the last. It is for the presentation of a gift from this House to the House of Assembly of Vanuatu. I am sure that all hon. Members were glad that the difficulties experienced in the final year of the New Hebrides were peacefully overcome and that the new State of Vanuatu has been successfully launched as an independent democracy within the Commonwealth.
To mark this happy progression, and after consultation with the Speaker of the Assembly of Vanuatu, the gift of a Speaker's gavel and desk set has been agreed upon. I am sure that the whole House will wish to express the warmest good wishes for the future of the Parliament Commonwealth and people of Vanuatu.
I should perhaps add that, after these humble Addresses have been approved, a further motion will be moved for leave of absence to be given to two hon. Members who will make both these presentations on behalf of the House.
In spite of the fact that most of the people of Vanuatu are either Presbyterian or Anglican, I think it is right that another hon. Member should add his good wishes to the people of Vanuatu. I happen to be one of the two hon. Members—the other being my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor)—who have been presented with the independence medal of Vanuatu. On the occasions when I get dressed up, which is hardly ever, it is the only medal which I have to wear. I wear it, however, with some pride. It is worth recalling that had it not been for the persistent action of this House the different attitudes towards these matters of the British and French might have delayed independence which had been promised and which was properly due following full democratic elections last year.
I am happy that the independence gift should be a gavel. I understand that a gavel has been chosen because the somewhat damp and rainy atmosphere of Vanuatu precludes our sending anything that contains metal as it might corrode. Since, however, the gift is a wholly wooden gavel, it is perfectly suited to the environment of Vanuatu.
I wish to echo the good wishes to Father Walter Lini and members of the newly elected Parliament. This is one of only two, excluding Canada, recently independent bilingual Parliaments in the British Commonwealth. I wish it well. I hope that now that Vanuatu is independent it will play its part in closing the unhappy divide that existed for more than 100 years between the English-speaking and French-speaking peoples of the Pacific.
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 Speaker's Gavel and Desk Set to the House of Assembly of Vanuatu, 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.