First Day

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:23 pm on 6th May 1992.

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Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon 3:23 pm, 6th May 1992

If that is a job application from the hon. Gentleman, may I say that he lacks some of the necessary qualifications. However, I shall bear him in mind when we next have the occasion to meet at Stamford Bridge.

In gathering those responsibilities together in one Department under a Cabinet Minister, I wanted to demonstrate the importance which the Government attach to them and to provide a strong voice at the centre of Government to speak for the needs of our national culture and heritage. That heritage is woven from distinctive strands from all four corners of the United Kingdom. Union is not uniformity. So we will ensure that the individuality of all parts of the United Kingdom is respected. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will, for example, be introducing a Welsh Language Bill this Session to strengthen the position of the language in Wales.

As I made clear during the election, the paramount importance of the unity of the United Kingdom and the union between Scotland and England is clear. I make no bones about repeating that. This Government stand firmly and four square for the Union. We want to see the ties between the two countries strengthened, not weakened, throughout this Parliament.

A great strength of our constitution has been its capacity to accommodate change—to evolve. We shall therefore look at ways in which Government could be more responsive to Scotland's needs. But the Union itself is not negotiable.