The Commonwealth

Part of Estimates Day – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 27th June 1996.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Jeremy Hanley Mr Jeremy Hanley , Richmond and Barnes 6:45 pm, 27th June 1996

If the hon. Lady had not opened her mouth at that moment, I would have come immediately to the report, but there we are. I know that a little dig is common from that quarter.

I am a passionate fan of the Commonwealth. I was an elected member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association United Kingdom executive body. I will do all that I can to ensure that Commonwealth relationships increase and improve.

Recommendations 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 in the report are on trade. Trade is one element in the bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and all countries, including our Commonwealth partners. Senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Trade and Industry are directly responsible for pushing those relationships. We have teams in the United Kingdom and overseas dedicated to promoting bilateral trade with the Commonwealth. Those officials ensure that we make the best use of our Commonwealth ties, but not solely for our benefit, as I have said before. It is for the mutual benefit of all our people. That is not a cliché.

We will continue to negotiate for Commonwealth countries generous access to the European Union single market whenever we can. We push forward their views when formulating our policy in EU trade negotiations.