Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 2nd May 2007.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats 3:52 pm, 2nd May 2007

I very much welcome this debate and the contributions of the Minister and of Mr. Murphy, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, given their experience in these matters. I apologise on behalf of my hon. Friend Mr. Moore, who wanted to be here but cannot. I am therefore happy to speak on behalf of my colleagues, and to do so in the light of my interest in these issues over many years, having had the privilege and opportunity of visiting Sri Lanka a few years ago. My hon. Friend Mr. Davey and other hon. Friends with London constituencies represent, as I do, significant numbers of people from Sri Lanka from all the different communities. Many colleagues in the House are in the same position, so we have direct day-to-day knowledge of the experiences of our Sri Lankan constituents, who have lived out war and peace, death and bereavement. Constituents of mine have lost sisters and other direct family members.

This issue is very important to the United Kingdom. Sri Lanka is connected to us through huge links of history. It was not only a colony with which we had a trading background; there have been very positive relations following the Labour Government's granting of independence to Sri Lanka and the first former colonies after the war. Sri Lanka then evolved into a republic, and since then many commercial, travel, cultural and sporting links have been established. My only light-hearted comment on this issue is to commiserate with Sri Lanka on not, in the end, pulling off victory in the cricket world cup final in the West Indies.