Australia: Centenary

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:40 pm on 5 July 2000.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:40, 5 July 2000

My Lords, the noble Baroness has outlined a very encouraging programme and a fitting celebration of an Act passed 100 years ago under a Conservative government, whose Prime Minister was Lord Salisbury. Does she agree that, looking to the future, relations between Britain and Australia are getting closer and closer, particularly in hard economic and commercial terms and in terms of investment flows between the two countries? Does she further agree that Australia is now part of the great Oceania, South-East Asia, Asia Pacific market which in few years' time may be richer and bigger than that of the entire European Union? Does she conclude from that that some of our foreign policy energies and the energies of her department--which sometimes seem to get bogged down in quarrels and difficulties nearer home with our nearer and sometimes less friendly neighbours--could be better deployed in building up and strengthening our ties with one of our loyalist, best and longest-standing friends?