Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:28 pm on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Liberal Democrat, East Dunbartonshire 3:28 pm, 30th April 2008

I congratulate Mr. Spring on securing the debate, and I pay tribute to his hard work as the chairman of the British Ukrainian Society. In his speech he set out very clearly the bilateral relations between our country and Ukraine and an overview of that intriguing country's history and current situation. Positively, he also pointed out the very good work being done to strengthen links between our countries, and in particular by Mr. Grogan and the all-party group on Ukraine that he chairs. It is particularly good to hear that a delegation of MPs will visit Ukraine later in the year.

As with so many Westminster Hall debates about various countries, we should recognise that while the relationship with the country itself is important, we benefit from the presence of many people—in this case tens of thousands of Ukrainians—who live and work and contribute to society in Britain. It is important to be aware of that community and the positive impact that it can have on our economy and society.

So far, we have had an excellent debate, with contributions from Mr. George, my hon. Friend Simon Hughes and the hon. Members for Selby (Mr. Grogan) and for Ealing, North (Stephen Pound). I confess that I have been somewhat lost along the way with some of the football metaphors, but that aside I have certainly found the debate to be particularly interesting.

In my brief remarks, I would like to touch on the relationship between Ukraine and the various international organisations, on the issue of energy and on a couple of other issues before winding up. First, I would like to share with the Members present today my own experience of Ukraine, which thankfully is slightly wider than just reading a rather excellent novel, "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian", by Marina Lewycka.