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Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.



Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

criminal law

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

constitutional law

Question agreed to.

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Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

ec action on health services

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Orders Nos. 115(1) and 116(1),

Question agreed to.




Milk Pricing

10.15 pm

Mrs. Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): It is a great privilege to present a petition about milk prices to the House on behalf of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, which has no fewer than 71,000 signatures. Rarely in my experience has a petition of such size been brought before the House, but it represents the very substantial concern in the country about milk prices. It has my support as well as the
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support of my hon. Friends, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski), chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for dairy farmers.

I do not wish to detain the House unduly, and the facts speak for themselves. The price of a litre of milk has fallen from 24.5p to 18p over the past 10 years, yet at the same time, has risen—if bought from the retailer—from 42p to 51p. What business can withstand a cut in its price of such an order at a time of rising costs?

One third of all dairy farmers have given up working in the dairy industry in the past two years and a further one third plan to go. We all have dairy farmers in our constituencies, and we have friends and family members who have had to give up producing milk because it has proved uneconomic. We commend the Women’s Institute for taking on this issue. It is the voice of the consumer, the discerning connoisseur of high-quality home-produced food, and a formidable force to be reckoned with, as the Prime Minister found to his cost.

The petition says that the petitioners call on the House to request

With the leave of the House, I commend this sizeable petition. The day has had sufficient joys and sorrows for it not to be my wish to detain the House further.

To lie upon the Table.

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UK Relations (Australia/New Zealand)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Alan Campbell.]

10.18 pm

Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con): The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has no truer friends in the world than the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. On ANZAC day each year, members of the all-party parliamentary group for Australia and New Zealand attend Westminster abbey to commemorate this important occasion. On 11 November 2006 you, Mr. Speaker, along with several hon. Members from this House, attended the opening by Her Majesty the Queen of the New Zealand memorial at Hyde park corner, three years to the day after the Australian memorial was inaugurated by Her Majesty, both standing as lasting tributes in London to the memory of those Australians and New Zealanders who lost their lives fighting alongside British forces through various wars and conflicts.

The timing of today’s debate could hardly be better. As many hon. Members will be aware, Australia day was celebrated only last Friday, 26 January. There was much revelry and celebration by many of the inhabitants of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands). I fear there may be one or two more sore heads next Wednesday, following the Waitangi day celebrations of 6 February in pubs all over Earls Court and the south-west of London.

The UK’s relationship with our antipodean cousins has always been strained by the geographical distance that separates us and places us at opposite ends of the globe. However, distance has been no bar to the very special bond that exists between our three great nations.

Some people have defined the UK’s relationship with Australian and New Zealand as more akin to brotherhood than friendship. The three countries often fall out over sporting rivalries involving cricket, rugby or sailing, but our people have always shared a common heritage and been bound together by a deep-rooted historical camaraderie. That friendship led our three countries to share the tripartite ANZUK force; although it is now disbanded, that military unit used to be charged with protecting ANZUK interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

There have been various trade agreements and student and business exchange programmes between our three countries, and we also share the same ideals of democratic governance. Moreover, many school and university leavers from Australia and New Zealand opt to take their gap year in the UK, and vice versa. Perhaps the most significant thing that we have in common is the fact that we share a constitution based on the Westminster model, and all three countries proudly uphold Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign and head of state.

The UK, Australia and New Zealand can be defined as prosperous western democracies and constitutional monarchies. All are characterised by political stability, relatively high incomes, above-average rates of home ownership and long traditions of representative democracy. Why, therefore, should we in the British
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isles feel guilt about how the relationship with Australia and New Zealand has developed in recent decades?

Mr. Fraser Kemp (Houghton and Washington, East) (Lab): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the UK Australia Leadership Forum has been responsible for big improvements in the relationship between our countries? It was set up by the two former high commissioners Michael L’Estrange and Alastair—now Lord—Goodlad, and is being continued by the current high commissioners, Helen Liddell and Richard Alston. It met in London for the first time three years ago, and again in Canberra last year, and it brings together politicians and members of the business community. The Prime Ministers of the two countries have added their weight to the meetings, but both our nations face a change of Prime Minister in the next 12 months. Does the hon. Gentleman share my hope that future forums will benefit from the attendance of the UK and Australian Prime Ministers and their senior Ministers, as has happened in the past?

Andrew Rosindell: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, and entirely endorse everything that he has said. The forum to which he refers certainly adds to the relationship between our countries, about which I hope all hon. Members feel very strongly. Moreover, I hope that it will improve that relationship still further.

Some people believe that Australia and New Zealand could have felt let down by Britain’s decision in 1973 to join the then European Economic Community and, to a great extent, abandon our sovereign kin. Especially, we deprived New Zealand of its main trading partner, about which New Zealanders have some right to feel affronted. Since then, however, I am pleased that Australia and New Zealand have flourished as independent nations. Perhaps the mother country can now learn something from her offspring.

Both nations have shown great determination in defending the interests of their own people, internationally and domestically. Australia and New Zealand do not experience the level of violent crime and antisocial behaviour that we in the UK now endure. They do not release convicted paedophiles on to the streets owing to overcrowding in jails, or allow illegal immigrants to commit crimes within their borders.

Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) (Lab): If we have anything to learn, it is not from the lessons the hon. Gentleman is teaching at the moment, but from the fact that Australia has followed a very different policy from New Zealand and has been a sycophantic follower of American policy on climate change and on Iraq. New Zealand, on the other hand, has maintained an independent line on both issues—as we should have done in the UK—especially on Iraq, where it wisely stayed out. If we are to learn lessons, it should be from New Zealand rather than from Australia.

Andrew Rosindell: The points that I am making apply generally, although there will of course be political disagreements on certain aspects of policy. The values to which I refer are common to both nations.

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Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): Conveniently, the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) completely forgot about Vietnam in his intervention.

Andrew Rosindell: Perhaps I should continue.

Australia and New Zealand deport illegal immigrants who are criminals to their nation of origin. They restrict the number of migrant workers, to preserve a manageable population size. More importantly, they have built strong independent economies that nurture scientific, mathematical, artistic and academic acumen to ensure that they retain an educational elite to secure their prosperity.

Both countries celebrate, with pride, Australia day and Waitangi day with a public holiday. Our Government would do well to learn a thing or two from Australia and New Zealand; indeed, they could start by celebrating St. George’s day, St. Andrew’s day and St. David’s day as public holidays for all.

In the first decade of this new century, is not it time to rekindle and strengthen the links between our three nations?

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): We are all looking forward to the hon. Gentleman’s non-partisan speech; I should particularly like more details about Australia’s transportation policy, which he mentioned earlier. Does he agree that one of the advantages for MPs is that they can travel to Europe? Perhaps he and I could work across the divide to see whether MPs from both parties who want to foster the links he proposes could travel to Australia—obviously not every year, but once or twice in a Parliament—and build such connections. We go to America all the time, but we do not go to Australia and New Zealand often enough.

Andrew Rosindell: I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman’s proposal will be considered. I shall talk about travel between Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand later in my speech.

Would not it make sense for the United Kingdom to adopt an agenda for developing a special relationship with Australia and New Zealand, rather than to carry on pursuing some of the misguided foreign policy ventures we have witnessed in recent years? Is not it a missed opportunity for the UK that Australia and New Zealand share a formal military alliance, and that Australia has a separate alliance with the United States, yet the United Kingdom, a nation that shares such a rich heritage with those great countries, has no such reciprocal military treaty or formal alliance?

Let us not forget that 25 years ago, when the then Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, successfully led us to liberate the Falkland Islands from the invading Argentine forces, it was not Europe, or even our great ally the United States, that came directly to our aid in support of the expeditionary force, but the special forces of Australia and New Zealand. Indeed, New Zealand was the only country to send any form of substantial military support, in the form of a frigate, freeing up our own Navy to engage the Argentine enemy and defeat her.

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