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29 Jan 2009 : Column 155WH—continued

I wholeheartedly echo the thanks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Roger Berry). I thank him for his appreciation of the Foreign and Commonwealth
29 Jan 2009 : Column 156WH
Office, including the FCO adviser who does an excellent job of working closely on our behalf with the IPU. I, too, reinforce the appreciation for my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), whose service is well known in the House.

I welcome the comments made about engagement being the way forward in the promotion of human rights and parliamentary democracy. On that point, we heard that the IPU treads in places that others might question, but we pursue democracy and human rights, and we look to the IPU to do so in its own special way. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood gave us a flavour and painted a clear picture of what kind of issues, work and debates that involves, including, as my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christine Russell) said, promoting the inclusion of all peoples—including women and other groups. That is important for all of us.

I noted the advertisement for new and enthusiastic parliamentary applicants for IPU visits. I can assure hon. Members that my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Stephen Pound) has already indicated his interest, such is the power of debate in the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester, who joins my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood in leading the British IPU with distinction and hard work, talked about trust and respect, which are crucial. I certainly share the view that more informal contacts offer value and change in a way that formality sometimes cannot. That is why, in my opening comments, I spoke clearly about my wish that the FCO would work more closely with the IPU. There are aspects and approaches that the FCO cannot take that the IPU can. I look forward to our work together. My hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester spoke about issues that know no boundaries, such as migration, climate change, economic issues, instability and many others. That is true, and the IPU can reflect that in its work.

I welcomed the flavour of the trip to Mongolia and the value that it brought. It is worth reminding ourselves why IPU trips matter, and Mongolia is a good example. We know that Mongolia has troops in many countries around the world, and we know about its contribution and commitment to playing a responsible role in the world. There is no doubt that our support for Mongolia, positioned as we are between two superpowers, can play a crucial role in forging wider global relationships. The IPU trip will have helped to strengthen and support that role.

I end my remarks by returning to a point that I made in my opening comments. The FCO and the IPU share many aims. Central among them is the wish for fruitful, meaningful dialogue between nations. My intention is for the debate not to end here but to continue, not just in debate outside the Chamber but in practical action and close work together to achieve our shared objectives. I look forward to it.

Question put and agreed to.

3.33 pm

Sitting adjourned.


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