|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that many of us will find that Answer encouraging? Does she further accept that at a time when much parliamentary time is being devoted to the revision of our own constitutional processes and the regeneration of democracy within the United Kingdom, and at a time when much networking is being carried out internationally between states coming together to represent the interests of their citizens, there is a tremendous need to recognise that the citizens of our dependencies have every right to fulfilment, stakeholding and all the rest, as do any of us within the United Kingdom? All progress that can be made in this review is therefore to be encouraged.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his encouragement. I suggest that his remarks were also reflected by representatives of the dependent territories who attended the Dependent Territories Association meeting on 4th February this year when the Foreign Secretary outlined the interim conclusions of his review based on the modern contract to which I referred in my earlier Answer and a stronger and better partnership. The better partnership will be based on the four principles of self-determination, internal self-government, Britain's responsibilities to the territories and of course their responsibilities to Britain, and Britain's commitment to the territories to develop them economically and to assist them in emergencies.
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I give a warm welcome to the Answer that the Minister gave a moment ago because it is contrary to some of the press speculation which suggested that the territories might be offered second-class citizenship. Does she recognise that the small, non-viable territories are few in number but the good will and strategic gain for this country would
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his remarks. As I said in my opening Answer, there are complex issues to be decided. But the Foreign Secretary was clear that this was a matter that would be looked at not only sympathetically but urgently. The White Paper will also examine a number of different issues which the dependent territories have raised with us, including ways in which they can be better represented.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, there are currently about 180,000 citizens in the dependent territories. Those from the Falklands and Gibraltar already have rights of abode in this country. The additional numbers are approximately 160,000.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, first, in preparing the White Paper, will the Minister consider the experience of the French Government with their dependent territories? Secondly, will the noble Baroness's department specifically look at possible representation in your Lordships' House and in another place?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, a number of different models for the relationship between a mother country and its dependent territories are under consideration. The French have a dual system. The departements d'outre mer are rather different from the territoires d'outre mer in the obligations between France and its dependent territories. However, different models have been put forward. All are under consideration at present.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, will the Minister be good enough to reiterate that there is no question that the administration of Gibraltar will be handed over to Spain without the consent of the citizens? Meanwhile, will the Government do everything possible to ensure that the Spanish authorities do not continue with their provocation and restrictions, with problems created at the border for those wishing to cross over?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am able to give my noble friend the assurance he seeks on the self-determination of the people of Gibraltar, as I have done on a number of occasions in your Lordships' House. I am also able to assure him that when incidents of provocation of the type he describes are brought before government Ministers, we take the matter up with the Spanish Government.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am aware of the correspondence to which the noble Lord alludes. When the representatives of St. Helena were in the United Kingdom for the Dependent Territories Association Conference they were assiduous in pursuing the point that the noble Lord raises in relation to young people on the island. Her Majesty's Government have been left in no doubt about the strength of feeling on that point.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, can the Minister assure us that the peoples of those territories will be left free to manage their own internal affairs, and that pressure will not be put on them to conform to someone's idea of political correctness which may or may not be suitable for this country but, in the judgment of those people, is not suitable for theirs?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we are in discussion with the governments of the overseas territories concerned about a number of different issues. They have left us in no doubt about their views; and we are also pursuing the views that we have with them. We shall be able to report on it further at the time of the publication of the White Paper.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, it was felt wrong to single out one of the dependent territories at that time. We hope that the issue will be resolved by the White Paper. I reiterate what I said to your Lordships' House. It is being considered not only sympathetically but urgently.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, the House has six paintings on loan from the Tate Gallery. Five of those were lent in 1990 and hang in the Barry Room; the other is "Dialogue at Waterloo" by Landseer, which hangs in the Peers' Guest Room and which was lent in 1985. The
The Tate Gallery has been an extremely sympathetic lender to your Lordships' House. I recognise that some of your Lordships are concerned about the return of the paintings, especially the Landseer, but I hope that it may be of some comfort to the House if I announce that the Tate has agreed to delay their return for one more year. In the meantime, we shall continue to seek appropriate pictures to hang in their place.
On behalf of your Lordships, perhaps I might say that we all hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, who is in hospital for an operation, will make a speedy recovery and be restored to us as soon as possible in her full vigour. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, will pass that on to her. Perhaps I might offer a completely impartial view. The noble Baroness is, after all, one of the most popular Members of your Lordships' House.
Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that remark. I am certainly glad to pass on his good wishes, and I am sure the good wishes of the whole House, to the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington.
Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the Landseer in the Guest Room of the Duke of Wellington at the Field of Waterloo is the same painting that was greatly admired by Charlotte Bronte when she saw it in the Royal Academy of 1850? Sadly, during much of this century it was exhibited only rarely before it was lent to your Lordships' House. Why has the Tate's policy on loans been changed?
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, perhaps I may deal with the noble Lord's final point first. I understand that the Tate is keen to lend in the future to exhibitions and regional galleries, and that that is the reason for its change in policy.
I was not aware of the first point the noble Lord made. It was of considerable interest. The noble Lord speaks with great experience of these matters. From the information I have received, I understand that he is right that the Wellington Landseer has not been on view in the Tate Gallery a great deal this century. Its recent history is that conservation work was done on it in 1965. In the following two years it was on loan to Apsley House. From then until 1985 it was at the Tate, although not on show. From that date it has been here.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page