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Lords to debate recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The outcome of last month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, will be the subject of a debate by Members of the House of Lords on Thursday 17 December.

The debate will be opened by Lord Luce, who tabled the debate and will speak first. He said:

"The Commonwealth, a unique association of 53 nations, provides the United Kingdom with an unrivalled opportunity to create a huge force for good. With our shared aspirations for equality of race and religion, sexuality and gender and desire for peace and security, the Commonwealth is the envy of many nations, who are longing to join us.

"Contact between people is the heartbeat of the Commonwealth, and modern technology has transformed contact, allowing networking between people and organisations on an unprecedented scale. It is the young who lead the way in networking and people under 30 constitute 60% of the Commonwealth. However, there is clear evidence that we in Britain are failing significantly to teach the majority of our schoolchildren about the Commonwealth and its history and background. With the success of the recent meeting in Malta, now is the time for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to show their leadership and commitment to the Commonwealth, and its model of collaboration and mutual support.

"I am interested to know about the outcomes of the meeting in Malta, and to hear about the progress in a number of areas that were discussed, including the strengthening of election monitoring and commitment to international peace and security; how we are contributing to tackling the radicalisation of young people; and what we are doing to help heal gender issues, and provide respect and protection for transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual people. As we are hosting the next CHOGM in 2018, now is the time to start work to ensure a high level of participation, and provide a constructive lead."

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Lord Howell of Guildford, Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Chairman of the Commonwealth Exchange and former Foreign and Commonwealth Minister;
  • Baroness Prashar, Deputy Chair of the British Council and Chair of the House of Lords Home Affairs EU Sub-Committee;
  • Lord Kakkar, Chairman of the Commonwealth health exchange advisory board and of the commonwealth healthcare business group;
  • Lord Watson of Richmond, former Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies;
  • Lord Tugendhat, Chairman of the Advisory Council of the European Policy Forum and Chair of the House of Lords External Affairs EU Sub-Committee; and
  • Lord Collins of Highbury, Shadow Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Baroness Featherstone, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for International Development, is expected to make her maiden speech during the debate.

The Earl of Sandwich, Lord Janvrin, Lord Rana, Lord Sheikh, Baroness Wilcox, Baroness Barker,Lord Steel of Aikwood, Lord Marland, Lord Chidgey, Baroness Berridge, Baroness Hooper, Lord Judd, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lord St John of Bletso are also expected to take part.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns will respond on behalf of the Government.

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