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My father was right over loss of trading links
ROBIN Walker has used the inspiration of his late father to encourage more trade between Britain and the Commonwealth nations.
Worcester’s MP says his father Lord Peter Walker, who died in 2010 aged 78, deserves more credit for a little-known speech he made in 1961 which was aimed at rallying Britain to look outside of Europe.
Lord Walker, who served as Worcester’s MP from March, 1961, right up to 1992, used his maiden speech before parliament to raise concerns the country was surrendering “the substance of Commonwealth trade” to look for new possibilities elsewhere. In the address, made in April, 1961, he said: “I suggest it is the urgent duty of Her Majesty’s government to pay far more attention to the markets of the Commonwealth than they have done in the past.
“I certainly feel that there has been something of a negative attitude towards the Commonwealth markets.”
Lord Walker called for a new attempt to “discuss and formulate a vigorous policy” for better trading links, rather than a policy to look towards Europe. Robin Walker has gone back through parliamentary records to dig up the long-forgotten speech, and read out some passages of it during a parliamentary debate before Christmas.
He said the words used back in 1961 are just as relevant today – and that history shows his father was proved right.
He said: “Europe is no longer such a large part of the world economy, and one of the rising world powers is India, which is a member of the Commonwealth.Britain therefore has an extra interest in trading with the Commonwealth and in breaking down some of the barriers to Commonwealth trade.”
He said: “Although times are very different now than in 1961, I think history shows he was right and if we had taken a different route back then might be trading far more successfully with the Commonwealth today.”
There are 54 Commonwealth nations. Many of Britain’s ties with each country have loosened as a result of greater integration with Europe.