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Commonwealth Day

Volume 213: debated on Thursday 18 December 1958

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2.25 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the suggestion that the title of Empire Day should be changed and, if so, what decision they have reached.]

My Lords, I am glad to be able to tell the House that, with the concurrence of other Commonwealth Governments and of the Empire Day Movement, it is proposed to change the name of Empire Day forthwith to Commonwealth Day. I am sure this change will be widely welcomed as representing the general feeling in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries on this matter.

My Lords, noble Lords on this side, and, I feel sure, on all sides of the House, welcome this statement, which is a recognition of the present status of the Commonwealth. May I ask the noble Earl whether there is any way of bringing this fact of Commonwealth Day home to the public, either by a public holiday or a holiday in schools, or some way in which the public at large, and particularly the younger members of the public, the children, can realise that Commonwealth Day and the Commonwealth are really an important factor in their lives?

My Lords, I have great sympathy with the noble Lord in his supplementary question and its objective. There are, of course, a number of schools in which and a number of education authorities under which Empire Day used to be celebrated; no doubt noble Lords have taken part in the celebrations. I will consider with my right honourable friend the Minister of Education what we can do to promote the object which the noble Lord has in mind.