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Canada: Amendment Of Acts And Statute

Volume 416: debated on Wednesday 21 January 1981

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2.44 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave 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 will make a statement in respect of the Canadian proposal to amend the British North America Acts and the Statute of Westminster.

My Lords, no request to amend the British North America Acts and the Statute of Westminster has been received. The matter is before a Joint Committee of both Houses of the Canadian Parliament. This is, therefore, not the moment to make a statement.

My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that there are certain matters pending, and that it is of prime importance that the intimate and close personal relations existing between this country and Canada should be maintained? Could we not, therefore, seek to let the Canadians resolve their own internal problems and, for instance, wait until their courts have decided the constitutional issue themselves? Would it not be utterly ridiculous if we came to one decision and the courts in Canada came to a different decision?

My Lords, I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of my noble friend's supplementary question. I think it very important that we should have good relations with the Canadian Government. As for the second part, I have no doubt that the Canadian Government will read what he has said.