Barbara was among the MPs who welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Parliament in a series of meetings during his 10-day UK visit.
The Dalai Lama is the Spiritual Leader of Tibetans. Tibet has been ruled from Beijing since Chinese forces invaded the region in the 1950s . The Dalai Lama was only 15 when he had to escape Tibet to live in exile in India. Since then he has consistently promoted peace and the right of the Tibetan people to autonomy within their region. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this work .
Barbara was present as the Dalai Lama addressed MPs and Peers in the House of Commons. His Holiness later held a smaller meeting with MPs from the All Party Group for Tibet, who work to promote the Tibetan cause in Parliament. Barbara, who is secretary of the group, asked him whether the pace of Chinese development was a threat to the important natural resources of the Tibetan region. The Dalai Lama replied that he welcomed the railway and other developments brought about by the Chinese government but that Tibetan culture and the region's resources must also be preserved.
Follwing the Westminster meetings, His Holiness also addressed a public gathering at the Royal Albert Hall before meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Lambeth Palace.
After the event, Barbara said:
“I have met His Holiness the Dalai Lama once before and it is a real honour to welcome him to Parliament. He is a truly inspiring individual who champions the Tibetan cause through peaceful and non-violent means. His Holiness also has a sense of fun and this side of his character always surprises people.
"I believe that His Holiness is realistic in his aims for the relationship between China and the autonomous region of Tibet . The next round of talks between China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama will be in early June. I hope that meetings result in a solution that allows Tibetans to live their own lives, practice their religion and keep their own language and culture. The British Government and the international community have a part to play in this and I hope we will see a settlement to bring lasting peace to Tibet.”