British/Irish pop stars One Direction have been praised for improving the U.K.'s diplomatic relations during a debate in parliament this week (beg16Dec13).

The What Makes You Beautiful hitmakers were brought up during a discussion in the House of Lords on Monday (16Dec13) overseen by former British Prime Minister John Major.

Major cited the pop singers as a prime example of how famous British artists can increase trust in the country and improve political clout. He also hailed singers Adele and Susan Boyle, and suggested Britain's royal family, the James Bond franchise, and period drama Downton Abbey have also improved how the nation is viewed overseas.

He told a House of Lords committee, "When people refer to 'the Queen' they almost always mean our Queen. Wherever you go Bond will be known and so, these days, will be Downton Abbey. All of these reflect a rather favourable impression on Britain.

"We've had over 20 British albums top the charts in countries around the world. It's not just the established stars like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. You have Adele, One Direction, Susan Boyle. Wherever you go, they're household names... That is a background that few countries can match in terms of profile and that is important for our diplomacy."