Former British Prime Minister John Major has intervened in another one of the big issues of the day - One Direction.

Major, who served as PM from 1990 to 1997, says the boyband's massive global success has increased "trust" in British diplomacy and boosted the country's "soft power."

Addressing a parliamentary committee, he also praised Susan Boyle, Adele and Downton Abbey, Premier League football and the British Royal Family for bolstering Britain's reputation.

Revealing an intimate knowledge of what's hip in music right now, the Honorary Life Vice-President of Surrey County Cricket Club said: "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 and they have an implication for perception and thus soft power."

Major revealed that his own musical tastes included George Gershwin, Elgar and Diana Ross and the Supremes when he appeared on BBC radio's Desert Island Discs in 1992