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Child Labour

Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the implementation of ILO Convention No. 182 on the prohibition of child labour; and if he will make a statement. [127917]

Mr. Hain: The UK ratified ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour on 23 March 2000. The provisions of the Convention are met in the UK. The Government are committed to eradicating the exploitation of children. ILO Convention 182 represents an important step towards achieving this goal. The UK strongly supports the ILO in its campaign to encourage all ILO member states to ratify and implement the Convention as soon as possible. The UK is now considering how best to take bilateral action in support of the ILO campaign.

European Social Charter

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on how many EU member states have ratified, and accepted as legally binding, the European Social Charter in whole or in part. [127913]

Mr. Vaz: The Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers was adopted by 11 of the then 12 EU member states in December 1998, with the UK dissenting. The Charter was declaratory and is not legally binding.

Article 136 of the EC Treaty (Title XI), as amended by the Amsterdam Treaty 1997, mentions the Community Charter, alongside the European Social Charter 1961, within the context of the objectives of the social chapter of the Treaty. All 15 member states have ratified the Amsterdam Treaty.

Human Rights and Biomedicine Convention

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the number of EU member states which have ratified the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. [127914]

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Mr. Hain: The Convention came into force on 1 December 1999. Three EU member states have ratified the Convention: Denmark, Greece and Spain. Seven have signed the Convention: Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

The Convention contains a mixture of devolved and reserved matters. The Government are considering the most appropriate way forward in the light of devolution.

European Convention on Human Rights

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols, with special reference to those parts which some EU member states have not agreed to ratify. [127995]

Mr. Hain: This year is the 50th Anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention has now been ratified by all 41 member states of the Council of Europe. It has become the Europe-wide standard for fundamental rights and freedoms providing, as its founders hoped, cohesive values and a bulwark against tyranny. In the UK, the Human Rights Act 1998, which comes into force on 2 October 2000, will enshrine in UK law the guarantees provided by the Convention.

Since the Convention's entry into force, a series of additional protocols have been adopted. Where these elaborate the rights set out in the Convention or add new rights, they are optional. Like other EU and Council of Europe states, the UK keeps under review its position with regard to those protocols it has not already ratified.


Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 7 June 2000, Official Report, column 295W, how many people are in the United Kingdom Government/Gibraltar Liaison Unit for EU Affairs which has been established in his Department. [128487]

Mr. Vaz: The United Kingdom Government/Gibraltar Liaison Unit for EU Affairs was established on 1 June, within the Southern European Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Initially, three members of this Department have been allocated responsibility for running the Unit alongside their other duties. We will keep the resources of the Unit under review.


Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the actions of ZANU(PF) during the election campaign and on polling day in Zimbabwe. [128716]

Mr. Hain: We fully agree with the statement issued by Pierre Schori, the Head of the EU Observer Mission, in which he indicated that

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Serbia/Iraq Trade

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on financial and trade links between (a) Serbia and Iraq and (b) the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq. [126626]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 19 June 2000]: There are no reliable figures for FRY/Iraq trade but according to official FRY figures it does not appear to be a significant element in the FRY balance of payments. The FRY has participated in the UN's oil for food programme, bartering grain exports for oil.

EU Political and Security Committee

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what items have been on the agenda of the EU Political and Security Committee since 1 January; and what decisions it has taken. [128505]

Mr. Vaz: The Interim Political and Security Committee started work on 1 March 2000. Since its establishment, the Committee's principal task has been to contribute to the preparation of the Council's decisions on the new European defence and security arrangements and in particular the Report and Annexes on European defence and security adopted by the European Council at Feira on 19-20 June. The Committee has also started to contribute to the Council's work on current CFSP issues, such as Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Indonesian authorities to ensure that those responsible for the sectarian violence in the Moluccas are brought to trial. [128786]

Mr. Battle: EU representatives called on the Indonesian Government on 12 June to remind them of their responsibility to maintain law and order, and to request an investigation and immediate steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. I issued a statement on 23 June, and saw the Indonesian Ambassador on 3 July. In the light of the alarming escalation of the violence, we and others are urging the Indonesian authorities to redouble efforts to take effective action.



Dr. Gibson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of recent research on the effect on the nervous system of exposure to organophosphates. [126036]

Ms Quin: A Working Group of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) undertook an in-depth study in 1998 and 1999 of whether exposure to low doses of organophosphorus compounds can cause long-term adverse health effects. The Working Group considered the most recent research in this area. The COT's Report to Ministers was published on 26 November 1999 and copies were placed in the Library of the House. Presentations from researchers working on OPs were made to a

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Scientific Workshop on 28 March 2000 which was organised by the Government. We hope shortly to call for proposals for further research in this important area.


Angela Smith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received about the health implications of Lindane. [127817]

Ms Quin: MAFF has received numerous representations from individuals and organisations concerning the pesticide Lindane. Most of these have expressed concern over the possible environmental or human health effects of the use of Lindane in this country.

The Government act whenever necessary on pesticides in order to safeguard health and protect the environment. In the case of Lindane, using a precautionary assessment, independent scientific advice is that the currently approved agricultural uses of lindane do not pose any unacceptable risk to people. Ministers are currently considering the advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides on the home garden and non-agricultural uses of Lindane and will announce their conclusions as soon as possible.

Pesticides and Fertilisers

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which discussions he has had with his counterparts in other EU member states on establishing reciprocal recognition arrangements on the use of pesticides and fertilisers. [127663]

Ms Quin [holding answer 26 June 2000]: All EU countries regulate the safety and efficacy of agricultural pesticides on the basis of scientific data under their respective national legislation. However, a gradual transition is already underway to an EC system of regulation which in addition to safeguarding people and the environment is also aimed at freeing the market in agricultural pesticides by achieving consistent standards between member states.

As such it provides for the mutual recognition of pesticide product approvals and uses granted in other member states.

Officials from the various member states are frequently in contact with each other to discuss the issues relating to harmonisation of the authorisation procedures and the regulation of agricultural pesticides.

The EU has established procedures whereby fertiliser companies can seek to have products designated as "EC Fertilisers" thereby enabling those products to be sold in all member states. Non-EC designated fertiliser products may be sold to another member state only where they comply with that country's domestic legislation.

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