Previous Section Index Home Page


Child Labour

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the action taken by the Government to tackle child labour abroad. [130952]

Mr. Hain: We are engaged in a range of activities--at the bilateral and international level--to tackle child labour. In March 2000, the UK ratified the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 182. The aim of this important new standard is to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour. We strongly support the ILO's campaign to encourage the widest possible ratification of ILO 182, and is looking at how best to take action in support of this campaign. In June 2000, the UK also ratified ILO Convention No. 138--one of the core ILO conventions--on the minimum age for entry into employment.

The Government, through the Department for International Development, is supporting practical programmes in a number of countries in South Asia and

21 Jul 2000 : Column: 371W

Africa. Our aim is to reduce child labour, especially the worst forms of child labour. In doing this, we aim to ensure children's protection and survival; to meet children's development needs, particularly in health and education; and to allow them to participate in decisions which affect their lives.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it is his policy to support the suspension of Pakistan from the Commonwealth. [131518]

Mr. Hain: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Durban in November 1999 endorsed the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to suspend Pakistan from the councils of the Commonwealth and called for the restoration of civilian democratic rule. CMAG was tasked with keeping the situation in Pakistan under review and to recommend further measures to be taken by the Commonwealth if progress to democracy was not made speedily. Commonwealth members will consider further action at future meetings of CMAG and CHOGM in the light of developments in Pakistan.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors led him to lift the arms embargo on Pakistan. [131517]

Mr. Hain: There has been no arms embargo on Pakistan. As stated on 10 July 1998, Official Report, columns 687-88W, we continue to assess export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against our national criteria and those in the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports, and in light of the statement made after the Pakistani and Indian nuclear tests.

Last October's coup created many uncertainties. The Government have taken time to consider the situation in Pakistan and the wider region before deciding on outstanding export licence applications. The Government have now reached decisions on a number of these. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) on 5 July 2000, Official Report, columns 221-22W, which explains this in more detail.

Entry Clearance Refusals

Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to publish the 1999 report by Dame Elizabeth Anson, the Independent Monitor, relating to the refusal of entry clearance where there is no right of appeal. [132480]

Mr. Vaz: I have arranged for copies of Dame Elizabeth's Report of 1999 to be placed in the Libraries of the House today. I welcome the report and note Dame Elizabeth's comments and suggestions, which will receive careful consideration.

Strategic Export Controls

Mr. Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Government will publish its 1999 Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. [132554]

21 Jul 2000 : Column: 372W

Mr. Hain: The Annual Report will be published today. Copies will be available in the Libraries of the House and in the Vote Office from 12.00 noon.

The Report is also available on the FCO's website at

EU Flag

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 10 July 2000, Official Report, column 402W, what guidance he will give regarding the flying of the EU flag in terms of its precedence in relation to national flags. [132028]

Mr. Vaz: The European flag, where flown, should not take precedence over the Union flag. When the European flag is flown from Government buildings, for example on Europe Day 9 May, it is always displayed alongside, not instead of, the Union flag.


Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Yemeni authorities regarding the case of Mohamed Haji; and if he will make a statement. [132006]

Mr. Hain: Our Ambassador in Sana'a raised the case of Mohamed Omar Haji with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah al-Sayedi on 9 July and made clear our concerns. I raised Mohamed Haji's plight again on 19 July with the visiting Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah Nasher. We understand that Mohamed Haji has not been sentenced and that his case has been referred back from the court to the Attorney General who will decide what further action to take. Mohamed Haji has been transferred from the Central Prison to a detention centre for immigrants.

We will keep Mohamed Haji's case under close review and stand ready to raise the matter again with the Yemeni Government.


Decommissioning Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to introduce a decommissioning scheme for fishing vessels. [132560]

Mr. Morley: We had envisaged that a limited fishing vessel decommissioning scheme might have been needed to meet our EU obligations to reduce capacity of fixed gear vessels. However, capacity in the lines and nets segment of the fleet is already within the MAGP IV objectives for end 2001, and the tonnage of shellfish fixed gear vessels is close to the 2001 objectives. We do not therefore plan to hold a decommissioning scheme in present circumstances.

Agriculture Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the outcome was of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 18 July; and if he will make a statement. [131935]

21 Jul 2000 : Column: 373W

Mr. Nick Brown: I represented the UK at the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 17 July, accompanied by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and by Christine Gwyther, Agriculture Secretary in the National Assembly for Wales.

The council unanimously agreed Commission proposals on CAP prices and aids for the 2000-01 marketing year, reform of the flax and hemp regime and changes to the EU school milk scheme. The flax and hemp reforms will increase the market-orientation of this sector and, following pressure from the UK and others, the agreement includes significantly higher processing aid for the types of flax and hemp produced in this country.

The Council's changes to the school milk scheme represent a major improvement over the Commission's proposal. Following rejection of their proposals originally to abandon this scheme and subsequently for 50 per cent. co-financing, the Council has limited the changed to a reduction of aid from 95 per cent. to 75 per cent. of the milk target price and provision for the dairy sector to contribute to the scheme. Local authorities which wish to do so will thus continue to have the facility to apply the scheme.

The Council also unanimously adopted amendments made by the European Parliament to its common position on Beef Labelling. This will enable the Regulation to come into force on 1 September as planned.

I particularly welcomed the European Parliament's amendments removing the obligation to label beef by category of animal which I know had given rise to considerable concern to our industry.

Under other business I supported other colleagues pressing Commissioner Fischler to reopen access to export refunds for processed foodstuffs provided this could be achieved without breaching budget discipline.

Animal Welfare

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his statement of 14 December 1999, Official Report, columns 250-54, if he will make a statement on the progress that has been made in the establishment of an Interdepartmental Ministerial Group on Animal Welfare. [131756]

Mr. Morley: The Interdepartmental Ministerial Group on Animal Welfare met formally for the first time today. Ministers with animal welfare responsibilities from the

21 Jul 2000 : Column: 374W

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Home Office and the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland joined me for the discussion. Officials from the other devolved Administrations also attended.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to reply to the letters to him dated 20 March, 12 May and 12 June from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mr. S. Pennells. [130856]

Mr. Nick Brown: My noble Friend the Minister of State replied to the letters from my right hon. Friend on 19 June 2000.

Next Section Index Home Page