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China: Family Planning

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he discussed (a) the Chinese One Child Policy and (b) forced abortion with the authorities during his visit to China; and if he will make a statement. [190868]


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Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did not discuss the One Child Policy or forced abortions with Chinese authorities during his visit. He did, however, discuss the overall human rights situation with Foreign Minister Yang.

The One Child Policy was discussed during the recent round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing in January. We do not dispute China’s right or need to implement family planning policies, but we do believe they should be based on the principles of consent and not coercion. We will continue to encourage the Chinese to meet international human rights standards at every appropriate opportunity, both bilaterally and through the EU.

Committee for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries are represented on the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; what the terms of reference for the Committee are; and if he will make a statement. [190866]

Meg Munn: Countries are not represented on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Committee Members are nationals of States Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and serve on the basis of their personal expertise. They do not represent governments. However, consideration is given to equitable geographical distribution, the representation of different cultures and principal legal systems. A list of the current members of the Committee can be found at:

The Committee’s functions are set out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Essentially they are to monitor States Parties’ implementation of the Convention and make recommendations on how this can be improved. Monitoring is done primarily through a public reporting and examination process. States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention have also given the Committee competence to receive complaints from individuals alleging that their rights under the Convention have been violated. The UK is party to the Protocol as well as the Convention.

CEDAW monitors implementation of the whole Convention. The Convention concerns the elimination of discrimination against women in a wide range of areas, including in respect of health care. While the Convention itself does not explicitly mention abortion or reproductive rights, Articles 12 and 14 refer to access to health care services, including those related to family planning. It is possible that a Committee might address issues relating to abortion and/or reproductive rights when examining a State Party’s implementation of the Convention. But this is for the Committee to decide.

In addition to making recommendations to individual States Parties on implementing the Convention, the Committee is also able to issue general guidance to all States Parties focussing on specific aspects of the Convention. These are produced periodically in the form of non-binding “General Recommendations”. A number of these General Recommendations relate to
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health matters. In particular, General Recommendation 24 from 1999, relates to “Women and Health”. This does address, among other things, issues relating to sexual and reproductive rights.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the British representative is on the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; what relevant specialist qualifications he or she holds; what his or her career has been to date; when he or she was selected and by whom; what process was followed in his or her selection; where the post was advertised; how many persons applied for the position; how many were short-listed for interview; how candidates were appraised; what criteria were adopted for the appointment; whether candidates' views on (a) abortion, (b) reproductive rights and (c) contraception were sought; and if he will make a statement. [190867]

Meg Munn: There is no UK representative on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

CEDAW’s 23 members are elected by the States Parties to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. States Parties nominate candidates from among their own nationals, but members serve in a personal capacity and do not represent governments. The Convention states that CEDAW should consist of experts of “high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention”.

Departmental Private Finance Initiative

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which private finance initiative projects have been approved by his Department in each of the last three financial years, broken down by (a) value and (b) start date. [190885]

Meg Munn: The capital value and start date for every signed Private Finance Initiative project are recorded centrally on HM Treasury’s website at:

Fairtrade Initiative

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to promote Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 among staff within his Department; and if he will make a statement. [189504]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is promoting Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 among staff within the Department by featuring the Fairtrade website as the FCO intranet’s “website of the week” and drawing attention to Fairtrade Fortnight.

France: National Security

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the French Commission currently undertaking a review of French defence and national security, and if he will make a statement. [186720]


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David Miliband: UK and French officials meet regularly to discuss defence and security issues, both bilaterally and in the context of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the EU. In addition, senior officials in the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office held discussions with M. Mallet, the Head of the French Commission, during his visit to the UK in October 2007.

Homosexuality

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government has taken with its international counterparts to end the criminalisation of homosexuality in other countries. [191470]

Meg Munn: The Government have adopted an international policy of prioritising work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights where there is complete illegality, or there are moves to introduce criminalisation, and seek ways to lobby for decriminalisation.

The then Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) and I, as the then Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, issued a joint statement pledging our support for worldwide protests against homophobia planned to mark the International Day against Homophobia on 17 May 2007.

The UK has long been at the forefront of encouraging the EU to speak out in favour of promoting and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. At the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in September 2007, the EU delivered a speech that condemned the fact that relationships between adults of the same sex are criminal in two participating states, namely Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In the past year we have also lobbied in support of the UN-Economic and Social Council continuing to grant consultative status to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender non-governmental organisations. We also lobbied to persuade Rwanda not to criminalise same sex acts in the revised penal code, and Nigeria not to outlaw advocacy in favour of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, intends to raise this issue when he visits the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

We also raise this issue bilaterally. For example, our high commissioner in Singapore went to see Singapore’s Attorney General on 26 October 2007 about various human rights issues, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Drinking Water

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on mineral water in each of the last three years. [187672]


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Meg Munn: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only by examining individual invoices. This could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Sri Lanka: Press Freedom

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sri Lanka on the freedom and security of journalists working in that country. [190553]

Dr. Howells: In April 2007, our then High Commissioner in Colombo discussed the issue with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogama. During that meeting, the High Commissioner made clear that the UK would continue to defend fundamental rights and values such as media freedom.

Our High Commission in Colombo meets journalists on a regular basis and responds to any requests for assistance. We are aware of the recent report by “Reporters Without Borders” which catalogues serious violations of press freedom in Sri Lanka. The UK will continue to work with national and international partners to support media freedom.

Sudan: Capital Punishment

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of people executed in Sudan in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [189994]

Meg Munn: Our Embassy in Khartoum receives occasional reports about executions in Sudan from non-governmental organisations such as the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture (SO AT). SO AT reported that five individuals were executed on 24 February as punishment for murder. We do not, however, have figures relating to the past five years.

Through the EU-Sudan Human Rights Dialogue the UK lobbies the Government of Sudan to suspend the death penalty with a view to abolishing it. The Sudanese Government has told us that it had suspended the use of the death penalty for pregnant or lactating women. We understand that the sentence would be carried out once the child reached the age of two.

Sudan: China

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Chinese government on the situation in Darfur. [190755]

Meg Munn: During his visit to China on 25-29 February, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reinforced the messages agreed between Ministers and the Chinese Special Envoy for Africa during his visit to the UK on 21-22 February.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary agreed with the Chinese Foreign Minister and Premier Wen on the need to press the Government of Sudan and rebels to end the violence in West Darfur; to facilitate the rapid and effective deployment of UN-African Union
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Mission in Darfur; and on the need for progress on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in his speech at Peking University on 29 February, called on the Governments of Sudan and Chad to stop supporting rebels in each other’s countries, and underlined the need for the Government and all parties in Sudan to respect their responsibilities under international law; and to engage constructively in peace talks.

Western European Union

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the role and mission is of the Western European Union; what assessment he has made of its impact in European security; and if he will make a statement. [190691]

Mr. Jim Murphy: All the operational aspects of the Western European Union (WEU), including its capacity to plan and conduct crisis management operations, were transferred to the EU following the establishment of the European Security and Defence Policy in 1999. The only remaining active component is the WEU Parliamentary Assembly which provides collective inter-parliamentary oversight of European defence issues.

World War II: Genocide

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take at the United Nations on the statements made by the President of Iran on denial of the Holocaust; and if he will make a statement. [190870]

Dr. Howells: The Government have consistently condemned President Ahmadinejad’s statements questioning the Holocaust, and has made clear that these statements are wholly unacceptable, abhorrent, and have no place in civilised political debate. In December 2006, under the guise of an academic exercise, the Iranian Government hosted a conference to which they invited a number of well-known Holocaust deniers. The aim of the conference was to cast doubt on whether the Holocaust took place in an attempt to undermine Israel’s existence. Former Prime Minister, the right hon. Tony Blair, publicly condemned the conference in the strongest terms and I summoned the Iranian Ambassador to express the Government’s anger at the event. In January 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning without reservation any denial of the Holocaust. The UK strongly supported this resolution. Iran was the only country that chose to disassociate itself from the consensus shared by all other UN members on this issue.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Apprentices

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps the Government has taken to encourage businesses to offer apprenticeship places. [190935]


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Mr. Lammy: The Government report “Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent, Building Skills for All” available at

sets out a range of measures to encourage many more employers to expand their apprenticeship numbers and to join the programme. These include new financial incentives; a national matching service; and new flexibilities so that employers can bring their own qualifications into apprenticeship frameworks.

Over the past decade, we have more than doubled the number of young people and adults starting apprenticeships in England. Over the period to 2020 we project that apprenticeship starts will increase to over 250,000 per year.

Central Government: Copyright

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many copyrights held by the Government have been surrendered for the benefit of humanity in the last 10 years; and what his policy is on surrendering Government-held copyrights in the field of genetics for the public good. [180438]

Ian Pearson: The Government keep no central records of Crown copyright works it generates. Government policy on the use of Crown copyright is the responsibility of the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI), whose general policy is to permit most Crown copyright to be re-used under a click-use licence at nil cost, in order to encourage re-use.

Educational Institutions: Copyright

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of (a) the number of copyrights held by teaching establishments within his responsibilities and (b) the revenues which accrue annually from such copyrights. [180418]

Ian Pearson: Copyright is an unregistered right which arises automatically. As a signatory to the Berne Convention, the UK is precluded from keeping mandatory registers of copyright works. Consequently no central records are kept. UK teaching establishments are responsible for managing any copyright protected works they generate and for tracking any revenue generated by commercial exploitation. Collecting information centrally on revenues generated in this way would entail disproportionate cost.


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