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Beijing UN Conference on Women

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is up to individuals to decide whether to go to any country. The public can contact the Travel Advice Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advice relating to their personal safety when visiting China.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: US State Department policy is the same as that of the United Kingdom. The Government cannot guarantee the safety of British nationals travelling abroad. The public can contact the Travel Advice Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for information. Consular staff stand ready to give all the help they properly can to British nationals in distress.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessments they have made of the indications by Norway and Sweden to boycott the UN International Women's Conference in Beijing and whether they will seek to obtain from the Governments of Norway and Sweden, and place in the Library of the House, the reasons given for such a boycott.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no reason to believe that Sweden and Norway intend to boycott the Conference.

China: Population Policy

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken to fulfil the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee report on relations with the United Kingdom and China in the period up to and beyond 1997 that further information on population control in China should be sought.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We regularly obtain information on population policy in China through our Embassy in Peking, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other sources.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now raise at the United Nations the specific issue of the coercive one child policy in China, and if not, why not; and

    Whether the issue of population control was raised with the Chinese Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister at the United Nations meeting in New York on 18th April; and whether they will list the occasions during the last two years when the Chinese one child policy was discussed at the United Nations.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Chinese population policy was not specifically discussed at the meeting in New York. The issue of coercion in population programmes has been discussed in detail by the United Nations, notably during negotiations of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. The need to respect reproductive rights was raised most recently by the UK Government at the meeting of the Economic and Social Council in Geneva in July 1995. We believe that constructive dialogue through the UN system, not confrontation, offers the best prospects for influencing Chinese

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population policy. The Chinese Government is well aware that international concern about abuses of reproductive rights arises largely from reports of coercion in China.

European Union: Declaration of Interests

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether he considers that noble Lords who are in receipt of a pension or other form of emolument from the European Communities should declare their interest when speaking in the House about matters concerning the European Union.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): In accordance with the guidance in the Companion to the Standing Orders, a Lord should declare any kind of interest of which his audience should be aware in order to form a balanced judgment of his argument. In any individual case it is for the Lord concerned to decide whether, in accordance with this guidance, an interest should be declared.

The First Secretary of State: Responsibilities

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the First Secretary of State will have direct access to officials in other government departments who deal with matters in which he has direct control over government policy or whether he will deal with relevant Ministers responsible for the execution of those policies.

Viscount Cranborne: The First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister will have meetings with Ministers and officials from other departments as necessary.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Prime Minister's reply to Mr. Dowd on 11th July (Commons, Official Report, col. 743) whether the "direct control" by the First Secretary of State "over Government policy on competitiveness and deregulation" includes any responsibility for interest rates, exchange rates, corporate taxation, health and safety at work, industrial relations legislation, and regulations and directives imposed by the European Union.

Viscount Cranborne: Issues of competitiveness and deregulation inevitably cross the boundaries of different government departments, and in discharging his general responsibilities for competitiveness and deregulation, the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister will work closely with his ministerial colleagues, whose responsibilities for specific areas of policies remain unaffected.

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Scott Inquiry/Nolan Committee

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which departments have appointed staff on a full-time or part-time basis to deal with the reports of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Nolan Committee) and the Inquiry into Exports of Defence Equipment and Dual-use Goods to Iraq (Scott Inquiry), and the number and grade of these officials.

Viscount Cranborne: Departments have absorbed work on the Nolan Committee within existing staff resources.

The following table refers to full-time officials working on Scott Inquiry-related matters within government departments.

Department Grade Number
Department of Trade and Industry
Grade 7 1
Executive Officer 1
Ministry of Defence
Grade 7 1
Administrative Officer 1
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Diplomatic Service Grade 6 1
Diplomatic Service Grade 7 1
Diplomatic Service Grade 10 1
Cabinet Office
Grade 7 2
Higher Executive Officer 1
Administrative Officer 1
Personal Secretary 1
HM Customs and Excise
Higher Executive Officer 1
Administrative Officer 1

Other officials within these departments also work on Scott Inquiry matters on a part-time basis.

Other departments and agencies do not have dedicated units and liaison on Scott Inquiry matters is undertaken by officials of appropriate grade as part of their normal duties.

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Divisions in the House of Lords: Government Defeats

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Government defeats were suffered in Divisions in the House of Lords in each Session since 1970.

Lord Strathclyde: The information requested is given in the table. A government defeat is defined as a Division in which the tellers on the losing side were government whips.

Session Number of Government defeats Total number of divisions
1970–71(ii) 4 196
1971–72 5 168
1972–73 13 80
1973–74(i) 4 19
1974(i) 13 21
1974–75 103 119
1975–76 126 146
1976–77 25 45
1977–78 78 96
1978–79 11 21
1979–80(ii) 15 303
1980–81 18 184
1981–82 7 146
1982–83(i) 5 89
1983–84(ii) 20 237
1984–85 17 145
1985–86 22 250
1986–87(i) 3 80
1987–88(ii) 17 279
1988–89 12 189
1989–90 20 186
1990–91 17 104
1991–92(i) 6 83
1992–93(ii) 19 165
1993–94 16 136

(i) This session was shorter than usual: it was terminated by a general election.

(ii) This session was longer than usual: it followed a general election.

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