Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Childcare Facilities for House of Lords Staff

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): In addition to providing childcare vouchers, the House subscribes to Childcare Solutions, also run by Childcare Vouchers Ltd, which provides information to parents about a range of childcare options and facilities including childminding and creche facilities, for which the childcare vouchers can be used. There are no plans to extend this assistance further.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked the Chairman of Committees:

4 Nov 1996 : Column WA38

The Chairman of Committees: There are no plans to do so at present.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will list the occasions during the last two years when the Administration and Works Sub-Committee has discussed the provision of creche facilities for staff of the House and what was the outcome in each case.

The Chairman of Committees: The Administration and Works Sub-Committee has not discussed the provision of creche facilities for staff during the last two years.

Equal Opportunities Commission: Legally Binding Undertakings

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, and if so when, they will introduce a Bill amending the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976 to enable the Equal Opportunities Commission for Great Britain and the Commission for Racial Equality each to enter into voluntary legally binding written undertakings with persons to comply with specified provisions of those Acts.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): The Government have expressed their willingness to see the Race Relations Act amended to give the Commission for Racial Equality the power to enter into legally binding undertakings. There is no immediate prospect of government legislation to achieve this.

Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Legislation: Harmonisation

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give effect to the recommendations of the Equal Opportunities Commissions for Great Britain and Northern Ireland by introducing a Bill harmonising the equal pay and sex discrimination legislation in a single Equal Treatment Act.

Lord Henley: There are no such plans.

Ballistic Missile Defence Studies

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When will the "Fundamental Issues Study" and the "Prefeasibility Study" on Britain's possible requirements for ballistic missile defences commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Defence from Professor Neville Brown and from an

4 Nov 1996 : Column WA39

    international industrial consortium led by British Aerospace, be published.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Both study reports contain classified information and cannot be published in their current form.

Central and Local Government: Relations

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Government will respond to the House of Lords Select Committee Report on Relations Between Central and Local Government Rebuilding Trust.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: In response to the House of Lords Select Committee report, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has today laid before Parliament a White Paper setting out a programme of action to strengthen local democracy, to promote local authorities' local leadership role, and to improve further relations between central and local government. Under this programme of action, we intend:


    to agree with the new Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association, a statement of the role and status of local government in England and Wales, for inclusion in the guidelines on central/local relations; my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will also consider with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities a similar statement in relation to Scotland;


    to develop further, with the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association, the guidelines for central/local relations; my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will also consider with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities the development of suitable guidelines for Scotland;


    to review the scope for local authorities to fulfil their local community leadership role within Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, and to assess whether a more general power of local competence is practicable and advisable (in the light of broader priorities);


    to legislate in the next Parliament to enable local authorities in England and Wales to undertake experiments with their internal management structure;


    to undertake with the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association research on public participation in local government; and


    to review the arrangements in government for handling cross-departmental business affecting local government.

This programme of action is based on the Government's belief, which the Select Committee shares, that democratically elected local authorities have

4 Nov 1996 : Column WA40

important roles, in particular that of community leader, in the world of local governance today. As the committee itself recognised, local authorities are not, never have been, and never will be the sole monolithic providers of all services in a given geographical area; nor can they ever operate wholly apart from powers for central intervention. Our programme represents a significant further chapter in the continuing development of local government within our living constitution, a development which we aim to take forward in a spirit of partnership and collaboration.

Council of Europe Human Rights and Biomedicine Convention

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What organisations in Britain they consulted when deciding whether to adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The current draft of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine has yet to be considered by the Committee of Ministers, who have the right to amend the text. The question of adherence cannot be considered until a final text is available.

WHO: Reports

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the annual report of the World Health Organisation for each of the last two years, together with any other publications showing its budget, activities and abortion lobbying.

Baroness Cumberlege: The World Health Organisation publishes a considerable body of material each year on a range of activities. These are brought together in its annual world health report and programme budget. Copies of the 1995 and 1996 reports have been placed in the Library, and we will place a copy of the programme budget in the Library in the near future. We are not aware of any publications regarding abortion lobbying.

Partial Birth Abortion

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether where a live child's head slips out of the mother in a partial birth abortion, then to proceed with the abortion would be to commit infanticide.

Baroness Cumberlege: We are not aware of "partial birth abortion" being used in the United Kingdom.

4 Nov 1996 : Column WA41

Thessaloniki, European City of Culture 1997

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the arrangements are for the launch in the United Kingdom of Thessaloniki as the European City of Culture 1997, and what contribution the United Kingdom is making through the European Union to the development of the ancient Macedonian treasure sites.

4 Nov 1996 : Column WA42

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): The launch of Thessaloniki as the European City of Culture 1997 is a matter for the Greek authorities. The British Council is also planning a number of events in Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is expected to receive a substantial sum through the EU's Kaleidoscope programme. Funding linked to the preservation and development of cultural heritage sites is intended to be available through the EU Raphael programme, and the pilot year of this programme is providing assistance towards work related to the Odeum in Thessaloniki.



   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page