Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, whether or not it is sensible I do not believe that it causes any real problem. As I indicated in my response, there has not been a single identifiable prosecution in any of the records over the years. If anyone thought that he could bring such a prosecution he would first have to convince a magistrate to issue a summons. Following that, the Director of Public Prosecutions of Northern Ireland could take over the prosecution and, if he saw fit, discontinue it. Although it may not be sensible, I do not believe that it causes any real problem.

Lord Stallard: My Lords, does my noble and learned friend agree that if the only reason for the noble Earl tabling this Question is to point out that the Acts are out of date he could have raised the matter in the past 20-odd years?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I see the force of the point just made by my noble friend.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, is the noble and learned Lord aware that it was only as a result of the activities of one of his Front Bench colleagues to remove the death penalty for such offences that I raised this matter? It cannot be sensible, however the noble and learned Lord may dress it up, to have on the statute book outdated laws that carry heavy penalties and may be open to misuse.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it was, I believe, my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, who is not in his place today, who discovered this. Perhaps the fact that it was only that which drew it to the attention of the noble Earl indicates how small the problem is in practice.

Earl Russell: My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord agree that unrepealed statutes like unexploded

6 May 1998 : Column 611

mines cause no trouble until they are trodden on? Will he take the advice of the Law Commission on the matter?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as to the first point raised by the noble Earl, at least 300 years have gone by without anyone treading on these particular mines. We have been in touch with the Law Commission. The commission considered these statutes and advised in relation to repeal, but it regards the contents of some of them as unsuitable for the commission to look at.

EU Directive: Television Without Frontiers

2.49 p.m.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will delegate to the Independent Television Commission the duty of monitoring the implementation by British broadcasters of the provisions of the European Union directive "Television Without Frontiers".

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, a revised broadcasting directive was adopted by the European Parliament and Council on 30th June 1997 and member states have until 30th December 1998 to implement its provisions. We are currently giving consideration to how best to implement the directive in the United Kingdom. The Independent Television Commission and other relevant bodies will be consulted on this matter and we will announce our intentions in due course.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that informative and helpful Answer. Is he aware that Sky television, despite its financial success, depends more on American imports and makes fewer original programmes than its terrestrial competitors, the BBC and ITV? When the Government consider future arrangements under the revised directive, and given their sensitivity about Mr. Murdoch's media interests, would not the fairest way of dealing with the matter, and the best way of providing themselves with a little protection, be to hand over professional regulation to professional broadcasting regulators?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is the case that the non-compliers tend to be the satellite channels and new start-up channels, particularly in specialist areas. Sky 1 in particular has increased its European content from 8.5 per cent. in 1993 to almost 40 per cent. in 1996. The general trend in this country, as in the whole of Europe, is towards compliance. Under

6 May 1998 : Column 612

those circumstances, too much concern about the ownership of Sky television would be looking backwards rather than forwards.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, if the full additional powers are transferred to ITC will all sections of the industry, including BSkyB and other programme operators, be consulted?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I did not say that we were transferring control of these matters to the ITC. I said that we were considering how to implement the directive and that we would make our decisions in due course. I also said that we would consult the Independent Television Commission and other relevant bodies, including the bodies referred to by my noble friend.

Lord McNally: My Lords, is the Minister aware that that jewel in the crown of the European Broadcasting Union, the Eurovision Song Contest, will soon be upon us and that there are scandalous reports in the press that no Minister of sufficient rank is willing to attend the event? Given that the Prime Minister has had to ban Ministers attending the World Cup, is there not a deal to be made that any Minister who attends the Eurovision Song Contest can also attend the World Cup?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I must confess that the BBC invited me to the Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham on Saturday, but unfortunately I have had to decline the invitation. However, my interest in the World Cup is such that even the promise of tickets to that event would not induce me to attend the Eurovision Song Contest.

Development Education

2.53 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will promote greater awareness of world affairs through increased support for development education undertaken by Churches and non-governmental organisations.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we are committed to increasing the awareness of development issues within the UK. To this end we have doubled our annual budget for development education. We have also established a working group to advise the Department for International Development, chaired by the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State, George Foulkes, and this group includes representatives of Churches, NGOs, business, trade unions and the media.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer, which is encouraging. I congratulate the Government on renewing their efforts towards development education. Does the noble Lord agree that the Global March Against Child Labour, which this morning handed in a petition to Downing

6 May 1998 : Column 613

Street on behalf of 250 million children working in perilous conditions, and the Global Jubilee 2000 campaign on world debt relief in countries such as Mozambique, show that there is a great deal more awareness, in particular among young people who want the Government to meet their responsibilities in world fora? Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will do their utmost to maintain global standards in fora such as the World Trade Organisation?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord is correct in saying that there is an increasing awareness of these issues among sections of our society. However, it is also probably true that appreciation of the problems in world development education is not sufficiently widespread among the population as a whole. That is why we believe that we should increase the educational programme. I am aware of the petition on child labour to Downing Street today. My colleague, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, will meet that group later today. Child labour is of serious concern to Her Majesty's Government. Complex issues are involved, but I believe that in all fora we should pursue the standards which all Members of this House and British public opinion support.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I welcome the Minister's constructive Answer. Will he reconsider the grant from the Government to the Council for Education in World Citizenship which for a number of years has done sterling work, particularly among sixth formers and other schoolchildren? It would repay its modest grant many times over.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I shall certainly reconsider that. I am personally aware of the benefits of the Council for Education in World Citizenship. Within our education budget, we are looking at a number of grants for similar organisations. I shall take the noble Baroness's point on board.

Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, against the background of the Government's plan to promote the information highway in all schools in Britain, is this not a unique opportunity for them to offer development education through that medium?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I understand that some development information will be available, although not in a separate compartmentalised area. It will relate to other subject areas covered by the information system.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, is not the regrettable high cost of education in the UK for foreign students, combined with the essential need for development education, making it necessary to consider a mechanism whereby foreign students can be matched to UK companies for practical training? That would provide excellent two-way benefits.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page