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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we do not have precise figures. We are doing our best to obtain them, as the noble Lord would expect. The British Embassy staff are trying actively to establish how many Britons remain to offer them advice and assistance. But the task is complicated because a number of the wardens that were used, to whom I referred in the Statement, have already departed. It is through the wardens that such information is normally communicated to the embassy.

I believe that the numbers are falling. Without being absolutely precise, we are hopeful that those who want to leave will be able to leave on the additional BA flights which are going in. As I indicated to your Lordships, there were a number of vacant places on the BA flights that came out over the weekend, but it may be that individuals will now feel they want to go. They may feel that because the advice has hardened and because the situation is so unstable they now want to

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leave. Of course, we are doing our best, with all the other agencies, like BA, to ensure that those who want to leave can.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, would the noble Baroness join with me in paying a tribute to the staff of the British Council in Indonesia? Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that I am a member of the British Council Board. They have traditionally, in the British Council way, worked extremely closely with the Indonesian population over recent years, not only in terms of English language teaching and training potential English language teachers, but also in trying to arrange for Indonesian students to come to this country. I know that some members of the British Council staff left Jakarta at the end of last week. I am not yet certain about the position of the others today.

Does the noble Baroness agree with me that there is a rather deeper problem for long-term consideration? For more than 25 years, this country and other western countries have worked extraordinarily hard to try to put stability into the Indonesian financial system. After all, was it not true that under President Sukarno Indonesia was in an almost permanent financial crisis? Is it not extremely sad to see one of the south-east Asian Tigers, for whom we had hoped a great deal, collapsing so quickly like a pack of cards? Does that not call for a sober assessment in due course of the success of World Bank loans, of IMF money and, indeed, of the role of the Department for International Development? To what extent can we affect such huge events in as distant and as huge a country as Indonesia?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am happy to pay tribute to the work of British Council staff on this occasion. Indeed, I am always happy to find opportunities to praise the work of the British Council. Whenever I travel abroad I always try to make a point of seeing representatives of the British Council and to acknowledge the important work that they do in relation to ensuring that the work of Britons at home and the cultural aspects of life in Britain are understood by our friends abroad.

The noble Lord then went on to raise questions about perhaps the longer term assessment in relation to the IMF. Her Majesty's Government are confident that with the IMF and World Bank programmes, which I mentioned in my answer to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and with a strong adjustment effort from the Asian countries concerned, financial stability will be restored to the region.

Like everyone else, I am not able to say when, but we believe that those are the reasonable mechanisms to use in order to try to re-establish that stability.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, appreciating what the Minister has said, it has been widely reported that what triggered the disorders was the raising of the price of important commodities at the behest of the International

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Monetary Fund. Is it not important that we should look at the kind of advice that is given to such countries if this is the result of its acceptance?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I think it is sensible for us to look at all the differing reasons which may have triggered the unrest in Indonesia. The noble Lord cites one of those reasons. There are other reasons, too, not least what is seen by many people to have been a regime which has not respected human rights. The fact that so many young people and students have been out demonstrating against the regime may be an indication of their desire for those greater human rights.

I by no means dismiss what the noble Lord is saying. At the moment, we are in the midst of a very difficult situation. There are British lives which I hope are not at risk but are certainly in an unhappy and uncomfortable position, which is why we are trying to bring them out.

We now need to concentrate on ensuring the safety of British nationals. That is our foremost task and that is our foremost duty. Once we are sure that this immediate danger has been put on one side--the noble Lord is quite right, as are other noble Lords who have made this point--it is of course our duty to examine why this situation has arisen, to try to analyse the reasons and to do what we can to address them.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, the Minister hinted in one of her comments that this is an area which is notoriously sensitive to anything that smacks of interference by the former colonial powers. The people who are being butchered are not Europeans, they are Asians and overwhelmingly Chinese. There is nothing new in this situation; it has happened before. Do we have any indication of the action of other countries in the region? At the end of the day, they will be the people who will apply power, other than the IMF. It will not be this House.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, yes, I would not wish that anything I said should be implied to mean that the British Government can come metaphorically parachuting into a situation and find all the answers. That is as self-evidently wrong-minded as the noble Lord has indicated.

The noble Lord asked what else is going on in the region at the moment. I am not sure whether he relates that to what other people are doing about evacuations around the region. I know that the Australians are involved in such measures at present. If the noble Lord means what are the other countries in the region looking at in relation to Indonesia and Indonesian stability, I gave an answer in relation to the IMF and the measures that are being taken to secure economic stability in the region as a whole. Indonesia may be in particular difficulties at present. But many of the financial problems it is experiencing are, if not exact mirror images, at least similar to those arising in other countries in the area. We--I hope that the noble Lord will not misunderstand me--shall wish to look not only at Indonesia but at the problems of the region as a whole, as we did at the Asia Meets Europe Conference last month in London.

Lord Bridges: My Lords, the noble Baroness speaks rightly of the need for us to concentrate on saving the lives

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of British citizens. Would she consider reintroduction of the system that used to operate whereby British citizens resident abroad register their names at the nearest British consulate? In the event of an upset such as this the authorities would have some idea who our nationals are and where they are so that they could be assisted. The system was abolished by the previous government. I suggest that the position might be reviewed.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that suggestion. As the Minister responsible for consular matters, I undertake to consider his suggestion which I think is interesting. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord that we are not just looking at British citizens who are resident. There may well be a number of British people and others in Indonesia. We warned people who did not have essential business from, I think, Friday 14th May, or it may have been 15th May. I shall check the date. We believed that those who did not have any specific reason to stay in Indonesia should consider leaving. It is important to consider that it is not just residents. British nationals may also be in Indonesia at present.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, following the question of the noble Lord, Lord Steel, does the Minister agree that the Indonesian people have a great history of consensus in the way they are governed? Is it not appropriate to send a message to the Speaker of the Parliament from our Parliament to give those in parliament the encouragement needed? Is the Minister impressed by the restraint that has been shown by the students interviewed on television, and by some members of the army?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I should have to take further advice before responding to the noble Lord's point about sending messages. As I am sure noble Lords will understand, this is a very sensitive time. I believe that we must not lose sight of our immediate objective: to get British nationals out of Indonesia. Anything we do which cuts across that objective will not serve their interests. I believe that it would cut across our central duty, which is to the British nationals.

School Standards and Framework Bill

4.23 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 6.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 29:

Page 4, line 20, at end insert (", judged by such measures as may be prescribed").

The noble Lord said: The Minister may be able to reassure me that the Government have the necessary powers to specify what is meant by "performance". It is important that the Government do specify what it means so that what is done by local education authorities and schools nationwide is consistent. When specific actions are shown to generate levels or types of improvement, it is important to be able to demonstrate that to local

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authorities by information which will be measured by and judged against standards agreed nationally. I beg to move.

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