Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Amos: My Lords, as I made clear in my original Answer, we take co-ordination extremely seriously. We want to ensure that industry, civil society, the professional associations and government departments are represented on our delegation. At the Hague conference we wanted to ensure that the poverty and development focus was clear in terms of what was discussed at that forum. I agree that water is exceptionally important. We take our responsibilities in that area extremely seriously and will be co-ordinating at an early stage to get the best out of the 2003 forum.

The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, as one of the 4,500 delegates at the World Water Forum in the Hague, can I make a plea that when arrangements are being made for the third Water Forum, that the Office of Science and Technology be included among the departments so that British science, technology and engineering can be adequately represented?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. As I said in my original Answer, a cross-departmental working group attended the last forum. The actual delegation comprised the Department for International Development, the FCO and the Department for the Environment, Transport and the

28 Jun 2000 : Column 895

Regions, but other departments were consulted before we went to the forum. I entirely agree that we need to ensure that science has a clear role in our preparations for 2003.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, given that 40 per cent of the population do not have access to adequate sanitation, can my noble friend say what the Government are doing to address that aspect of the water problem?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we have made some progress in relation to access to safe water in that the numbers of people throughout the world who do not have such access has gone down to 1 billion. As my noble friend said, some 2.4 billion people--40 per cent of the world's population--do not have access to adequate sanitation. The Department for International Development is investing £50 million into a combination of water and sanitation projects. That figure will be increased to around £360 million in the coming years.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, is it not unfortunate that, following the conference in March of this year referred to by my noble friend Lord Bradshaw, the non-governmental organisations jointly issued a statement totally disagreeing with the ministerial statement? Does not that underline my noble friend's point that there should be proper co-ordination? Cannot the UK lead the way by bringing NGOs as well as other bodies into their co-ordination plans in readiness not only for the next world forum in 2003, but also for the next water conference in Germany in 2002?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, noble Lords will be aware that working in partnership not only with the NGOs but with business, with governments and with international financial institutions is a key part of the strategy of the Department for International Development. We worked closely with NGOs in preparing for the water forum. However, we live in a democracy and it is important that, where NGOs disagree with government, they have the right to say so. We have consultations with NGOs and others who are involved with development through our policy forums. That is to ensure that NGOs understand our agenda and, as far as possible, we understand theirs. It does not mean that the agendas will always be the same.

Lord Grenfell: My Lords, given that an important and early beneficiary of public sector investments in water supply in developing countries is often the private sector, particularly the multinationals, does the Minister agree that the Government should place special emphasis in the forum on encouraging more private sector investment in water supply in developing countries, possibly through public-private partnerships?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, that is an approach which the department has taken extremely seriously.

28 Jun 2000 : Column 896

We recognise the significant potential contribution of public-private partnerships to improve access to sustainable water and sanitation services for poor people. In fact, we have worked with other governments to access the potential contribution of the private sector. We have also worked with the World Bank and the government of Japan, and launched a public-private infrastructure advisory facility to assist developing countries to establish appropriate enabling environments for partnerships with the private sector.

Peruvian Elections and Democracy

2.58 p.m.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to review the Anglo-Peruvian agreement made in July 1998 between the Prime Minister and President Fujimori, in the light of the Peruvian presidential election.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the Anglo-Peruvian agreement signed in July 1998 is reviewed on an annual basis. We are deeply concerned at the conduct of the recent presidential elections, which fell far short of internationally accepted standards. We shall discuss our reaction with our European partners when we meet after the Organisation of American States' investigative mission returns from Peru at the end of June.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, as well as the preliminary report of the OAS, were not reports by the EU delegation which attended the first round of the presidential elections, by FIDH, and by Electoral Reform Services and so forth uniformly critical? Does the noble Baroness agree that it is impossible to have an agreement which calls for collaboration in promoting democracy if there is no democracy to promote? Will she ensure that, in the current considerations of our relationship with Peru, Sr. Toledo, the leader of the opposition, is consulted? Does she know whether he had anything to say during his recent visit to Spain about what the EU can do to help?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, we played a key role in the EU in drawing attention to the inadequacies of the system and calling for free and fair elections in Peru. The noble Lord will be well aware that there was a British delegation observing the first round of presidential elections, which consisted of my right honourable friend Mr Tom Clarke and the honourable Member, Mr William Ross. They reported extremely critically on the proceedings during the first round.

We support the OAS mission that is visiting Peru at present. It is a very high level delegation, led by the OAS general-secretary Cesar Gaviria and the chair of the Organisation of American States General Assembly, Mr Lloyd Axworthy, who is also the

28 Jun 2000 : Column 897

Canadian Foreign Minister. We shall discuss reaction with our EU partners in the light of that mission's recommendations on its return. We wish to ensure that whatever action we take will help to protect the democratic rights of the Peruvian people.

Baroness Hooper: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that, while awaiting the outcome of these reports, the best way to help the people of Peru and to reinforce the democratic principle is to maintain contact and co-operation at all levels as well as insisting on the utmost openness and transparency in all processes and procedures whether they be political, social or commercial? In view of the many efforts by chambers of commerce, trade organisations and my own organisation, the Hispanic and Luso Brazilian Council of Canning House, to improve and increase trade and investment in Peru, can the noble Baroness reassure the House that the Government, especially the new British Trade International, will continue to support these efforts?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the whole House knows of the expertise of the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, in affairs of Latin America, especially in her role as president of Canning House. I can assure the noble Baroness and the House that our aim in whatever we do in Peru is to further bilateral relationships with NGOs and civil society in all its forms.

Lord Brennan: My Lords, I declare an interest as one of the patrons of the Peru Support Group. Is my noble friend aware of the particular concern of many people that a consequence of this election is a potential risk to the human rights situation in Peru? With that concern in mind, will she confirm two aspects of the Anglo-Peruvian agreement: first, that this Government will continue to give unremitting support to Dr Santistevan, properly called in Spanish, "the defender of the people of Peru"--in our language, the ombudsman; and, secondly, that they will continue to finance the tremendous initiative of the BBC, the British Council and the Institute of Defence Lawyers in Peru whereby human rights and civic education programmes are broadcast throughout the nation on over 70 different radio stations?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Yes, my Lords. I can assure my noble friend that the UK has already contributed a great deal to both those projects and that it will continue to do so. Since March 1998, this country has contributed more than £141,000 from the FCO's Human Rights Project Fund to assist the work of the Ad Hoc Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman's Office. The FCO's project fund has also provided £144,000 for a two-year project, which commenced in April 1999, supported by a Peruvian NGO and the British Council, to produce and broadcast twice-weekly radio programmes on human rights via the most popular radio station in Peru.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page