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Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, when the CAA conducts its review of LARS in the south-east of England, I am sure that it will do so in the context of the other commercial activities to which the noble Baroness referred. However, in terms of the concern about overloads that have taken place in the south-east, I can tell the noble Baroness that the number of reported cases in the year 2000 was 47, which is below that recorded for 1999, when the number stood at 57, and, indeed, below that for 1998 when the figure was 64. There was a leap in the number for the year 1998 which was due to a change in practice that encouraged the greater reporting of any overload on controllers.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, if the helicopters fly below it and the air ambulances fly above, can my noble friend the Minister tell the House who uses this airspace? Is it confined to those with private planes? If that is so, should not those who want it pay for it?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, there are many other aircraft that take advantage of LARS. I should emphasis again the importance of LARS to the general aviation community. I can tell my noble friend that there are other procedures for avoiding or minimising collisions which are used by crop-spraying aircraft and by the aircraft or the helicopters that inspect pipelines, and so on. However, as far as I am aware, there seems to be an agreement inside the aviation community at present that the cost of this service can be borne by the commercial sector and that the general aviation sector should have advantage of it without any rancour.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, the rights enshrined in Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have long been recognised in the law of England and Wales. Clearly the details of the case currently being reported in the media are of great concern to the Government and to the general public. It is deplorable to see children apparently bought and sold for adoption over
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his excellent and timely reply. Is he aware that, under the name of "international adoption", child trafficking, sexual exploitation, child slavery and the sale of children for 50,000 dollars for involuntary organ donation, and such like, are on the rise and are wholly unacceptable to everyone everywhere, other than paedophiles and pornographers? Therefore, does the Minister agree that not only review of our own legislation is appropriate but also that hard, tough pressure should be placed on other nations, such as the USA, and on the organised crime rings coming out of eastern and central Europe--Russia and the Gulf? In other words, should not the countries that are the buyers and the sellers also benefit from our wisdom, our advice and our very strong and powerful statements globally?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thoroughly agree with the noble Baroness that the practices to which she referred are absolutely abhorrent. Indeed, it is essential that we should do everything that we can to ensure that they do not happen. I believe that the Hague convention on the protection of children and co-operation in respect of inter-country adoption will enable, internationally, many of these practices to be put aside and stopped.
As a result of the convention, home countries must ensure that a child has been freely given up for adoption and that this has not been induced by payment or compensation of any kind. I should add that an adoption can take place only if the adopters have been approved as suitable to become adopters in the receiving state. This country will ratify the convention on 1st January 2002. Other countries are ratifying the convention. I am sure that that is the best way forward.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, we have been pressing for an adoption law in this country for many years but the Government have constantly prevaricated. The Minister said that the adoption Act 1999 will be brought into force "later this year". However, in the other place yesterday the Prime Minister said:
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I join the Minister and my noble friend Lady Nicholson in deploring these practices. Perhaps I may remind the Minister that the Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act was a Private Member's Bill sponsored by my honourable friend Mr Oaten in the other place. Clearly we have a great interest in seeing such regulations brought forward at a very early stage. In the light of this recent case, can the Minister say whether he has considered bringing forward those regulations at the earliest possible date?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am happy to be able to tell the noble Lord that we are reviewing the timetable for the regulations in the light of the disturbing case that has recently arisen. I cannot give him a definite date in that respect, but we are clearly committed to ensuring that the regulations are available as soon as possible.
Lord Waddington: My Lords, am I not right that under Article 1 of the convention the child is defined as a human being under the age of 18? As a result of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of last year, have not men of mature years, other than men in positions of authority, been given the legal right to commit buggery on children? Is that not a truly extraordinary state of affairs?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not have Article 1 before me. However, that question is certainly wide of the original Question. As I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, the Government consider that Article 7 is the relevant article. It is concerned with the registration of a child immediately after birth; the right for him or her to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents. I reject completely the issue raised by the noble Lord.
Moved, That the Commons message of 15th January be now considered; and that, notwithstanding anything in the Private Business Standing Orders or practice of the House, the promoters of the Bill, which originated
That the Bill be deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments not later than 3 pm on Monday 22nd January with a declaration annexed, signed by the agent, stating that it is the same in every respect as the Bill passed by this House;
That the proceedings on the Bill in the present Session be pro forma in regard to every stage through which the Bill had passed in the last Session and that no new fees be charged.--(The Chairman of Committees.)