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The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, with regard to the 47 counties, what percentage of China is that? Are we talking about, say, half the parish council of Scunthorpe or the whole of China?

Lord Grocott: My Lords, my pronunciation is not too good and neither is my maths, so I cannot give the noble Lord an immediate answer. It is clearly a substantial number. The crucial point is not so much

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1120

the number but the fact that UNFPA's involvement produces significant improvements in all the areas that have been raised in the debate.

We stand by our support for those bodies. Indeed, we are convinced that it is essential to maintain the ability of bodies such as UNFPA to engage in policy dialogue with countries where reform is so much needed, as in China. No one denies that coercion takes place in China. The point is that reform and change will take time. UNFPA's engagement in the process is an important force in promoting that change.

To undermine UNFPA's work would be to seriously damage the ability of the international community to protect the reproductive rights of women around the world. UNFPA's work means that many millions of women are able to choose when to have children and to deliver them more safely. The fund also supports a wide programme of activities to tackle maternal mortality through the training of midwives. It supports female education and equips health facilities with drugs and essential supplies.

Another aspect to which I should refer briefly is that the amendment would also damage the vital global effort against the spread of HIV and AIDS. UNFPA works at present on HIV and AIDS in about 140 countries world wide, and spends about a quarter of its budget on HIV prevention activities. The United Kingdom's support for all those activities would come to a halt if the amendment were accepted.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, as one of the proposers of the amendment, I ask him to look at Amendment No. 2, which refers to

    "any form of coercion in relation to those said activities".

If the Government were to accept the principle of the amendment and perhaps add a codicil stating that it related only to abortion and the forced sterilisation of women, that would be a great advance. It would also address the point that he has just made about HIV, which is not covered by the amendment.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, the amendment needs to be dealt with as it stands. Its effect would be as I have described, which I have done as accurately as possible. In the light of my remarks, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Elton will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he be kind enough to answer my question? Is coercive population control legal in this country? If not, why should taxpayers' money be spent on that practice overseas?

Lord Grocott: My Lords, that is precisely my point. Of course it is illegal in this country. We are totally opposed to it wherever it occurs. The effect of the amendment would be to make it more difficult to assist in those countries where this form of coercion takes place.

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1121

4.30 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, does he accept that his advice to the House on this occasion has been based on rather general evidence? It contrasts quite strongly with the evidence given by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, who has made a powerful case based on experience in the United States. Is it possible for the department to present a detailed reply, whatever the outcome of the vote?

Lord Grocott: My Lords, the information provided by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, was powerful--but it was powerful in spelling out the consequences of a coercive policy, to which the Government, like everyone else, are totally opposed. The position of the United States is not that different in crucial respects. The United States still funds the UNFPA. This year it increased its funding from 25 million dollars to 39 million dollars. Again, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Elton: My Lords, before the Minister turns into a yo-yo, I congratulate him on my first encounter with him at the Dispatch Box and thank him for doing an honest job of trying to make a circle into a square.

The Minister has told us that 47 counties have done away with birth quotas, although neither he nor we know what small percentage of the surface of Chinese soil that represents. The continued failure of the UNFPA to moderate China's coercive policy was exposed only last month, when the US-based Population Research Institute sent a team to observe China's so-called voluntary programme and interview women and officials in the counties where the UNFPA is active. The institute found the statements to be misleading, because, although the quotas were said to be removed, the policy persisted.

In March this year, a report entitled Torture in China--a growing scourge in China: Time for action said:

    "Numerous public reports from China indicate that local annual birth quotas still play a prominent part in the policy, upheld by stiff penalties as well as rewards. Whilst exceptions have recently been made in some municipalities,"--

I take it that that means counties--

    "pregnancy without permission and so 'outside the plan' may still be punished by heavy fines and dismissal. Officials may also be demoted, fired or fined for failing to uphold the plan and quotas".

I must point out to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that a fine is economic coercion, but a grant is an economic inducement. The amendment is aimed at coercion and fines. The policy ought to be aimed at grants and inducements. The report goes on:

    "With pressure to perform, and popular opposition to enforcement, officials continue to resort to violence, torture and ill-treatment including physically coerced abortions and sterilisations. In recently publicised cases, some officials who have engaged in extreme violence have received only suspended sentences".

I must give your Lordships one more example to bring into the focus of actuality what we are talking about. We are not talking about mere statistics.

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Hearing of 1 million children being abandoned is so horrific that one cannot take it into cognisance. Let us look at a report about one child:

    "Public outrage and reports to local newspapers disclosed the brutal battering and killing of a new born 'out of plan' baby by birth control officials in Caidian village, Hubei Province"--

how nice it would have been to know if it was in one of the counties referred to by the Minister--

    "on 15th August 2000.

    Liu Juyu, a former medical practitioner, reportedly rescued the baby boy from the cess pit of a men's public toilet behind the village government offices. Liu took the baby to the local clinic to remove his umbilical cord and administer vaccination. Liu was reportedly feeding the baby on her doorstep when 5 birth control officials approached, grabbed the baby and threw him on the ground. In front of several witnesses, they reportedly kicked the baby repeatedly as he convulsed on the ground, then took him away to a paddy field where they drowned him, witnessed by other villagers".

That is not fantasy; it is the Amnesty International report of March this year. It fills us with outrage and compassion. This is what the Government's money is being directed to support, whatever the Minister says.

Noble Lords: Nonsense.

Lord Elton: My Lords, it is no good saying "nonsense". The annual reports and accounts of these organisations show that the money goes to those two bodies, which are the effective arms for enforcement of that policy. It is there for Deloitte and Touche or anyone else to go and illuminate. Our simple request is that there should be in statute a disincentive for the Government to subscribe to that. The Minister has said that the amendment would prevent good bodies from doing good work elsewhere in the world. They can remove that disability themselves by ceasing to support the policy in China.

It is not a small thing that I am asking your Lordships to do. If there is any defect in the drafting of the amendment, your Lordships should remember that we are the first House to scrutinise the Bill. I am minded to divide the House and I hope that the Government will be forced to accept the amendment. When they bring the Bill to the other place in its new form, the representatives of the taxpayers who are paying the money that the Government are giving away will have their say and I very much hope that they support your Lordships.

4.36 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 67; Not-Contents, 149.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Ampthill, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Buscombe, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cox, B. [Teller]
Denham, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Glenarthur, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hanham, B.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hooper, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hylton, L. [Teller]
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Liverpool, E.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Rotherwick, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Seccombe, B.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Waddington, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilberforce, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Erroll, E.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Freyberg, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Geraint, L.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jacobs, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Joffe, L.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Naseby, L.
Nicol, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Ouseley, L.
Pendry, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandwich, E.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walmsley, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1124

4.47 p.m.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Clause 20 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

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