Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 1.34 to 2 p.m. for Judicial Business and to 3 p.m. for Public Business.]

Royal Assent

3 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale): My Lords, I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts and a Measure:

Appropriation Act 2003, Finance Act 2003, Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2003, Marine Safety Act 2003, Licensing Act 2003, Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003, Aviation (Offences) Act 2003, Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, Nottingham City Council Act 2003, Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

10 Jul 2003 : Column 470

Millennium Development Goals: Reproductive Health

3 p.m.

Viscount Craigavon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What importance they are giving to reproductive health in their commitment to meeting the internationally-agreed millennium development goals.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, reproductive health continues to be a key priority for DfID. We remain firmly committed to the target, agreed at the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, of achieving access to reproductive health for all by 2015. DfID believes that population and reproductive health issues are fundamental to efforts to tackle poverty and achieve the millennium development goals. We plan to write a public policy statement on reproductive health before the end of the year.

Viscount Craigavon: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that most welcome and encouraging answer. With regard to the statement that she mentioned, will the Minister agree that if we are to have a realistic chance of meeting some of the millennium development goals by 2015—one thinks particularly of the child mortality and maternal health goals—it is essential that her department maintains its complete support and indeed leadership on this subject, especially in view of the slightly negative sounds that we hear from the other side of the Atlantic?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I am happy to reassure the noble Viscount that our commitment to reproductive health remains very strong. We recognise the need to continue to promote reproductive health and rights within the international policy arena. I can also tell him that we have established a millennium development goals and reproductive health team within the policy division of the department to reflect the importance that we attach to the issue. The noble Viscount will know that spending by DfID on reproductive health has risen from 40 million in 1997 to 270 million this year.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, the department also has a number of programmes to deal with HIV and AIDS. Are they not likely to diminish the focus on sexual health and reproduction?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, we do not see a conflict. So far as the department is concerned, the focus is not likely to diminish. We shall continue to work on both reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in all our country programmes, with the aim of achieving the three goals to which I have referred. We recognise

10 Jul 2003 : Column 471

that access to reproductive health systems and information is essential to efforts to prevent HIV and AIDS.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I am sure that we have all been delighted to hear the Minister's answers today. However, can she tell us what will be the overall effect on budgets for reproductive health, at an international level, of the United States' reluctance to co-operate in these matters because of pressure from the extreme right?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, there certainly are concerns about some activity that is taking place with regard to, for instance, funding for family planning clinics. However, I can reassure the noble Baroness that DfID made a one-off contribution of 25 million to the United Nations Population Fund to assist it to make up the shortfall that it experienced; and, of course, the EU has also renewed its determination on that matter.

Baroness Flather: My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on introducing more focus on reproductive health in the millennium development goals. We have been asking for it, and we are grateful. Will the Minister also agree that the poorest of the poor are the women of developing countries, that reproductive health goals must inevitably include access to family planning and that the choice factor is extremely important?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, for those remarks. I agree that women are the poorest of the poor. In reading up for this Question, I discovered that every year over half a million women die from the dreadful consequences of a lack of maternal health. However, through our funding of UNFPA, with which the noble Baroness will be familiar—approximately 18 million per year—we provide support to all parts of the supply chain, the access chain to which the noble Baroness referred. By supporting the strengthening of health systems more generally, DfID makes an important contribution to developing local capacity for access to reproductive health supplies.

Lord Rea: My Lords, to follow the question asked by my noble friend Lady Whitaker, will the Minister agree that services related to reproductive health should be closely related to services concerned with the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS? The international community and DfID have understandably put a lot of resources into the fight against AIDS, but can the Minister say whether the two arms of the service should be linked and what steps DfID is taking to achieve that?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I very much agree with my noble friend. DfID's definition of "reproductive health" encompasses maternal conditions, family

10 Jul 2003 : Column 472

planning, fertility regulation and the tackling of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Lord Chan: My Lords, will the Minister go further to include in the purpose of reproductive health the care of new-born babies? If babies do not survive, it would be extremely difficult to carry on a family planning programme with any success.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I entirely agree that the survival of young children is most important and is very much a part of the accent that we place on our reproductive health programmes with developing countries.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, the Minister referred to the considerable increase in spending on reproductive health from 40 million to 270 million. Can she give a clearer indication of precisely where that increased funding goes?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I am happy to write to the noble Lord. I shall not take up the time of the House to give full details. It will be spent on the issues to which I have referred, including helping pregnant mothers—many women in developing countries die during pregnancy—antenatal care, the care of infants and young children, and ultimately, through our support for developing country programmes, the care of all the family, because healthy mothers mean healthy families, which mean healthy local economies.

Lord Elton: My Lords, in reply to my noble friend Lady Flather, the Minister said that the Government were funding the UNFPA. What steps have been taken to ensure that none of that funding supports the coercive family planning programme in China? If money goes to China, how is the distinction made between the small number of areas of the country where it is not coercive and the rest of the country where it is?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the UNFPA has looked into the concerns that the noble Lord has raised. I understand that Members of the other place were part of a delegation that visited China following such concerns. The UNFPA certainly satisfied DfID that there is no coercion involved in the programme in which it is involved.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, does the Minister agree with me that some of the international development targets are hopelessly unrealistic? It is 25 years since primary healthcare for all was declared at the Alma-Ata conference and it is obvious that primary healthcare has not reached the majority of the poor. Can the noble Baroness influence her department to influence the United Nations to moderate some of their targets?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that the target of 2015 is an

10 Jul 2003 : Column 473

extremely challenging one. There will need to be a step change in the commitment of all international leaders in that area, including NGOs, if we are to reach those targets. In all the support that DfID provides to the health sector, our highest priority is to ensure the provision of good primary healthcare.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, 2,000 babies are born with HIV/AIDS every day. The UN human development report 2003 released this week warned that sub-Saharan Africa will not reach the millennium development goals for child mortality until 2065. What pressure are the Government placing on their European counterparts to fulfil and to take their commitments further to the global health fund to fight HIV/AIDS?

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page