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Baroness Vadera: My Lords, I acknowledge my noble friend’s concern that the talks have been desultory. However, I am reassured by President Chisano’s recent upbeat assessment of the success of

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the talks. I hope that the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting in Uganda will help to bring pressure to bear on the two parties to reach a result. As for the 90-day deadline, it is clear that pressure can be brought through a deadline and through the ICC warrants which have brought the LRA to the negotiating table for the first time.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, notwithstanding the ardent desire of the people for peace, does the noble Baroness agree that priority also has to be given to the trial of the four leading members of the LRA and that although lenient treatment might be accorded to lesser fry such as Opiyo Makasi, who gave himself up to the UN last week, it is essential that these four leaders should be tried either in the courts of Uganda or before the ICC? With regard to the floods, which it is generally agreed are due to global warming, and given that this issue is now on the agenda for the CHOGM, will she consider asking the president of the Royal Society to produce a memorandum on the latest state of scientific knowledge for submission to the delegates attending the conference in Uganda?

Baroness Vadera: My Lords, I will look into the matter of a submission from the president of the Royal Society. It is clear that this is the ICC’s first test of effectiveness. The international community must therefore send a clear message that there is no impunity in serious crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that there is a desire for domestic justice. In an ongoing discussion, the mediation team is therefore trying to find measures that combine traditional and domestic forms of justice that could be compatible with the Rome statute of the ICC. It is then up to the Ugandan Government to put this to the ICC for consideration.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the 25,000 children, whom the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, referred to, who have been systematically tortured, brutalised and made into child soldiers? It is believed that 3,000 of those 25,000 children—many of whom have died—are now in captivity. Will my noble friend urge the Ugandan Government to do all that they can to get those children rescued from the hell that they have been going through?

Baroness Vadera: My Lords, the abduction and gross abuse of children has tragically been the defining feature of this conflict, and forced conscription has been the favoured method of recruitment for the LRA. We do not know how many children are alive or still with the LRA. Sadly, some of them have become LRA commanders, not least one of the four LRA leaders indicted by the ICC. We continue to discuss with the Government of Uganda the best way of encouraging combatants, including children, to come safely out of the bush, including through the Amnesty Act and the recent peace talks. However, my noble friend will appreciate that a forced rescue attempt could in fact jeopardise the lives of those children and jeopardise the peace talks.

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The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I want to ask the Minister about access, and I speak as a chair of Christian Aid. What is DfID doing in relationship to the Ugandan Government and the authorities to ensure that much-needed aid can get through in northern Uganda and that the development agencies and others are able to operate in those areas?

Baroness Vadera: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes a good point. The World Food Programme recently expressed concern that food aid was not reaching 150,000 people in Uganda. As a result, DfID has provided support for emergency rations to be airlifted to areas that were not accessible by road. Efforts have also been made to improve road access. We are bearing some of the costs of engineering to rebuild some of the roads to ensure that access is available for basic services.

Aviation: Liquid Ban

3.03 pm

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the ban on passengers taking liquids on to commercial aircraft was lifted on 6 November 2006, following the introduction of European Union regulations applying across all member states. There remains a restriction on the quantities that passengers are permitted.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. No one doubts the need for a high level of aviation security. Does the Minister agree with his colleague, the Danish transport Minister, who has called for a,

The measures, which are secret and are not published—both the liquid ban and that on hand luggage—cause considerable inconvenience. Would it not be better if there was a review that was shared with parliamentary representatives, rather than us being asked to take on trust that they are the only way to properly ensure passenger safety? Might there not be other measures that are more proportionate and at least as effective?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I understand why some passengers feel that they experience inconvenience when they go through the security protocols at airports, but we have to bear in mind the fact that the threat of terrorism is real and present. It is right that we should take the best advised measures. I ought also to put on record the fact that we continuously monitor the effectiveness of, in particular, the liquid security measures, as well as all the other measures that have been taken to ensure that security is at its

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tightest. The fact that there has not been a serious incident involving liquid explosives indicates, I would have thought, that the measures that we have put in place so far have been very effective.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, does the noble Lord not think that Ministers should set an example in co-operating with security officials at airports and not complain publicly about their treatment, however much they are inconvenienced?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord is probably right; we should not complain too loudly. I always celebrate the fact that there is effective security at airports, as I am sure the noble Lord does.

Lord Rogan: My Lords, when did the Government last consider the effectiveness of the ban on passengers taking more than one piece of hand luggage on board commercial aircraft? That ban is particularly irksome to those passengers transferring internationally at UK airports and is commercially damaging to UK carriers.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we have been reviewing the number of pieces of hand luggage that people can take on board an aeroplane. I think that it was one of the issues that were looked at as a product of the summit on the matter in July this year.

Lord Mawhinney: My Lords, who has the responsibility for determining the safety of liquids that are bought airside in airports, which can be taken on aircraft? What is the Minister’s estimate of the cost of that testing?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not have an estimate of the cost of that testing. Clearly, the responsibility lies with the airports and those that they seek advice from in managing airside sales and distribution.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, when the Government consider the issue that has been raised, do they consult the chairmen and chief executives of the airlines and the relevant trade unions, in particular the British Airline Pilots Association?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I understand that extensive consultations are undertaken on these matters, as it is in everyone’s interests that we get it right.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, when these measures were first introduced, there was a complete prohibition on taking tubes of toothpaste or any liquids. This was subsequently changed. Why?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I can only assume that it was because the level of threat from a tube of toothpaste was considered rather less than that from a bottle of liquid. A friend of mine had two jars of Marmite confiscated, which I thought was a bit tough at the time, but these are the things that we have to put up with.

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Earl Attlee: My Lords, what progress has been made in developing screening equipment to distinguish between dangerous and harmless liquids?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, testing regimes are in place and my understanding is that they have proved to be extremely effective. Having those liquid testing regimes in place was made a statutory requirement on 1 May this year.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one of the best ways of avoiding the problems of security at airports is not to fly at all? Perhaps his department might discourage people from flying rather than encouraging them to get round the security problems.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I know that my noble friend has a particular thing about flying and I entirely respect her point of view. However, I think that we would all recognise that aviation plays an important part in the life of our country.

Lord Elton: My Lords, what damage can be done by 105 millilitres of liquid that cannot be done by 100 millilitres of liquid?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, my briefing does not extend to that extra five millilitres, but I suspect that this is based on science. I know that that is an inadequacy in the brief, for which I apologise to your Lordships’ House.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, does not the Minister’s flippant response convey the great need for assessing the proportionality of the measures—

Noble Lords: No!

Children: Paid Work

3.09 pm

Baroness Walmsley asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): My Lords, staying safe is one of the five key Every Child Matters outcomes for children, to which the Government are committed in all circumstances. No child should be put in unacceptable danger by their employment, and legislation already deals with this. We also look to parents, carers, teachers and employers to take responsibility in advising young people about risky behaviour or unsafe experiences.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. However, is he aware that 607 children were injured at work in 2004-05, yet the law on children who work consists of 200 pieces of legislation and is very confusing? Is he also aware that, since the introduction in 1968 of the Children (Performances) Regulations, there has been no new

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guidance? Will he look very seriously at this matter in the light of the fact that the way that children who work are treated varies and is very inconsistent across the country?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, in response to the 2004 report on child employment legislation by the Better Regulation Task Force, the Government undertook to produce simple, best-practice guidance and we will do so. However, as the noble Baroness is aware, the law on the employment of children is very stringent and ensures that adequate protection is in place.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is it due to laws or just due to the general attitude of society that children who used to take part-time work—in particular, paper deliveries—in the mornings are simply not interested now? I have asked in my local village but the response is, “Oh no, we might get an old-age pensioner to bring you papers but no way would a child take on this sort of activity any more”.

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I could not possibly comment on old-age pensioners taking up paper deliveries, although I am sure that it is a very worthwhile activity for those in need of additional income. The law on this matter relating to young people dates back to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, so I suspect that practice in this area is more to do with changes in social custom than the law. However, it may also be because children are working harder at school and taking their studies more seriously, which of course is thanks to the reforms introduced by this Government.

Lord Dearing: My Lords, will the Government consider giving guidance to the Learning and Skills Council so that sufficient funding is given to bodies that organise work experience to ensure that children can work safely in the premises of small to medium-sized firms and that those firms are not discouraged from offering such opportunities?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, such guidance is available but I am sure that it can always be improved. I shall draw the noble Lord’s remarks to the attention of the Learning and Skills Council.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, the plethora of legislation covering the employment of children paints a confusing picture for employers. During the passage of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, the Government promised a communication strategy. Can the Minister say how extensive this has been?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, it is very extensive.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, it is estimated that 218 million youngsters between the ages of five and 17 across the world are exploited in some way in the labour market. Is it not time for the Government to press the United Nations to strengthen, as well as implement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child? As has been reported in the newspapers over the past couple of days, sweatshops in India exploit children and the goods are then sold on the market in the UK. What discussions are the Government having with countries such as India where children are exploited?

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Lord Adonis: My Lords, that question goes very wide of the Question on the Order Paper. I gave a full response on child labour and the rights of children internationally when I replied to a debate on child protection initiated last week by the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner. I draw his attention to those remarks.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, the Minister’s answer to my question was funny but I am afraid that it did not answer it. What does he mean by “very extensive”? Who has the strategy gone to and has it been distributed at a national or local level?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I will write to the noble Baroness, and she can rely on me to give her very full particulars.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that out of his own mouth he has agreed with me that the legislation is very out of date? Is it not time that the 1933 Act to which he referred was updated and brought into line with the requirements of the modern world and modern children?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I have undertaken that we will issue best practice guidance, but not all laws dating from 1933 are necessarily bad laws.


3.15 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, we share the UN Secretary-General’s view that the status quo in Kosovo is unsustainable. We see an early resolution of Kosovo’s status as crucial to the stability and security of the Balkans and Europe as a whole. The UK fully supports the troika process aimed at securing agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. We are urging both sides to engage constructively and creatively with the aim of reaching agreement before the process concludes on 10 December.

Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, the troika bought time to 10 December in the vain hope that there could be some form of compromise between Pristina and Belgrade. Clearly, that was not to be. Can my noble friend say whether, as a result of discussions in Lisbon over the weekend, there is now a greater convergence between EU members in respect of the Ahtisaari plan for conditional independence, and whether in the discussions with President Putin there was talk of a grand design under which Kosovo, the missile defence, and CFE would be brought into play?

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