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8 Mar 2010 : Column 8

Lord Brett: My Lords, in my acknowledgment of the distinguished Members of your Lordships' Chamber, I have taken the point on board.

Baroness Prosser: My Lords, for the sake of accuracy, perhaps I may point out that the English Collective of Prostitutes at King's Cross is not a trade union.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, will the Minister join me in welcoming the example of Rwanda, which he mentioned earlier, where over 50 per cent of the national parliamentarians are women, and that of Oman, which has had a woman Minister for higher education for quite a while? She is the first woman Cabinet Minister in the Gulf region. What assessment have the Government made of how such political representation might be translated to work in other societies?

Lord Brett: The noble Baroness has made an important point. Our efforts through DfID mean that we support whole systems of empowering women. It is a matter of culture, history and prejudice that women do not hold a greater proportion not only of positions as Members of Parliament but also of positions of power within Parliaments. However, successes have included countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Namibia and the large, important country of South Africa. We seek to support organisations involved in education, networking and preparation in order to ensure that our female population does not experience the sense of being denied, most importantly by the sector of the population which denies them: men.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, has the noble Lord noted that three countries, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, have moved beyond even needing to use quotas, having done so for many years? Following on from the Question put by my noble friend, even if it is not in his brief, does the Minister welcome, as I do, the Government's late conversion to proportional representation, and does he not agree that that, coupled with quotas, will transform our political system?

Lord Brett: I think I answered the original Question by talking about a combination of different approaches, and it is important that those approaches sit well with the country. It is easy to advise and to offer assistance, but what we must not do is seek to preach or determine other people's ways of arriving at greater representation. In that sense, countries which have moved beyond quotas are to be welcomed. They will find their own salvation, as we will, and the sooner that happens, the better.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: Is my noble friend aware that the Parliament of the United Kingdom with the largest percentage of women is the Scottish Parliament? However, the largest percentage of those were elected not through proportional representation but by the first past the post system?

Lord Brett: My Lords, for the past few minutes I have stoutly avoided entering into an argument about the form of participatory democracy; I shall continue to resist.

8 Mar 2010 : Column 9

Women: Latin America


3 pm

Asked By Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

Lord Brett: The Department for International Development is providing £17 million over three years, 2008-11, to civil society organisations to address inequality and poverty in 14 Latin American countries. This work specifically aims to promote women's inclusion in decision-making and to tackle gender discrimination by working with women and men. Women's rights form an important part of the UK's bilateral dialogue with Latin American Governments.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Is he aware that the Colombian Government have entered into, voluntarily, the universal periodic review of human rights in Colombia and have reported this review to the United Nations Human Rights Council? What has the Government's response been to this review, especially in relation to women?

Lord Brett: My Lords, the United Kingdom Government welcome the emphasis given by the Colombian Government to human rights issues. However, while progress has been made, there remain deep concerns. Reflecting this, the UK has already held discussions with civil society partners in that country and has submitted detailed lists of questions and recommendations to the Colombian Government. These include deepening their engagement with and support for civil society actors, human rights defenders and minority groups; tackling poverty; and looking for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages. We welcome the decision to dismiss a number of military personnel as a result of recent extra-judicial killings and other crimes. We also welcome the initiatives of the High Commission for Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation in strengthening rights in the workplace, the majority of which will benefit women.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, what support have Her Majesty's Government managed to give to the female President of Chile in its hour of need following the earthquake?

Lord Brett: Chile has a President who is seeking, in dire circumstances, to represent that country and is doing an excellent job. On this occasion, the President happens to be a woman. The important thing for Chile is to have an effective President; the fact that she is a woman is a lesson to us all. On this issue, it is not gender that is important but the assistance that we can give.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, last year three women received Nobel prizes in the sciences-a record for any year. Does the Minister agree that there needs to

8 Mar 2010 : Column 10

be renewed emphasis on education and on allowing women to take decisions about their reproductive and sexual health?

Lord Brett: My Lords, my noble friend's Question related to Latin America. In Latin America and beyond, it is clear that the ending of poverty and the achievement of millennium development goals will not happen unless we can eliminate gender discrimination and give women equal rights. At the other end of the spectrum-we are talking about rights that do not exist or are badly monitored-we can take pride in the fact that women are contributing more and more because they have more and more opportunities. When I asked a High Commissioner in India 15 years ago what would be the best thing to happen for India, he said, "Education of women". It was true then and it is true now. The fact that we have seen greater development of the talents of all our people is to be welcomed. I answered recently the question about sexual health and reproduction; it is an area where women's rights have to be honoured and assisted.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I am sure the Minister is aware that in mining areas in countries such as Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru, women seem more willing to stand up for their rights in respect of water use and so on than men, and often suffer the same kind of nasty penalties for doing so as they have done previously in war-torn situations. What approach have the United Kingdom Government used to encourage Governments and mining companies in these countries to create, enforce and maintain high standards of environmental protection so as to avoid laying waste to the countryside and to address local people's needs for water?

Lord Brett: I appreciate the sentiments behind the question, but I am not sure that deprivation caused by the extractive industries in laying waste large parts of Latin America is a gender-specific issue. It affects families, it affects children, and it is something that we seek to curb internationally, through the extractive industries initiative, the United Nations and other international bodies, to ensure that we have effective and sensitive policies.

As, I hope, a final contribution to this, I have met women in Latin America who have made me very humble because of their willingness to stand up for their families against the kind of odds against which I do not think that I would have the bravery to stand. In Africa, there are women who, given the freedom, have entrepreneurship that outstrips men by far. We have a world in which we are losing half the development that we could have because we have been too slow on the uptake.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that it is not just a question of this Government helping other Governments, but of the NGOs which are based in this country-in the past I was chairman of Plan International-doing a great deal to help in these countries? Above all, apart from helping with water supplies and various other things, education for girls is now the prime object of Plan, and education for women is surely the thing that will ensure the future.

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Lord Brett: The noble Baroness is absolutely right. That is why we are supporting, through DfID, a Latin American partnership programme arrangement, which is a partnership between DfID and 12 UK NGOs. Each of these receives £1.4 million and they are working in 14 countries on the issues of accountability, democracy and education. The countries they are working in are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela and they are all the names you would expect: ActionAid; CAFOD; CARE International; Christian Aid; HelpAge International; International HIV/AIDS Alliance; Oxfam GB; Plan UK; Progressio; Save the Children and World Vision.

Those are the partnerships we need, together with partnerships with Governments, and as soon as possible we should be celebrating the day-though I suspect it will not be in the next few years-when we are able to say that we have achieved the ends to which the whole House, I think, has today been united.

Arrangement of Business


3.08 pm

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, after completion of the Report stage of the Digital Economy Bill, my noble friend Lord Bach will, with the leave of the House, repeat as a Statement an Urgent Question on the breach of conditions and recall to prison of Jon Venables.

Health Protection (Local Authority Powers) Regulations 2010

Health Protection (Part 2A Orders) Regulations 2010

Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2010

Health Protection (Local Authority Powers) Regulations 2010
Health Protection (Part 2A Orders) Regulations 2010
Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2010
6th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Approve

3.08 pm

Moved By Baroness Thornton

Motion agreed.

Welsh Zone (Boundaries and Transfer of Functions) Order 2010

Welsh Zone (Boundaries and Transfer of Functions) Order 2010
8th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Approve

Moved By Lord Faulkner of Worcester

Motion agreed.

8 Mar 2010 : Column 12

Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations) Order 2010

Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations) Order 2010
8th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Motion to Approve

Moved By Lord Brett

Motion agreed.

Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Bill [HL]

Main Bill Page
Copy of the Bill


Report received.

Digital Economy Bill [HL]

Bill Main Page
Copy of the Bill
Explanatory Notes

Report (3rd Day)

3.09 pm

Clause 30 : Digital switchover

Amendment 139

Moved by Lord De Mauley

139: Clause 30, page 36, line 35, at end insert ", and

( ) the establishment of a combined electronic programme guide for analogue and digital stations"

Lord De Mauley: My Lords, I am moving this amendment to pick up on a point that the Government made earlier in the Bill's progress in response to a debate that we had on the future of FM radio. We were reassured by comments made by the Minister in Committee that FM radio stations, particularly local ones, which currently have no plans to migrate to digital are safe. The Minister said that for the foreseeable future following switchover, FM was the right technology for local radio stations. I know that this was of great encouragement to many of those local stations that had previously felt threatened by switchover. Significantly, he stated that the Government were,

That is the key to the long-term future of FM radio. Following switchover, listeners should surely be able to switch between stations without even noticing that they have switched from analogue to digital. A combined electronic programme is the way to ensure that that happens. That is why I was pleased to hear from Digital UK that it has developed a prototype for just such a system. Will the Minister elaborate on the Government's plans for the electronic programme guide? What support will the Government give the industry as they continue to take this measure forward? Amendment 139 would ensure that this had to happen before a switchover date was nominated. While of course we appreciate that the Government might have alternative means to ensure that we see these deployed into the market as quickly as possible, some further clarity would be most useful. I beg to move.

8 Mar 2010 : Column 13

Lord Clement-Jones: I support the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, on this amendment. This seems to be an essential part of the armoury, going forward, if we are to achieve digital switchover in the timescale that the Government propose. I am not going to repeat some of what I said earlier, in Committee and on Report, about the necessity to maintain FM as well as digital for a considerable period. The Minister has confirmed that that is the intention, even if he cannot undertake that FM will always be with us. It is essential for the foreseeable future, though, that there is a proper way of accessing FM and digital in the same receiver and with an electronic programme guide that makes it extremely easy for the consumer to do this so that little distinction is made between analogue and digital.

Lord Fowler: My Lords, I, too, strongly support what my noble friend has proposed. It is an important step in preventing truly local radio stations from becoming second-class citizens in the new era. The amendment would not completely prevent that, but it would certainly make a contribution towards it. The Government have said that something like 120 local commercial stations might benefit from the combined electronic programme guide. Will the Minister give us some indication of the size of the local stations that he has in mind? In other words, what areas does he envisage these local stations covering? Will it be something like the area covered by a commercial station in Oxford, for example, or will the area be substantially smaller than that? Some guidance would be extremely helpful. My noble friend's broad proposal would be very much to the benefit of smaller radio stations as well as the public and I support it.

3.15 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords who have contributed to this short debate. The Government do not believe that a combined electronic programme guide should be a requirement of digital radio switchover or, by the way, that this directly addresses the concerns raised by local analogue radio stations. The Government are committed to supporting an integrated station guide, which provides a combined list of all available digital and FM stations. This will allow listeners to choose a station by the station name irrespective of the platform on which it is carried. It will help to provide a level playing field between digital and analogue stations.

Such an integrated station guide has already been developed. A working prototype has been developed by engineers at Frontier Silicon and was demonstrated to manufacturers last week. It is continuing to develop the technology to ensure that the station list does not repeat stations available on both DAB and FM and is efficient and user-friendly. Once this development is complete, we will encourage manufacturers to include the technology in their future developments. We consider that the requirement raised in the amendment has already been addressed.

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