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2 Dec 2005 : Column 877W—continued

Labour Camps

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the scale of manufacture of goods in labour camps abroad for sale to other countries; and what steps he is taking to prevent imports of such goods to the UK. [29207]

Ian Pearson: The UK has played a leading role in ensuring that the international framework to promote and to tackle abuses of labour rights throughout the world is in place, particularly through our work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the
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UN specialised agency responsible for developing, promoting and monitoring labour standards. We play an active role in the ILO Committee on Multinational Enterprises and support the promotion and follow-up of the ILO Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy which seeks to enhance the positive social and labour effects of multinational corporations' operations throughout the world.

Through its Partnership Agreement with the ILO, DFID is providing more than £2 million to the Special Action Programme on Forced Labour, which has enabled the ILO to significantly deepen and extend its work. In addition we have provided over £2 million to the ILO's regional programmes against forced labour. And our country programmes have made commitments of nearly £12 million to the ILO's anti-trafficking programmes.

The UK also promotes the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which recommend standards of responsible business conduct for businesses operating in or from the 37 adhering countries. My department has written to the FTSE 100 companies to raise awareness of these expectations. We have also set out our approach to encouraging environmentally and socially responsible practice internationally in our International Strategic Framework on Corporate Social Responsibility published in March.

The UK's Department for International Development helps fund the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI): an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade union organisations which exists to promote and improve the implementation of corporate codes of practice which cover supply chain working conditions. The ETI's ultimate goal is to ensure that the working conditions of workers producing for the UK market meet or exceed international labour standards.


Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of steps being taken to restore multi- party democracy in Nepal; and if he will make a statement. [33190]

Dr. Howells: Since the King dismissed Nepal's multi-party Government and assumed direct power on 1 February this year, the UK, along with our international partners, has been seeking to restore multi-party democracy and pressing all concerned to work towards a negotiated political settlement to the conflict.

In response to the recent announcement between the political parties and the Maoists on the terms of a possible peace process in Nepal, the UK has said that, if by this agreement the Maoists commit to giving up violence and human rights abuses in favour of a democratic political settlement, then this is welcome news for the long- suffering people of Nepal.

The UK sees an effective multi-party democracy as the only sustainable solution to the problems of Nepal. We continue to support a negotiated political settlement involving all of the parties to the conflict, including the Maoists. This process must involve the King working
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with the political parties to develop a common agenda for a full return to multi-party democracy and the Maoists renouncing violence unconditionally and putting their weapons verifiably beyond use.

In this context we have urged the Maoists to extend their present ceasefire as a demonstration of their willingness to enter sincerely into negotiations. At the same time, we have urged the King of Nepal to call a truce, reach out to the political parties and take this opportunity for serious engagement on a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

The UK, along with our international partners, stands ready to support a meaningful peace process.

Private Military Companies

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department employs private military companies. [32777]

Ian Pearson: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not employ private companies overseas for military purposes but it does employ two companies for security purposes: ArmorGroup and Control Risks Group who provide mobile security for our staff and static guarding for our compounds in Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Control Risks Group also has a contract to provide a guard force for our missions at Cairo, Moscow, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Race Equality Impact Assessments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Race Equality Impact Assessments his Department completed between (a) April 2004 and March 2005 and (b) April 2005 and November 2005; and how many assessments in each period resulted in a change of policy. [32836]

Ian Pearson: Between April 2004 and November 2005 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has conducted the following Race Equality Impact Assessments (REIA):

In addition, the FCO has a programme of wide-ranging consultation with external stakeholders, including minority ethnic groups, on its work. Examples of these are included in our Race Equality Scheme.

Small Arms Trade Treaty

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards securing non-European support at the
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UN small arms review conference in July 2006 for the adoption of an international treaty on the trade in small arms. [32640]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK, in co-operation with a wide range of other partners, has made good progress in building support for agreement at the 2006 UN Small Arms and Light Weapons Programme of Action Review Conference on minimum common criteria to underpin controls on transfers of small arms and light weapons controls, including import, export and transhipment. We already have much non-European support, especially in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and we are working to match that in Asian countries.

Separate from and outside the UN Programme of Action, which specifically only covers small arms and light weapons and is politically binding, the Government are pursuing the wider, longer term initiative for a legally binding international arms trade treaty to cover the trade in all conventional weapons. Support for this initiative, and for the launch of a formal UN based process, is steadily growing, including among non-European countries.

St. Helena

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column2135W, on St. Helena, on which dates (a) the Legislative Council in St. Helena disapplied the UK Freedom of Information Act 2000, (b) the notice of intent to disapply the Act was gazetted and (c) the disapplication became effective. [34114]

Ian Pearson: The provisional order was made on 11 January 2005. The order was gazetted on 30 March 2005. The motion to ratify the order was debated and passed by the Legislative Council the week commencing 27 June at which time the disallowance of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 became effective.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column2135W, on St. Helena, what mechanisms are available to enable the Public Solicitor to be available to members of the public in the light of his being retained by the proposed developers, SHELCO; and if he will make a further statement. [34115]

Ian Pearson: The terms of reference of the Public Solicitor require him to provide independent legal advice to members of the public and entities registered on St. Helena. Consistent with his terms of reference, he accepted instruction to act for the proposed developers SHELCO. He now cannot accept instruction from another party to oppose SHELCO. The public on St.Helena are familiar with the position that, should the Public Solicitor be unable to help them, they may seek the help of a lay advocate. There is a small fund which allows lay advocates to seek the advice of a UK solicitor if necessary.

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