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19 Jan 1995 : Column WA49

Written Answers

Thursday 19th January 1995

WORLD SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which professional, public voluntary, private and business organisations are being consulted in the preparations of the United Kingdom's position for participation in the World Summit for Social Development, which is to take place in Copenhagen in March 1995.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Information about the summit has been disseminated to over 200 contacts from a wide range of organisations in the UK. Of those who wish to contribute, some are in direct contact with the Government; others are in touch with a central contact point in UNED-UK (the UK branch of the United Nations Environment and Development NGO) which the Foreign Office is funding specifically to disseminate information about the summit and to ensure that any NGO with an interest in the summit's issues can make its voice heard. We welcome their interest and involvement and will remain in close touch with UK NGOs during the preparatory process and at Copenhagen itself.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Ministries and which government departments are involved in preparing for the United Kingdom's participation in the World Summit for Social Development, which is to take place in Copenhagen in March 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Those government departments most directly involved in preparing for the United Kingdom's participation in the World Summit for Social Development are the Foreign Office (which is co-ordinating preparations), the Overseas Development Administration, the Department of Employment and the Department of Social Security. The Department of Trade and Industry, HM Treasury, the Department for Education, the Department of Health, the Central Statistical Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department have also participated as appropriate.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their principal priorities for the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development which is to take place in Copenhagen in March 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Our principal priorities are to raise the level and improve the focus of the international debate around the issues of development.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will be their representatives at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in March 1995 and whether arrangements have been made for the Prime Minister to attend.

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: A final decision on attendance at the summit will be made nearer the date.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evaluations they are making of the social and economic costs of armed conflict throughout the world and the need for new approaches to conflict resolution and pre-emptive diplomacy in their preparations for participation in the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in March 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We fully recognise the high social and economic costs of armed conflicts. We are, for example, taking a leading role in the major OECD/DAC evaluation of the international emergency response to the Rwanda crisis.

We are also fully aware of the importance of preventive diplomacy and of its potential benefits. At the 48th General Assembly in 1993, we introduced, jointly with France, an initiative which, inter alia, led to us handing over to the Secretary-General a representative list of British statesmen and experts prepared to undertake preventive diplomacy measures. We are also engaged in discussion with various NGOs on the subject of preventive diplomacy.

PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES: FRAMEWORK CONVENTION

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to sign the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on 1st February 1995, the date on which it opens for signature.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: This matter is currently under consideration.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT, CAIRO

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they had with Mr. John Smeaton and other members of the delegation from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and on what subjects.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: A number of individuals and organisations, including the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, lobbied delegates outside the meeting rooms at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, distributing leaflets and expressing their concerns. Members of the United Kingdom delegation had no formal meetings with the individual named or with members of his group.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they had with Congressman Chris Smith and Miss Maggie Wynne at the

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    International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and on what subjects.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The UK delegation held a number of meetings with members of the US delegation, where we discussed a range of issues. We do not have a record of the individuals named being present at those meetings.

FAMILY PLANNING IN CHINA: PETITION

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the observations of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the petition from residents of Topsham, Exeter against the grant of public funds to the UN Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, what specific efforts these two organisations are making to bring about change in China's family planning programmes, and what success they have had so far.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) report that the China Family Planning Association (CFPA) is working to curb excesses and bring abuses of reproductive rights to the attention of the authorities at township and provincial levels. CFPA's recommendations for reform of provincial family planning regulations in nine provinces, to give more emphasis to individual voluntary choice, have been adopted by the Chinese State Family Planning Commission.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also held high-level discussions with the Chinese Government on provincial family planning regulations and has specifically requested that they bring all regulations into conformity with international human rights standards. In addition, UNFPA has developed projects that aim specifically at promoting informed consent and reproductive rights. Its Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director will visit China in February further to discuss these issues with senior Chinese officials.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the observations by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the petition from residents of Topsham, Exeter against the grant of public funds to the UN Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, whether they will place in the Library of the House statements made by these two organisations opposing coercion in the implementation of the Chinese family planning programmes.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) are both advocates of the principle of voluntary choice in family planning. Both organisations oppose coercion in the implementation of family planning programmes in all countries. A sample of statements opposing coercion will be deposited in the Libraries of the House.

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BOTSWANA: AID FOR FLIGHT INFORMATION PROJECT

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the £2.9 million grant for a Botswana flight information project in 1988 amounted to as a percentage of total United Kingdom bilaterial aid to Botswana in that year.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Although approved in 1988, almost all expenditure against the grant took place during 1991/92/1993/94: it represented about 10 per cent. of total gross public expenditure to Botswanan in that period.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: REPRESENTATIONS TO COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in referring any matter to the Committee of Ministers in accordance with the Declaration on Compliance with Commitments accepted by member states of the Council of Europe adopted by the Council of Ministers on 10th November 1994, the Secretary-General will entertain and forward appropriate representations from non-governmental organisations.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Under the declaration to which the question refers, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe may examine matters of concern relating to the implementation of commitments concerning democracy, human rights and the rule of law in any member state. These may be brought to its attention by, amongst others, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

The Secretary-General is free to form his views based on information from whatever source he believes appropriate.


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