|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, I understand the noble Lord's concerns. We do not wish that to be the outcome. The basic reason for the agency is that we need greater monitoring and enforcement in the area of food safety. It is a matter of great public concern. It is my honourable friend the Minister for Food Safety who will have particular responsibility. I shall certainly have a word with him about what the noble Lord has said.
Lord Ezra: My Lords, as someone who has been involved in trading standards for many years, I am delighted that the Government will be pursuing the concept of setting up a Food Standards Agency. Will it be supplied with an effective monitoring force to ensure that its decisions are properly carried out?
Lord Donoughue: Yes, my Lords, monitoring is firmly at the forefront of its agenda. It may help the House if I point out that we have had a consultation period. There were 630 or so responses. There will be a White Paper in the autumn which will be followed by another consultation period. We will then publish the Bill, which will be brought before the House as soon as parliamentary time is available.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, we entirely support the announcements that the noble Lord has made today and the direction in which his policy is taking us, as he will know from our contribution to the debate of the noble Countess, Lady Mar. Can he confirm that he will be repeating in this House, as we made a practice of doing, the Answer to the Written Question given in another place so that on these important matters this House can be informed as well as another place? Does he intend that the Food Standards Agency should follow the American practice whereby all points made to the agency in the course of its consultations--by interest groups, individuals and so on--are answered on the record point by point so that they are available for public scrutiny?
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his support, previously and now. That has been helpful to us in shifting any possible resistance that may have existed. There will be a Written Answer to the Question tabled in this House. As to the American practices, a number of the aspects of the working of the proposed Food Standards Agency are still under active consideration. However, the suggestion he has made could be a fruitful one. I am sure we shall look at it.
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply. She will be aware that my Question was prompted by the appalling outrage earlier this month when the police invaded the Anglican cathedral in Nairobi and disrupted an ecumenical service. If I speak strongly on the matter it is because among those injured was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, who is my father's direct linear successor in that office. Does she recognise that those who were present on that occasion, and indeed the nine people who died in particular, were asking for the most elementary and universally desirable constitutional reforms; namely, the appointment of an independent electoral commission, the independence of the judiciary, the independence of broadcasting from government control and the repeal of the Public Order Acts to allow freedom of public assembly? Will she accept that, sadly, no progress has been made on these issues since the last election in 1992?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, all parties in Kenya have a responsibility to refrain from confrontation and violence. We are urging all parties to resolve their differences by dialogue. We condemned the excessive force used by the Kenyan police when dispersing the pro-reform demonstrations. We and the other major aid donors share many concerns of those who have been campaigning within Kenya. However, we have stayed out of the constitutional debate because we have seen this very substantially as a matter for the Kenyans themselves.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, what dialogue are the noble Baroness and her colleagues pursuing with the Kenyan Council of Churches, which seems to be the only body that has really pushed forward for the very things the noble Lord, Lord Steel, mentioned just now? It seems to us that that would be the most profitable way forward. But they cannot do it alone. Will she ask her European Union colleagues to be as outspoken as we hope her colleague, Mr. Lloyd, was on his recent visit to Nairobi? Will she tell us more about what happened in Mr. Lloyd's talks with President Moi?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Baroness has covered many points. We want to have dialogue with all those in Kenya who want to see the constitution working properly. We wish to use the auspices of the EU and the other aid donors to Kenya in order to take this important dialogue forward.
The noble Baroness asked some specific questions about Mr. Lloyd's visit to Kenya between 25th and 28th June. When he was there Mr. Lloyd called for elections where all those who want to vote can exercise their choice freely and where those who want to stand are given the opportunity to do so; and he asked that the electorate has access through the media to all the information needed to make a free choice and that people can come together freely in order to support the candidate of their choice. Donors have made it clear to the Kenyan Government the measures that they believe are necessary to meet these conditions. We shall monitor closely developments in Kenya against that background, seeking, of course, concrete progress.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I understand that the Kenyan Government have uttered some kind of apology for the attack on Christian clergymen in All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Nairobi, but no attempt has yet been made to bring the policemen involved to account. Can the Minister suggest any other ways in which Her Majesty's Government can bring pressure to bear on the Kenyan Government to respect basic civil liberties, particularly in relation to that outrageous event?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we have welcomed President Moi's offer of dialogue on these matters, particularly on legislative and constitutional issues. We recognise the argument put forward by the Kenyan Opposition that the intention expressed by President Moi must be translated into action. We strongly believe that the early implementation of measures to ensure conditions for free and fair elections and to bring to justice those responsible for the outrage to which the right Reverend Prelate referred are also very important aspects of the problems. Mr. Lloyd has written again to the Kenyans urging that action be taken on these points.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, if the arrangements made for the forthcoming elections are manifestly incompatible with the Harare Declaration, will the Government undertake to raise the matter in CHOGM and Edinburgh this October?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the Harare principles of good governance will be an important question at CHOGM. The focus will be primarily on military governments, such as those of Nigeria and Sierra Leone. However, we will make use of the opportunity to seek concerted pressure, with our Commonwealth partners, for the Kenyan Government to ensure the full implementation of the Harare principles in the way which the noble Lord suggests.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, of course we are aware of the deplorable position which the noble Duke has outlined. Jointly with our EU partners, the United States and other major partners we have been in dialogue with the Kenyan Government on the measures that should be taken to remedy the situation. Indeed, I outlined in some detail to the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, what had been said by my honourable friend Mr. Lloyd and the letter that he has sent following that up. So we are doing things bilaterally, through our partners in the EU and also with our partners who are aid donors. We also plan to do so at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting later this year.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page