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4 Nov 1997 : Column WA277

Written Answers

Tuesday, 4th November 1997.

China: Family Planning

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of recent riots against China's one child policy and the coercive sterilisation and forced abortion of Chinese women, they will end their funding, via the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Family Planning Association, of the Chinese Population Association.

Lord Whitty: Both the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) encourage observance of the standards of family planning agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. We will continue to fund them. Both organisations oppose coercive sterilisation and forced abortion. In China, IPPF undertakes its work in partnership with the Chinese Family Planning Association to help it provide the public with information and education about good family planning practice.

Commonwealth Development Corporation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they are making to lay their plans for the future of the Commonwealth Development Corporation before Parliament; and to seek parliamentary approval for what is proposed.

Lord Whitty: We shall be requesting early legislative time to seek parliamentary approval for the creation of a new public/private partnership for CDC.

Development Education Expenditure

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have comparative figures for European Union expenditure on development education during the last two financial years and, if not, whether they can obtain them.

Lord Whitty: The comparative figures for European Union expenditure during the last two financial years are attached. They are available in calendar years only and are for 1995 and 1996. The figures are in ecu.

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1995

Total Cost(1)EC Contribution
Belgium4,331,1111,919,238
Ireland1,527,791673,684
United Kingdom5,342,3272,265,423
Netherlands3,659,0701,636,639
Denmark1,919,429564,140
Germany6,810,5192,887,698
France3,931,2191,477,307
Spain2,674,5741,254,213
Portugal847,076336,977
Italy4,364,3342,141,201
Consortium624,252239,608
Austria669,260332,790
Luxembourg148,36874,184
Greece487,700213,342
Sweden112,29156,145
Total37,449,32116,072,589

1996

Total Cost(1)EC Contribution
Consortium2,599,1761,287,189
Austria1,319,042569,865
Belgium4,254,0461,804,152
Italy5,241,4342,488,151
United Kingdom6,445,2542,992,402
France5,593,6652,030,565
Netherlands4,232,3831,676,452
Spain1,196,349584,591
Greece885,017375,643
Germany5,328,8852,527,543
Portugal903,932449,886
Denmark2,154,907768,660
Ireland668,447299,598
Sweden382,584189,162
Luxembourg23,04711,522
Finland611,100240,000
Total41,839,26818,295,381

(1) Total costs of projects in ecu, including NGO, EC and other donors.


Tribunal Case 13528

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Tribunal Case 13528 taken at Stratford SE1 in May 1997 sets a new precedent in the application of European law in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): Industrial tribunal decisions do not set legal precedent and are not binding on any other court or tribunal.

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of Tribunal Case 13528 taken at Stratford SE1 in May 1997, what steps they will take to prevent mischievous applications by pregnant women in order to obtain financial gain from provisions intended for their protection.

Lord Clinton-Davis: As the noble Lord will be aware from Lord Simon's answer to his question on 21 October (Official Report, col. 212), I cannot comment on individual industrial tribunal decisions.

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However, I can confirm that case law from the European Court of Justice has already determined that it is unlawful discrimination to refuse a woman employment on the ground of her pregnancy, or to dismiss an employee on the ground of her pregnancy. It is therefore open to people who believe that their employment rights have been infringed to make an application to the tribunal. The tribunal will consider each case on its own merits in the light of the relevant law.

OECD Agreement on Investment

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the purpose of the multilateral Agreement on Investment which is being negotiated within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Lord Clinton-Davis: The purpose of the MAI is to provide a multilateral framework of rules for international investment, with high standards of investment protection, liberalisation of investment regimes and effective dispute settlement procedures. It will enable British and other international investors to invest with greater confidence, and encourage them to play a fuller part in the development of host economies.

The MAI will not stand in the way of non-discriminatory regulation. On the contrary, the UK is pressing for it to include a legal requirement for parties not to lower environment or labour standards in order to attract foreign investment. We are also pressing for the MAI to have closely associated with it the 1976 OECD guidelines on the behaviour of multinational enterprises, which encourage good corporate behaviour.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice has been sought by the OECD or by Her Majesty's Government, and from whom, on developing the possible terms of the multilateral Agreement on Investment.

Lord Clinton-Davis: Each OECD Government, including the United Kingdom, has brought its own expertise to add to that of the OECD Secretariat. In addition, Her Majesty's Government have obtained advice in extensive contacts with interested parties, including the Confederation of British Industry, Trades Union Congress, Business and Industry Advisory Committee and Trade Union Advisory Committee as well as several NGOs.

EU Enlargement: Consultations

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to consult UK business on the enlargement of the EU to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Today, I am publishing a consultation document which seeks the views of UK businesses, consumers and employees on the enlargement of the EU to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Government are committed to successful EU enlargement. It will not only enhance the security and stability of the continent, but also introduce 100 million extra consumers into the internal market, bringing greater opportunities for British businesses and greater choice and value for British consumers. We think British businesses appreciate this--indeed, they are already increasingly turning towards these important emerging markets. But enlargement presents major challenges as well as great opportunities for the EU, and we want to be sure that we are representing the interests of UK businesses, employees and consumers as accurately as we can in discussions in Brussels and elsewhere. So I urge all those with an interest in the future development of the EU to take this opportunity to let us know what they think.

I have placed a copy of the consultation document in the Library of the House. Copies can be obtained from:


    EU Enlargement Consultation


    EU Enlargement Unit


    Department of Trade and Industry


    66-74 Victoria Street


    LONDON


    SW1E 6SW


    Tel. 0171 215 4407


    Fax 0171 215 4469 Comments should be sent to the same address, to arrive by 20 March 1998.

The document can also be found on the DTI internet Homepage at: http://www.dti.gov.uk

Unemployment Comparisons

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current rate of unemployment in (a) the United Kingdom; (b) Japan; and (c) the United States of America.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Acton from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt.

I have been asked to reply, as the Director of the Office for National Statistics, to your recent question on the current unemployment rates in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States of America.

Figures based on the internationally recognised International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of unemployment provide an appropriate basis for international comparisons. The ILO measure of

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unemployment, as used in the Labour Force Survey, defines somebody as unemployed if they are: (a) without a job at the time of interview; (b) were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and (c) had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained. The ILO unemployment rate gives the number of the ILO unemployed as a percentage of the economically active.

Comparable unemployment figures based on the International Labour Organisation definition are produced by the OECD. These show that the latest ILO unemployment rates in August 1997 were 6.8% for the UK, 4.9% for the USA and 3.4% for Japan.


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