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Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In preparing our freedom of information proposals the Government have studied the relevant law in these countries and in a number of others.

Broad generalisations in relation to overseas systems of law based on characterisations under domestic law are not always easy to make. In particular it is difficult to draw precise comparisons between the concept of "judicial review" as known in the law of England and Wales and review or appeal by courts or bodies under foreign systems of law. The appeal structures in those countries vary considerably and, in any event, the laws of Australia, Canada and Ireland make separate and specific arrangements for the review of cases involving national security, defence and international relations.

In Australia, s.58 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives power to the tribunal to decide any matter in relation to a request for information "that could have been or could be decided by an agency or Minister" but, in relation to documents claimed to affect national security, defence or international relations, and documents claimed to affect relations with states (i.e. of the Commonwealth of Australia), Cabinet and Executive Council documents, the tribunal has power to determine if there are reasonable grounds for the claim.

In Canada, the Access to Information Act 1985 empowers the Information Commissioner to consider whether a complaint is well-founded and to make recommendations to the head of the relevant government institution. If access is not given to the information, the complainant may apply to the court which may order disclosure if it considers that the institution was not authorised to refuse disclosure, or--in the case of information relating to federal-provincial affairs, international affairs and defence, law enforcement, security of penal institutions, financial interests of the Government of Canada, or the management of the economy--if it considers that the institution did not have reasonable grounds to refuse disclosure.

In New Zealand, under the Official Information Act 1982 the Ombudsman may make recommendations to a Minister where he considers that the "request should not have been refused." There is a public duty to observe a recommendation, but the Ombudsman may not make a recommendation where the Prime Minister certifies that disclosure of the information would be likely to prejudice security, defence or international relations or where the Attorney General certifies that disclosure would be likely to prejudice the prevention, investigation or detection of offences. Where a recommendation is made to a Minister of the Crown, the Governor General may make an Order in Council directing otherwise. The Order in Council may itself be

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reviewed by the High Court on the ground that it was beyond the powers of the Governor General or otherwise wrong in law.

In Ireland, the Information Commissioner may annul a decision to refuse disclosure and make such decision as he or she considers proper.

Mothers: Definition of Work

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Prime Minister on 6 May (H.C. Deb., col: 712), whether they will ensure throughout the Government and Civil Service that language is no longer used to imply that mothers looking after their own small children are "not working", given that their work about the house, bringing up their children, and other unwaged work which is not measured for GDP, has been identified by the Office for National Statistics as of substantial social and economic significance. [2194]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): This Government are committed to improving the quality of life for women in this country and particularly to helping them, through a number of measures, to balance paid employment with caring responsibilities. Women are more likely than men to have to shoulder the burdens of caring both for children and elderly relatives. People commonly refer to "work" as meaning paid employment. However, this Government recognise the considerable value of the unwaged/unpaid household and caring work carried out by women and the language we use will continue to reflect that view. Furthermore, the Office for National Statistics has successfully piloted a time use survey, which measures unpaid work. They are currently seeking to establish a funding partnership across a range of organisations to enable a full survey to go ahead in 1999-2000, alongside surveys in other European countries. Time use surveys are a useful alternative to monetary measures to paint a fuller picture of social and economic activity.

Guatemala: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they took, during the United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union, to assist the Government of Guatemala in the promotion of human rights, the work of the truth commission and the elimination on impunity. [HL2525]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: During our Presidency of the EU we continued to follow closely human rights developments in Guatemala and carried forward our commitment to assist the promotion of human rights. When Mr. Lloyd, Minister of State at the FCO, visited Guatemala in February, he made clear our

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support for the full implementation of the peace accords, including those relating to human rights. HM Ambassador and his European colleagues also met government representatives, the UN Verification Mission (MINUGUA) and NGOs on a regular basis during the last six months to raise individual human rights cases and to stress the importance of tackling impunity by bringing those responsible for human rights violations to justice.

Following the murder of Bishop Gerardi, a leading human rights defender in April, we issued an EU declaration which, in addition to urging the Guatemalan authorities to ensure a full investigation to bring all those responsible for this crime to justice, appealed to all Guatemalans not to allow this murder to distract them from the full implementation of the peace accords. It also called on the government to support the work of the Truth Commission and take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of its members. Mr. Lloyd also wrote to the Guatemalan Foreign Minister and subsequently raised our concerns with the Guatemalan Ambassador.

The Guatemalan Government and the European Commission agreed on a number of development projects during our Presidency designed to have a positive impact on human rights, including a 31.7 million ecu programme for the reform of national public security. The UK made a direct grant of £62,000 (100,000 US dollars) to the Truth Commission's budget from the FCO's Human Rights Project Fund.

Arms Sales: Licences

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that companies are not able to circumvent restrictions on the sale of arms and other material, by licensing the manufacture overseas of items, the export of which might be prohibited under the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Sales. [HL2577]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A UK company does not require a licence to manufacture products itself, or to allow the manufacture of its products, in another country. The company would however need a licence to supply controlled technology or production equipment from the UK, if this were needed to enable production to go ahead. The export of specially designed components of controlled goods is also controlled, and the likely end-use of the components would be taken into account in deciding whether to grant a licence.

Hong Kong

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to publish the third of the reports to Parliament on Hong Kong and the implementation of the Joint Declaration.[HL2924]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The third report in this series, covering the period January-July 1998, was published today and a copy of the report has been placed in the Libraries of the House. The report includes a foreword written by the Foreign Secretary. I commend the report to the House.

Diplomatic Missions: Parking Fines

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish figures recording the number of parking fines incurred by diplomatic missions and organisations in London during 1997.[HL2925]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: During 1997 the London diplomatic missions and organisations incurred a total of 2,480 unpaid parking fines. In 1996 the figure was 1,674. In April this year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions and organisations to give them an opportunity to pay off all outstanding parking tickets, or appeal to have the ticket cancelled. Since then payments totalling £84,665.00 have been received, compared with £48,640.00 in 1997. The table below shows only missions which have 11 or more fines outstanding.

Unpaid parking fines

PositionDiplomatic mission19971996
40Cote d'Ivoire237

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