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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, in the light of the question of my noble friend Lord Onslow, will the Minister inform the House how many convictions there have been, if any? I understand the noble Lord's point about the difficulty of obtaining convictions. What is the maximum penalty for such a beating, and what is the average penalty meted out to those who are convicted?
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I do not have to hand the answer to the question put by the noble Baroness but I shall certainly provide it. If it is helpful I shall place in the Library information about both the number of convictions and the penalties for such offences.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government firmly believe that it is important that all senior appointments to international bodies are made on the basis of merit. It is essential that the new director-general of UNESCO should be effective and reformist. Her Majesty's Government believe that UNESCO's activities need to be more effectively and efficiently focused on the challenges that the world faces today.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that reply. Does she agree that this is one of the most important posts in international development and, sadly, it has been highly politicised in the past? Will the Government ensure that they support the right candidate for the job--somebody with the best qualities to manage the organisation--and that his or her nationality will not be regarded as an obstacle in that appointment?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that this is an important post. The Government are firmly committed to ensuring that the right candidate is chosen for that post. They are also committed to ensuring that that candidate will reform UNESCO so that it is an effective organisation.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that among the front runners of the 11 candidates there is a Saudi Arabian national? However well qualified he may be in many ways, it is alleged that he is a strong supporter of the death penalty. While one might well expect a Saudi Arabian to support what happens in his own country, if that is true it would not be right for the director-general of a great international organisation with immense ethical and charitable functions. I should be most grateful if my noble friend could tell us anything about it.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I endorse the Minister's comment that it is vital to have a strong leader because the recent history of UNESCO has been troubled. As the noble Earl pointed out, it is an important international organisation.
Will the Minister bear in mind the work being done in trying to establish a global Internet system of advanced education, I think being sponsored by the World Bank? Britain could undoubtedly make an important contribution to such a global Internet educational system because of the noble Baroness's own expertise in areas such as the Open University.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that question. I confirm that the Government are working with UNESCO to ensure that the priorities of UNESCO involve a focus on education, and on communication, using the technology available. We are strongly committed to the international development targets. We feel strongly that UNESCO has a key role to play in the target of providing universal primary education. We support any way in which we can use technology and Internet access to facilitate that.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, UNESCO is a major international organisation. It poses a significant management and leadership challenge for the individual who runs that organisation. Since the UK Government rejoined UNESCO soon after this Government came into power in 1997 we have made no secret of the fact that we feel that the organisation needs to be more effective and more focused in its priorities. In my original response I referred to the need to prioritise and the need for the new director-general to manage the organisation effectively.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, if we continue in this way I shall have to give all 11 countries from which there are candidates. I confirm that there is a candidate from Sri Lanka. There are candidates from three Commonwealth countries.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her Answer to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, However, I should be grateful if she could go a little further specifically in the context of next month's highly contentious elections. The Minister has given the House an assurance that the next director-general will be chosen on merit alone. Can she add that prejudice as to national origin, power politics and regional loyalties will not be allowed under any circumstances to play a determining role in the selection of the successful candidate?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I know that the noble Lord will expect my reply to be the same as my original response: the United Kingdom Government are committed to ensuring that the candidate is chosen on the basis of merit.
The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington) : My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I do not wish to detain the House, but it may be helpful if I explain briefly the background to what may appear to be a rather arcane Motion about archives.
On 16th June the House approved the Second Report from the Offices Committee which recommended that the record copies of Acts of Parliament kept in the House of Lords Record Office should be printed on archival paper instead of vellum with effect from the first Act of the year 2000. The House also agreed that the supply of a duplicate copy for the Public Record Office should cease.
In approving the Offices Committee Report, the House approved these recommendations. The substantive issue has, therefore, already been decided. The purpose of this Motion before us today is to replace the Resolution agreed by Parliament in 1849 to print two record copies of every Act on vellum with a new Resolution to print one copy on archival paper.
Moved, to resolve that, notwithstanding the Resolution of this House of 8th February 1849, the record copy of each Act of Parliament, authenticated by the Clerk of the Parliaments and deposited in the House of Lords Record Office, shall be printed on
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I hope that the noble Baroness the Leader of the House will not mind if I detain the House for a minute or two. We are changing the practice of 150 years and I think it deserves a small pause. I agree with the noble Baroness that it is a change worth making.
Perhaps I may confirm my understanding, first, that no Acts of Parliament which are currently printed on vellum will be now copied on to archive paper? Secondly, will the noble Baroness confirm whether representations have been made by the manufacturers of vellum; and what the House's response has been? Finally, since we are moving this Resolution today, am I right in thinking that we also need the agreement of another place; or can we act unilaterally on our own?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. We are changing a practice of some substantial historical period. On the other hand, as I said, the substantive point was agreed when the House approved the Offices Committee Report in June.
First, my understanding is that this will be a change which occurs only on the first Act of the year 2000. In that sense I think it is unlikely that Acts which are presently stored in this way will be transferred. I thought that he might suggest that they be put on the Internet, or something of that kind, since we sometimes discuss that in another context.
Secondly, there have indeed been representations, I believe, to individual Members of another place from one of the manufacturers concerned with the production of vellum. I am not aware that individual Members of this House have been similarly approached--noble Lords may rise to say that they have.
Thirdly, it is true that the other place has to agree to this proposal. As noble Lords will be aware, it has not yet resumed sitting in this Session. I understand that its Administration Committee will put this matter to the House in the very immediate period.
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