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The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness. From her experience, is she satisfied with the progress of the committee to which she has referred?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we are concerned that sometimes movement on the committee appears to be slow. But we feel that its work is very important indeed and that there is a commitment by the committee to take forward these issues. That is why we continue to work with it very closely. But I can understand that behind the noble Earl's question lies a degree of frustration about the length of time it sometimes takes to get these issues considered and taken through quickly.

To continue with human rights. We continue to lobby the Government of Sudan, for example, to ratify the convention against torture. We actively criticise the government on human rights issues bilaterally and through the EU/Sudan dialogue. The dialogue assesses progress against benchmarks on democracy, the rule of law, freedom of religion, human rights and the peace process. The dialogue is reviewed on an annual basis—most recently, by an EU troika mission to Khartoum on 9th and 10 December last year.

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The EU also sponsored a resolution at this year's UN Commission on Human Rights, and at the UN General Assembly we set out our concerns and criticised both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A.

The long-term answer to improving the human rights situation in Sudan is an IGAD peace settlement. The noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Astor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, asked about the attack that happened during the interim period. It is a great encouragement that by and large the cessation of hostilities is being respected. Recently, we received unconfirmed reports of tribal conflict in Darfur and fighting in the western Upper Nile. We will shortly be sending representatives to investigate the situation in Darfur.

The US had approached Lt-General Sumbeiywo to activate the investigations committee. The civilian protection monitoring team's aircraft could be made available to the Government of Sudan and the SPLM if needed. In any case, the civilian protection monitoring team is investigating allegations of attacks against civilians during the recent fighting in western Upper Nile.

The peace process offers the best chance of bringing an end to the civil war through a negotiated settlement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A. But, as was said by the right reverend Prelate and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, there is an important role for civil society and it is desirable that other voices are heard. The noble Earl spoke particularly about the importance of women in the process. They have an important role to play in Sudan's future and attend the peace negotiations.

The right reverend Prelate focused on the important role of the Churches. They too have a key role to play. We funded a civil society conference on the Nuba mountains and southern Blue Nile in Kampala in November through Justice Africa. We will continue to support peace activities through civil society groups—an important part of the wider peace process—through our embassy peacebuilding fund.

Questions were raised about international community support for Sudan—particularly by the right reverend Prelate. The war in Sudan has prevented many donors, including the UK, from carrying out a development programme over the past decade. More than 500 million dollars of development funding will become available from the international community when there is peace. That is a huge incentive for the warring parties to reach a comprehensive agreement. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that we are working to engage the IFIs—which share our desire to see peace in Sudan.

The noble Lord, Lord Astor, asked particularly about the UK contribution. If there is a peace, UK funding for Sudan in 2003-04 is likely to be around 20 million—double our programme this financial year. We are planning an immediate peace dividend in the education sector when there is comprehensive agreement. We will also consider how we can best

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support transitional needs—such as the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, demobilisation of the armed forces and landmine clearance.

Until there is a peace agreement, we will continue to support life-saving humanitarian work and peacebuilding activities—such as personnel to monitor the ceasefire in the Nuba mountains and support for anti-slavery work and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development secretariat.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about timing. We are aiming at a comprehensive agreement in the first half of this year. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, specifically asked about Alenia Marconi. Sudan has a requirement for a modern air traffic control system, not least because the vast majority of humanitarian assistance is transported by air. All export licence applications are considered against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. The United Kingdom continues to observe these criteria as well as implement vigorously the EU arms embargo against Sudan.

The noble Lord also asked about oil revenues. We have pressed for revenues to be used for development projects and for transparency in the oil account. The Government of Sudan have made public assurances to that effect. We shall look to them to honour those assurances and shall remain focused on this issue as evidence becomes available.

The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, asked whether we are looking at the situation in Sudan in the context of our wider policy in Africa. The short answer is yes. We cannot look at development policy through the Department for International Development or, indeed, our diplomacy through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, without taking an integrated and comprehensive approach. We have an overall strategy and we are well aware of the need to look at all countries in Africa in their global context which includes the issue of failed and failing states and the war against terrorism.

There is still much to be done but the prospects for peace which will bring an end to the suffering of the people of Sudan are good.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.34 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.32 to 8.34 p.m.]

Licensing Bill [HL]

House again in Committee on Clause 17.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 168:


    Page 11, line 5, at end insert—


"( ) what provision the applicant proposes to take with regard to children on the premises, and"

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 168 returns to the question of the access of children to licensed premises. We debated this issue in our last

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outing in Committee. I stressed then and I stress again that we feel there are many potential problems regarding the unrestricted access of children to licensed premises as outlined in the Bill. I was not entirely satisfied with the assurances I received that the Bill would adequately protect children from harm.

Amendment No. 168 proposes that the operating schedule, which is to accompany every application, must outline what proposals the applicant intends to make with regard to children on its premises. While that may be covered by subsection (4)(g), which refers to,


    "the steps which it is proposed to take to promote the licensing objectives",

I do not believe that that is explicit enough. It is important that licensed premises make clear their attitude regarding the access of children. Such clarification will reassure parents, local authorities and the publicans themselves.

I add that I conducted a straw poll during the Christmas Recess. I understand that as the law currently applies there are situations whereby children have access to premises. I found that the opinion of most people I spoke to from all walks of life and all ages is that unrestricted access of unaccompanied children is extraordinary and surprising and is a matter which should be addressed expressly in the operating schedule. I beg to move.

Lord Monson: I believe that this is a worthwhile amendment, although possibly not for the same reasons advanced by the noble Baroness. Most pubs nowadays are family friendly. That is a good thing and as it should be. But a significant minority of pubs are very much for adults only. There is surely room for both types.

About eight months ago my wife and I visited Chester for the first time. We walked along the length of the famous city walls on two or three occasions and were amused to see a pub with an enormous bold-type sign stating, "Children not welcome". There was an additional adjacent sign stating something like, "No fancy foreign food here. British bangers only". That suggested it was not precisely my cup of tea or my pint of real ale, one might say, but there was definitely a fairly boisterous clientele in the city that weekend for whom it was ideally suited. I think there should be room for both types of pub. I hope that it is not the Government's intention to force all pubs to cater for children because I think that that would not be good for children or for the general community.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I recognise that this amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, is driven by the best of intentions. I also appreciate the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, about the necessity of our recognising that hostelries need to cater for those who are not so fond of children when drinking at the bar. It is quite clear that we need a range of pubs.

It will be for licensees to apply for whichever licence guarantees that they follow one of those objectives. There will be a number of pubs, despite the greatly

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welcomed move referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, of the growing family friendliness of pubs, which will take pride in the fact that they restrict themselves to adults, because that is how they cater best for the people who patronise them.

This is an important amendment. The Committee will want to be satisfied that arrangements for children on licensed premises are appropriate. As the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, indicated, we have already debated this issue at some length.

Members of the Committee will know that the licensing objectives include the protection of children from harm. The applicant is therefore required to set out what steps he proposes to take in order to fulfil this objective when carrying on licensable activities on the premises. This might, of course, involve exclusion from certain areas. There could be concerns about physical safety or risk of moral or psychological harm. In some places, the issue of anxiety about children may not obtain at all. A small, quiet restaurant may say nothing in its submission for a licence, because it would be entirely appropriate for children and would not give rise to any anxieties. The proposal will be scrutinised by the police, other responsible authorities and interested parties, including local residents, to guarantee that objectives are met.

The problem with this amendment is that it indicates the possibility of a quite broad provision for children. There was some suggestion there might be a play area or a creche or other facilities. We know that one of the reasons why so few licensed premises applied for child and family-friendly certificates after the 1994 Act was because of the substantial costs involved. Now we have the opportunity to put that right—not by obliging the industry to engage in additional costs, but by guaranteeing the protection from harm of our children, which is why the clause is phrased as it is. I hope that noble Lords will recognise the deep commitment on all sides of the Committee, and an obligation on the Government, to ensure that children are protected from harm in any licensed premises. However, we do not wish to put artificial barriers in the way of the development of family-friendly institutions.


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