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The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that Dr Sebastian Bakare, the bishop of the Anglican diocese of Manicaland and the chair of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, recently said that he felt horrified to live in a community where people could not engage in development programmes for fear of being arrested under the draconian Public Order and Security Act? Are the Government seeking to use their influence to work towards the repeal of that Act?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, indeed we are seeking to do so. Members of the Southern African Development Community will be in Zimbabwe later this week and will look at the allegations of human rights abuses and the harassment of the opposition. I discussed those issues in South Africa last week with members of the South African Government.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the Inter-Parliamentary Union council meeting in Santiago in Chile, which is taking place at the moment, will be considering a new report on the arrest and torture of eight different MDC MPs, including, as my noble friend said, the leader of the opposition? As she has on previous occasions, will she write personally to her opposite numbers in all the Commonwealth states, drawing their attention to any resolution passed by the IPU council?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I would happily do that.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords—

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords—

Noble Lords: Park!

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, will the noble Baroness tell the House, if it is at all possible to do so—

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, it is the turn of the noble Baroness, Lady Park.

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Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, perhaps I may say to the Minister how very glad I am to hear that James Morris will be active in the matter. He will make a very important contribution. Can she give us any further detail on the nature of what she described as the task force? Will it be heads of state or specialists in humanitarian aid? Above all, will it travel outside Harare?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the task force is of Foreign Ministers. I do not know the extent to which there will be advisers to them. My understanding is that they will talk to a wide cross-section of society. I am unable to tell the noble Baroness whether that includes trips outside Harare, but I will do my best to find out and write to her.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, are we really expected to believe that President Mugabe, who has described himself as being a Hitler and would be 10 times a Hitler to get his own way, will be moved by the threat from this country of removal of an honorary knighthood? Do we really think that the people starving and facing grave torture in Zimbabwe are likely to be moved by the plea to remove the honour? Are they not more likely to ask whether that is the best that we can do? Would it not be better to support the Government in what they are doing?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can only agree with my noble friend.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we are well past time now. We should move on to the next Question.

Commercial Activities in Schools

3 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy on promotion of food and confectionery products direct to school children; and what are the circumstances in which schools, local education authorities and government departments may collaborate with manufacturers in such promotions.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, the department, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and the Consumers' Association issued updated guidelines entitled, Best Practice Principles for Commercial Activities in Schools, in October 2001. These guidelines cover commercial sponsorship in schools by snack-food companies and help teachers and governors to make informed, sensible decisions about the nature of

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business involvement in schools. They also help schools to determine whether the education benefits outweigh the disadvantages of commercial activities.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, there is currently a virtual epidemic of obesity among children. The Department of Health has quite rightly encouraged certain national initiatives such as the national school fruit scheme. Is it not extraordinary, in the face of that, that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and indeed the Minister for Sport himself, have endorsed a recent direct marketing scheme designed to encourage children to eat more chocolate—a scheme which is promoted through schools? Therefore, are not the department's guidelines inadequate? Should they not prevent the direct marketing to schoolchildren of fatty and sugary foods?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord refers to the Cadbury initiative with the Youth Sport Trust. My right honourable friend Richard Caborn has endorsed the initiative, as indeed has the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross—who is not in her place—in her capacity as chair of the All-Party Corporate Social Responsibility Group, by saying that this is a good example of a carefully crafted corporate social responsibility initiative. Within the context of the guidance that we have produced, it is important to ensure that we have the opportunity to work closely with business. We believe that this is a good initiative.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, what attention is paid to health guidelines, particularly in regard to dental health? I must disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, in so far as chocolate is much better for the teeth than any other form of sweet. I wonder whether the initiatives are taking that into consideration.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, on a personal level, I am delighted to hear that chocolate is less bad for teeth than other sweets. More seriously, it is important that health considerations are taken into account. I draw the attention of the House to the specific point that this is not about government telling children in schools and their parents what they should do in regard to different kinds of food products. It is about teaching our children to have a health lifestyle and to have an appropriate response and approach to sweets and to other foods. We believe that this is the way to approach the matter.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, does the Minister agree that perhaps the fault lies with parents, who give their children far too much pocket money?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House says, "Not in Scotland, they don't"! I have a feeling that my children would probably echo that in St Albans.

There are issues in regard to parental responsibility. One of the pieces of information that I gathered in preparing for this Question was that there is research

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to indicate that children, on the way to and from school, are likely to spend up to £1.50 on sweets and snacks. We have a big job to do. I do not in any way suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, in raising the issues that there are not important elements in this. However, the initiative about which he was particularly concerned has worked hard to ensure that, for example, there will be no branding on sports equipment in schools by any chocolate manufacturer. It is about training for teachers as well and should therefore be supported in that context.

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the real issue relates to changing eating habits among schoolchildren, and that the "five a day" and "fruit in schools" projects, which are promoted through the New Opportunities Fund, are having excellent results? We are told that children are now asking for an apple in their lunchbox instead of chocolates or crisps.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I pay tribute to the "five a day" scheme, which has reached parts of the country that other initiatives do not often reach. Indeed, we have support in terms of fruit for our youngest children, through healthy school standards, and through the work that we are doing with the Food Standards Agency to monitor compliance in terms of the impact of nutritional standards on school lunches. These are all part of a rather complex whole to try to ensure that our children grow up with the right balance between their desire to enjoy themselves in terms of the food that they eat, but, most importantly, to recognise what is healthy and good for them.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, quite apart from advertising, is the Minister aware that a recent book—a very thoughtful book—by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury points out the great dangers of allowing young children to become the targets of commercial advertising before they have the maturity to make judgments between the different products advertised? Will the Minister draw the attention of her right honourable friend the Secretary of State to that book? I personally think that it is very important, as I am sure the Minister does if she has read it.

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