Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the Government welcome the unanimous decision taken by UN member states at the 2005 world summit to delete references to "enemy states" from the UN charter. In practice, amendment of the charter on the specific point is unlikely in the near future until more substantive changes to the charter are agreedfor example, on reform of the Security Council.
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that helpful reply to my not wholly transparent Question. Does she agree that today, more than 60 years after the end of World War II, having in three articles of the charterI think that they are Articles 53, 77 and 107statements about "enemies" and "enemy states" that clearly refer to Japan, Germany and Italy, among others, is not only anachronistic but positively offensive to our good friends? I am aware that the summit in 2005 and indeed the General Assembly a decade earlier voted to delete those statements. Will my noble friend report on any progress that has been made on that and promise the House that the Government will continue urgently to pursue these reforms?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, my noble friend is right that the statements are anachronistic and could be deemed offensive, but the process of amending the charter is very long. Discussions began in 1975; we are now in 2006. Amending the charter would require the agreement of 128 member states. Of course, that is what we are working for, and we hope that we will get there in the end, but the important thing at the moment is that there has been recognition that such language is obsolete. My noble friend referred to Japan and Germany, but those two countries are not themselves pressing for an urgent resolution to what could be deemed to be a problem. However, it is a matter on which the UK will keep up pressure, and I undertake to inform the House as soon as there has been movement on the issue.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, reform of the UN charter in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, is obviously welcome, but does the Minister agree that it is not a vital part of the current
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reforms that are needed by the United Nations that the Secretary-General has been proposing with the support of others, such as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay?
The Minister mentioned Japan and the UN Security Council. A change that we want to see is the modernisation of the membership of the Security Council, and it is the Government's policy to back Japan's membership. That issue is being pushed rather weakly. When will we be a little more vigorous in making the obvious point that, as Japan, Germany and the United States pay half the budget of the United Nations, they should all be proper members of the inner board or Security Council?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have been pushing this very strongly. Indeed, we were one of the countries pushing it most strongly at the world summit last year. There was great momentum at that time, but at this stage I am sad to report that progress looks uncertain. However, the Government will not let go of it. We will keep pushing it because, as noble Lords know, we firmly support enlargement of the Security Council to include Germany, Japan, India and Brazil precisely because they are important global powers that deserve a seat on the council.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister agree that progress was made at last year's summit and since then on issues such as establishing the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council and that that demonstrates that all concerned attach a higher priority to those substantive issues, including the countries that might want to be permanent members and those that might want to have their enemy status deleted? That is extremely welcome. Will she also confirm that the principal obstacle to Japan becoming a permanent member is China?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right that there is much focus at present on the practical issues and outcomes of the global summit last year, which we should celebrate. It may be interesting for noble Lords to note that the Government intend shortly to lay before Parliament a Command Paper on the UN, which will include our assessment of the progress made on the implementation of the reforms agreed at the summit and on the outstanding issues to be addressed. I understand that China is one of the major obstacles.
Lord Soley: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that the work of the high-level panel of which the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was a distinguished member, plus the original Question, indicate that there is a serious need to continue pressure for reform of the United Nations? Could she find a way of perhaps bringing regular reports to the House, other than the special debates that may be set up by Back-Benchers, to keep us informed of events? We are a significant member,
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and our voice needs to be heard in pressing for continuing reform. The present structure is not appropriate for the 21st century.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, we have supported reform of the UN for a long time, and I pay tribute to the excellent work carried out by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. We continue to press for reforms in the most practical way, having discussions within the UN and with our partners all the time, and we shall continue to do so.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we welcome the announcement that there will be a government report to Parliament. Britain is a member of two active caucuses in the United Nationsthe European Union and the Commonwealth. The European Union, with current applicants, represents more than 30 members of the United Nations, and the Commonwealth is well over 60. Can the report say how actively Britain is engaged in building coalitions for reform in the UN through those mechanisms?
Lord Cunningham of Felling: My Lords, first, I should place on record the fact that I have the honour to be the current chairman of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group. Will the Government redouble our efforts in support of Japan, given that we share so many wide-ranging and important interests with our great friends in Japan? The Government should make it clear not only to our colleagues in the United Nations who support the reforms but to the Chinese that we do not expect them to go on stalling this for ever.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, in 1998 the Government conducted a review of the law on parental responsibility to consider making it easier for unmarried fathers to acquire parental responsibility. Following the review, the law was amended in 2003 so that unmarried fathers could acquire parental responsibility by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother. The
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Government believe that the definition of parental responsibility in the Children Act 1989 and case law sufficiently clarify what parental responsibility entails.
Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that helpful Answer. Does he agree that there is a great deal of good modern research that shows that the presence of a father in a family increases the chances of the child being a success in school and in later life? Is he awareI am sure that he isthat more than 1 million of this country's children do not have a father who has parental responsibility for them and therefore do not have a father who can intervene in, help in, contribute to or make decisions about their education or care? Is it not time that the Government took steps to encourage more unmarried fathers to sign the birth register so that their children can also enjoy those benefits?
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