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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, stability, sound economic policies, efficient markets and good governance are essential to attract British and other investment. We encourage developing countries to create these conditions and, through our development programme, support directly their efforts to do so. British business is keen to help the development process and I am taking steps to improve our dialogue so that we continue to learn from each other.
Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I am aware of all the work that her department does at times of trouble. Can the Minister say what, in a stable situation, her department is doing in particular to make its whole system more efficient?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, there are three main types of activity. The first is the funding of important policy changes such as the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market; secondly, the freeing up of prices and the improvement of fiscal control or thirdly, making important changes to the management of the financial sector. In that we work very closely with the international financial institutions. We also give technical expertise and investment finance.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, when that assistance is provided to developing countries, does it come with a health warning? Are such countries told that the experience of the British people under such economic and political programmes is mass unemployment; social instability; a rising crime rate; and more people in prison?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I have been inundated in the past few years by requests from developing countries to learn how to privatise; how to stop wasting money; and how to do things better than they used to be done. I remind the noble Lord that Britain has the highest number of people employed of any major European country.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, how does the Minister reconcile her commendable insistence on good governance and the emphasis of granting aid to countries which observe that principle with the Department of Trade and Industry's encouragement of business missions to countries such as Nigeria and Burma, which in no way comply with those criteria?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, there are good reasons for British companies being helped to take up industrial opportunities in countries overseas. We work with, but also separately from, the Department of Trade and Industry in the sense that where we can promote good and better government and training which brings proper respect for human rights, we do so. The British example backs us up. Many businessmen are extremely helpful in that.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the department has frequent liaison through the mission in New York which is staffed both by officers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and by officials from other government departments. There are regular meetings between the agencies working in New York, the UN secretariat and the secretary-general. I make several trips each year to follow up the work that is being done in both Geneva and New York.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, following the question from the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, perhaps I may ask the Minister whether, in respect of economic reform, the proposals that were advanced and eventually encompassed in the final draft of the Beijing conference--that is to say, the monetisation of the
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, the Minister has stated clearly the importance of private investment. Can she tell the House what she is doing about introducing dialogue between a country with needs and someone in our business world with something to offer?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, we have set up a business strategy group with the help of the non-governmental organisation, Worldaware. We are meeting on a regular basis to see whether we can match even better the aspirations of many developing countries and the business acumen which is so readily available in this country and from which they can benefit. That is one way of assisting. The other way is to use retired businessmen, through the British Executive Service Overseas, who frequently give appropriate advice to both companies and governments overseas which are trying to modernise.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister give us any figures on the amount of private money going into South Africa where, as she said, it could provide great help in reducing unemployment and in helping good government in that country?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, Britain is the largest private investor in South Africa. I am not completely up to date, but the latest figure shows investment of over £1 billion in the first year after the election of the government of national unity.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, Section 14 of the Prison Act 1952 requires that "an inspector" should be satisfied that the size, lighting, heating, ventilation and fittings of a cell are adequate for health. The area manager responsible for Eastwood Park certified the cells, having considered that they met the requirements of Section 14 of the 1952 Prison Act.
Baroness David: My Lords, I am rather surprised at the Answer. However, can the Minister confirm that those battery hen cells are not only smaller than the 5½ sq. m. specified in the Prison Service's operating standards but are also very badly designed, so that not only is the bookcase over the lavatory but you have to stand on the lavatory to get a book out of the case; to
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Baroness reads the newspapers and is more inclined to believe what they say than to check with the department, which could have put her right. Most of what the noble Baroness has just said is not true. The cells are exceptionally well laid out. The noble Baroness may have read that the bookshelf is inaccessible, but it is not a bookshelf, it is a shelf for the radio. It is where it is because that is where the electric plug is located. It is very accessible. There is, of course, a screen for the toilet and a screen for the sink. It is not true that the bed does not allow for the door to open. The door can open to a full 90 degree angle. Most of what the noble Baroness read from the Observer article--this is true of many other articles--was inaccurate. It was stated that the cells are 6 ft. square. They are not; they are 8 ft. 9 ins. by 6 ft. 2½ ins. Perhaps I should add that the third bedroom of many homes in this country is the same dimension as those cells.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that most people do not spend 23 hours a day in the third bedroom of their homes? Do the Government believe in complying with the European prison rules and with the UN's standard minimum conditions for detention? Do those cells comply with those two sets of criteria?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, these cells do not hold people for 22 hours a day. Again, that information from the newspapers is quite wrong. The cells at Eastwood Park are bedroom cells. Prisoners will be out of their cells from 8.30 a.m. and will return at 7.45 p.m., with just two 15-minute periods a day when there is a roll-call. The dimensions which the noble Lord mentioned are guidelines. The smallest of the cells in the prison are below the recommended standard by just 4 ins. on one side and 4 ins. on the other. That is what we are talking about. Furthermore, 37 cells in the prison are well above the average and there are segregation facilities and good hospital care facilities. Prisoners at Eastwood Park have moved from a prison where they spent more time in their cells; where there was a smaller dining area; no toilets in the cells; only a very basic and limited education provision; a split site gym which was closed for about half of the time; fewer visits per
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