HC Deb 20 February 1985 vol 73 cc1020-1
4. Ms. Richardson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the reports prepared by the United Kingdom working groups on the United Nations Decade for Women.

Mr. Renton

We have made funds available for copies of the reports to be distributed to group members, relevant Government Departments, copyright libraries and the Library of the House. The groups themselves will be free to make further copies available as they see fit.

Ms. Richardson

When will the Government ratify the United Nations convention on the Decade for Women? Why have the Government not done so?— [AN HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish."] Someone says, "Rubbish". I hope that that is understood by the public as a comment from the Tory party on the rights of women.

When will the Government realise that Britain is almost the last major state to ratify the convention? I know that 67 other states have done so. If and when the Government ratify the convention, what advice will the Under-Secretary of State give to other Ministers about carrying out the convention?

Mr. Renton

We hope to be in a position to announce our decision soon. We are still considering the convention in the light of our existing legislation. We are consulting other Departments. I do not think that the delay in ratifying is surprising in the light of the convention's wide scope.

Mr. Marlow

Will my hon. Friend enlighten everyone in the United Nations and elsewhere that in this country at least we have no time whatever for this modish rubbish? In this country women are equal, and, thank heavens, most of them are different.

Mr. Renton

We have not yet taken a decision to ratify. We signed the convention in July 1981 because we share, as I am sure does my hon. Friend, its central objective of eliminating discrimination against women. We have a long tradition of concern about human rights and discrimination, wherever it occurs. We live in a world where discrimination against women is still commonplace. It is against that background that we originally signed the convention.

Mr. Corbyn

Will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity of condemning as disgraceful and offensive to women in this country and throughout the world the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow)? The hon. Gentleman refuses to recognise that a strong body of opinion finds discrimination against women anywhere offensive, and believes that the British Government should reflect the views of the large majority of people and should, therefore, play an active part in United Nations efforts to outlaw discrimination against women throughout the world.

Mr. Renton

The hon. Gentleman is capable of conducting his own condemnation and does not need any assistance from me. I share his view that there is still far too much discrimination against women in the world. We have a long history of concern about the abuse of human rights, which was the reason for our original decision to sign the convention.

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