HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc285-6
7. Mr. Archer

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when Her Majesty's Government will ratify International Labour Organisation convention 111 on discrimination, employment and occupations.

Mr. Howard

Convention 111 was adopted by the ILO in 1958. Every United Kingdom Government since then have declined to ratify the convention, and the present Government have no plans to do so.

Mr. Archer

Are the Government proud that standards in this country are so far below those of other countries? Is the reluctance to ratify the convention possibly connected with the findings of the committee of experts that the Government are in breach of the ILO conventions that they have ratified?

Mr. Howard

Certainly not. Convention 111 has nothing to do with standards. Indeed, the Act of Parliament that is expressly inconsistent with convention 111 is the Race Relations Act 1976, which was passed when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was Solicitor-General.

Mr. Simon Coombs

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the growing concern about the difficulty in obtaining employment that is faced by ex-offenders? Will he undertake to look at that matter with a view to improving the regime under which they seek jobs?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend raises an important matter, which gives rise to concern. I entirely accept his concern about this problem, which, with the training and enterprise councils, we are taking forward positively and realistically.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

May I congratulate the Secretary of State on his productivity today, which is an enhancement on previous Question Times? Do the Government have any difficulty with the parts of the ILO conventions on employment that allow for greater disclosure? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the concept of disclosure would mean that the report by the accident prevention unit of the Health and Safety Executive into the channel tunnel, where so many people have died and where there is clearly a real problem with management, should be published and come into the public domain, to ensure that we could have a sensible and rational debate about the quality of safety on that project?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman will know that the reports to which he refers are compiled by the HSE and rely on the full co-operation of employers. If that co-operation is to be continuing and available in future, it is important that confidentiality should apply. That is why it is unlikely that that particular report will be published, but the hon. Gentleman will know the recent action taken by the HSE in relation to the channel tunnel.