HC Deb 25 November 1997 vol 301 cc760-1
8. Mr. Yeo

What recent representations he has received about the environmental objectives of foreign policy. [15996]

Mr. Fatchett

I have had extensive contacts with overseas Governments and with non-governmental organisations, covering a wide range of environmental issues, including in particular the forthcoming Kyoto negotiations on climate change and the UK presidency of the European Union.

Mr. Yeo

A few minutes ago, the Foreign Secretary accepted the urgency of the problem of climate change. As the Prime Minister is always keen to claim a close and friendly working relationship with President Clinton, why have the Government failed even to attempt to persuade the United States of the importance of at least achieving the modest carbon dioxide reduction targets set down at Rio five years ago, let alone the far more challenging targets referred to by the Foreign Secretary earlier?

Mr. Fatchett

The hon. Gentleman failed to hear my right hon. Friend's earlier response. My right hon. Friend has already told the House of his contacts with the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that the Deputy Prime Minister was in Washington recently and has been talking to many Governments. Unlike the previous Government, we are working for success. We are committed on the environment and we shall make Kyoto a success.

Mr. Llew Smith

Will the Minister explain how nuclear weapons, which would spread radioactive fallout throughout the world, fit in with the Government's environmental objective?

Mr. Fatchett

Nuclear weapons will not be under discussion at Kyoto, but of course there is a process of disarmament talks, and I am sure that my hon. Friend wishes those well.

Mr. David Heath

Has the Minister had an opportunity to read early-day motion 461, in the name of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Colman), which deals with the activities of P and O in an ecologically sensitive area of India? In the light of the Government's environmental and ethical policy, does the Minister propose to take any action?

Mr. Fatchett

I must confess that I have not seen the early-day motion; it is night-time reading that I look forward to this evening, and I am sure that it will be impressive. None the less, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we would always expect large organisations to operate in an environmentally sensitive way.