HC Deb 14 January 1999 vol 323 cc437-8
11. Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

If he will review the UK's contribution to the implementing of International Labour Organisation conventions; and if he will make a statement. [64046]

The Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities (Mr. Andrew Smith)

We have been reviewing the conventions as yet unratified by the United Kingdom. I hope to be able to make an announcement shortly.

Mr. Mackinlay

I thank the Minister. May I remind him that there is a long list of unratified or unimplemented ILO conventions? I welcome what I think that he said about publishing the comments of the Government in respect of them all. Will he address with urgency the ratification of conventions 111 and 138, which relate to discrimination in employment and combating the exploitation of child labour? They are important and their non-ratification is causing us some embarrassment, especially in respect of the latter. Will he consider convention 137 on dock workers? Can we have early re-ratification of convention 26 on the minimum wage?

Mr. Smith

I share my hon. Friend's concern about the importance of those conventions and the desirability of the United Kingdom being able to ratify them. We took a leading role in securing the adoption of the declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work at the ILO convention in Geneva last June. The steps that we have set out in "Fairness at Work", along with introducing the minimum wage and signing up to the social chapter are significant strides forward for workers' rights and representation in this country. I hope to reach agreement shortly on signing up to convention 111 and also to convention 138 on the minimum age in respect of child labour. We have been working closely with other bodies in this country and internationally to stamp out the grotesque abuses of child labour.