HL Deb 06 April 1998 vol 588 cc100-1WA
Lord Alton of Liverpool

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assistance they give to governments, such as the Government of Thailand, to protect children in South East Asia who are sold into prostitution and to combat the trafficking of children; and what discussions have been held between Home Office Ministers and their Thai counterparts. [HL1271]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The Government are committed to promoting the eradication of the commercial sexual exploitation of children both in this country and abroad. We already have extensive arrangements in place for assisting other countries in the investigation and prosecution of offences involving the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, as well as for responding to extradition requests.

Last August, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines Government on co-operation to fight child abuse, which is the first of its kind in the world. On the practical front we are sharing intelligence and the expertise and training skills of our police with other governments. United Kingdom police forces have run training courses in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the latter course being attended by officers from all parts of the sub-continent. Last month I visited Thailand, where I met the Interior Minister, the Deputy Foreign Minister and the Justice Minister, and discussed with them the issue of United Kingdom/Thai co-operation on child protection. I also launched a child protection training course run by officers from Northumbria Police.

At the second Asia/Europe summit, held in London from 3–4 April, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Siazon, Foreign Secretaryof the Philippines, announced a major Anglo-Philippines initiative on combating the commercial sexual exploitation of children. A conference of experts will be held in London in October to share good practice and strengthen links between states, non-government organisations and international organisations.