§ 6. Miss Joan Lestor
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what positive steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to commemorate 1977 as the International Year of the Child as agreed by the United Nations.
§ Miss Lestor
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but I remind him that there was a great deal of reluctance on the part of the British Government to commit themselves to participate in the International Year of the Child, as correspondence that I had with the Department before my hon. Friend was there will testify. Will he ensure that initiatives are taken by the Government so that human rights for children are recognised here and abroad, and will the Government act also in respect of race relations?
§ Mr. Luard
Our reluctance, such as it was, concerned the nature of the commemoration, if any. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that in recent times there have been many "years" for this, that, or something else. Sometimes it has been questionable how much value was obtained for the cause in question. We were concerned that what took place would help children throughout the world. I take note of what my hon Friend says and I shall try to ensure that our contribution is of the sort to which she refers.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
Will the hon. Gentleman spare a little pity for the children of Cambodia? You will recall, Mr. Speaker, the admonitionSuffer the little children to come unto me.In that light, will the hon. Gentleman provide some help to the children who 391 have fled Cambodia into neighbouring countries, who need medicine and food now? Will he try to concert his policies with those of President Carter, whose stand on human rights has struck a chord in many parts of the world? Will he now do something about the problem of the children of Cambodia?
§ Mr. Luard
I have already expressed the Government's profound concern at the appalling atrocities that have been reported from Cambodia over the past year or so. I agree that we should try to do everything in our power to ensure that adequate assistance is given to all refugees, including children. As the House knows, we have been contributing generously to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which has a programme designed to help refugees from Cambodia. We shall be giving £350,000 this year for that purpose.
§ Sir Bernard Braine
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the issue goes beyond refugee children? Is he aware that in some parts of the world—for example, Ethiopia—children are held in prison without trial? Will the hon. Gentleman grasp the opportunity that the Question offers him to reconsider this matter and to take a more positive stand against the treatment of innocent children in so many countries?