§ Clare Short
My Department does not make estimates of world population growth. We take careful account of the population statistics provided by the United Nations which indicate that world population grew from 5.7 billion in 1995 to 6.1 billion in 2001, and is estimated to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. It is also estimated that all of the projected growth will take place in developing countries, which by 2050 will account for over 85 per cent. of world population.
The Government believe that people should be able to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. One of the priorities of my Department therefore is to help ensure that contraception is available to all men and women in the developing world who want it. 57 per cent. of the world's couples are now using contraception compared with 9 per cent. 30 years ago. Another of our major priorities therefore is to try to ensure that the millennium development goals of universal primary education by 2015, and gender equality in primary and secondary education by 2005 are achieved. Where this choice exists girls are more likely to receive an education, and go on to have fewer, healthier children.