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Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

15. Whether he discussed the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade on his recent visit to the UN in New York; and if he will make a statement. (108598)

May I begin by thanking my hon. Friend for the close interest and support that she has expressed for next year’s commemoration of the abolition of the slave trade? As she is aware, the Government have been working to co-ordinate activities across a wide range of groups in the UK and with our international partners. As part of that effort to ensure international co-operation, I recently met a number of senior figures at the UN in New York. Along with a range of other issues, I discussed the bicentenary with the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and with the permanent representatives of several Caribbean countries and of some Asian countries whose people suffer from the modern form of slavery that is people trafficking.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. Will he make it clear to the House when a statement will be made on the programme of events taking place in 2007, how organisations and individuals can contribute and get involved, and whether he supports a Government-funded annual remembrance day?

We are actively co-ordinating that, and I hope that the Prime Minister will make a statement in January about the nature of national and international activities to commemorate the 25 March—a resolution was passed by the House. The UN passed a resolution a few weeks ago saying that 25 March should be commemorated and celebrated throughout the year. The House will recognise, however, that 23 August is the UNESCO international day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition. We will mark both those dates during the 2007 commemorations.