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Un Information Centre, London

Volume 477: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1986

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2.40 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that the United Nations Information Centre in London has been forced by financial cuts to stop mailing its regular information, to close its library two days a week, and to refuse telephone calls in the morning; and what remedy they propose.

My Lords, the United Nations has had to reduce expenditure in a number of areas because of delayed and withheld budget contributions from several member states. We pay promptly and in full and expect others to do so.

My Lords, in this case in Britain, in London, are our Government able to give any advice to the United Nations Information Centre on the least damaging way that it can live on a reduced budget? It must strike the eye that the measures described in my Question are a pretty damaging way of cutting down its activities.

My Lords, I suppose the only advice that I could offer to the United Nations—and I fear that it would be presumptuous of me to do so—would be to suggest that it ensures that it spends its money in the most cost-effective way it can, and cuts out waste and duplication, and indeed some of the things it does that we regard as wasteful and unsuitable.

My Lords, the Minister said that there were a number of countries not paying their dues to the United Nations. Are any of them Eastern bloc countries and, if so, will the noble Lord spell them out?

My Lords, the regular budget for 1985 was 692 million dollars, but at the 31st December 1985 242 million dollars was owed by some 90 countries. Among the chief offenders were the USSR and Argentina.