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UN: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Volume 712: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 10 June (WA 154), which United Kingdom officials, and from which departments, were in the Ministry of Justice delegation to Geneva in May when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; how many officials from devolved administrations were in the delegation; and what were the costs of the visit. [HL4309]

The UK delegation to Geneva for the UK examination by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights consisted of 21 officials from across Whitehall departments and the devolved Administrations. Of these, one official represented the Scottish Government and one official represented the Welsh Assembly Government.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights covers the full breadth of economic, social and cultural rights and includes provisions on areas such as employment, housing, healthcare, equality and non-discrimination, education and social security. These areas are the responsibility of a number of different government departments and, in relation to devolved or transferred matters, the devolved Administrations. The examination was over two days, with nine hours of examination by the committee.

The delegation comprised the following UK government officials:

Ministry of Justice: Constitution Director (Head of Delegation); Legal Director; four officials from the Human Rights Division; a press officer.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: the head of the Caribbean, Bermuda and Policy Team, and a desk officer from the Overseas Territories Directorate.

Home Office: Regional Director (North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, UK Border Agency); Senior Human Rights and Devolution Adviser.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Director (Labour Law and Dispute Resolution, Employment Relations Directorate).

Department for Work and Pensions: Deputy Director (Benefit Reform Division); Deputy Director (Area Initiatives and Communities, Welfare to Work).

Government Equalities Office: Assistant Director (Strategy Directorate).

Joint International Unit (Department for Children, School and Families and Department for Work and Pensions): Head of International Education Organisations and Strategies Team.

Department of Health: Human Rights Lead (Equality and Human Rights Group).

Department for Communities and Local Government: Specialist Adviser on Homelessness (Housing Delivery and Homelessness Directorate).

The UK delegation also included the following officials from the devolved Administrations:

Scottish Government: Head of EU and International Law Branch (Civil Law Division).

Welsh Assembly Government: Community Involvement Manager.

The total costs of the visit are calculated at £18,900. This includes the costs for travel, accommodation, conference facilities and subsistence costs.

Some of those costs are based on exchange rates which have varied since the UK examination on 12 and 13 May 2009.