Friday, July 06, 2007

My week in Westminster

Closure of the British Embassy in Madagascar two years ago: I asked how many times our High Commissioner in Mauritus had visited Antananarivo since then, bearing in mind that Madagascar is bigger in population and land area than the next two countries put together of the eight whee diplomatic posts had been closed in 2005-06, and why the Department for International Development is not in the list of countries receiving help from DfID, bearing in mind that 61 per cent of its population has to live on less than a dollar a day. The answer from Janet Royall was that there had been no visit by the High Commissioner, but one was planned shortly. And although there was no direct funding by DfID, we made a substantial contribution via the EU, the UN, and the World Bank.

Monday afternoon from 15.30 to 20.00, Grand Committee on the UK Borders Bill

Tuesday, on Terence Higgins’ question as to why individuals born after 1961 to a British mother and a father who is not a British national are entitled to British citizenship but those born before 1961 are not. I reminded the House that when Cathy Ashton, the new Leader of the House, had been asked this question in February 2006 she had said it was “sexism and nothing else as far as I am concerned”, and since no logical or substantive reason had ever been given for the difference in treatment, would the Minister come clean and tell us what it is. Steve Bassam replied laconically that there was nothing to come clean about.

Thursday, UK Borders Bill again, 14.00 to 18.00

Other engagements:

Tuesday, meeting to discuss the devastating effects of pneumococcal disease on infant mortality and international work on vaccination; meeting with the Refugee Children’s Consortium on the UKBorders Bill.

Wednesday, meeting with Fellows of the John Smith Trust

Friday, recording an interview for a programme on Radio 4 on Gypsies and Travellers.

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