To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to assist other governments to make mining practices safer and to reduce numbers of preventable accidents since 1997.
I have been asked to reply.
The principal way in which the UK has assisted other Governments to make mining practices safer has, since 2004, been through its membership of the European Commission's Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work's Standing Working Party (SWP) for the Mining and other Extractive Industries. Before 2004 this was done through the SWP's predecessor, the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and Other Extractive Industries (SHCMOEI). The UK Government have been represented on these bodies by HM Chief Inspector of Mines.
Since the expansion of the European Union (EU) in 2004, one of the specific tasks of the SWP has been the promotion of the exchange of information with EU Member States on aspects of health and safety in mining. The mandate of the SWP has recently been expanded to include the provision of advice to the EC on cooperation with other countries, in particular with China, in respect to health and safety in the mining and the extractive industries sector.