Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 2nd May 2007.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East 4:45 pm, 2nd May 2007

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman, who is the new secretary of the all-party parliamentary Tamil group. His points are extremely valid.

The debate is to be wound up by the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend Mr. Thomas, who is currently sitting next to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Barry Gardiner. Both their constituencies contain large numbers of British Tamils.

When we consider the issue of international aid, I want to know whether when we give aid to Sri Lanka, as we should, the point is made to the Sri Lankan Government that it is important for that aid to reach the people whom it is intended to reach. While we support the Government in the aid process, they have a responsibility to ensure that a dialogue begins.

If we have achieved anything this week in setting up the all-party group and debating this issue on the Floor of the House, I hope that we have created the climate and conditions for dialogue: dialogue between Tamil groups, including the Tamil Tigers, and the Sri Lankan Government; dialogue between Tamil groups and the international community; and, indeed, dialogue between the Foreign Office and the Home Office. I was very surprised to hear from the Minister of State that he had not had a chance to meet the Home Secretary to discuss these issues—through no fault of his own, no doubt; I am sure that, given his Foreign Office responsibilities, his diary is awful. But I hope that he will meet the Home Secretary, because the issue affects both the Foreign Office and the Home Office. I hope it will be recognised that dialogue is the only way in which to bring peace to a troubled but beautiful island.