Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [ Lords]

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) 3:12 pm, 1st April 2009

Indeed. Part of the problem in modern representative democracy is the balance of power between Executive and legislature. I could speak about that at immense length, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but you would not allow me to. I will therefore not be encouraged down that tributary because, although fascinating, it would not be relevant to this debate.

I have been encouraged to speak about the difficulty of Israel. That difficulty has been exacerbated by the current circumstances of the middle east, which make it hard for Israel to cross borders and work in the occupied territories. The Minister has said that Israel is prepared to use the red crescent sign outside its borders, once the negotiations are over. Indeed, it has signed an agreement to that effect regarding the occupied territories.

If we are to speak about Israel, it would be perverse not to speak about Syria also. On the surface, and given what the Minister said in her intervention, everything looks promising for the approval of a new emblem. If we had debated the matter a while ago, it would have been possible to assume that it would have been plain sailing.

Switzerland is the repository state for the Geneva conventions. It sent out invitations for a conference on the matter, and the Swiss diplomats who played a key role in getting the agreement between the MDA and the Palestinian Red Crescent were optimistic. One issue might get in the way, however, and that is the fact that many Arab countries already see the third element as an unnecessary accommodation of Israel.

Some people are suggesting that, now that the MDA has agreed to work with the Palestinian Red Crescent in the occupied territories, a similar agreement is necessary for the Golan heights. [ Interruption. ] Is my hon. Friend Mr. Walker keen to get in?

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