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

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 1st April 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office 4:41 pm, 1st April 2009

We have had a comprehensive debate. We have heard immense support for the British Red Cross and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which I welcome. In the round, I will take from the debate that the Government have support from most, if not all, of the House to implement these measures. Doing so, as I said earlier, will help to safeguard the invaluable work of UN, medical and other personnel worldwide.

In picking up the main themes of the debate and reminding the House why we are here, particularly in respect of clause 1, I can do no better than to refer to the letter and briefing that were made available to every right hon. and hon. Member from the chief executive of the British Red Cross. I am sure that it has been widely read in advance of today's debate:

"Ratification of the Protocol will give the United Kingdom Armed Forces the ability to use the red crystal emblem in situations where it may provide them with greater protection. It will also consolidate the United Kingdom's position as one of the leading States in respect for and implementation of international humanitarian law. The British Red Cross is fully supportive of these provisions and hope that we may be able to count on your support in ensuring their safe passage through Parliament."

I want to pick up some of the questions that have been raised today. Clause 1 refers to the extension of the emblems to include the red crystal. First, on the important matter that right hon. and hon. Members have raised about getting better recognition through a newer symbol than the red cross and red crescent, I do not foresee, nor has the international movement made me aware of, any of the difficulties that right hon. and hon. Members have outlined. It is true, however, that recognition of the red crystal will have to increase, and we will train our armed forces. I know that the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will play a full part in the through training and promotion of that important emblem. It will take time, but we have to start somewhere. Ratification is our contribution to that start.

The question of which emblem should be used has been raised, and I reiterate what I said in my opening remarks. That is a decision for those who will use the emblem, whether it is the national societies or the military commanders in theatre. We do not keep a list of countries and their likely attitudes to that matter and believe that such decisions are best made by those who use the emblem.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website