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Backbench Business — Iran (UK Foreign Policy)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 6th November 2014.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Party Chair, Co-operative Party 2:22 pm, 6th November 2014

The hon. Gentleman is right, but we are focusing on the particular issue of British policy on Iran, and it is right for us to draw attention to the dismal human rights record there.

I appreciate the difficulties that are involved in bringing about an improvement in human rights in Iran. Nevertheless, Ministers must continue to take whatever opportunities do arise. I trust that the Minister will tell us what efforts he and other Ministers have made in that regard.

The date of 24 November marks a critical point in our relationship with Iran. Given the profound international concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, its destabilising influence in the wider region and its human rights record, the successful completion of a comprehensive agreement could represent the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between our two countries. Labour has supported the Government’s work in building on the approach to the nuclear negotiations that was taken by the last Government, and continues to do so. I hope that Iran will take the opportunity presented by the negotiations to ease international concerns about its nuclear ambitions. It needs to.