Scotland’s Foreign Policy Footprint

Part of Delegated Legislation (Committees) – in the House of Commons at 8:54 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society) 8:54 pm, 3rd December 2018

I will be brief. I want to praise the excellent contributions from my hon. Friends the Members for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) and for Glasgow East (David Linden). My hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife concentrated on the big picture: what Scotland as a nation and its institutions are doing to increase Scotland’s representation and foreign policy footprint in the world. What I would like to do, if I may, is look at individuals and small groups who are doing so much good in our communities. I mentioned earlier the role of Mary’s Meals. I make no apology for mentioning again its outstanding contribution across the world. It is currently feeding 1.3 million impoverished children every single day.

I would like to recount a story. A couple of years ago, shortly after I became a Member of Parliament, I received a phone call from a constituent with whom I had previously had no contact whatever. She had just become a mother and was up late at night because her baby could not sleep. Her name is Fiona Bennett and she lives in Oban. She contacted me to say that while she was up with her child who could not sleep she was listening to Radio 4. The most awful story came on the radio about the plight of the Yazidi people. A young mother with a young baby listening to a horrific story on Radio 4, she was so moved by what she heard on a late night radio programme that she decided to contact her Member of Parliament to see if there was anything that I or we could do.

Fiona and I decided that we could and would do something. Within a few weeks, we had together organised for the now world-renowned Nadia Murad to come to the United Kingdom. I arranged a visa for Nadia to come to the UK and speak in Parliament. Together, we began to raise the profile of the Yazidi people in this place. Recently, Fiona raised £300,000 worth of medicines to be sent to Sinjar—£300,000 worth of medicines sent to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on this planet. It was because of my connection with Fiona that we in this House, in the past fortnight, established an all-party group on the Yazidi people. I am delighted that Jim Shannon is a vice-chair of the group.