Persecution of Christians Overseas

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp Conservative, Croydon South 2:16 pm, 18th July 2019

I am aware of my hon. Friend’s military service in Bosnia and the fact that he was in the country when the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 took place, and we should be mindful of those sorts of atrocities as well as the other ones we are talking about today.

I also support the Bishop of Truro’s call for the Government and the UN to impose sanctions on those countries who fail to protect religious minorities, and I also support his call for British diplomatic staff to be trained on this issue and for it to be made a priority of British foreign policy to put pressure on Governments who are turning a blind eye to this.

There is even more we can do. As Sammy Wilson suggested in his intervention, many of the countries where the persecution of Christians is tolerated or even state-sponsored receive direct foreign aid from the United Kingdom. Many of those countries will wish to secure trade and investment deals with us and many of them also buy arms from the UK, which requires a UK Government export licence. I would like to see the UK Government do more to link overseas aid, trade and arms exports to real progress in tackling the persecution of religious minorities. Why should we send British taxpayers’ money to a Government, or indeed sell them arms, when they allow or encourage the persecution of religious minorities? Ideally, we should ensure that these steps are taken on a multinational basis, together with our European Union and United Nations partners, but if that cannot be secured, the UK should be prepared to act alone. The UK Government cannot and must not simply mouth platitudes; we must take real action. By approving the motion today, this House will make clear its view. The Government should then act.