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Persecution of Christians

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 4:10 pm, 6th February 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question; I will get to that in the next paragraph.

As I said at the start, the Government are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s review. I stress again that the recommendations do not focus just on Christians. As has been mentioned, only two of 22 recommendations refer to specifically Christian issues. Bishop Philip said clearly that we must seek freedom of religion or belief for all, without fear or favour. That is the basis of our freedom of religion or belief work. We will implement the recommendations in a way that will bring real improvements to people’s lives.

To answer the questions about training for FCO staff, we believe that training staff to develop an understanding of religion is hugely important. We are in the process of defining and procuring a new, expanded training package, which will reach all officers who need it in the FCO and across government, and we will now make sure that issues related to soft targets around the world where we have any influence will form part of that training. That work is part of our wider, long-standing effort to champion human rights, because we know that where one right is denied, others are also under threat.

Looking ahead, the Government are determined to be a force for good in the world, not only as a champion of human rights, but as a defender of the rules-based international system and a leader in the fight against global challenges. The Government will take on board comments made about that and about DFID spend.