Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 6th September 2022.
If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.
I will try to keep this brief, Mr Speaker.
Since our last oral questions, we have continued to stand up against Russian aggression. We have provided Ukraine with further political, military and humanitarian support. We established a sanctions directorate in the FCDO, doubling the number of staff we have working, to ratchet up the economic pressure on Putin’s regime. As we heard, we have committed to a £15 million package of support for Pakistan following the devastating floods that have hit the country. In addition, I co-chaired the UK-ASEAN ministerial meeting as an official dialogue partner, where we agreed a joint plan of action for the next five years.
Further to the comments from Robert Halfon, it is two years since the introduction of the Magnitsky legislation, which was designed to deal with designated persons guilty of human rights violations and other serious offences. Given the continuing abuses in Iran, why has that not been used against a single prison governor, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander or senior member of the regime, and when will that be remedied?
I am afraid that I cannot speculate about future sanction designations, but as I said in answer to an earlier question, we maintain a range of sanctions that work to constrain the destabilising activity of the IRGC.
It was reported last week that the US coastguard cutter, the Oliver Henry, aborted her visit to the Solomon Islands. That followed a similar aborted visit by HMS Spey. In the light of those events, what assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the current state of UK-Solomon Islands bilateral relations? Furthermore, what steps are the Government taking to counteract communist Chinese influence in the south Pacific?
The Solomon Islands Government are reviewing the protocols for receiving naval vessels into their waters. We hope that the review will be completed shortly, delivering a smooth and swift approval process. Last month, I visited Vanuatu and attended the Pacific Islands Forum. As a long-standing partner and friend, the UK is working to support peace and prosperity for the people of the Solomon Islands and across the Pacific.
On behalf of the Baha’i community and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Newport, which raised with me this summer the ongoing attacks on members of its faith groups, as well as those who have raised the attacks on Christian communities across the African continent, may I ask the Minister for reassurance that working with our international counterparts to tackle the persecution of religious minorities will be an important priority for the Department, whoever is in it?
We strongly condemn the detention of the Baha’i community in Iran as well as the reports of forced closures of its businesses and land seizures. The persecution of religious minorities cannot be tolerated. I confirm that my colleague, the noble Lord Ahmad, issued a statement calling out Iran’s treatment of the Baha’i community.
After the second world war, the biggest moral defeat visited on Soviet Russia was the creation of a successful, democratic, capitalist free state in West Germany. It cost billions of pounds under the Marshall plan. It will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of pounds to rebuild Ukraine, but what better way to defeat Russian aggression than to create a model free state in Ukraine in the future with a new Marshall plan?
We must support Ukraine’s vision for rebuilding a sovereign, prosperous, democratic nation that is stronger than it was before Putin’s invasion. Significant support will be required. That is why, in early July, the Foreign Secretary presented our vision to support the Ukraine-led effort for recovery and reconstruction at the Ukraine recovery conference in Lugano. We will host that conference next year because we must not only support the Ukrainians now, but look ahead to a better future.
Order. I am going to pull stumps. People will be upset and quite angry, but I want Front Benchers and everybody who has been asking questions to think about how long their answers are and how long they are taking to ask their questions. Please, let us get it right next time.