Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 29th July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 6:00 pm, 29th July 2020

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws. I have two minutes in which to make two points.

In his introduction, the Minister referred to checks that the Government plan to make on the use of sanctions. However, following on from the noble Baroness’s points, what about checks on the non-use of sanctions? Do the Government intend to use sanctions only against countries or companies with which we have conflicts, or even with which our friends and allies have conflicts, while we turn a blind eye to those that we support?

We have a history of supporting very much the wrong people—to give a very partial list, the Shah of Iran, Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein—so are we going to apply these sanctions without fear or favour? Picking up on a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, will the Government consider appointing an independent advisory board on the application of these sanctions to improve security, safety, human rights, democracy and the rule of law all around the world? I know that the Minister said that he would not comment on future sanctions, but surely we should see some directed at probably the second-worst human rights abusing regime in the world—Saudi Arabia. At least let us stop the arms sales.

My second point is about corruption. I welcome the fact that the Minister referred to the Government’s plan to include corruption as a ground for sanctions. Can he provide a timetable for that to progress and be put into effect? This is particularly important given that the City of London is the largest centre of corruption in the world. NGOs describe it as home to so many professional enablers that it assists widespread state looting. This problem swirls around us all in the House and should clearly be of great importance to us.

Finally, as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, I echo noble Lords who have spoken about the need for action on the treatment of the Uighurs in China. We also need to see action on what is now happening in Hong Kong.