Integrated Review - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:04 pm on 17th March 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 7:04 pm, 17th March 2021

I was going to thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their comments, but I might just thank the noble Baroness in the light of the noble Lord’s comments. However, I will try to address some of the criticisms that he somewhat unfairly levels at this document.

The noble Baroness began her comments on the approach of the new Administration. We believe this review aligns well with the US vision, highlighting the need to build back better and the importance of science and technology, climate change, health resilience and protecting our democracies. We look forward to working with them on all of those. She also asked about the counter state threats legislation, which I can confirm will provide the security services and law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to tackle evolving state threats. It will create new offences, tools and powers to criminalise other harmful activity conducted by and on behalf of states.

Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness talked about China. As this document sets out, we believe there is scope for positive and constructive engagement with China, for instance on things such as trade co-operation and tackling climate change. However, we are very clear-sighted about the challenges. To reassure the noble Baroness, we will always protect our vital interests, including sensitive infrastructure, and will not accept investment that compromises our national security.

The noble Lord asked about trade and human rights. I say categorically that we are clear that trade does not come at the expense of human rights. Our experience is that having strong economic relationships with partners enables us to have open discussions with them on a range of issues, including human rights, and we most certainly do so. I remind the noble Lord that under our global human rights sanctions regime we have designated 68 individuals and three entities from nine countries—including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Venezuela and Ukraine—around the world for a variety of human rights abuses or violations. We will continue to take these issues extremely seriously.

The noble Lord and the noble Baroness rightly spoke about our leadership on the global stage. This will be a year for our leadership that will set the tone for our international engagement for the decade ahead, in our presidency of the G7, which we have also invited the leaders of Australia, South Korea and India to attend, the Global Partnership for Education and COP 26 in Glasgow in November. I say to the noble Lord that we will continue to have a strong, positive relationship with our European friends and partners. That will continue to be a priority for us.

Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness spoke about international development spending. The document clearly states that we are committed to returning to spending 0.5% of GNI on ODA as soon as the economic situation allows—