My Lords, I will speak about Qatar because I recently visited it as part of a parliamentary delegation of seven European countries, comprising the UK, France, Italy, Ireland, Finland, Serbia and Romania, on the invitation of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar to look at Qatari reforms in this field, particularly with regard to foreign workers. We noted the introduction of a basic minimum wage for foreign workers on top of free accommodation, including lighting, heating and three-times daily cooked food. As I calculated, Qatar’s basic minimum wage works out to be slightly better than that of the UK after paying for living costs and food.
We visited a huge housing complex for 60,000 workers in Doha, with medical and sports facilities on-site. The accommodation is not five-star, but we considered it good enough for any one of us to live there. We visited the International Labour Organization’s office in Doha and received a briefing from its members. They were quite content with the progress that Qatar has made in recent years in its human rights reforms.
We also learned that Qatar has signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union on human rights. That is encouraging to note. At the end, the visiting group unanimously agreed that Qatar has made huge progress in its reforms, although it is far from being perfect. However, the progress it has made in recent years has to be appreciated and welcomed. The visiting group’s Governments may want to continue to work with Qatar for further improvements.