Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:01 pm on 16th March 2023.
My Lords, I declare that I am vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Abolition of the Death Penalty. Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly isolated as other countries abolish capital punishment for drugs offences. This is a welcome move globally but draws attention to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I too recognise the involvement of the Minister; however, I note the concerns of Conservative MPs who claimed that more could have been done.
My questions relate to the consequences of our relationship with the Kingdom. The Trade Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Johnson, recently confirmed to me that human rights were no longer to be an integral part of discussions on free trade agreements. Are there any human rights activities which would bring into question opening access to UK markets, or is human rights simply a noble aim when it comes to our investment negotiations with Saudi Arabia? Secondly, we know that the Government have had intensive discussions with authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to seek infill for development and humanitarian assistance when there are UK cuts. Can the Minister confirm that we have not asked Saudi Arabia to infill cuts to human rights programmes, especially those relating to the use of torture, human rights and legal reform, and that UK cuts will not be infilled by Saudi Arabian Government support?