Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:01 pm on 16th March 2023.
My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that in all agreements, particularly the GCC FTA currently being negotiated, and when I raise trade issues and the bilateral relationship across the Gulf, human rights are central to my thinking. As I said in response to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, in the most recent conversation my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary had with the Saudi Foreign Minister, he took the opportunity to say that human rights remain a foundation stone of British foreign policy.
The noble Lord is right to say that we are strengthening our work on development with key partners across the Gulf. Indeed, the Saudi Arabian delegation is currently at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and I will be leading the plenary and closing sessions with the primary principle of those discussions. From my perspective and understanding of human rights and the rule of law, we are not asking any country to fill gaps; it is about development infrastructure and support. For example, when I visited the Kingdom recently, I saw directly the work that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is doing through its development arm in the government-held areas in Yemen. That includes building infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, so they are making a valuable contribution to development. If there are more specifics regarding the issues the noble Lord raised, I will review them and if necessary write to him.