Lord Wright of Richmond: Did the Minister see a letter in the Financial Times yesterday, saying that Raqqa is in Syria and reminding its readers that the Syrian regime bears a heavy responsibility for the clearance of ISIS from the city? Does he agree?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in her first reply, the Minister appeared to confirm the Government’s support for a two-state solution. Can she therefore confirm that the Government are now in favour of recognising the state of Palestine, and if not, why not?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, now that most of Syria’s major cities are effectively under the control of the Syrian regime, do the Government have plans to consider reopening a diplomatic presence in Damascus?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in view of a rather more positive interpretation of what the Foreign Secretary told the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, can the Minister tell us whether the Foreign Office is considering any installation of a diplomatic presence in Damascus?
Lord Wright of Richmond: Can the Minister confirm nevertheless that the Government are still firmly in favour of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israel question? Can she add to her explanation why the British delegate to the meeting in Paris—and, indeed, the Foreign Secretary himself, at a meeting of his European Union colleagues—both failed to go along with a statement in support of the two-state process?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, having looked again at my interventions in the House on 24 September 2002 and 18 March 2003, warning, as many noble Lords did, against the military invasion of Iraq, I shall resist the temptation to claim the obvious. Sadly, there is no sign in the Chilcot report that any of the powerful interventions in this House—many of them spoken with much greater authority than mine, and...
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, in addition to the need for generosity towards Syrian refugees, it is important that we and our existing European partners use our diplomatic strength to help the Syrians and others to reach a solution to this dreadful civil war in the hope that some refugees will start to return to their beloved country?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in a debate on recruitment and assessment services in March 1996, I detailed the needs of the Diplomatic Service for public servants with, “a high degree of loyalty, integrity, impartiality, stability of character, intelligence and linguistic aptitude”.—[ Official Report, 8/3/1996; col. 558.] Does the Minister agree that all these qualities are still of primary importance?
Lord Wright of Richmond: Remembering from a past existence the occasional experience of addressing envelopes to Lord Mountbatten of Burma, should departments perhaps be advised to limit the number of awards that they give to each person?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I think the Minister is probably too young to have been in the House when Lord Dahrendorf was here. He once said—I think in this House but certainly in writing—that anybody who has not changed his mind in the last 10 years has probably not been thinking.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, since this Question refers to banking problems, can the Minister update us on the Government’s attitude towards a problem that potentially affects every single Member of this House—namely, that we are in danger of being designated as politically exposed persons?
Lord Wright of Richmond: The noble Lord has already received belated congratulations on his birthday. Would he join me in wishing the Lord Speaker a happy birthday?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords—
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I am reluctant to enter into a tit-for-tat argument but is the Minister aware of a devastating report by two Israeli organisations into the recent abuse and torture of Palestinian prisoners at the Shikma interrogation facility in Ashkelon? If so, will the Government consider joining our European partners in making appropriate representations to the Israeli Government?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I start by declaring an interest as British ambassador to Syria from 1979 to 1981. The noble Earl may have read reports in the press that senior officials in Washington have described the Administration’s early attempts to get President Assad to leave as a “huge mistake”. Does he agree that the Government’s regular and continuing calls for President Assad to go are not only...
Lord Wright of Richmond: Hearing what the Minister has said about boycotts, can he reassure the House on behalf of his Foreign and Commonwealth Office colleagues that we and our European partners lose no opportunity to draw the attention of the Israeli Government to the illegality of their settlement policy and the damage which it is doing to the prospect of a two-state solution, which is surely in the interests of...
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, is the noble Baroness able to comment on reports that the execution of a young man under the age of 18 was in itself a breach of Sharia law?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in his earlier reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, drew attention to the role of the embassy in Eritrea in handling the problems of that country. Does the noble Baroness agree that it is high time that we re-establish a diplomatic presence in Damascus?
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that I have now heard sufficient argument so that, if the noble Baroness decides to test the opinion of the House, I am ready to vote.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, when the Minister re-read the debate held last Wednesday, he may have noted that I suggested that if our Tornados and Typhoons are sent into action without adequate co-ordination and consultation, there might be a serious risk of collision with the Russian and Syrian forces. Can he tell the House what clearance has to be sought from what I understand is the joint flight clearance...