[Mr David Amess in the Chair] — Arms Sales (Human Rights)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:48 pm on 17th September 2015.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 2:48 pm, 17th September 2015

If the right hon. Gentleman does not mind, I will not because I have so much to get through. If there is time at the end, I will certainly come back to him.

Paul Flynn is no longer present, but his views on this matter have been consistent. He spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which certainly worries me. All the humanitarian aid is currently coming through the port of Aden. Until the port of Hodeidah is liberated, the humanitarian crisis will not be avoided. In fact, we are one step away from famine breaking out in Yemen, affecting some 20 million people. The international community should certainly be concerned about that, but we can all be proud of the British humanitarian contribution in providing aid and support to that country.

Dr Cameron spoke about the connection between conflict and poverty, on which I agree with her. She also made it clear that, as a clinical psychologist, she has experience and brings expertise to the House, which is very much to be welcomed. I absolutely agree with her ambition to remove those children who are in uniform and put them into school uniforms. If I may, I will write to her with more detail on the programmes we are involved in to make that happen. That is exactly what we should be doing.

Angela Rayner began by quoting Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers”. I wrote that down and underlined “makers”. How do we make peace? That is a big debate in its own right. She also discussed the causes of the crisis and looking at ways to deal with the source of the problem, not just those who are running away from it. The House will soon have to look in detail at what more we might want to do in relation to Iraq and Syria.

Jo Stevens spoke about another very important area: what has happened in Israel. There was huge scrutiny on the most recent events that unfortunately unfolded in front of the world’s eyes. We have to recognise that Israel lives in a very difficult neighbourhood, confronting Hamas on one side and Hezbollah on the other. Arms exports came under huge scrutiny during those events, but Israel does have the right to defend itself, and we conducted the necessary reviews to ensure that our robust rules, which have been mentioned a number of times, actually fell into place. The hon. Lady spoke with particular passion and, may I say, expertise, and if she would like to meet to discuss the issue in more detail, I would be delighted to do so.

The right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, on whom I intervened, also spoke about UK weapons being used for oppression. I return to the fundamental question about our ability to have influence in a country by having not only a defence relationship with it, but a relationship right across the spectrum, in order to have influence on the improvement of human rights. Again, if he is aware that any UK weapons systems are used for oppression, it is important that he makes me aware of that.