The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:45 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 10:45 am, 4th May 2016

I am not sure how helpful that comment is. Anybody travelling to the region needs to read the travel advice. I encourage the hon. Lady to go to Saudi Arabia, because—as others have found—she will come back having learned something. She will discover, especially if it is a visit endorsed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that she will have access to many of the programmes that are taking place in what is very much a culturally conservative society.

There is a desire in this House for immediate, 21st-century change—to slide across our values, our standards, our processes and our democratic systems all in one. That is not going to happen quickly, in the same way that it did not happen quickly in this country, from giving women the vote to getting rid of slavery. The other day, I went back to my old stomping ground of the London Stock Exchange, where I worked—I made a visit there for a listing that was taking place with Morocco. Women were not allowed on the trading floor in the UK until the 1970s. Our first female ambassador was not appointed until 1976. These things take time.

Of course, in the 21st century we expect countries to take advantage of best practice and of the support and programmes that are available, so that they do not have to take the 800 years that we have taken since Magna Carta to develop the standards that we enjoy today.