Human Rights and Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia — [Mrs Cheryl Gillan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 8th June 2016.

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Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland Office) 9:30 am, 8th June 2016

Yes, the issue is tied up with the fact that the Government do not want to take that many refugees. With a country such as Yemen, where there is a humanitarian crisis, it would certainly be to the benefit of the people and those suffering children to be brought into our country, away from ever more danger.

The creation of de facto minefields through the dropping of cluster bombs will only deepen the crisis. Yesterday, I joined Amnesty International and Members from all main parties to deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street. Thousands signed the petition, which calls for action on the use of cluster munitions in Yemen. Other Members will no doubt have received many lobbying emails from constituents on this matter, as I have—the public care greatly about this issue.

Just a fortnight ago in the main Chamber, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise responded to a topical question from Hilary Benn. On the record, she stated that there is not yet evidence that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions. She added that the Government believe they have an assurance from Saudi Arabia that cluster munitions have not been used in the conflict, and that the Ministry of Defence was urgently investigating the allegations. Given the urgency of the matter, is the Minister in a position to give an update on the status of the MOD investigation? When is it expected to be completed, and will the findings be disclosed to Members?

Amnesty International has released photographs of the cluster munitions they claim to be of UK origin. In some of the photographs, serial numbers are visible on the bombs. Will the tracing of the transfer history of the bombs, based on the serial numbers, form part of any investigation? Why exactly are the UK Government so willing to accept assurances from Saudi Arabia without question? What specific evidence has Saudi Arabia provided to the UK or the international community to back up the veracity of the denials? What evidence is there that Saudi authorities are investigating breaches in international humanitarian law in Yemen?