British Prisoners in Iran

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:27 pm on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn 5:27 pm, 18th July 2017

I thank the Minister for his constructive response; I must say, he is much more constructive than his predecessor. I welcome his saying that he will look after the interests of the prisoners who have been mentioned in the debate. However, there are a few questions I would still like to hear him answer; perhaps he can write to me. I understand that he did not have time to respond to all of the questions I posed.

We would like a full report on the visit of the 45 diplomats who went to the prison. What kind of resistance was faced when they actually asked to see Nazanin—I am glad they asked to see her—and what response did we give to that? It seems alarming that they would allow the consul on a tour of a prison but now allow them to see the dual-nationality prisoners. The shadow Foreign Secretary and I sent a letter to the Foreign Secretary requesting that he meet the families of the prisoners and he did not respond. Can the Minister convince him to meet them? I would like to be present at that meeting.

Will the Minister write to let me know whether our Government will publicly say that Nazanin is innocent and that we demand her release—and the release of Kamal Foroughi and Roya Nobakht? We would like to know whether the Government believe in their innocence and that they should be released and returned. I understand that there are diplomatic ways in which to apply pressure, but to say that they are innocent and to ask for their release would send a strong signal to the Iranian authorities.

I only have a minute left, so let me take this opportunity to thank all Members who have contributed, particularly Oliver Dowden, because he has worked very constructively with me. We all have the same interests at heart: we want to bring our prisoners back to this country, to protect them and to reunite them with their families.

I will put forward a ten-minute rule Bill that will look at how we can offer better protection to dual nationals, because it is not good enough to keep talking about existing laws. Times have changed and more people with dual nationality live in this country than ever, and there has to be some means of protecting and looking after them when they go on holiday. They are British citizens, they are proud to be British and are part of the country we live in, so I would appreciate cross-party support for that Bill to see if we can change some of the legislation.

Motion lapsed, and sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(14)).