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Bahrain — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:04 am on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 10:04 am, 11th September 2018

It is a pleasure, as always, to make a contribution to the debate in Westminster Hall today. I thank Andy Slaughter for bringing the issue to the House. As the chairperson for the all-party parliamentary group on freedom of religious belief, the matter of Bahrain has been on my radar for a long time before this debate was called. I am thankful to the hon. Gentleman and to the Backbench Business Committee for giving the issue the attention it deserves.

As we come nearer and nearer to the March 2019 Brexit deadline, I am increasingly aware of how important global trade is and will be, and I am thankful for the good relations between the UK and Bahrain that saw bilateral trade worth £884 million in 2012. I am thankful for the good relations that allow us to have an embassy there and to have a naval base that gives greater coverage of the Gulf region. Bahrain is very much our partner in that. There is certainly a relationship between the UK and Bahrain, which is a good thing, and we encourage that. The give-and-take friendship should be maintained and enhanced if possible, but we all know that with friendship comes a responsibility and I wonder whether we are fulfilling our responsibility and duty to freedom and democracy as much as we could be.

My mother—wise woman that she is—has often told me, “You tell an acquaintance what they want to hear; you tell a friend what they need to hear.” As a friend of Bahrain, are we telling it what it needs to hear? We welcome the friendship—Bob Stewart told us very clearly how important it is and we all know that—but sometimes with friendship we have to remind people of the things they are not doing correctly.