Human Rights in Saudi Arabia — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 4:00 pm, 18th July 2019

It is always very nice to take note of what our closest ally is doing, but these days I am probably more inclined to look at what our colleagues in the European Union are doing. In so many respects, they more closely align with our general approach to issues of this sort. I say that not to disparage our best and closest international neighbour, but to state a matter of fact. It is articulated through the EU consolidated criteria, which take note of a number of factors, including where exports are likely to end up—the point to which the hon. Lady refers.

We should recognise where progress has been made in Saudi Arabia. In contrast with the constraints on civil and political rights, there is little doubt that we have seen significant social and economic changes in Saudi Arabia. The scale and scope of reform driven by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been unprecedented in the history of the kingdom. I am not an apologist for anybody, and I am certainly not a tourist guide for Saudi Arabia, but it is important that we acknowledge where things have been done that we support.