Palestinian School Curriculum: Radicalisation — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:04 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 3:04 pm, 10th March 2020

I agree. In my conversations with the hon. Gentleman prior to this debate we discussed those matters and were clear on what we wish to see. Northern Ireland may be an example, and it is one we use many times. We now have a working Assembly again, so there is an indication of a political process that can move forward. That requires tolerance and that both sides of society are prepared to be more respectful of others.

To return to the report of the International Development Committee, it has subsequently been discovered that the list of 85,000 civil servants to which DFID claimed it used to pay out millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money did not exist, and DFID swiftly redirected the funds to health projects. If the money is transferred for the purposes of education or health, which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North referred to, no one would see anything wrong with that, but when it is transferred or used for a different purpose, action must be taken.

I understand that this is a difficult debate for the Minister. Whenever the facts are presented, they cannot be ignored. Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, the simple fact is that the misuse of millions of pounds of money cannot be acceptable. One interested party said to me that, in his opinion, the Minister’s job is to protect taxpayer’s funds, given that previous Ministers and civil servants have been less than successful when it comes to directing Palestinian aid.

The indoctrination of children cannot be funded out of aid. We cannot advocate for hatred. We send that message today. The Minister is the only one with the power to make a change, which would speak louder than my words ever could. Whatever reassurances the Minister offers today will have to be backed up by hard evidence. We must be convinced that not one penny can be diverted from those sources that we all agree it should go to: food and healthcare for the children caught up in this through no fault of their own. They must not be trapped in such a vicious cycle for the rest of their lives.

I look to the Minister, and I will continue looking to him, not because I like him, although he looks well—[Laughter.]—but because he is the Minister who has to answer the questions. It is really important that the Department and the Government find the right approach to aid that will end up only in the classroom, with food in the bellies of innocent children. Let us have an honest answer from DFID of where we are.