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Freedom of Religion or Belief — [Ms Karen Buck in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 12th March 2020.

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Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (Defence) 2:30 pm, 12th March 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Buck. Let me start by congratulating Jim Shannon, who brings us these debates frequently, and more credit to him for doing so, because we need to air this issue regularly and ensure that fellow hon. Members are fully informed. It is a pleasure to follow the contribution of Peter Grant.

I have appeared as the Opposition spokesperson on a number of occasions. The hon. Member for Glenrothes said something important; he talked about peace and about how every world religion believes in peace. Amazingly, I am the shadow Minister for peace. I am not sure how long that will continue to be a position, but we need one in Government, so I would have somebody to shadow.

The hon. Member for Strangford made an excellent contribution, as he always does. He told us about the all-party parliamentary groups that he chairs: the APPG for international freedom of religion or belief and the APPG for the Pakistani minorities, which I did not know existed until this afternoon. He talked about the churches that have been shut down in China and the 2019 attacks on Christians in India, and he asked the Minister for progress on the Bishop of Truro’s report; I will come on to that in a minute, and I am sure the Minister will want to respond to it in full.

We had a number of very appropriate interventions from John Howell and my hon. Friends the Members for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) and for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan), who made at least two interventions, as a fellow member of the shadow Foreign Office team. The Prime Minister’s envoy for religious belief, Rehman Chishti, made three, or perhaps four, excellent interventions.