Israel and Gaza

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Monday 23rd October 2023

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, on the second part I am not able to comment. I am grateful for the welcome that has been given to the degree of support the Prime Minister and Government have already announced.

The noble Lord is quite right about the important role of the UN agencies; they are, in effect, the conduit for aid going into Gaza. UNRWA has a unique mandate from the UN General Assembly, as the noble Lord knows, to protect and provide protection and core services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. It is a vital humanitarian and stabilising force in the region.

The Government are clear that the final status of Palestinian refugees must be agreed as part of eventual peace negotiations. Until then, the UN remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and those who work with it. It is worth recalling that it provides basic education to more than 500,000 children per year, half of whom are girls, access to health services for 3.5 million Palestinian refugees and social safety net assistance for around 390,000 of the most vulnerable across the region. So, yes, I can give the noble Lord the assurance he asked for.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I also welcome the kind and supportive Statement we have just heard. It comes as a ray of light in the farrago of disinformation that we are getting. I have three points to raise.

First, on the question of aid, over the last decades billions of dollars have been channelled into the Palestinian territories, largely through UNRWA. Where has it all gone? The concrete that was supposed to build houses has apparently been used for nefarious purposes and for hiding. What has happened to all that money from all over the world, which appears to have been used by Hamas to get rockets and to make trouble, rather than supporting their people?

Secondly, the two-state solution is all very well. However, as long as the call goes out “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, we know that “From the river to the sea” means the total annihilation of Israel and its replacement with one state. A state has been offered on four occasions to the Palestinians and rejected.

Thirdly, I hope the Government will have a mind to the trouble going on in our universities. Just today I heard from someone connected with Warwick University that two Jewish students there who refused to join a pro-Palestine march have been ostracised and made to feel extremely unwelcome, and that the Jewish society app has been hacked with all sorts of nasty messages. This is simply an example of the sort of thing going on in our universities. Vice-chancellors need to be told to take care of all their students, bearing in mind, of course, freedom of speech, but also bearing in mind the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. Our young people are on the front line and they are suffering.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness makes three challenging contributions. It is not the case that every part of aid offered and sent is used for the purposes it ought to be. That cannot be the case, sadly, in what is effectively a terrorist-controlled entity. What we can do, working with the agencies and the UN, using them as conduits, is to ensure that as much as possible goes to the support of the people. I gave some figures in response to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. The fact that some aid has in the past been stolen and misapplied, and may be in the future, surely does not absolve us of the moral duty to seek to assist those in danger and those who are in need.

On the noble Baroness’s second point on the security of Israel, it is obvious that there can be no diplomatic two-state solution while Israel feels that it does not have the basic security of the right to survive that any people and nation have.

Thirdly, having not strayed into trying to direct broadcasters, I will not try to direct universities. However, all in authority need to have a care that their campuses are not misused or penetrated by malign organisations. Every student, in that glorious nobility of youth, should realise that treating others with respect is one of the most wonderful aspects of the human condition. If the story that the noble Baroness told is true, it is appalling and I hope that it is not replicated elsewhere.

Israel and Gaza

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Monday 16th October 2023

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. Hamas is proscribed—those who invite support for this group could be jailed. However, arrests are an operational matter for the police. The Home Secretary has asked police to step up patrols and monitor protests.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I mourn the passing of a young relative, only 22, who died in the military just a few days ago. I hope that the Minister will agree with me that the root cause of this is Iran. It is Iran that has funded Hamas and it is its equipment being used. We must stop funding Iran. At this very moment, there are protests outside the BBC, because the BBC has become partisan in not using the word terrorists. Above all, I hope the Minister will dry up the source of funds to Iran.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, broadcasters are independent in this country, a free country, but as the noble Baroness will know, the Culture Secretary took up certain matters, which she has referred to. So far as Iran is concerned, Hamas is fully responsible for the appalling act of terror that has taken place, but Iran poses an unacceptable threat to Israel, including through its long-term support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. We condemn Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region and we will look at its activities with wide-open eyes.

Ministerial Code

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Baroness opposite did, my noble friend raises an important point. The noble Lord, Lord Evans, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has made a number of thoughtful recommendations about the role of the independent adviser. I know that the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary, as part of the process of identifying a candidate, to look at how the remit might be amended. We will announce any changes alongside the appointment.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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Is the Minister as baffled as I am that the state does not pay more for the regular refurbishment of the residential parts of that most iconic building, 10 Downing Street? Vice-chancellors and trade union chiefs get far bigger sums spent on their official residences. The Guardian reported that £117,000 was spent on the house of the Speaker of the Commons within a few months of him taking up the post. Will the Minister press for the rules to be changed? Catering services ought to be offered, too.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, many have expressed views similar to those of the noble Baroness. Other countries have slightly different practices on this, but, as I said in response to an earlier question, I am interested in practices in this country. Chequers and Dorneywood are operated in long-standing ways, reducing the need for subsidy from the public purse. These matters are complex, and policy development is ongoing. The Government did engage with the leader of the Opposition’s office on such proposals in July.

Gender-balanced Parliament and Male Primogeniture

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Tuesday 20th April 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I am sure my friends and I will read the views of my noble friend, and indeed all others who have spoken, with due respect. However, I believe that, at the height of this pandemic, and given the need we have to recover, it may well be that some people in the country have other priorities.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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Whether or not hereditary peerages remain, it is time to get some sex equality into this House. The husbands of noble Baronesses get second-class treatment, and this is highly symbolic. Only a few days ago, the entire nation noted the essential support given by Prince Philip to his wife, but the support given by the husbands of noble Baronesses is ignored compared with the recognition, by the title “Lady”, of the wives of noble Lords. Does the Minister agree that our husbands should be given a title equivalent to that granted to the wives, or that the latter should lose theirs?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness touches on another issue which has its own sensitivities. Reform of courtesy titles in the honours system as well as the peerage system—this is not a matter of heredity—may not be straightforward, but there is a need to consider how to deal with existing entitlements.

House of Lords: Number of Members

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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It seems to me that legislation to cap our numbers is being blocked in a way that does us no credit. Will the Minister urge the party groupings each to find a consensual way to limit their own numbers? The House of Lords Appointments Commission needs power to vet the suitability of proposed Peers or to cap the numbers. I hope that he agrees. If ever there was a case for getting rid of royal prerogative, this is it. I suspect that the Government think that only by shovelling us into a less comfortable venue during refurbishment, or by going entirely virtual for the duration, will we find a large number of retirements. That is not the way to do it. How does he propose that we do it?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I cannot follow the noble Baroness on many of the things that she has said, other than I hope that one day we might get back to not being a virtual House—that I do agree with. I repeat that there are difficulties in relation to this House: it is unelected, Members sit for life and the House cannot be dissolved. That raises issues for reflection on a cap, as the previous Prime Minister implied.

House of Lords: Relocation

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Tuesday 14th July 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I have put on record what my right honourable friend Michael Gove said. The noble Lord speaks from outside this Chamber, which is perfectly reasonable. In this current emergency, your Lordships have been scattered to the four corners of the kingdom. There has been no parallel since 1665 when the House took itself to Oxford to avoid the plague. Speaking as a Minister, I do not feel either today or on other occasions that the intense and proper scrutiny from your Lordships has been weakened. I reject any contention that this Government want at any time to weaken parliamentary scrutiny.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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Does the Minister agree that the proposed move would be a constitutional emasculation and a gesture of disrespect, and would work only if the Commons moved as well? In terms of spreading governance to the north, this is not likely to work any better than the BBC’s partial move to Salford. If it happened, the move would result only in far more virtual working. Moreover, since the Writ of Summons from the Queen commands noble Lords to meet in Westminster, does the Minister realise that any move will involve the royal prerogative and legislation, drawing the Crown into this? I hope the Minister agrees that the response of the House should be to press on with reform. Does he agree that this House, given the virtues of virtual working, could contribute to a quicker and cheaper refurbishment not by moving anywhere but by offering to work virtually during the refurbishment period?

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I and the Government welcome any constructive suggestions from Members of your Lordships’ House on how to achieve these objectives. The experience of virtual working will have been read and noted by all of us in different ways and with different implications. I return to the fact that this is a House of Parliament—it needs to be treated with respect and to have the last say.

EU: Trade and Security Partnership

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Tuesday 9th June 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord is right: there is an international dimension to these questions. We expect foreign policy co-operation broadly to be substantial with the EU, as it is with many of our international partners, but we do not think that an institutional framework is necessary to deliver it.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB) [V]
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Will the Minister join me in encouraging Mr Frost to stand firm and make it clear that we are willing to walk away if necessary? Can he also emphasise that after Brexit we must retain sovereignty over our defence and foreign policy? Given the EU’s ineffectiveness in relation to hostility from China and its overdependence on Russian gas regarding Nord Stream 2, can he ensure that we depart from EU defence structures and defence funds and reinforce our partnership with NATO and the Five Eyes intelligence group?

Lord True Portrait Lord True [V]
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My Lords, the noble Baroness refers to some very important factors in our international relationships. Mr Frost is doing an excellent job for his country, in line with the decisions of Parliament and the people. As for wider foreign policy, I alluded to that in the previous answer.

EU: Plans for No Deal

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Tuesday 2nd June 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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Does the Minister agree that the only contingency worth considering at this moment is that if we stay tied to the European Union beyond 31 December, we face paying into a dramatically increased EU budget next year, with new taxes? It has been estimated that staying in might cost us £380 billion over the next two years. Is it not time to make sure that we get out by 31 December?

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I am not going with any particular prediction on this question, as I did not on an earlier one—there will be a range of opinions—but I fully agree with the noble Baroness that, were we to stay attached to the EU beyond December, we would face uncertain, unknown but substantial costs in terms of our duties to make payments to the European Union.

EU: Future Relationship

Debate between Baroness Deech and Lord True
Wednesday 20th May 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I congratulate David Frost on reaching out to member states and remind him of the wise words of his late namesake, Sir David Frost, who said:

“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.”


Will the Government encourage Mr Frost to stand up for British values for the benefit of this country, and not just to think about the economy?

I must raise the arbitrary dismissal of Eleanor Sharpston, the British advocate-general at the European Court of Justice. She was sent packing before her term ended, even though her post is not attached to UK membership. If you sack a member of the court, judicial independence is meaningless. This is not a court that we can remain subject to. I hope the Government will make representations on behalf of Eleanor Sharpston.

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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I thank the noble Baroness for her comments. I cannot comment on individual cases but I note what she says. I reiterate that it is the intention of this Government that the ECJ will not have jurisdiction in the United Kingdom after the end of transition.