There have been 35 exchanges between Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon and Department for International Development
|Wed 29th July 2020||Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 (Lords Chamber)||6 interactions (3,580 words)|
|Wed 22nd July 2020||China (Lords Chamber)||34 interactions (2,150 words)|
|Tue 21st July 2020||Hong Kong (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (734 words)|
|Tue 14th July 2020||Taiwan (Lords Chamber)||21 interactions (502 words)|
|Mon 13th July 2020||Libya (Lords Chamber)||24 interactions (717 words)|
|Thu 9th July 2020||Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (800 words)|
|Wed 8th July 2020||Bahrain (Lords Chamber)||19 interactions (800 words)|
|Wed 8th July 2020||Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (Lords Chamber)||34 interactions (2,449 words)|
|Thu 2nd July 2020||Hong Kong National Security Legislation (Lords Chamber)||35 interactions (2,988 words)|
|Tue 30th June 2020||Korea (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (708 words)|
|Mon 29th June 2020||China (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (776 words)|
|Tue 23rd June 2020||Rwanda (Lords Chamber)||25 interactions (763 words)|
|Wed 17th June 2020||China (Lords Chamber)||21 interactions (693 words)|
|Mon 8th June 2020||Press Freedom (Lords Chamber)||21 interactions (801 words)|
|Thu 4th June 2020||Yemen: Humanitarian Aid Funding (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (1,024 words)|
|Thu 4th June 2020||Hong Kong: Human Rights (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (1,985 words)|
|Tue 2nd June 2020||Hong Kong (Lords Chamber)||23 interactions (1,183 words)|
|Wed 20th May 2020||Covid-19: Refugee Camps (Lords Chamber)||20 interactions (645 words)|
|Thu 14th May 2020||British Citizens Stranded Overseas (Lords Chamber)||20 interactions (819 words)|
|Wed 13th May 2020||Syria (Lords Chamber)||21 interactions (437 words)|
|Wed 6th May 2020||Israel: West Bank (Lords Chamber)||20 interactions (440 words)|
|Thu 30th April 2020||Syria (Lords Chamber)||21 interactions (873 words)|
|Thu 30th April 2020||Covid-19: Repatriation of UK Nationals (Lords Chamber)||26 interactions (5,335 words)|
|Tue 24th March 2020||British Citizens Abroad (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (1,679 words)|
|Mon 23rd March 2020||Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (524 words)|
|Thu 19th March 2020||Yemen (Lords Chamber)||12 interactions (697 words)|
|Thu 19th March 2020||Hong Kong: Covid-19 (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (2,691 words)|
|Tue 17th March 2020||Covid-19 Update (Lords Chamber)||28 interactions (3,696 words)|
|Tue 10th March 2020||Refugee Crisis: Greece and Turkey (Lords Chamber)||17 interactions (1,277 words)|
|Mon 9th March 2020||Continuity Agreement: Kingdom of Morocco (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (292 words)|
|Mon 2nd March 2020||Organ Trafficking: Sanctions (Lords Chamber)||16 interactions (682 words)|
|Thu 27th February 2020||Israel and Palestine: United States’ Proposals for Peace (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,814 words)|
|Wed 26th February 2020||Saudi Arabia: Death Penalty (Lords Chamber)||12 interactions (824 words)|
|Mon 24th February 2020||Syria (Lords Chamber)||13 interactions (1,301 words)|
|Wed 6th December 2017||Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||18 interactions (5,253 words)|
I thank the Minister for his introduction, wish him a well-deserved break and again press him about sanctions against key individuals over escalating human rights violations in Zimbabwe and corruption in South Africa.
In Zimbabwe, three women have recently been abducted and tortured: opposition MP and former Canon Collins scholar Joana Mamombe, together with Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri. On 20 July, highly respected journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested and denied bail for supporting an anti-corruption protest and faces 10 years in jail. Opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume was arrested, and youth leader Takunda Madzana abducted and tortured by state security agents on 26 July. As well as rampant corruption, there is a pattern of ongoing human rights violations under the cover of Covid-19 crackdowns. Can the Government update their sanctions to cover more Zimbabwean Ministers and security chiefs?
Why are not British sanctions also being applied to the Gupta brothers over their role in a massive corruption and money laundering operation linked to the former South African President, Jacob Zuma, which robbed taxpayers of over £500 million—billions were robbed? What have the British Government done about my letter to the Chancellor on 11 October 2019, in which I gave identification details of Rajesh, Atul and Ajay Gupta, who escaped South Africa to live freely in both Dubai and India? They used a corrupt network of their own companies, buttressed by shadowy shell companies. Surely, just as the United States Treasury sanctions forbid US entities from doing business with this Gupta family or handling their assets, so all UK entities should face the same ban, including London-based banks such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and the Bank of Baroda, which in recent years facilitated money laundering by the Gupta brothers on a grand scale.
Break in Debate
My Lords, the regulations have the full support of these Benches. As the Minister said, they are the result of cross-party work generally and also in this Chamber when we were dealing with the sanctions Act. Many changes and concessions were made during the progress of that Act, which I very much welcome.
However, the powers in these regulations are not enough on their own. They must be used correctly, be applied to the correct individuals and form part of a wider foreign policy that stands for human rights. There must be consistency in the Government’s approach, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester highlighted. So, although the designation of individuals linked to the Saudi regime is welcome, the decision to resume arms sales for use by the same regime in the Yemeni conflict is inconsistent with our intolerance of human rights abuse.
Transparency in the designation of sanctions will better their effectiveness. As the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said, Parliament should be afforded the opportunity to scrutinise designations and suggest new ones. The Minister in the other place, James Cleverly, said that
“the exact nature of the scrutiny of the Government’s actions … will evolve over time, because this is a new process.”—[Official Report, Commons, Ninth Delegated Legislation Committee, 16/7/20; col. 8.]
I hope that the Minister will be able to say a little more on this subject. For example, can he confirm whether the Intelligence and Security Committee will have a role, as my noble friend Lord Foulkes suggested and as had also been previously suggested? The scrutiny of sanctions by the legislature is not a novel idea. Many of our democratic allies, in particular the US, already have these arrangements in place.
I would appreciate clarification on a few sections of the regulations. First, Regulation 1(4) details the purpose of the sanctions. Specifically, as the Minister said, it states that they intend to deter violations of the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture and the right to be free from slavery. However, as the Minister knows, the definition in the 2018 Act, which we debated in this Chamber and moved amendments on, is much wider. We also of course have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So why do we have this narrow definition in the regulations? Why do we not have a much broader definition? That seems to me a little inconsistent.
Of course, the Minister highlighted the circumstances of Sergei Magnitsky’s imprisonment and death. I, too, pay tribute to his family and, of course, Bill Browder, for campaigning so hard to bring this law about—but the definition in these regulations is narrower than in the Act and the Universal Declaration. Is the Minister satisfied, for example, that the definition will cover the arbitrary detention of populations such as the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and the cases in Zimbabwe mentioned by my noble friend Lord Hain?
Turning to other issues, unlike the US Act on Magnitsky, the regulations omit corruption. James Cleverly said that the Government were
“considering how a corruption regime could be added to our armoury of legal weapons.”—[Official Report, Commons, Ninth Delegated Legislation Committee, 16/7/20; col. 4.]
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, made reference to and highlighted the points he made. But can the Minister tell us today what the timeframe for such work is? Will we see something this year, or next year? Corruption is such an important element of tackling human rights abuses, as noble Lords have said.
Finally, I echo the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, regarding penalties and offences created. We had a lengthy debate about these issues on the sanctions Act. As I read the Explanatory Notes again, one thing that struck me was the different terms of imprisonment an individual who makes funds available to designated persons could be subject to. It is six months in Northern Ireland, 12 months in England and Wales and there is a difference for Scotland. I hope the Minister can again explain these differences. I know there is a reference to the different legislation, but it shows a little inconsistency.
With the introduction of the powers contained in today’s instrument, the Government have the potential to put our values at the forefront of the UK’s foreign policy. I am pleased that the regulations have been introduced, but their effectiveness will be determined by their implementation and, above all, as many noble Lords have said in today’s debate, by whether the Government choose to confront human rights abusers wherever they appear, rather than only when it is convenient to do so.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for bringing this Statement on China and Hong Kong to the House. It is surely right to seek a positive relationship with China, with its ancient culture, economic strength and developing excellence in science and technology—especially green technology—as the Statement makes clear.
Nevertheless, we cannot turn a blind eye to human rights abuses, and the Secretary of State is right to identify the appalling treatment of the Uighurs. Can the Minister say whether the Foreign Office has now taken a view on the China Tribunal’s conclusions, and is the FCO bringing China within the scope of the new Magnitsky sanctions?
In terms of Hong Kong, we have a special responsibility. Britain and China signed a treaty, which is lodged at the UN, protecting the rights of those in Hong Kong for at least 50 years. The national security law has blown that away. Like the noble Lord, Lord Collins, I therefore welcome the Government’s actions on citizenship for BNO passport holders, the suspension of the extradition treaty and the extension of the arms embargo. Nevertheless, I once more flag the position of young activists who do not have BNO passports and will be particularly at risk. Will the Government make sure that no one is excluded from this offer? What steps are they taking to ensure that those facing political persecution can freely leave?
The involvement of independent foreign judges in Hong Kong has long been seen as the canary in the coal mine: if they went, the writing would be on the wall for the independence of Hong Kong. The President of the UK Supreme Court has now questioned whether UK judges can continue to sit on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. What is the Minister’s view?
As I asked yesterday, does the Minister believe that there can be free and fair elections to the Legislative Council in September? Will the Government seek to send an election observation mission to Hong Kong? What further actions might the Government take if these elections are not free and fair?
There is also wide concern about free speech. Will British journalists be advised to relocate, and how might access to a free internet be protected? Are the Government willing to work alongside others to create a UN special envoy or rapporteur for Hong Kong, who could have special responsibility for monitoring the human rights situation on the ground? Is there a way this could be done without China simply vetoing it?
As I have expressed before, I remain concerned that not all countries in the EU, a tiny number of Commonwealth countries and no countries in Asia, South America and Africa supported the UK in relation to the new law. This is a desperate situation, and China should recognise the loss to their country of an outflow of talented young people from Hong Kong and step back, even at this late stage, from implementing this new national security law. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.
We now come to the 20 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.
My Lords, will my noble friend agree that the justices of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal—both the permanent and non-permanent justices from Hong Kong itself and the visiting British and Commonwealth justices—have been a bulwark against political interference, and strong guarantors of the rule of law and judicial independence in criminal and civil law cases? Would he not agree that the same could be said of legal practitioners in Hong Kong, who operate under severe pressure from the Beijing and Hong Kong Governments? Can I press him on what the Government’s policy is with regard to the immediate and future viability of the court and the continuing participation of UK and Commonwealth justices in its work? Should they stay as exemplars of judicial independence and help to maintain the rule of law, or leave to avoid their independence being compromised?
My Lords, multiple examples of highly regrettable actions by China go far beyond British values and the values of our allies. How has this deterioration been allowed to happen to the degree that it has? Is it a breakdown in diplomacy— I suspect that megaphone diplomacy is probably ineffective—or are some political asks now too difficult to achieve? Does the Minister agree that there needs to be an urgent, all-encompassing consideration of the relationship with China, rather than a piecemeal approach, to cover all aspects, including climate change, human rights, security, defence, and trade and supply chains, from which a policy of coherent consistency can be derived?
My Lords, the Foreign Secretary is correct about the importance and place of China in the world but China’s human rights record, especially as it concerns Uighurs, has been well known for some time. In the light of the recent US Uighurs human rights act, will Her Majesty’s Government consider similar measures and produce a list of Chinese companies involved in the construction and operation of the camps? Given the rising and publicly expressed concern in this country, including by the Board of Deputies, will the Minister now accept that it is high time we took firmer steps to counter Beijing’s harrowing human rights abuses against the Uighurs, and that such abuses should influence negotiations on any future trade deal with China?
My Lords, on Monday the Foreign Secretary said he was “stubbornly optimistic” about global Britain, including in our relations with China. The Minister will know that China is one of the countries which the Government have identified as a potential partner for a new trade agreement—one of the many post-Brexit deals the Government are hoping to negotiate. In light of all the disputes and serious human rights issues which have arisen over the past six months, do the Government still aim to conclude a trade deal with China and, if so, in what sort of time- frame, or have they changed their mind and abandoned the idea of an agreement?
My Lords, in responding to the right reverend Prelate, the Minister said that the Government are calling out China over human rights abuses. That is not sufficient. Given that China, despite being led by a so-called Communist Party, relies on the global system of international trade, what scope is there for naming companies that rely on Uighur labour and trying to have a regime whereby people simply do not buy products produced by forced labour?
China has just announced its wish to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council—yes, my Lords, the Human Rights Council. The Government have rightly condemned China for the appalling and inhumane treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. They have also rightly condemned China for its crushing of Hong Kong. Currently, China is agreeing a $400 billion economic security deal with the terror-supporting Iranian regime. So, not only is it destroying human rights at home in China; it is clearly a threat to human rights worldwide. History teaches us that condemning is not enough. Will my noble friend the Minister therefore agree with me that the Government should now lead the world and create a coalition of allies to vote against allowing China to take a seat on the UN’s most senior human rights body? Otherwise, our words of condemnation will, sadly, be just words.
My Lords, today the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales published a powerful report on the persecution of the Uighur Muslims. It is based on sound evidence and exemplary legal scholarship and it makes a number of recommendations, one of which is to use the recent Magnitsky regime on targeted sanctions. Secretary of State Pompeo indicated yesterday while here in England that he had used Magnitsky sanctions on a number of Chinese functionaries. Are we in conversation with the United States about who those people might be, and might we follow suit? Secondly, will we consider requesting that China, which denies that persecution takes place and denies the nature of the camps, allows in an investigatory delegation to assess the situation on our Government’s behalf?
My Lords, I declare an historic interest, having fought a case against extradition from the UK to Hong Kong for four and a half years through 12 separate applications for habeas corpus. A senior Hong Kong solicitor told me today that almost all the extradition proceedings now current are concerned with either money laundering or drugs. Now that we have terminated extradition in both directions, how do we ensure that Britain does not become a safe haven for Hong Kong criminals, nor Hong Kong a safe haven for those committing crimes in the UK? Would it not be sensible to have a generous approach to claims for political asylum by young protestors from Hong Kong who do not qualify to come here as a BNO?
My Lords, most of the 53 countries that supported Chinese security laws in the UN Human Rights Council were almost certainly either scared of Chinese power and its aggressive nature or had been bought; that particularly applies to countries in Africa and elsewhere with huge loans. We need to ensure that we in this country are not bought. I commend Her Majesty’s Government for being resolute and clear. However, do they have a policy on influencers in Britain, be they individuals or organisations such as Cambridge University—Jesus College is much in the news at the moment, being written about by Charles Moore—who are in the pay of either Chinese companies or receiving large grants from the Chinese Government?
My Lords, Dr Sarah Gilbert from the Oxford group dealing with coronavirus talks of collaboration worldwide on virus research, which we all welcome. To what extent are we collaborating with the Chinese, who are devoting huge resources to finding a vaccine? Can we be assured that if they or we get a breakthrough, we will not allow an hysterical Trump to issue trade threats to prevent us sharing in the benefits? A lot of lives are at stake.
My Lords, in considering Magnitsky sanctions against individuals of the Chinese Communist Party, will Her Majesty’s Government take into account the judgment of the China tribunal in March this year, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, that the abhorrent forced harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners has been perpetrated for years throughout China on a significant scale and that medical testing on detained Uighur prisoners could allow them to become an organ bank?
My Lords, I endorse everything that my noble friend Lord Collins, and Lisa Nandy, have said. No global issue, such as climate change, dealing with this pandemic or getting global trade functioning properly, is going to be resolved unless China is involved, as the emerging superpower of this century. I understand the Government’s tactics, but what is their long-term strategy?
What does the Minister think of the letter from the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to the Chinese ambassador about the film shown on Sunday? She said that nobody could
“fail to notice the similarities between what is alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago”.
Will the Minister confirm that we will work with all countries governed by democratic principles and act together in trade negotiations to say that there must be an end to the persecution of the Uighurs and people of any religion, and that breaching legal agreements over Hong Kong and seeking to bully the people of Taiwan is unacceptable?
The noble Lord, Lord Balfe, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond.
My Lords, these are extraordinarily serious issues—there are few more so—but does my noble friend the Minister agree that sanctions and increasing isolation are unlikely to produce the result they claim, not least for the people in desperate need they purport to protect? This is extraordinarily hard. Does he not agree that we have to try harder?
My Lords, none of China’s actions should have come as a surprise to anybody. There has been a warning for quite a long time on its attitude to human rights and to Hong Kong. When did the Government let it know there would be consequences to a continuation of these actions? Do we have certain red lines and standards saying that if it goes further there will be further action?
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the political situation in Hong Kong.
I thank the Minister. What prospects are there for fair and free elections in Hong Kong this autumn and what steps are the Government taking to assist young activists, such as Joshua Wong, who are not BNO passport holders?
My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the statement by the Chinese ambassador a few days ago that we were interfering in China’s internal affairs. Will the Minister make it clear that this is entirely a breach of the Sino-British agreement and that it is not a breach of Chinese internal affairs to stick by the terms of an international treaty? Will he ensure that the widest number of countries take our position of understanding and give us support?
My Lords, there was cross-party support for the Foreign Secretary’s shock at seeing the persecution of minorities in China and the suppression of peaceful protestors in Hong Kong. People may also be shocked to know that the Government have given export licences for British-made tear gas, which, according to Amnesty International, is being used against peaceful protestors in Hong Kong, and has granted government export licences for spyware, wire-tapping and surveillance technologies. Will the Minister ensure that the UK’s strategic export control lists are now updated so that no British-made technology can be used in the suppression of minorities or against peaceful protestors in Hong Kong?
My Lords, the appointment of senior judges to give service in Hong Kong is an important part of its international character. What are the prospects of that continuing?
My Lords, while I support the actions of the Government, I urge them to consider the ordinary people and companies in Hong Kong who accept the new security law in order to make a livelihood. Please can the Minister confirm that any action taken by the Government is proportionate and supports the rights of both the Hong Kong people and of British and other companies operating there, such as the Hong Kong bank, Standard Chartered, Swire and Jardine, to go about their normal lives and conduct their businesses in this changed environment without gratuitous criticism and recrimination?
My Lords, at the beginning of June, the Foreign Secretary suggested that the new Magnitsky powers might be an option in respect of the police brutality and other actions in Hong Kong. Yesterday, in respect of the national security legislation, he said:
“We will patiently gather the evidence, which takes months.”—[Hansard, Commons, 20/7/20; col. 1835.]
What of the clear evidence of Chinese officials being involved in forced organ harvesting and the oppression of the Uighur people? Does the Minister agree that the Government should accelerate the timetable for the Magnitsky sanctions to be imposed on those Chinese officials who are involved in such persecution?
My Lords, the Minister will be aware that Hong Kong is just one of the UK’s responsibilities, shared or otherwise, in the Indo-Pacific region. These include, for example, the Korean peninsula and the five power defence arrangements that protect Singapore and Malaysia. In the context of global Britain and the reversal of the east of Suez policy, will the Government provide the details of our international obligations for Hong Kong and the region and confirm that they have the funds and the capacity to meet them?
My Lords, I declare my position as a co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong. Can the noble Lord the Minister say what steps the UK Government are taking to protect students from Hong Kong and students who might be supporting the rights of the people of Hong Kong in British universities, given the significant evidence of intimidation? What protection will be given to academics and institutions that stand up against such efforts?
My Lords, I join those who have pressed further on the main issues relating to Hong Kong, including breaches of the joint declaration, the threats to freedom of speech and assembly and the need for democratic elections. My specific question for the Minister is to ask whether talks in relation to the situation in Hong Kong have been held at the Commonwealth level, given that, as a former overseas territory, Hong Kong was once part of the Commonwealth. This could be particularly relevant for young people and students who may wish to pursue their studies not only in the UK but in other parts of the Commonwealth.
My Lords, will the loyal veterans of Her Majesty’s Hong Kong Military Service Corps still living in Hong Kong, who have long petitioned Her Majesty’s Government for the right of abode in the UK, be granted this now? Will their request for full British passports, which all other members of the corps retained before 1997, be agreed, in line with the statutory provision for fairness in the military covenant?
My Lords, the time allocated for this Question has elapsed. We come now to the second Oral Question.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what (1) diplomatic, and (2) practical, assistance they are providing to the government of Taiwan; and what plans they have to formally recognise Taiwan as an independent sovereign state.
I thank the Minister for his sympathetic response. President Xi has made it clear that “one country, two systems” is the plan for Taiwan, and the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021 has been mentioned as a possible deadline. Will the Government consider taking small but significant steps and work with other like-minded nations less susceptible to Chinese influence to clarify and entrench Taiwan’s de facto independence? Such steps might specifically include inviting Taiwan as a guest to G7 meetings, lobbying for membership of the OECD as well as of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and considering Cabinet-level ministerial visits to Taiwan.
My Lords, Taiwan has been preparing for a pandemic since the SARS epidemic in 2003. As a result, it has been able to tackle the terrible ravages of Covid-19 with great success. But at the World Health Assembly in May, the attendees, including us, were unable to learn about the methods of its success because Taiwan’s attendance as an observer was blocked by China. Will my noble friend please assure me that the diplomatic efforts of the UK will be used to try to prevent such a blocking from happening in the future?
My Lords, can we raise the case of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist arrested in China and given a five-year prison sentence for posts on social media calling for democratic reforms? His wife, whom I have met, says that he is literally forced to eat rotten food and is denied prison visits. Following the imposition of the new security law in Hong Kong, what does this case say about the future of pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, and in mainland China?
My Lords, I remind the House of my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan. Will the Minister celebrate with me the 30% increase in trade between Britain and Taiwan over the past three years, and congratulate President Tsai Ing-wen and her Government on not just their triumphant re-election earlier this year in a fair and free contest but on their management of the Covid-19 crisis—that was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay; there have been 447 cases and just seven deaths out of a population of 23.8 million—and their generosity in donating 2 million face masks to the UK? I hope that the Minister will continue to do all he can to ensure that Taiwan is admitted to the WHO so that the whole world can learn from its success and share its expertise.
My Lords, when the national security law was imposed on Hong Kong, 53 countries supported China on it at the UN Human Rights Council. Only 27 countries, including only half of EU states and no state in Asia, Africa or South America, supported us. Now that we have left the EU, how are we building a strong alliance to defend Taiwan against any aggression?
My Lords, as has already been stated, there was hope that perhaps “one country, two systems” might have been a way of unlocking the Taiwanese issue which has been a problem for so many years. Recent events in Hong Kong show that that was a chimera. We have real problems now with the way China is behaving towards Hong Kong. Chinese behaviour and the statement by Xi Jinping, possibly encouraged by the world’s focus on the Wuhan virus, must be confronted. Does the Minister agree that Taiwan must be shielded and that one way of doing that is its recognition by as many of the G20 as possible? That would send a very strong message to Xi Jinping that the way he is behaving is not helping anyone, least of all China.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for the answers he has given, which suggest that we are very well disposed towards Taiwan. However, that is only one element. In the UK, we have seen the City of London withdraw its invitation to Taiwan to participate in the Lord Mayor’s Show and British Airways rewrite its destination listings so that Taiwan and, indeed, Hong Kong, are listed under China. Does my noble friend agree that we should be giving organisations such as the City and British Airways every support to resist this pressure from China, which is quite improper?
My Lords, as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taiwan and having visited Taiwan on many occasions, I find it a nation which is a great stable democracy. Can the Government of the United Kingdom now consider improving high-level exchanges with Taiwan? For example, are the President of Taiwan, the Vice-President and the Foreign Minister banned from coming to the United Kingdom because of their political positions or are they banned as individuals?
My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether it is the Government’s policy to achieve a bilateral trade deal between the UK and Taiwan, as urged by the Foundation for Independence, a think tank very close to senior figures in this Government?
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Libya.
My Lords, in the civil war in Libya, Egypt, our friend the United Arab Emirates and France aligned with the rebel side along with Russia and even some support from Washington, but Turkey and Italy, which are NATO allies, supported the UN-recognised Government of National Accord. Will my noble friend indicate which side we are on, if any, and how we can mediate in this increasingly bloody conflict, given that the Geneva talks have failed to produce any results?
My Lords, I declare an interest as I have worked on a government-funded project in Libya over the past two years. To go further, what steps have the Government taken to work with civil society in Libya to try to bring about an end to the conflict? To take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, what conversations have the Government had with those countries which have shown an interest, often for their own gain, in the conflict in Libya?
The UN Secretary-General has called for immediate international attention and described the situation as gloomy. I have been a member of the APPG on Libya for some years and visited Tripoli with the much respected interfaith advocate Dr Zaki Badawi to participate in a conference on African and Arab women. I met highly educated outstanding women leaders of Libya. Over the past decade we have heard nothing about their suffering and that of their families in the persistent battle over oil and resources to which we may have inadvertently contributed. What assessment have our Government made, alongside the international community, of the well-being of civil society and women and their fullest possible participation in the imminent dialogue and future settlement in Libya?
My Lords, I used to visit Libya regularly to help in the setting up of clinical medical schools in Benghazi and Tripoli, and it was much appreciated. When does the Minister think we should encourage a resumption of these activities? They are in desperate need all over the place.
In his report to the Security Council last week the UN Secretary-General decried what he termed as high-level direct foreign interference in the conflict which is contrary to the resolution to which the Minister referred. Over the weekend the US and the Libyan national oil corporation criticised foreign capitals for pressure which has led to the reinstatement of the blockade of oil exports. What actions are the Government taking to ensure the resilience of Libyan institutions such as the national bank, the oil corporation and the investment authority so that they can resist this kind of direct foreign interference and provide support for all people in all parts of Libya which is so desperately needed?
My Lords, to what extent have the Government influence with the various participants directly to persuade them to join the conference that is so greatly needed?
My Lords, what assessment have the Government made of whether Egypt is about to enter the conflict directly and move, possibly with the acquiescence of Russia, in support of Khalifa Haftar? What is HMG’s evaluation of the proximity to UK interests, including NATO operations? What is their strategy and approach?
My Lords, at a recent Security Council meeting Stephanie Williams of the UN Support Mission in Libya warned of a massive influx of weaponry, equipment and mercenaries. Can the Minister assure the House that no UK company is indirectly linked to the supply of weaponry and that no UK citizen is involved in the sort of mercenary services provided?
My Lords, the Government now have some hundreds of British troops in other parts of the Sahel working closely with the French in combating tribal warfare and Islamic extremism. How far does the conflict in Libya, with the explosion in the number of weapons there, spill over to the rest of the Sahel? Do we share the view of the French and the UAE that the Muslim Brotherhood is promoting extremism which may also spill over into the rest of the Sahel?
My Lords, members of the ironically named Security Council are attracted to regional conflicts in oil-rich parts of the world, such as Libya, in the name of strategic interests and are selling arms that promote and sustain conflict and horrendous suffering. I know I am going to be told that the UK has one of the strictest arms control policies in the world, but will the Government give a lead to move to a new and less 19th-century view of strategic interest?
My Lords, for years the countries of the western Balkans have been major manufacturers of small arms used in Libya with weapons being purchased by foreign Governments, some of them our allies, and supplied to Libya’s warring factions. What steps have the Government taken or will take to stop that flow of arms to Libya? Will they seek to impose UN sanctions and travel bans on those who are in clear breach of the UN arms embargo under UN Security Council Resolution 2510?
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to report annually to Parliament on the operation of the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, including the details of those subject to that Regime.
I thank the Minister for his Answer and, like other noble Lords yesterday, I warmly congratulate the Government on this hugely significant step, which is a flare of light in the continuing darkness of human rights abuses. It was good to hear that the Government are to report annually to Parliament. Given the Minister’s well-known and serious commitment to this area, and the fact that in the House of Lords, in particular, there is widespread concern about this issue, can he give any kind of indication as to when the earliest opportunity might present itself for us to engage with him on this issue?
If, as envisaged in the guidance, someone is sanctioned who is discovered to be in the United Kingdom, can they be removed more easily than under the current Immigration Rules?
I welcome the new sanctions proposals, although they need to be extended to cover corruption. Does the Minister agree that the new regime must be overseen and run by an independent body so that is not driven or impeded by political considerations?
Your Lordships’ International Relations and Defence Committee is ready, willing and able to engage in regular constructive scrutiny. Will my noble friend the Minister consider writing to us when new statutory instruments are laid, setting out the background to the measures?
My Lords, while I welcome the action the Government have taken on this matter, can I press the Minister a little further on his reply to the noble Baroness who chairs our Select Committee, on which I also sit? Would he be able to come and talk to members of that committee about how best they can assist the House in scrutinising these important decisions, many of which will no doubt come forward, and play a useful role in that way?
My Lords, I welcome what the Minister said about scrutiny. He reminded us yesterday about Section 30, and the debates that we had on the sanctions Bill and the consequent Act. What is lacking is a clear idea about how that scrutiny will take place. I certainly welcome the fact that we are possibly going to get the Intelligence and Security Committee looking at that. Can he offer us more transparency by offering a proper debate on these regulations, so that we can not just debate those designations the Government have decided upon, but discuss new designations?
My Lords, in his initial response the Minister stressed UK-autonomous sanctions. I note from the Explanatory Memorandum on the regulations that, in the past, the UK’s implementation of UN and other sanctions has been through the European Communities Act, now rescinded. To what extent do the Government plan to work with the European Union in putting forward sanctions? Clearly, multilateral co-operation would make sanctions even more effective.
Well done, Minister, but how many more people are under active consideration of being sanctioned? Is it a handful, tens or hundreds?
While I strongly support the need to hold individual perpetrators to account, does the Minister agree that a new global human rights regime should supersede existing UK economic sanctions? As the UN’s special rapporteur emphasises, it is now undisputed that existing economic sanctions
“contribute to a worsening of the humanitarian situation”
in places such as Syria. Will the Minister therefore accept advice from UN experts, who emphasise that
“it is now a matter of humanitarian and practical urgency to lift … economic sanctions immediately”?
My Lords, may I press the Minister a bit more about applying sanctions on a wider basis than by one country? Does he agree that if sanctions are agreed across a range of countries, they are many times more effective than simply a unilateral step taken by Britain in the hope that other countries will follow suit? Secondly, whereas we could all suggest the names of people who should be on the list, I am a little surprised that the Salisbury poisoners were not on it, given that we know who they are and exactly what they did.