Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
These initiatives were driven by Lord Harries of Pentregarth, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth has not introduced any legislation before Parliament
Lord Harries of Pentregarth has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting
UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) is provided by official bodies only. In 2018, Department for International Development accounted for 74.9% of UK total ODA, other Government Departments and agencies for 20.4% and non-departmental ODA (such as Scottish and Welsh Government) for 4.8%.
UK official bodies can deliver ODA programmes using non-government agencies such as charities, and agencies such as the UN.
The UK strongly condemns violence against Christians in Pakistan. Protecting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), including for minority communities, remains central to the UK Government's human rights engagement in Pakistan. On 21 August I wrote to Pakistan's caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, urging the government to ensure the safety of the Christian community following the attacks in Jaranwala. This was a point I also raised directly with Mr Jilani during our meeting in London on 13th September. I also welcome the recent public statements in Pakistan by political and religious leaders that perpetrators of these shocking attacks against Pakistan's religious minorities must be held to account and the need for all places of worship to be protected. Caretaker Foreign Minister Jilani publicly called for those responsible to be brought to justice and reiterated the UK's commitment to freedom of religion or belief for all.
We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle, and have made that clear to the Government of Pakistan. We are deeply concerned at the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. We continue to press for speedy and fair trials for those accused of blasphemy, including cases such as Qaiser and Amoon Ayub, and urge the authorities to ensure the safety of those charged and those later released.
The UK fully respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia, which includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua. We regularly discuss Papua with our Indonesian counterparts and a team from the British Embassy Jakarta visited Papua in March 2022 where they met with government officials, law enforcement representatives, local businesses, young entrepreneurs, educators and religious leaders to discuss a wide range of issues including the security situation and economic development in the province.
The UK Government continues to support the efforts of the Indonesian authorities and civil society to address the needs and aspirations of the Papuan people, including strengthening human rights protections, providing humanitarian assistance and ensuring that all Papuans benefit from the sustainable and equitable development of their province. We support Indonesia's engagement with the UN, including the proposed visit on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Papua and encourage both sides to agree on dates.
We are following former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili's arrest and imprisonment closely. Her Majesty's Ambassador to Georgia discussed Mr Saakashvili's detention with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament on 15 October, and our Deputy Head of Mission highlighted our concerns with the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs on 11 November. Senior Officials further raised Mr Saakashvili's treatment with the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1 December in Tbilisi. We were pleased that Mr Saakashvili ended his hunger strike on 20 November and agreed to receive medical treatment at a military hospital. It is important that Mr Saakashvili receives treatment in line with international human rights standards, and that any further hearings are in line with the rule of law and due process.
We will continue to monitor developments around Mr Saakashvili closely in the future.
I have raised our concerns on this matter with the Indian High Commissioner, most recently on 1 October. Our Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi has also raised this with the Indian Prime Minister's Office, most recently on 29 September. We have requested Amnesty's accounts be unfrozen while the investigation is ongoing. In our contacts with the Government of India, we have noted the important role of organisations like Amnesty in a democracy.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office remains in contact with Amnesty International on this matter. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Government of India, where we have them.
We are aware of the concerns raised by some local telecoms companies and civil society organisations regarding the Georgian Parliament's recent amendment to the electronic communications law, giving more authority to the communications regulator, on Georgia's media and telecommunications sector. Through our Embassy in Tbilisi we are carrying out a full assessment of the amendment, including its implications for foreign investors. The UK and other international partners work to promote continued democratic and economic reforms in Georgia that support strong governance, media freedom and an open business environment.
As we are still assessing the amendment, it would not be appropriate for us to comment on reports speculating about its origins. Similarly on Georgia's membership of international bodies, it would be for the relevant organisations to review these developments in line with their membership rules.
Every death in custody is a tragedy and we continue to do all we can to improve the safety of prisoners.
We know that relationships between staff and prisoners plays an important role in preventing self-inflicted deaths in prisons and that is why we have announced additional investment in our workforce. As of 30 September 2023, there were 23,058 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Band 3-5 prison officers in post, an increase of 1,441 FTE since 30 September 2022. This means staff can provide more support for prisoners and better monitor the risk of harm. In addition to recruiting new officers, we are developing and phasing in a new safety training package for staff. It brings together information on related safety topics, including suicide and self-harm prevention, understanding risks, triggers and protective factors. This training is complemented by a revised version of the case management approach used in prisons to support people at risk of suicide or self-harm.
We will continue to fund the Samaritans (£625,000 each year until March 2025) to deliver the Listener scheme where prisoners are trained to provide emotional support to each other. We have also worked with the Samaritans to design an additional support service for prisons in the period following a self-inflicted death, with the aim of reducing the risk of further deaths.
The legislative reforms announced in A Smarter Approach to Sentencing White Paper will be brought forward in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill. This bill was introduced on 9 March and, as confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, has been carried forward to the next session.
For the first time, sentences over four years will be able to become spent, and rehabilitation periods will be reduced for community and custodial sentences of less than four years. These changes will come into effect once the PCSC Bill has received Royal Assent.
Work is also underway on the non-legislative reforms set out in the White Paper. We are on track to deliver the Pre-Sentence Report pilot on time, and the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement Programme is now operating in courts across 14 areas in England, with eight more to come online during 2021. The Call for Evidence on Neurodiversity also set out in the White Paper closed on 15 January 2021, and evidence from this is being reviewed with a full report due this Summer.