Lord Polak debates involving the Department for International Development

There have been 6 exchanges involving Lord Polak and the Department for International Development

Wed 22nd July 2020 China (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (148 words)
Tue 23rd June 2020 Rwanda (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (56 words)
Wed 6th May 2020 Israel: West Bank (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (150 words)
Mon 19th November 2018 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Lords Chamber) 5 interactions (217 words)
Mon 10th July 2017 Education: Disability Financing (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (103 words)
Tue 28th March 2017 East Jerusalem: Access to Emergency Care (Lords Chamber) 3 interactions (73 words)

China

Lord Polak Excerpts
Wednesday 22nd July 2020

(8 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of the issue of modern slavery, led by my right honourable friend the former Prime Minister, ensuring that rights of workers, wherever they may be in the world, are fully protected. I disagree with the noble Baroness: I think we have been very clear and frank, and we have led on the issue of the persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang and we have done so consistently over a long period.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I cannot speak for other countries; they will make their decisions on who qualifies and who does not qualify for the Human Rights Council. However, like other member states, I hope, in making a decision we will certainly consider very carefully the human rights records of countries which aspire to speak about human rights at the HRC.

Rwanda

Lord Polak Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd June 2020

(9 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has already made a comprehensive announcement around BNO. We are obviously looking at the outcome of current Chinese policy on this issue and we will update the House accordingly.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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My Lords, for many reasons CHOGM 2020 was important to Rwanda, and now CHOGM 2021 will be possibly even more important. RwandAir has made serious efforts in recent years to cement UK-Rwanda relations by flying directly between Kigali and London Gatwick. Will my noble friend support the request by Rwanda Air for landing spots at Heathrow?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I should declare an interest as I was Aviation Minister when we gave landing rights at Gatwick to RwandAir, and I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Popat as trade envoy. The issue of slots at Heathrow is very much a matter for Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, but we regard our relationship with Rwanda as a strong one; indeed, only yesterday I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Rwanda about preparations for CHOGM 2021.

Israel: West Bank

Lord Polak Excerpts
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I am not going to speculate on what may or may not happen. It remains very clear that we support a negotiated settlement between both sides, as I have said. As for anything which the ICC brings forward, we are supporters of the ICC, as the noble Baroness will know.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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I refer the House to my interests as stated in the register. At his last speech to the Knesset on 5 October 1995 on the ratification of the Oslo accord, Yitzhak Rabin stated:

“The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley”.

Just one month later, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, and others signed an Early Day Motion as a tribute to the murdered Prime Minister, describing him as

“a man of great courage and vision who led his country … along the path towards peace”.

The noble Lord was right to do so then and, I guess, would do so again. Does the Minister agree that the Council for Arab-British Understanding would be fulfilling its mission and be in tune with government policy by writing to the Palestinian leadership and other Arab states urging the Palestinians to sit down and talk peace directly with the Israelis?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I agree with my noble friend on the vision and the courage of the sadly passed-away Prime Minister Rabin. He brought peace to the region and his vision is what is needed now. Of course, I support all negotiated settlements, and we call upon both sides to sit down together and reach an agreement that works for Israel and for the Palestinians.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Lord Polak Excerpts
Monday 19th November 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions Ministers have had with the representatives of the Government of the United States of America regarding that Government’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I remind the House of my non-financial registered interests.

Lord Bates Portrait The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Lord Bates) (Con)
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My Lords, the cessation of US funding for UNRWA could worsen the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and threaten regional security. Her Majesty’s Government continue to support UNRWA and have helped to reduce its immediate financial shortfall through increased UK funding and proactive lobbying.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak
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I thank my noble friend the Minister for that reply. Just this weekend, while we were all focused on local matters, the UN singled out Israel for criticism. Why did the UK vote for all nine one-sided resolutions, unlike the United States, Canada and Australia? Perhaps after 29 March we will be able to create and pursue our own policy. While UNRWA provides important health and other services, it refuses to help resettle the Palestinians and even refuses to take off its list some 2 million Palestinians living in Jordan. Does the Minister agree that UNRWA, which was born in 1949, is now outdated, does not provide value for money, and continues to perpetuate the problem? Is it not time, together with our allies, to find, create and follow a new and modern programme of aid and development for the benefit of the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the region?

Lord Bates Portrait Lord Bates
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It is time that there was a peace process and for the parties to the conflict to come to the table and start to negotiate to resolve these matters regarding refugees. UNRWA provides essential healthcare to some 3 million people in the region, along with essential education for 525,000 people there. The United Kingdom Government are not going to walk by on the other side when people are in need.

Education: Disability Financing

Lord Polak Excerpts
Monday 10th July 2017

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Bates Portrait Lord Bates
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There is a significant financing gap in global education. The UK is one of the better ones—in fact, the report on page 26 highlights that DfID was ranked number one by donors for its disability education as a priority, and number 2 for its funding overall. The amount is currently at 8.5%, about £650 million; we also spend about £227 million through multilateral agencies, so I think we are doing better than most. But with the scale of the problem that has been identified, we cannot afford to be complacent and we will certainly keep that under review.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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My Lords, perhaps I may refer to the Minister a charity called Wheelchairs of Hope. Using old plastic chairs, the inventors have created strong and sturdy wheelchairs for the developing world at a cost of somewhere between $50 and $100 per chair. This has been a great thing for people in the developing world, especially for young children who would otherwise not be able to get to school. I suggest that the Minister has a good look at it. I hope that DfID might help these children get to school and give them a bit of mobility which they have not had before.

Lord Bates Portrait Lord Bates
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I am very happy to look at that. I also encourage the charity itself to see whether it would be eligible for the UK Aid Direct funding round which is in place at the moment, or the small charities challenge fund, which has just been launched.

East Jerusalem: Access to Emergency Care

Lord Polak Excerpts
Tuesday 28th March 2017

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department for International Development
Lord Bates Portrait Lord Bates
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We will certainly continue to make our representations. More importantly, we fund the UN Access Coordination Unit, which helps in this area. We agree that the waiting times are unacceptable. Of course, the long-term solution lies in the resumption of peace talks.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
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My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that the first responsibility of a Government is to protect their citizens? Sadly, ambulances have been used by terrorists a number of times in the region. As we understand only too well, difficult decisions have to be made. Is my noble friend also aware that in 2015 more than 190,000 Palestinians entered Israel from the West Bank to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals?

Lord Bates Portrait Lord Bates
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That latter point is well worth underscoring, but it does not take away from the distress that is caused to people who have to transfer from ambulance to ambulance at the border, with these three distinct medical areas: the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. We think there is a way forward. If the same spirit that has been shown in the offer of medical services by the State of Israel could be addressed to this issue, I am sure that a way could be found.