Debates between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

There have been 16 exchanges between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

1 Mon 22nd February 2021 Covid-19: Surplus Vaccine Doses
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (303 words)
2 Wed 2nd March 2016 Railways: Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink Franchises
Department for Transport
3 interactions (259 words)
3 Wed 27th January 2016 Religious Hate Crime
Department for Transport
3 interactions (350 words)
4 Thu 21st January 2021 Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (143 words)
5 Wed 4th November 2020 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (347 words)
6 Thu 8th October 2020 Iran: UN Arms Embargo
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
4 interactions (332 words)
7 Wed 23rd September 2020 China: Uighur Internment Camps
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (293 words)
8 Mon 21st September 2020 Nigeria: Religious Violence
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (175 words)
9 Thu 3rd September 2020 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (441 words)
10 Wed 22nd July 2020 China
Department for International Development
3 interactions (287 words)
11 Tue 23rd June 2020 Rwanda
Department for International Development
3 interactions (171 words)
12 Wed 6th May 2020 Israel: West Bank
Department for International Development
3 interactions (266 words)
13 Thu 30th January 2020 Middle East Peace Plan
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (242 words)
14 Tue 14th January 2020 Iran: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (502 words)
15 Tue 15th May 2018 Gaza
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (215 words)
16 Thu 18th January 2018 Freedom of Religion and Belief
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
3 interactions (305 words)

Covid-19: Surplus Vaccine Doses

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 22nd February 2021

(1 week, 2 days ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, on the noble Lord’s second point, Oxford and AstraZeneca have worked very closely on intellectual property. Indeed, close collaboration with the Serum Institute of India has allowed it to produce exactly the same vaccine in India. On his earlier point about COVAX and other countries, he will have noted that UK leadership—we used the first G7 summit led by the Prime Minister—resulted in major contributions to COVAX, not least $4 billion from the United States as well as from the European Commission and Germany.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

We are a charitable and generous country, but we can do more than just hand over our spare vaccines to save lives in the developing world. Perhaps the reduction, which has been mentioned, from 0.7% to 0.5% should be put on hold, with that £4 billion used in 2021 to buy vaccines to save lives in low-income countries. Can the Minister confirm whether the 0.2% reduction began in January or will begin in April at the start of the financial year? Will he also confirm that there will be a vote in both Houses before the 0.7%, which is enshrined in law, is cut?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am all too aware of the strong sentiments about the Government’s announcement on ODA spending. Of course, the Government are working through, and we have previously said we will come back to your Lordships’ House on the provisions we need to make in legislation. On my noble friend’s earlier point, I totally agree with him, but I assure him that it is not just our funding of COVAX and the AMC facility. My noble friend will also be aware of the commitment we have given to Gavi, CEPI and the World Health Organization to ensure equitable access not just in our fight against Covid-19 but in other pandemics as well.

Railways: Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink Franchises

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 2nd March 2016

(5 years ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Transport
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I acknowledge the challenges and issues that have arisen, particularly with these two franchises. I assure the noble Baroness that the Government are determined to hold those operating the franchises to account. That is why my honourable friend in the other place, the Minister for Rail, Claire Perry, meets the operators, together with the ORR, on a monthly basis to ensure that the requirements of the franchise are being met.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, my friends in Elstree and Borehamwood are never happy when I am on the Thameslink platform because, when I am there, there is always a delay or cancellation. Will the Minister support the action of the MP for Hertsmere, Oliver Dowden, in his campaign to get Thameslink to provide a much better service for the people of Hertsmere, who pay a lot of money to be packed like sardines in an often-late train?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I assure my noble friend that the delays are not down to his presence on the platform, as he brings to our attention the delays that we are seeing on these lines. As I have already said, the Government are committed both to holding those operating these franchises to account and to ensuring that, yes, there is greater investment. That is why the Government have committed to the investment of more than £1 billion in the improvements at London Bridge and beyond, and we are committed to ensure that by 2018 these improvements are felt by commuters. He is quite right to point out that the current service is not good enough.

Religious Hate Crime

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 27th January 2016

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Transport
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government are clear that anyone who preaches any kind of hate has no place here, and I believe that all of us across this House unite on that. Bigotry has no place and any kind of hate, be it based on race, sexual orientation or religion, has no place in British society. The Government, our legal system and our police will stand against that. The noble Lord made brief reference to the Prime Minister’s message. My right honourable friend mentioned the holy personage of Jesus Christ, whom Muslims celebrate because, as the noble Lord well knows, Muslims also regard and revere the Prophet Jesus as a prophet of God.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard -

My Lords, today is Holocaust Memorial Day—a day to remember those who perished and the brave soldiers who helped to liberate the camps, and to remember and pay tribute to the depleting band of survivors who spend their days educating young people. I also commend the Prime Minister for his announcement today that a fitting memorial will be erected adjacent to this House, in Victoria Tower Gardens. Does the Minister agree that, today of all days, we should acknowledge where hate crime can lead? Does he further agree that the vital task of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust foundation should be to concentrate on educating young people as, sadly, there will soon be no survivors to tell the story?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I join my noble friend in the sentiments he expressed. Indeed, I believe I speak for every Member of this House as we come together on this poignant day, when we remember those who passed away in the Holocaust—the victims of the biggest crime of genocide against humanity that we have seen in the world. We must work together, including on education. I am therefore proud that on entering my office in the Home Office, if you look to the right, the first certificate you will see is for the Anne Frank Trust UK, which does an incredible job in promoting Holocaust education. I praise the efforts of all organisations and the work of my noble friend in this respect.

Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 21st January 2021

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we look forward to fruitful discussions with the United States on a range of issues and look forward to working with it on this important priority as well.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

Following on from that question, only this week Her Majesty’s Government stated as part of the E3 that they are deeply concerned by Iran’s announcement that is producing uranium metal. There is no credible civilian use for uranium. Will my noble friend the Minister take the earliest opportunity to discuss with his new counterpart in the Biden Administration how to strengthen any deals with Iran to ensure the disbanding of its nuclear programme in its entirety and, at the same time, stop its destabilising behaviour in the region?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I assure my noble friend that on both his points we will be engaging constructively with the United States and other allies in this respect.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 4th November 2020

(3 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I join the noble Lord in recognising that the UK has a long-standing opposition to the death penalty, whatever the reason and in whichever country. We continue to make that case to Iran and other nations. Iran’s criminalisation of co-operation with the British Council and the attacks against BBC Persian employees are also deeply concerning. The Government continue to provide support to defend them repeatedly at the highest levels in Iran.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

In the Statement, the Minister in the other place said that

“we are committed to the nuclear deal with Iran—the joint comprehensive plan of action, or JCPOA—as the best means available to monitor and constrain Iran’s nuclear programme.”—[Official Report, Commons, 3/11/20; col. 185.]

The Foreign Secretary suggested on television this morning that there are flaws but until something else is out there, it is the only option. What work has the FCDO undertaken to create an alternative? It has also been suggested that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has shamelessly harassed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. To save my noble friend the Minister from telling us that he cannot discuss future proscriptions, I ask this: given that the Minister in the other place was clear on the concerns about Iran’s destabilising activities throughout the region, can my noble friend tell the House what possible further destabilising activities the regime and the IRGC can get up to before we act in a tough and appropriate manner?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lord, on my noble friend’s second point, we are acting in conjunction with our E3 allies to ensure that the JCPOA remains alive and on the table. It prevents Iran becoming a nuclear state, which must be a priority.

My noble friend raises concerns about the IRGC. We share them, particularly regarding Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case and the challenge that she has been presented with the IRGC. On the efforts that we are making, we continue to work with our US allies and E3 partners to ensure that the current ban that was lifted on arm sales to Iran can also reach a conclusion that satisfies our allies across Europe and in the US.

Iran: UN Arms Embargo

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 8th October 2020

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, in begging leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, I refer the House to my registered interests.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the UN arms embargo on Iran is due to expire on 18 October. We remain committed to countering Iranian proliferation to non-state actors. The EU’s arms embargo and the UN ballistic missile restrictions will remain in place, as will other prohibitions on the proliferation of weapons to Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

Our abstention on extending the UN arms embargo was an error of judgment. China and Russia were always going to veto, to support Iran. Those three countries are not known for honouring gentlemen’s agreements. We should have voted with the US, to make it clear that we oppose Iran accessing arms through the legitimacy of the UN but, sadly, we chose to leave the US exposed and lonely when, in truth, we agree with it. There are 10 days before the expiry. Will my noble friend the Minister to take a lead and do what we know is right? If not, will he explain our policy going forward? How are we going to stop the spread of arms to the terror-supporting Iran?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I share with my noble friend the intention to stop the destabilising influence of Iran. The United Kingdom abstained because the resolution could not attract the support of the council, and therefore did not represent a basis for achieving consensus. He asked about the way forward. We are addressing systematic Iranian non-compliance. Iran must engage seriously with our concerns, and I know that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has asked the High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, to convene a ministerial joint commission as soon as possible. On what else the UK is doing, we sought to facilitate dialogue between the two positions to achieve a desired outcome. However, as I said earlier, sanctions remain, both from the EU and through the UN ballistic restrictions on Iran.

China: Uighur Internment Camps

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 23rd September 2020

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, on the noble Baroness’s second point, I cannot speculate on designations. On the organ harvesting report, I have, as she knows, met with Sir Geoffrey Nice. We have also carefully considered the group’s report of 1 March. That report contains numerous disturbing allegations of serious human rights abuses, including sexual violence, torture, and forced DNA testing. After reviewing the situation this morning, I have again written formally to the World Health Organization

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the appalling treatment of the Uighur Muslims by the Chinese regime is horrific. Yet China is expected to be re-elected to the Human Rights Council next month. Sadly, it seems that nothing can be done to halt the increasingly sinister influence of China within UN structures, seriously undermining the UN’s credibility. Will the Minister confirm that China is continuing to block the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from having a presence in China? Will he also confirm that we will not support China’s election to the Human Rights Council?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, on the issue of election to the Human Rights Council, I assure my noble friend we consider carefully all countries’ policies on standing up for human rights both internationally and domestically. On his earlier point, I spoke with High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet last week, and we have made the point directly to her that we continue to lobby for her unfettered access in Xinjiang.

In terms of the UN machinery generally, the United Kingdom has led on two statements—the only joint statements at the UN on Xinjiang—once last year and once this year in June at the Human Rights Council. I am intending to raise the issue in the UK’s national statement at the 45th session of the UNHRC, which is scheduled shortly.

Nigeria: Religious Violence

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 21st September 2020

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I remain resolute in standing up against human rights abuses in whichever forum I attend, and will continue to do so on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

The singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu has been sentenced to death by hanging in the northern state of Kano. Will the Minister contact the Nigerian Government to ensure that due process is followed? Although there is a ban on FGM in Nigeria, with girls out of school due to Covid the risks to 10 to 15 million girls are extremely high. The failure to help end FGM will deepen poverty and create more insecurity. Will the Minister agree to meet the Five Foundation and Nimco Ali to discuss this and ensure that funding from the FCDO for ending FGM reaches programmes that will have a real impact on achieving this important aim?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me assure my noble friend that I agree with both points he has raised about this issue with regard to that case. I will follow that up and take the meeting that he has proposed.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 3rd September 2020

(6 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, let me assure the noble Baroness that I would be happy to meet with her and the team. Let me add to this the reassurance that during the current pandemic, as the Minister responsible for south Asia, I have been working very proactively with both the Government of Bangladesh, as well as other Governments across south Asia—as my colleagues have in other parts of the world—to ensure that our response to the Covid pandemic does reflect the needs the most vulnerable around the world. I look forward to meeting with the noble Baroness in due course, and I have received her correspondence in this respect.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I declare my interests as stated in the register.

The Statement concludes that the new FCDO will project the UK as an ever-stronger force for good in the world. “Good” would mean supporting our US allies in extending the arms embargo on the terror-sponsoring Iranian regime. “Good” would mean not only wholeheartedly and unconditionally welcoming the UAE-Israel agreement but also helping to build on it. “Good” would also mean consistently voting in the right camp at the United Nations, and ensuring that our generous aid to the Palestinians is rechannelled directly to the Palestinian people, because we know that so much of it is being misused and misappropriated. Can I therefore ask the Minister whether the new department will acknowledge where mistakes have been made and correct them? Then, we can indeed project the UK as an even stronger force for good in the world.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend, that it is important that we talk about our role as a force for good. As Minister for Human Rights, I believe that the merger of the Foreign Commonwealth Office with the Department of International Development allows us to directly align our values agenda with the important support we give to the most vulnerable communities around the world. The noble Lord mentioned, in particular, the recent agreement reached between the UAE and Israel. He knows that I welcome that, and I know the UK Government have welcomed that, as forward progress in reaching out and ensuring that we see lasting peace in the Middle East. It is an important step forward. On the issue of the UN and the United Kingdom’s consistency of statements, as he will be aware, we have, for example, strengthened our position on the Human Rights Council. I agree with my noble friend: not only the Palestinian people but any recipient of aid, anywhere in the world, must be the direct beneficiary. Where there are shortcomings, and things need to improve, we will do just that.

China

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 22nd July 2020

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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)
- Hansard - -

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
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 23rd June 2020

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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)
- Hansard - -

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
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(10 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for International Development
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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)
- Hansard - -

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
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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.

Middle East Peace Plan

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 30th January 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, on the point about annexation, the noble Lord mentioned the Golan Heights. When the United States made that statement in support of Israel, we made our position clear: we are against annexation, which is against international law. I reiterate that annexation of any territory unilaterally is against international law.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, it is a strange phenomenon that so many noble Lords are quick to reject the proposals. What do they know better than the Egyptians, the Saudis, the Bahrainis and the UAE, who have all welcomed the proposals? That is a promising sign, but most notable is the statement from Qatar. So often in the rejectionist camp, Qatar is now calling on the Palestinians and Israelis to sit down together. What efforts is my noble friend making with the Palestinian leadership to encourage them to sit down and talk rather than reject the initiative as, sadly, they have done too often in history?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, my noble friend is right that certain parts of the Arab world share the objective of the plan’s being a first step. Countries have made statements according to how they view it. On the issue of engagement with the Palestinians, and I have said, we hope that the Palestinians engage on the first step of the proposals. We are making efforts. As I said earlier, my right honourable friend has spoken to President Abbas, and we will meet the Palestinian representative to London later today.

Iran: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 14th January 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, what I can say in response to the noble Lord is that we consistently make the point to the United States, in all our exchanges, about the importance of retention. We have a different view on the JCPOA. Obviously, the United States left the JCPOA, and that was very much its unilateral decision. We do not agree with that. We still believe that there is a role for the JCPOA. It has been shown to work. The triggering of the mechanism will, we hope, also allow a continued commitment to the JCPOA.

The important issue in all this is that we need to see a decrease in tensions. The noble Lord talked of Qasem Soleimani; we debated that in your Lordships’ House. I speak for Her Majesty’s Government, and at all times the role we have sought to play in the first instance is one of de-escalation and in the second of ensuring that we keep all diplomatic channels fully open, whether we are talking about the current tensions or the situation around the JCPOA.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I welcome the decision to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism. The suggestion from some noble Lords that Iran has kept to its side of the JCPOA in full is deeply questionable. One of the major criticisms of the JCPOA at the beginning was that it allowed Iran to continue its destabilisation of the region, so does the Minister agree that the only way forward is a complete redrafting, with provisions to curtail Iran’s international aggression and financing of terror that were omitted from the original agreement?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that we have triggered this particular mechanism for the reason I reiterated. I do not think that the Statement I repeated from my right honourable friend could be any clearer; it was very clear in the detail. I state again that this was not a UK decision but one that we took in absolute lockstep with our European partners: namely, Germany and France.

We have been deeply concerned by Iran’s continuing destabilising influence in the wider region as well and continue to make that point. My noble friend talked about limitations in the original deal. I have already said during this discussion that there were limitations to that deal. It did not cover certain elements, including ballistic missiles. I have also alluded to the fact—my right honourable friend the Prime Minister also made this point in September—that the JCPOA is the deal that we currently have. There may well be a time in the future when we look at a more all-encompassing deal that ensures that the United States can return to the table as well as Iran. It is the United Kingdom’s view that we will continue to ensure that every element of this deal is sustained and that we do not leave out any avenue that can ensure its retention, but at the same time we will work towards diplomatic solutions to what are rising tensions in the region.

Gaza

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 15th May 2018

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That will be a matter for the independent investigation. Of course, the investigation will look at the principles of international humanitarian law and then report back appropriately. That is why we are supportive of this transparent and independent process.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, at the core of the Jewish religion, as with other religions, is the importance of the sanctity of life—“Kiddush HaShem” in Hebrew. I therefore mourn any loss of life. It is easy to blame one side or the other without having facts. I will give your Lordships just one fact. Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, stated just last month:

“We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies”.

Also last month, Israel destroyed the largest and deepest Hamas tunnel into the territory. Will the Minister join me in condemning all violence, as well as Hamas’s continued development of its underground terror structure, its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately sending its own people towards the border fence into danger?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am sure I join all noble Lords in condemning violence and the loss of innocent life anywhere in the world. We must now see progressive action to ensure that the lives that were lost recently were not lost in vain.

Freedom of Religion and Belief

Debate between Lord Polak and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 18th January 2018

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right reverend Prelate is right to draw attention to the detail. I have written specifically on that point to the APPG. There are assessment criteria that colleagues at DfID apply. Those ensure that freedom of religion and belief, as well as other elements of the wider human rights agenda, as I said, are protected in the support that we provide.

Lord Polak Portrait Lord Polak (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, can I bring us back home and welcome this week’s announcement by Sajid Javid that the Government will fund a new strand of the Lessons from Auschwitz programme in support of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Union of Jewish Students to tackle anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance on campus? Does the Minister agree with me that it may be a welcome initiative if each political party—some more than others—would ensure that all future candidates be taken on such an educational visit before they enter Parliament?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My noble friend is quite right to raise the important issue of anti-Semitism. It is a scourge that we all despise, and it is important that we come together and raise our voices wherever we see religion being used to discriminate, be it anti-Semitism or Islamophobia—or any particular view or belief. On the specific point of Auschwitz, if I may provide a personal anecdote, I remember visiting Auschwitz with schoolchildren just before I took on my ministerial responsibilities at the Department for Communities and Local Government. As anyone who has been there knows, while we have heard about it and may have seen films about it, the first experience you have is chilling, and then you reflect on the importance of what is in front of you. I totally agree with my noble friend: it ensures that your mind becomes focused, that never means never, and that we never allow such a genocide to take place again.