20 Penny Mordaunt debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Ceasefire in Gaza

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss
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That point is crucial. We know what the consequences will be if there is no ceasefire and we continue as we are now: thousands more people will die. We do not need to question that, because we know that it will happen, and it will be on our conscience if we choose not to act.

I have never received more emails about an issue, and I know that I have that in common with many other Members in all parts of the House. So far, more than 3,000 people have contacted me about this issue. The ongoing demonstrations outside the House and in towns, villages and cities across these isles show the strength of feeling about the conflict in Gaza, which brings together people from all backgrounds—people who have never protested before, but who see an injustice happening and want us, as parliamentarians, to do something about it.

We all know that peace can be possible, but that it starts with tentative steps. Ceasefires are not easy. The hon. Members for Foyle (Colum Eastwood) and for Belfast South (Claire Hanna) described their experiences, and others brought dispatches from their conversations and visits to the region. We are under no illusions about the challenges, but we must try. In this place we have a duty. We have an obligation, a very special obligation, when it comes to the middle east. During every moment for which we delay and equivocate, more people die. It could not be more crucial than that. This is not a debate about semantics or procedures; it is about principle. It is about the people of Gaza. It is about saving lives.

The hostages must be released. Aid must be allowed in. Negotiations must begin. It is on all our consciences here in this place if we do not stand with our international partners, with countries around the world, with international aid organisations and with the United Nations. We must have a ceasefire, and we must have it now.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Penny Mordaunt)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that Mr Speaker is a servant of this House and that he takes his responsibilities to us extremely seriously. It is that duty towards us and our rights as Members in this place that commands our respect of him.

We all have obligations in this place to ensure that all views can be expressed, and that individual Members and parties of all colours and sizes can have their say. As a Member on the Government Benches, sometimes that is difficult during Opposition day debates, as motions are always deliberately confected to try to engineer the greatest possible backlash against Members. But we on the Government Benches have never asked that the procedures of this House be upturned to militate against such pressures, even when we have faced extreme abuse. Mr Speaker has stated in the decision that he has taken today, and that he is entitled to take, that he wished for all propositions on the Order Paper to be put to the House.

However, that decision has raised temperatures in this House on an issue where feelings are already running high, and that has put right hon. and hon. Members in a more difficult position. It also appears, from the advice of his Clerk, that the decision was taken against the long-standing and established processes and procedures of this House, and that the consequence may be that the Government are not able to respond to Opposition day motions. As such, the Government do not have confidence that they will be able to vote on their own amendment. For that reason, the Government will play no further part in the decision this House takes on today’s proceedings.

I would like to stress that the Government’s position on Israel and Gaza remains unchanged, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister outlined today. We want to see the fighting in Gaza end as soon as possible, and we never again want to see Hamas carry out the appalling terrorist attacks that Israel was subject to. We know that just calling for an immediate ceasefire now, which collapses back into fighting within days or weeks, is not in anyone’s interests. We will be reiterating the Government’s position via a written ministerial statement. I fear that this most grave matter that we are discussing this afternoon has become a political row within the Labour party, and that regrettably—[Interruption.]

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Order. I want to hear the point of order.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I fear that, regrettably, Mr Speaker has inserted himself into that row with today’s decision and undermined the confidence of this House in its ability to rely on its long-established Standing Orders to govern its debates—long-established conventions that should not be impaired by the current view of a weak Leader of the Opposition and a divided party. I ask that Mr Speaker take the opportunity to reassure all right hon. and hon. Members that their Speaker—our Speaker—will not seek to undermine those rights in order to protect the interests of particular Members, and that future Opposition day debates will not be hijacked in this way. I say that for the benefit of all Members. [Interruption.]

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. I thank the right hon. Lady for alerting me to her point of order. I will take further points of order, but I think it will be helpful if I explain that if the Government do not move their amendment, the Questions will be first on the current amendment, and secondly on the motion itself, either as amended or in its original form. I hope that is helpful. [Interruption.] It would be helpful if I could be heard, thank you. [Interruption.] Order. I will first take a point of order from the shadow Leader of the House.

UK Telecommunications

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 28th January 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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On the enforcement side, the first thing that the Government will do is come up with the guidance and requirements for the industry, which I am sure that it will want to comply with. That will be followed very swiftly by legislation to make sure that we have legally binding, thorough, consistent and rigorous enforcement of all the different requirements. The hon. Lady is right to talk more broadly about not just defending against high-risk vendors but building up a wider, more diverse supply of UK-based operators. That obviously requires fiscal measures, international co-operation with our partners and a range of other regulatory considerations. All those are going to be looked at by the Government.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I understand the restriction of high-risk vendors to non-core, but does my right hon. Friend agree that excluding high-risk vendors from any provision is one way that we can discourage companies and states that do not operate under international norms and business standards? That is why this decision is regrettable. Does he agree that this country must never find itself in this position again?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend. I agree with the second part of her question, and I have laid out at length the legal, regulatory and fiscal measures that the Government will consider taking to prevent this from happening. I and the Government do not believe that an outright ban would address in a targeted way people’s legitimate security concerns about high-risk vendors. It would be a very blunt tool to address a very specific problem.

British Children: Syria

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd October 2019

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Murrison
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As I said, we have been working over the past several days, and indeed for some considerable time, to better understand the situation in al-Hawl camp, in particular, to satisfy ourselves that we know who is there and who we might have responsibility for in some way or another, moral or legal, to work up a plan on how to deal with that. That is irrespective of the ceasefire, but the ceasefire is important because it makes things a lot easier when we are trying to get in place a plan to assist those we think we have a duty towards.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I understand very well the ethical, legal and practical difficulties of repatriating children, especially those who are not orphans. Many of the partners we work with would not want to take a child from their parents, even in these circumstances. Surely our hand would be strengthened in being able to do the right thing if taking a child to a war zone and all the horrors that accompany it were seen as a form of child abuse. Will the Minister please ask Government lawyers to look at this to see whether we can strengthen our hand in taking children back who are not orphans, and also that we have more in our arsenal to enable us to prosecute those who have taken children overseas?

Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Murrison
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My right hon. Friend is fully familiar with all this territory. Of course, some of the children will have been born in Syria, which I think illustrates the complexity that I referred to earlier and the reason that we need to take an individual approach to each and every case. In general, of course it is absolutely right that a child should not be separated from its mother in particular. That is a strong principle that we should adhere to, but as I say, this situation is rapidly evolving and we have to consider each case individually.

Turkish Incursion into Northern Syria

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 15th October 2019

(4 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I thank the Chair of the Brexit Committee. I would share many of his concerns in relation to this. The key point right now is to be working with our allies right across the transatlantic spectrum, with NATO, the US and our European friends, to try to exercise maximum restraint and maximum leverage on Turkey. Both in this case and more generally—because we will see a whole range of threats posed to this transatlantic alliance—we need to work out that some of the differences between us pale into insignificance compared with the challenges and the threats we face. This is one such example. We must redouble our efforts to cement the NATO alliance and work together collaboratively.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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In some respects, NATO has never been stronger—budgets are increasing and readiness is improving—but these actions by Turkey and recent reports of the atrocities being committed by Turkish troops, combined with recent decisions on defence procurement, are incompatible with the values and undertakings of a NATO partner. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will do everything he can to ensure that this issue is gripped within NATO and that any British citizens who are legitimately in that region are protected?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I thank my right hon. Friend. The Government share her assessment. NATO has never been stronger, but it also faces unprecedented and novel threats and strains within it in relation to burden sharing but also the different political views that are there. In relation to Turkey itself, she makes quite an important point in relation to, I think, the arms purchases from Russia. We need to be very careful to exercise absolute clarity with our Turkish partners and allies to be clear that they must end this incursion, but equally—I think this is the point she was making—to avoid driving Turkey into the arms of Russia and President Putin.

Iraq and Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 16th June 2014

(9 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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We give that a very high priority, but these events show that we cannot do too much and that we might need to do a lot more over the coming months and years. We give it a high priority and my right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Warsi has done a great deal of work on it as part of her work on freedom of religion, which is also about bringing different religious leaders together. Our embassies across the middle east do a great deal of work as well. The right hon. Gentleman is right that this is not just about political leaders; it is about religious leaders and other leading figures in society in many of the countries concerned. We have insisted all along that the Syrian national coalition must represent religious reconciliation and people of all faiths in Syria. I think the answer is that we do a great deal, but we must acknowledge that more will need to be done.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I congratulate the Front-Bench team and their counterparts in the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Justice on the work they have done over the past four years to promote women’s rights across the globe. I am saddened that, as momentum behind the issues has grown, some of the media have chosen to belittle the contribution of Angelina Jolie at the recent conference rather than focus on the issues that she cares about. In the light of that, what would my right hon. Friend’s advice be to Bono?

Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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I hesitate to give advice to Bono, but it is nevertheless important for us to ensure that this work reaches all parts of the world. It is vital work, as my hon. Friend describes. Governments cannot reach all opinion formers everywhere in the world and so the contribution of my co-host at the sexual violence summit, Angelina Jolie, is immense in getting the message across to countries that would never otherwise hear about the work or never necessarily take any interest in the summit that we held. I advise everyone to take full heed of that work and give it full support as that is the only way to tackle some of the worst crimes that we are seeing anywhere in the world.

Ukraine

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 13th May 2014

(9 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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Yes, absolutely it could be, and over the next six weeks there will be further meetings of NATO Defence Ministers and of NATO Foreign Ministers, which I will attend in the run-up to the summit we will host in Wales. We have not felt it necessary to take decisions yet about such longer-term deployments; that will depend on how this crisis develops, but we absolutely do not exclude the possibility of doing exactly as the hon. Gentleman mentions.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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What assessment has been made of the impact of Russia’s actions on its own economy, and how much more damaging would the proposed further trade sanctions be over and above these self-inflicted wounds, which presumably Russia thinks are a price worth paying?

Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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Russia’s actions have contributed to its mounting economic problems. One of the main international forecasts for Russia’s economic growth has been downgraded for the coming year from 2.3% to 0.2%. Russia’s Finance Ministry has announced that its economy shrank in the first quarter of this year. The flight of capital from Russia so far this year is now thought to be of the order of $80 billion. Russia’s bonds have been downgraded one level so they are now only one level above junk status. These things have all happened in the last couple of months, and are therefore partly linked to this crisis. This is why I emphasise some of the long-term costs to Russia and repeat that it is in Russia’s interests now to find, with the OSCE and the rest of us, a path of de-escalation.

Ukraine

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 28th April 2014

(9 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I welcome the escalation of sanctions and note what my right hon. Friend said about Russia’s self-inflicted wounds to her economy and her standing in the world. What is his message today to any individual or company that is considering investing in or doing business with Russia?

Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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We have not declared a trade war or a boycott of Russia. There are British companies with huge investments in Russia that made those investments in good faith. If it comes to the adoption of more far-reaching economic, trade and financial measures, that will have an impact on some of those companies. However, any such message is for that point. We are not declaring an economic boycott of Russia today.

Ukraine

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 18th March 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I apologise to the House for not having been present for the whole debate—I was speaking in Westminster Hall—and as a consequence, I shall be brief.

The more complex a situation, the clearer we should be about what is in our national interest. The sovereignty of states must be respected and the right to self-determination must be upheld in Ukraine, as it must in Moldova, Georgia, Serbia and elsewhere. Ukraine must continue to develop to become a stable democracy, free from corruption, and its economy must develop too. NATO members must have confidence that the alliance will protect their sovereignty and interests, and international law must be upheld. It is directly in the UK’s national interests that those things are so, so what actions and inactions follow from those objectives?

First, we must support Ukraine economically and politically and allow its civic development. Secondly, Ukraine must lead the response to developments in Crimea. Thirdly, we must not recognise the result of the referendum as legitimate. Whatever the outcome of a further ballot, should it happen, Putin and Russia must face the repercussions of their actions. No one disputes that Russia has an interest in the future of the Crimean peninsula, but in response to events in Kiev and Crimea, Putin pursued not legal diplomacy but illegal aggression. It was only because of Ukraine’s restraint and the cool-headedness of her troops that we did not have bloodshed.

Sanctions must be proportionate to Russia’s actions and must be escalated if she continues to pursue the same policy, and we must lend our support to the Ukrainian Government if they wish to prevent Russia from gaining a deep hold on Crimea through banking, technology, political and civil structures and the military. We must also ensure that the situation in Crimea is properly observed and reported on.

I am sure that many Members who have spoken in the debate have touched on the failure of British and EU foreign policy to prevent the current situation from arising, and perhaps even suggested that it has exacerbated it. I might agree with some of those sentiments, but today I will constrain myself to saying that we must learn from the situation. We must work with the EU, the US and others to present Russia with compelling reasons to stop the hostilities. However, a lack of consensus should not prevent the United Kingdom from defending her interests vigorously. Russia should be in no doubt that by taking the steps she has in the past few weeks, she has damaged her interests in the extreme, and she should know that we will defend our own.

The situation will not be easily or swiftly resolved, but Britain should commit to the process for the long term. We may have been slow getting out of the blocks, or perhaps we were not even at the starting line when the gun was fired, but we must catch up. The message from the House today must be that we are determined to do so.

Ukraine

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 4th March 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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Yes, I agree. All the words that the hon. Gentleman has used are important in that respect: in this situation, the nations of the European Union and the European Council when it meets on Thursday are required to be united, robust and calm. As I have explained to the House, the options for further measures are open. As I have also said, it is important that there should be costs to behaviour of this kind. I very strongly believe that.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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What conclusions can be drawn from the fact that Russian troops in Crimea have not worn any marks of identification or insignia?

Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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That happened in the early stages of the Russian operation, and it was clearly designed to try to conceal the fact that it was a Russian operation. However, all such pretence was subsequently cast aside, because many thousands of Russian troops appear to have been deployed to Crimea. It shows that this was a well-planned, perhaps a long-planned, operation, and that it was put into force in a way that tried to minimise the reaction of the international community.

Ukraine, Syria and Iran

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 24th February 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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I was just thinking, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the precedent of not asking a question that had been asked before could revolutionise proceedings in this House—and indeed the answers.

The hon. Lady has asked a different question though, and a very important one. Our discussions are primarily with the Treasury about support from the IMF programme. The Chancellor has been discussing this with his G20 colleagues at their meeting in Australia this weekend and I will discuss it with the IMF in Washington this week, so we are in close touch about how not just Britain but the world can provide that financial assistance, but in a way that meets conditions so that we know that it will be used for genuine and productive purposes.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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I thank the Foreign Secretary for making this statement, as it is vital that there is clarity about what is in our national interest and what we are prepared to do to protect it for the benefit of a domestic audience as well as a foreign one. Is there similar resolve among the foreign ministries of other EU member states?

Lord Hague of Richmond Portrait Mr Hague
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Yes, I hope and believe so. I think we are all clear that what I set out earlier is our primary interest here—a Ukraine with democracy and freedom of expression that respects human rights. That is then the basis of everything else. It can then make its own decisions about how it wants to work with the EU and Russia. I will certainly continue to make this point, and I think we have it in common with our EU partners.