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Written Question
Western Sahara: Human Rights
Tuesday 24th October 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support the human rights of the Saharawi people.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, including in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps. We have consistently supported language in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions that encourages the parties to continue their efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara, including the freedoms of expression and association. We strongly support the work of Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, and welcomed his September 2023 visit to the region, including to Western Sahara, and we continue to engage key partners to encourage constructive engagement with the political process.


Written Question
Western Sahara: Human Rights
Tuesday 24th October 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help prevent breaches of international humanitarian law in Western Sahara.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK is committed to the promotion of respect for International Humanitarian Law worldwide. With regard to Western Sahara, we strongly support the work of Staffan de Mistura, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, and welcomed his September 2023 visit to the region, including to Western Sahara, and we continue to encourage constructive engagement with the political process.


Written Question
Saudi Arabia: Human Rights
Monday 23rd October 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and whether he has raised that matter with his Saudi Arabian counterpart.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

It is a long-established precedent that information about the discussions that have taken place in Cabinet and its Committees, and how often they have met, is not normally shared publicly. Saudi Arabia remains an FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. We will continue to discuss human rights with the Saudi authorities through a range of Ministerial and official channels.


Written Question
Saudi Arabia: Human Rights
Monday 23rd October 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to have discussions with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia on that country's human rights situation during his planned visit to the UK.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Saudi Arabia remains an FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. Our latest published assessment of human rights in Saudi Arabia can be found in the 2022 FCDO Human Rights and Democracy Report. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia enables us to engage candidly on human rights. The Minister for the Middle East, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, regularly discusses human rights with the Saudi authorities, including the Saudi Vice Foreign Minister and Saudi Ambassador in London. Lord Ahmad, senior HMG officials, and non-governmental figures and organisations engaged in constructive dialogue with the Saudi Human Rights Commission during their first official visit to the UK on 26-29 September. We will continue to discuss human rights with the Saudi authorities through a range of Ministerial and official channels.


Written Question
Saudi Arabia: Human Rights
Monday 23rd October 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has reviewed the Saudi Arabia's human rights record ahead of the Crown Prince’s planned visit to the UK.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Saudi Arabia remains an FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. Our latest published assessment of human rights in Saudi Arabia can be found in the 2022 FCDO Human Rights and Democracy Report. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia enables us to engage candidly on human rights. The Minister for the Middle East, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, regularly discusses human rights with the Saudi authorities, including the Saudi Vice Foreign Minister and Saudi Ambassador in London. Lord Ahmad, senior HMG officials, and non-governmental figures and organisations engaged in constructive dialogue with the Saudi Human Rights Commission during their first official visit to the UK on 26-29 September. We will continue to discuss human rights with the Saudi authorities through a range of Ministerial and official channels.


Written Question
Development Aid: Climate Change
Tuesday 19th September 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress his Department has made on meeting its commitment to deliver £11.6 billion in climate finance to vulnerable countries by 2026.

Answered by Andrew Mitchell - Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)

The UK spent over £1.4 billion on international climate finance in 2021/22 and will publish figures for 2022/23 in due course.


Written Question
Customs: Cairnryan Port
Wednesday 22nd March 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she is taking steps with the Scottish Government to help ensure that illicit and unsafe goods from the EU are not able to enter the UK through Cairnryan.

Answered by Leo Docherty - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK Government is unequivocal in its commitment for unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods to the whole United Kingdom market. As to goods which do not qualify for unfettered access, anti-avoidance provisions are already in place to deal with businesses moving their goods through Northern Ireland with a view to avoiding UK customs duties or customs formalities. HMRC also has the ability to seize illicit goods, issue assessments and charge penalties where there is evidence of deliberate non-compliance. We will continue to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations to ensure a coordinated approach to the border.


Written Question
UK Internal Trade: Northern Ireland
Tuesday 21st March 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposed Windsor Framework on the level of impact on businesses of the regulatory compliance required for the movement of (a) agricultural and (b) other goods from (i) Northern Ireland to Great Britain and (ii) Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Answered by Leo Docherty - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Windsor Framework removes an extensive range of bureaucracy and checks that the old Protocol otherwise applied for internal UK trade. The green lane will mean that goods being sold in Northern Ireland will be freed of unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties, using only ordinary commercial information rather than customs processes or complex certification requirements for agrifood. In contrast, trade moving into the EU will be subject to normal third country processes and requirements. We have also secured full unfettered access for Northern Irish firms to the whole UK market. This provides a fundamental change to smooth the flow of internal UK trade.


Written Question
Windsor Framework: Impact Assessments
Tuesday 21st March 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department will publish an economic impact assessment of the proposed Windsor Framework, broken down by the impact on each UK nation.

Answered by Leo Docherty - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Windsor Framework was presented to Parliament on 27 February. The UK will take forward implementing measures as necessary, providing the basis for these new arrangements to enter into force, which will be accompanied by supporting documents in the usual way.


Written Question
Windsor Framework: Impact Assessments
Tuesday 21st March 2023

Asked by: Richard Thomson (Scottish National Party - Gordon)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to publish an economic impact assessment of the Windsor Framework before a Parliamentary vote on this issue.

Answered by Leo Docherty - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Windsor Framework was presented to Parliament on 27 February. The UK will take forward implementing measures as necessary, providing the basis for these new arrangements to enter into force, which will be accompanied by supporting documents in the usual way.