Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 26th April 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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5. What recent steps she has taken to strengthen the UK’s economic and security relationship with India.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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15. What recent diplomatic steps she has taken to strengthen the UK’s economic and security relationship with India.

Elizabeth Truss Portrait The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Elizabeth Truss)
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India is the world’s largest democracy and a key partner of the United Kingdom. We are deepening our defence and security ties, as well as securing a trade deal by the end of the year.

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Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss
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My hon. Friend is a huge champion for the Indian community in Harrow East, and he is right: India is a democracy. We want to work more closely with India and other democracies to reduce dependence on authoritarian regimes such as Russia. We can do that by working more closely with India on defence, which is what the Prime Minister was doing on his visit to India last week, and more closely on trade and investment, so that democracies are working with each other and we are less dependent on regimes such as Russia that have ill intent.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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Following on from that, will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the progress made by the Prime Minister last week to boost security in the Indo-Pacific? Will she confirm that following his trip, the UK will continue to work closely with our friends in India to deliver a more secure and prosperous future for both our peoples in the UK and in India?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss
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That is right. First, we are working more closely with India on defence, to benefit industries in both our countries and make our countries more secure and less dependent on authoritarian regimes. At the same time, we will be delivering more commercial benefits. When the Prime Minister was in India he confirmed deals of more than £1 billion, creating almost 11,000 new jobs in the United Kingdom. There are huge opportunities for more jobs in India and the United Kingdom, and more security for both our countries.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
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The UK does not and will never accept dual nationals being used for political leverage, so I am not going to amplify whatever claims the Iranian regime have made about them. Our message and the message that I hope the right hon. Gentleman and every other Member of the House would echo is that the Iranian regime must release our people.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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As my right hon. Friend will know, in 2019, the Foreign Secretary visited Iran, where he raised the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe with Foreign Minister Zarif. Since then, what other discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with the Minister to try to resolve this and is any progress being made in each of these communications?

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
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As I have said, we engage regularly at the most senior levels with the Iranian Government. We had diplomatic engagement to secure Nazanin’s initial furlough and the removal of the ankle tag. Our ambassador visited Nazanin at her home last week. We raise the case regularly; the Prime Minister raised it in his recent call with President Rouhani and the Foreign Secretary did so in his call to Foreign Minister Zarif. The British ambassador to Tehran has formally protested Nazanin’s continued confinement. We will raise this on every occasion where we have an opportunity to speak with the Iranian regime. We will continue to push this until all our British dual nationals are released and allowed to return home.

Official Development Assistance

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 26th November 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I will take that encouragement, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman asked about two things. I accept the premise that our security is strengthened by the action we take abroad, although of course that includes the reverse proposition, which is that our defence and security spend abroad—including some of the stuff that is covered by ODA and some of the stuff that is not—also has a soft power impact. I mentioned cyber earlier. The creation of the new National Cyber Force and artificial intelligence agency is important to protect us here but it will also reinforce the capabilities of our most vulnerable partners abroad. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned health. I have explained at some length why we will be safeguarding and prioritising our international public health spending.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. While I am a supporter of our 0.7% commitment, I understand that in these difficult times tough decisions have to be made. Will he therefore again confirm that it is the Government’s intention to return to 0.7% when the situation allows? Will he also join me in reminding the House that while the Opposition are expressing outrage, the Labour Government never hit 0.7%? Our 0.5% will stand very well in comparison.

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Labour barely hit 0.5%, let alone 0.7%. I accept that there is cross-party concern about this challenging set of circumstances and these difficult decisions. The difference is that we are making these difficult decisions and we are being honest and upfront with the British public about it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 13th October 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have just signed a deal with Japan, and we have signed a continuity deal with South Korea. We are looking at a second one, and we have ambitions for scoping talks in relation to that, so that we can improve in areas such as data. We are making good progress on Vietnam. That is precisely the way in trade negotiations we will represent the businesses and consumers of all four nations of the United Kingdom, and that is the way we will continue.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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What progress the Government have made through international co-operation on tackling climate change.

Duncan Baker Portrait Duncan Baker (North Norfolk) (Con)
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What progress the Government have made through international co-operation on tackling climate change.

James Duddridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (James Duddridge)
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The Government are fully committed to independent parliamentary scrutiny in this House. The Foreign Secretary has already announced our commitment to maintaining the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. He has also announced a departmental review to make ICAI even more effective, leveraging what works and producing more practical recommendations. This will make scrutiny stronger.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe [V]
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I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. What steps is he is taking to deliver the COP 26 goals when he engages with foreign Governments around the world?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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May I apologise to the House? In my enthusiasm sharing a joke with you, Mr Speaker, I had the wrong page on my briefing and so answered in advance the question tabled by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran). I apologise to the House for my enthusiasm.

I thank my constituency near neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for South Basildon and East Thurrock (Stephen Metcalfe), for his question. We are committed to COP 26 through the presidency of G7 next year. We will be urging Governments to be bold in what they are hoping to achieve. Indeed, we are co-hosting events with the UN on 12 December to mark the fifth anniversary of the climate agreement.

China

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 20th July 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this point. I made it clear in my statement that we value the contribution that travelling Chinese make, both touristically and in terms of universities. This is also a timely opportunity to tell the British-Chinese community here, who are among the most hard-working, productive and socially engaged members of our communities, how welcome they are and that we will have no truck in this House—certainly not on the Government Benches—with this descending into jingoism or any racism against them. They are incredibly important members of our community and society.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his robust statement. Does he agree that the national security law is not only to the detriment of the people of Hong Kong but doing great damage to China itself, and that that needs to be pointed out to China?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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My hon. Friend is right. In relation to Hong Kong, it is proving how counterproductive this step is, not just for the residents there, but for the broader people of China, given the economic, financial and reputational issues at stake.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 25th June 2019

(4 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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I talked very openly with President Trump about the fact that we disagreed. He also had extensive discussions with other people on his visit. I do not comment on royal conversations, but I do know he spent a lot of time with His Royal Highness Prince Charles. The point I would gently make to the right hon. Lady is that when we disagree with our friends we do have these conversations and it would be great if she did the same with people like Maduro and Putin as well.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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10. What recent progress the Government have made in strengthening the UK’s special relationship with the US.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
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As it happens, we are on the same topic. The state visit of President Trump was a tremendous success, although the absence of the Leader of the Opposition from the state banquet was noted but not regretted.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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I am sure my right hon. Friend will therefore agree that those who tried to disrupt and denigrate the recent state visit of the President of the United States were deliberately and shockingly trying to damage our special relationship and betray what the President has rightly called the greatest alliance in history.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Every day I walk up the Foreign Office staircase and pass a bust of one of our greatest Foreign Secretaries, Earnest Bevin, who was both a Labour Foreign Secretary and one of the founders of NATO. What a betrayal of his remarkable legacy to have a Labour leader who takes money from Iranian state TV and is a friend of terrorists.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 26th February 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alistair Burt Portrait Alistair Burt
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As I think the House knows, I have been anxious for many years to ensure that this is not a lost cause and that we have to keep at it. It remains fundamental in the region, and we will keep at it. The recognition of a state of Palestine would not, per se, end the issue, but we are pledged to do that when it is in the best interests of peace and of the peace process in the region.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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8. What plans he has to expand the UK’s diplomatic network after the UK leaves the EU.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
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On 31 October, I announced the largest expansion of our diplomatic network for a generation. It involves opening 14 new diplomatic posts and 335 additional personnel overseas, and it will raise the number of sovereign missions to 161, second only to the USA and China.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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I have seen at first hand the value of our missions around the world to raising our global aspirations, so I particularly welcome the announcement of the new posts and missions in Africa. What thought has been given to ensuring that those roles work across trade, diplomacy and development?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to ask that question, particularly about Africa, where the high commissioner or ambassador is the most senior person on the ground and has people from all Government Departments in the UK reporting to him. Making sure that we have a one-Government approach to our diplomacy will be a central part of our new fusion doctrine.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 18th October 2016

(7 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Tobias Ellwood Portrait Mr Ellwood
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When trade opportunities arise, it is not simply just having companies that want to work there, it is also the element of trust that exists between the two nations. Our legacy, heritage and history—and the trust that exists—are exactly what we need to leverage, as well as the wonderful companies that we have to provide support across a wide range of sectors.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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9. What recent discussions he has had with his (a) Iraqi and (b) other international counterparts on the political situation in Iraq.

Tobias Ellwood Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Tobias Ellwood)
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I met the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Dr Ibrahim al-Jaafari, last week here in London at the Iraq-UK bilateral forum. The Foreign Secretary and I met other Foreign and Defence Ministers at the Washington conference on defeating Daesh held in the summer.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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As my hon. Friend will know, the Kurdistan regional government has, for a long time, been short-changed—if not cut off completely—by the Government in Baghdad. Although there are some promising signs, Iraqi federalism needs to be genuine, with reliable revenue sharing. Will my hon. Friend convey that to his Iraqi counterparts and remind them of the contribution that the Kurds and the peshmerga are making in pushing back the advances of Daesh?

Tobias Ellwood Portrait Mr Ellwood
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I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the incredible work and bravery of the peshmerga. They are one of the toughest fighting forces in Iraq, and it is important that they are working with the newly trained Iraqi forces in the liberation of the city of Mosul, which has now begun. He is also right to raise concerns about the relationship between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. We have long maintained that it is important, and in our interests, to see a united Iraq, but recognising the federated models. It is in the constitution and, to that end, I was pleased that the bilateral forum that we had last week also included Falah Mustafa, the spokesman on foreign affairs for Kurdistan.

Daesh: Syria/Iraq

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 16th December 2015

(8 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Hammond of Runnymede Portrait Mr Hammond
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Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives in Syria and people are continuing to lose their lives in Syria, both as a result of Daesh’s systematic murder and as a result of Assad’s indiscriminate barrel bombing and chemical attacks on civilian populations, so I am afraid I can give the hon. Gentleman no assurance whatsoever that we will not see similar levels of casualties in Syria. The only way we can seek to prevent them is to bring the bloody civil war to an end and then bring the rule of Daesh over a third of Syria’s territory to an end as quickly as possible.

On the first part of his question, the hon. Gentleman is right. This group of 34 countries is, of course, committed to the challenge of defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria, but it is at its heart a self-help group—34 countries coming together, recognising that any one of them can be attacked by Daesh or Daesh-affiliated groups, and allowing them to call on each other to provide mutual assistance in responding to such an attack. Of course the hon. Gentleman is right that we have to destroy not only the manifestations of this organisation, but the underpinning ideology. That will be a much longer task and I do not expect it to be completed in my lifetime.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I am pleased that we are finally targeting the oilfields in an attempt to cut off Daesh’s illicit funds, but can my right hon. Friend tell the House why it is only now that we have joined the coalition for airstrikes that we are hitting these oilfields and trying to cut off that source of income? Are there any other places that we should be hitting which form a greater part of our overall strategy?

Lord Hammond of Runnymede Portrait Mr Hammond
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Maybe I missed something in my hon. Friend’s question. The simple answer is that it is because they are in Syria and until 14 days ago we were not authorised to strike at targets in Syria. A crucial part of our argument was that we needed to take the fight to Daesh in Syria—its command and control headquarters, its supply lines and its sources of economic support.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd December 2014

(9 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Tobias Ellwood Portrait Mr Ellwood
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As has been made clear before, we feel that it is best that refugees are kept closer to the region so that they can return. The whole House should pay tribute to Lebanon for its work in taking 1.2 million refugees, which, as the hon. Gentleman says, is almost a quarter of its population. The UK Government have provided more than £273 million to help with stability in the area and to support refugees there.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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13. What recent progress the Government have made on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership.

David Lidington Portrait The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington)
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The seventh round of negotiations concluded in October, and our ambition remains to agree a deal next year that could benefit the average British family by £400 a year.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Will he confirm that as part of his negotiations, he will reiterate that signing TTIP is not the start of the privatisation of the NHS?

David Lidington Portrait Mr Lidington
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I can absolutely confirm that to my hon. Friend. In early October, both the United States and EU chief negotiators made it clear in public statements that there would be no provisions in the trade agreement that would limit the ability of Governments to regulate health provision or other public services.