Live International Development Questions House of Commons


Live International Development Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and her team of ministers.


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CHEERING

Order. Questions to the Secretary of

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State for International Development,

Mr Peter Heaton-Jones.

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International element secretary,

Penny Mordaunt.

The UK Government

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directly challenges other

governments who criminalised

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homosexuality. We support LGBT

people through tackling exclusion

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and violence against them, and

increasing their access to services.

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LGBT inclusion has been included as

one of the eight priority areas

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through DFID's UK connect programme.

I am grateful to the Secretary of

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State for that answer. Does she

agree with me that having been part

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of the Government that has led on

LGBT rights in the UK, but our

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international aid programme now has

a significant part to play in taking

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that leadership on the international

stage?

Absolutely, I agree with my

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honourable friend. I believe having

the freedom to be three wire and

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reach full potential is vital if

nations are to reach their full

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potential.

36 out of 53 Commonwealth countries

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continue to criminalise

homosexuality. What conversation has

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the Secretary of State had with her

Cabinet colleagues to use the UK's

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role as host of job to champion LGBT

rights.

We will take that

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opportunity and other opportunities

with sessions with civil society and

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the bilateral conversations that

will take place in that week and the

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run up to it to raise all of these

issues. We have set a standard and

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we can encourage people to follow

and through DFID's work and the

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incentives we can provide as well,

we can provide other reasons for

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countries to do the right thing.

Michael Fabricant.

My right

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honourable friend is right to

identify those countries who

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criminalised people who are gay, but

what about those countries who

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tolerate prejudice against gay

people. What can we do in those

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cases?

I think there are several

things that we can do to address

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those issues. One of which is to

strengthen the voice of those

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organisations which are highlighting

the abuse and the discrimination

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that is going on. The new UK aid

connect programme will do that. It

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will provide funding to civil

society groups to help us understand

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what is happening in particular

locations, and what is needed to

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address it.

During the debris recess

I spent time in Uganda which has an

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appalling record of treatment to

LGBT people. What is the department

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doing to address that issue in

Uganda?

My right honourable friend

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the Minister for Africa is looking

at these issues. We have funding

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agreements to work in particular

locations and where we see abuses

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taking place we will not hesitate to

raise them with the Government.

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Today is the final day of UK LGBT

history months and one of our last

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thing legacies is exporting anti-gay

laws around the world with 36 out of

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50 countries still criminalising

homosexuality. The upcoming summit

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in April is a golden opportunity to

champion LGBT rights. Reports in the

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Canadian press last night suggest

the heads of government communique

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will likely not mention LGBT rights.

Will the Secretary of State discuss

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what extra funding and assistant she

can provide to assure that we do not

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give up on change in the

Commonwealth?

Don't be disheartened.

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It will still be an issue we will

raise. It is a strand of work going

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on. In addition to the UK aid

connect programme, at the start of

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the history week I did relaunch the

DFID LGBT network and I think

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strengthening the support our staff

have two raise these issues and also

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staff who LGBT themselves and we

required to work in country is

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important for this agenda.

If memory

serves correctly there are 28 heads

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of Commonwealth in Westminster today

and tomorrow for a conference, so

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colleagues might seek to lobby those

members and that would be a heaven

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sent opportunity to do so. Rushanara

Ali.

Question of the two, Mr

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Speaker.

The UK is committed to meeting the

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needs of displaced populations

including internally displaced

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people. We are providing funding to

support countries through

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humanitarian and longer-term

programmes.

I thank the Minister for

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her answer. The number of internally

displaced people have risen to 40

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million worldwide. What

representations has the Secretary of

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State made to ensure that the UN

negotiations do not sideline the

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needs of internally displaced

people?

I thank the honourable lady

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for raising this. IDPs due to

conflict and violence outnumber

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refugees 2-to-1 but they have not

received the focus and profile they

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need. There are moves to set up a

new panel looking at their

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particular unique needs and DFID

will support them in that.

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Internally displaced people are some

of the most vulnerable people in the

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world and we have heard a lot

recently about charities who are

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abusing the most vulnerable people

in the world. Has my right

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honourable friend seen the Telegraph

today which talks about the BBC

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World Service and their charitable

arm, headed by the director of news

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who is overseeing sexual harassment

and inappropriate behaviour, which

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is totally wrong in this field.

Very

wrong but the answer must now focus

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on internally displaced people.

Secretary of State.

The honourable

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lady is right to point out that one

reason why we must be very good on

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safeguarding and not dismiss these

issues is to protect those

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individuals. The BBC did not report

those incidents to us at the time.

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My letter to them of two weeks ago

has got them to come forward with

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that information. I think that is a

good thing and we need to grip this

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problem and deliver for vulnerable

people around the world.

Many

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thousands of people are displaced

from their homes in Syria. What is

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the Secretary of State doing to

demonstrate to those people and

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every other civilian in Syria that

the British government has not given

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up on them?

We have not given up on

them, and we are working in

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particular with the governments of

Jordan and Lebanon to provide those

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people would support, not just over

the short-term but the long-term as

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well. DFID has moved its priority to

looking at long-term support for

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these individuals and we remain the

third largest donor support them.

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Hundreds of thousands of Ranger have

been internally displaced and fled

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across the border as well --

Rohingya. What dialogue is the

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Government having with the Burmese

government about the fact that the

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Rohingya are being constantly

persecuted in Burma and driven out

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by genocide?

With your indulgence,

Mr Speaker, I would like to raise my

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concern that the select committee

have not been given access to Burma.

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I think that is disgraceful. But I

can assure the honourable lady that

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I am having regular discussions with

all parts of government and

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Bangladesh and Burma about support

to these individuals. It is vital

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that we get the Bangladesh

government to look at the

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medium-term in breaking down this

and making sure the priority for us

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are those people who have been

displaced. Psion macro I concur that

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it is disgraceful and this matter

will be raised by the honourable

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gentleman later in our proceedings.

The UN estimates that 6.1 million

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civilians are internally displaced

and with fighting in Ghouta, this

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number will rise. What is the

department doing to support

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displaced Syrian families whose

needs and challenges are increasing

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with every passing day?

We have a

huge number of programmes which are

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supporting those people in

particular, not just for short-term

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needs, shelter, food and so forth,

but also education and jobs and

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livelihoods. I would also say that

these individuals have some unique

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needs that have not been addressed

to date with as much focus from the

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international community and setting

up a panel to look at those needs

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and what more we can do to help in

similar situations would be a big

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step forward.

Minister of State,

Alistair Burt.

We are concerned on

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activities whenever an expected

reductions or delays in donor

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disbursements occur. I raised this

with an official last week and our

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officials are collaborating with US

and other donors to maintain vital

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across the region.

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Half a million Palestinian children

and schools funded by the relief

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agency, has that been explained to

the US administration as well as the

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impact of the $6 million funding.

Yes. It has been clearly explained

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to US officials what the impact of

the funding may be, particularly in

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Jordan, Lebanon and places where

Palestinian refugees are supported.

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We have supplied millions of pounds

to assist in the provision of

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education and will continue to do

so.

Does my right honourable friend

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agree that while the agreement

between Palestinian authorities and

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how mass Hamas, to improve the lives

of all people in Gaza we should this

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arm Hamas. Their failure to resolve

issues in relation to Israel.

The

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people of Gaza have suffered from a

number of different things. We will

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continue to work towards that.

The

International tournament committee

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saw the brilliant work in Jordan.

Will the government worked with

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other countries to make up the

funding shortfall after this

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outrageous cut from the Trump

administration?

We're working with

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other donors on this. I saw the

director-general just last week. We

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know how much they do in the area.

The education projects that you

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mention are particularly valuable.

Other donors must step up as well

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and we will continue to be generous

in our support.

What representations

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has he made to make sure that the

funding can be restored?

I have

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spoken to US officials recently. It

is important that the work

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continues. It needs to be done. It

delivers good quality services and

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will continue to provide.

United

Kingdom aids to the Palestinian

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Authority goes only to the salaries

of health and education workers in

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the West Bank, a memorandum of

understanding with the PA, I

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recently urged Augustinian ministers

to remain focused on this. President

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Abbas recently affirmed his

assurance to peace.

Last year the

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Palestinian Authority reportedly

paid over 250 million in monthly

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salaries to terrorists in Israeli

prisons were 7% of its budget and an

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astonishing 50% of its foreign aid

receipts. These salaries directly

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reward terrorism. Does the Minister

agree with me that these payments

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are apparent and must cease?

We have

made constant representations to

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Palestinian authorities about the

impacts of any incitement to terror

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and payments to terror. Palestinian

authorities are well aware of our

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views and opinions on this. That is

why no UK aid money goes to support

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terrorism.

Is the Minister aware of

the 2014 initiative where a

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tripartite committee was recommended

involving the Palestinians, the

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Israelis and chaired by the United

States to identify and to tackle it.

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It was accepted by the Palestinians

and United States but rejected by

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Israel. Does the Minister agree with

me that that rejection was not in

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the interest of peace?

Yes, I am

aware of the proposal and the

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possible initiative. It seems to me

in the region there is much need to

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do whatever is possible to bring

people together to examine these

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areas. States have their own reasons

why they may or may not agree to do

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so but making sure there is more

work on coexistence will help in

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relation to this. We will continue

our work to make sure all parties

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know how important it is to resolve

their issues that many of the things

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that occupy this House over a

lengthy period of time can be

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brought to inclusion in the of peace

and justice.

It's vital that aid

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spending the liver is rigorous value

for money and is well spent. My

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right honourable friend has said

that we must ensure it cannot be

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better spent. All projects are

measured against a robust framework

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to make sure they are

cost-effective.

I'd like to thank

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the Minister for her answer. I'm

sure she will agree with me that she

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constantly has to justify to the

electorate the amount of money that

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is spent overseas. With this in

mind, what steps are being taken to

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ensure that the more the equipment

is being utilised is British and

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more the NGOs being used to carry

out the work are British and the

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Armed Forces are also involved in

helping these projects.

You are

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absolutely right to highlight the

important role that the Armed Forces

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have played, not only in tackling

the Ebola disease in Sierra Leone

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but also in tackling the hurricane

in the Caribbean. As he will know,

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both my self and the Secretary of

State were both former ministers in

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the area of defence.

I was concerned

to read that £160,000 of the 5.8

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million pounds in UK aid spent in

Venezuela was being used to training

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their repressive security services.

I understand this was under review

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last summer. Can the Minister of

data is on the latest?

My

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understanding in terms of the very

small amount of spending that

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happens in Venezuela is that it is

to support human rights

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organisations and to support the

British Council's work with

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education. I will make sure that

that is not the case.

I thank the

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Minister for her answer. Can I ask

how the Minister believes that we

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can win back public support for what

it does if she believes that the

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best way of spending aid money is

through the Armed Forces? More

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outsourcing to the private sector

and less an actual poverty

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reduction? Does the Minister not see

that this will add a misperception

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on the growing doubt on who is best

placed to deliver aid?

Well, Mr

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Speaker, I'm sorry that she did not

welcome the amazing work that we are

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doing through the delivery of

international aid through so many

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different organisations, whether it

is in partnership, as she seems to

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resent, with our colleagues in the

conflict in stability and security

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funds but also, Mr Speaker, in

working with colleagues in the

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health service for example, in terms

of their amazing response to the

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outbreak of disease in camps in the

Rohingya Muslim...

With permission

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Mr Speaker, I will answer questions

six and 14 together. I regularly

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discuss refugee issues with Cabinet

colleagues and the Home Office. We

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have committed to resettle 20,000

refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict

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and 3000 vulnerable children and

their families from the Middle East

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and North Africa. Providing

life-saving aid, jobs and stability

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to refugees globally.

Will the

Secretary of State urged the

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government to back next month's

Private members Bill and but the

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humanity of migrants and the

importance of family life at the

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heart of the government's

immigration policy?

Obviously the

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mandate resettlement scheme allows

for that to happen and there is no

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quota or cap on that. I am keen to

see we can improve things, I'm all

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is open to that on any issues, but I

hope we can do these things without

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primary legislation.

Mr Speaker, I

suspect most people will agree with

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the home affairs committee when they

say and I quote, it is perverse that

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children who are being granted

refugee status are not allowed to

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bring their close family to join.

Does the Secretary State agree?

It

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is loud in the chamber but I think

the honourable gentleman is talking

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about why can't children allow their

parents to join them. There are some

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very technical reasons why that we

think would be a bad idea but I am

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looking at ways that we can actually

get good things to happen, for

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example, with the Rohingya crisis

that is there at the moment, where

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there is some barriers to good

things happening there, identifying

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people and so forth, we're working

with the Home Office to address

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these issues. If the honourable

gentleman has suggestions would like

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to hear them.

Will my right

honourable friends join me in

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welcoming refugee action's new

campaign stand up for asylum

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launched today which reminds us of

the importance of providing a safe

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haven for those in genuine need?

I

thank the honourable lady for

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drawing attention to that report. I

do welcome it. I look forward to

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reading it. We should be very proud

of the asylum system that we have

0:20:310:20:37

protecting individuals around the

world.

The UK simply cannot speak

0:20:370:20:44

with any authority on tackling the

refugee crisis in till we get our

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own house in order. Time and again

this government's International the

0:20:500:20:53

relevant policy is held back by what

other government departments are

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doing. Tax deals that hurt

developing countries, arms deals in

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Yemen... Will the Secretary of State

and the Leave urge her government to

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put an end to this contradiction and

gets refugee children reunited with

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their families?

In addition to the

answer that I gave her honourable

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colleague a moment ago, the speech I

made at the conference on Monday

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highlighted that we cannot do

International double and well unless

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we are also doing it in accordance

with British values. I think we do

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have a good track record as a nation

on this and we have a good track

0:21:330:21:36

nation as a government on this. I'm

always keen to see how we can make

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improvements.

On the 20th of

February, I informed this House that

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I had asked all charities receiving

UK aid to give me safeguards... I

0:21:530:22:03

receive 161 responses, my officials

are now analysing those with

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independent oversight and we have

shed returns with the Charity

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commission. A number of

organisations, unbelievably, Mr

0:22:110:22:15

Speaker, have not replied. We are

following up but without compelling

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justification they will have lost

our confidence. And we will consider

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whether it is right to continue

their funding. I will continue to

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share my findings on the 5th of

March and I will keep this has

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informed.

Single sentence, please.

Is the Minister confident that

0:22:330:22:38

Britain will remain a world leader

in humanitarian aid following the

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departure of the European Union?

I

am. And I think when we have further

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control over the money we are

spending then we will undoubtedly

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work still with European partners

and we will echo that that will be a

0:22:510:22:54

very good thing indeed.

Thank you,

Mr Speaker. We have been sitting

0:22:540:23:01

outside Westminster tube station to

raise awareness, what is the

0:23:010:23:07

department doing for those who

suffer from rare diseases in

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developing countries to make sure

they are not left behind?

We spent

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about £1 billion with our own health

service, with Public Health England,

0:23:150:23:20

into the Fleming funds and other

research funds, pioneering research

0:23:200:23:26

that UK research is funding. It is

saving lives overseas and combating

0:23:260:23:31

rare diseases but also the results

of that are helping British citizens

0:23:310:23:34

as well.

90% of the plastic entering

our oceans is carried by just ten

0:23:340:23:41

rivers in Africa and Asia. What is

the government doing to help some of

0:23:410:23:45

the poorest countries in the world

tackle this global problem?

My

0:23:450:23:51

department is assisting developing

countries to improve waste

0:23:510:23:54

management which includes avoiding

plastic ending up in the ocean

0:23:540:23:59

through multilateral funds. We are

also working with deaf on some new

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projects to see what we can do in

line with the 25 year develop

0:24:080:24:11

relevant plan.

I don't usually get

that reception. The South Sudanese

0:24:110:24:23

government is preventing some NGOs

such as Christian Aid providing aid

0:24:230:24:28

to those desperately need it. What

more can be done to pressure these

0:24:280:24:37

governments to allow the charities

access?

The honourable lady is

0:24:370:24:41

absolutely right. It is a scandal

that the South Sudanese government

0:24:410:24:45

are charging NGOs to deliver aid.

The aid is getting through. I think

0:24:450:24:50

she paid tribute to the people who

are delivering it. But we are

0:24:500:24:53

putting pressure on the government

to allow easy access for

0:24:530:24:56

humanitarian aid.

Following on from

my recent Prime Minister's question,

0:24:560:25:03

will the Minister consider whether

there will be a fixed percentage on

0:25:030:25:11

international aids to tackling

persecution?

My honourable friend

0:25:110:25:15

deserves tribute on the way she

raises this issue. Since the United

0:25:150:25:22

Nations declaration of human rights,

it is a scandal that almost three

0:25:220:25:24

quarters of the world's population

live in countries that restrict

0:25:240:25:30

freedoms. We do not restrict the

percentage but...

Many of the

0:25:300:25:37

Rohingya refugees and unaccompanied

children are at risk from

0:25:370:25:41

traffickers. Can the Minister update

the House on the support that the UK

0:25:410:25:45

is providing to these children?

We

are doing many things to provide

0:25:450:25:52

support to those children, not just

in the immediate aftermath in a

0:25:520:25:55

situation they are facing but also

ensure and protects they don't fall

0:25:550:25:59

victim to organised crime later on

down the line. There are many things

0:25:590:26:06

that we are doing under the compact

but also in the new panel that I

0:26:060:26:14

have alluded to today.

Will my right

honourable friend agree that

0:26:140:26:19

providing jobs and livelihoods for

alternatively displaced people

0:26:190:26:23

wherever they may be are equally

important as providing relief aid.

I

0:26:230:26:28

do agree of my honourable friend and

that is why the department has

0:26:280:26:31

shifted its funding focus. Stability

is clearly key to delivering aid in

0:26:310:26:43

Yemen. The council pays to be

providing some stability.

0:26:430:26:59

We have no direct contact with that

council. We do work the partners in

0:27:010:27:05

the south of Yemen but importantly

we hope that the appointment of the

0:27:050:27:09

new UN special envoy Martin

Griffiths with contacts through

0:27:090:27:12

Yemen

0:27:120:27:12

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