Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon during the 2017-2019 Parliament

Wed 15th May 2019
Wed 19th Dec 2018

Wilton Park

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 15th May 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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I have served under the former Foreign Secretary, and while there have been people who have raised challenges against him—[Interruption.] I am answering a very long question, so it is appropriate to put on the record that just because someone shares the same perspective, it would be wrong to suggest the kind of interference proposed by the noble Lord. As I have made clear already, a process was followed according to the rules. If she chooses to speak as the chair of Wilton Park, she will need to reflect her code of conduct, as would anyone holding public office. When not speaking as the Wilton Park chair, the incumbent is within their rights to make public statements—whether on Brexit or any other matter.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, Wilton Park is a public body that is funded in part by the taxpayer, and it is world renowned for providing a mutual forum for debate on what are sometimes very conflicting issues. Last year, the Tailored review recommended closer connections and engagement between Wilton Park and the strategic and business-related activities of the FCO and other relevant government departments. Does the Minister agree that it is now appropriate for there to be some parliamentary oversight of senior appointments to the board and the advisory committee, possibly through the Foreign Affairs Committee?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, let me assure the noble Baroness and indeed all noble Lords that anyone who takes part in this process is expected to adhere to a code of conduct. The chair continues to do that and she has the confidence of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office behind her. Any person holding public office is also required to adhere to the Nolan principles for public servants and to remain mindful of the potential for such statements—

Yemen

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 19th December 2018

(5 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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First let me thank the noble Earl for his kind remarks, but I am just doing my job. I am proud, humbled and honoured to be acting as Minister for Human Rights, among my responsibilities in Her Majesty’s Government—and this job is made all the easier by the expertise, insights and support that I receive from your Lordships’ House. I pay particular tribute to the respective Front-Bench spokesmen—the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Collins. It would be fair to say that there are times when we oppose each other, but it is reflective of the unity with which we act on this important principle internationally that this House, and the other place—notwithstanding the difficulties that we have—come together on important issues that unite us. There is no bigger issue than supporting and standing up for human rights and supporting humanitarian causes around the world, and I am grateful to all noble Lords for their constant support in that respect.

The noble Earl raised an important point about Hodeidah, and I can give him the latest statistics that I have, which precede the peace efforts. In November 2018 total commercial and humanitarian imports into Yemen met 68% of the country’s food needs but only 29% of its fuel needs. That second statistic is important, because fuel enables aid to reach the more remote parts of the country, so it is imperative that, as we have reached this agreement, the ports of Hodeidah and Salif remain operational. Yemen relies on imports to meet 90% of its basic needs such as food and fuel, coming through those ports. Returning to an earlier question about the incremental way in which peace can be sustained, retained and strengthened, it is important to see that all parties that have committed to maintaining peace do so around Hodeidah to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. This is a vital key channel to ensuring that humanitarian aid—food, fuel and medicines—reaches the population of Yemen.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, given that we know that there is food available in Hodeidah and surrounding towns, are the UK Government working out a plan whereby they can buy grain locally to reduce the price? As I understand it, grain is being hoarded by merchants, which is causing a large part of the famine.