Occupied Palestinian Territories

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 27th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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My Lords, the UK’s long-standing position on the Middle East peace process is clear and remains clear. We support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders, with equal land swaps to reflect the national security and religious interests of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. That is our position and always has been our position.

Regarding the settlements, there too our position remains unchanged. We want to see a contiguous West Bank, including east Jerusalem, as part of a viable sovereign Palestinian state, based on those same 1967 lines. We recognise that many such settlements are contrary to international law.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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In his Answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Janke, the Minister said that the occupation should be governed by the Geneva convention and that the question of whether the transfer from military to civilian rule contravened or agreed with the convention was still being examined. When that examination has taken place, will the Minister kindly put the result in the Library?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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I will convey that perfectly reasonable request to my colleague who normally handles this brief.

Georgia: Imprisonment of Mikhail Saakashvili

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 27th February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Georgia about the condition of Mikhail Saakashvili, the imprisoned former president of that country.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, we are closely following events connected to the detention of former President Saakashvili. The Foreign Secretary raised Mr Saakashvili’s detention, highlighting concerning reports about his health and treatment, with the Georgian Foreign Minister Darchiashvili on 26 January during the Wardrop strategic dialogue. Our ambassador and other officials also raised Mr Saakashvili’s case with the Deputy Foreign Minister during the bilateral segment of that dialogue. We will continue to monitor developments regarding the case.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his reply. I ask that the Government continue and redouble their efforts to get Mr Saakashvili appropriate medical treatment. Can the Minister bear in mind that his situation is part of a wider, very serious development in Georgia, which has been hijacked by a multi-billionaire businessman who controls its economic and political life, as well as its media, to keep it within the orbit and surround of Russia? This is a question not just of his human rights but of the whole future of Georgia as a European-looking nation.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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The noble and right reverend Lord is right that the treatment of the former president has wider ramifications. While humanitarian concerns are clearly uppermost in our representations on the matter, we have also highlighted the relevance of the Government’s treatment of Mr Saakashvili to Georgia’s domestic political climate, international reputation and broader Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

India: Restrictions on Freedom

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 15th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of India about reports of that government restricting the freedoms of (1) non-governmental organisations, (2) academics, and (3) other groups.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, India and the UK have proud democratic traditions, and human rights form part of our dialogue. In December and January, my noble friend Lord Ahmad raised concerns about NGOs and human rights activists with the Indian high commissioner. In February, British high commission officials discussed university restrictions with the Ministry of External Affairs. On 3 March, senior FCDO officials discussed UK parliamentary interest in restrictions on civil society groups in India with the Indian high commissioner.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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My Lords, to give just one of numerous examples, more than 24 Dalit rights activists are in jail on unproven charges, including an 80 year-old poet, Varavara Rao, and an 83 year-old Jesuit priest, Father Stan Swamy. When the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to India is reinstated, will he draw Mr Modi’s attention to the report of Freedom House published this week, in which India has been downgraded from a democratic, free society to one which is only “partly free”?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, our approach has always been to raise any concerns directly with the Indian Government. We will continue to engage India on the full range of human rights matters and raise our concerns where we have them—as we do—including at ministerial level.

Repair and Reuse Programmes

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 14th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the operation of repair and reuse programmes in (1) Scotland, and (2) Wales; and what steps they have taken to introduce similar such programmes in England.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, our resources and waste strategy for England outlines actions on reuse and repair. It will be supplemented by a new waste prevention programme to be published for consultation early next year. My department liaises regularly with the devolved Administrations on resources and waste policy. For example, in our landmark Environment Bill we are seeking powers related to making products easier to reuse, repair and recycle, which will be available to all four nations.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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As the Minister is aware, Scotland is very committed in this sphere. Something like 88,000 tonnes of material have gone to repair and reuse. It is good for employment as 6,000 people are employed, and it is good for the economy in Scotland, with something like £244 million going into it. I am not convinced that England is assigning it the same priority as Scotland and Wales. Would the Government be willing to commission a feasibility study to see what might be possible by way of repair and reuse in England?

River Pollution

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the level of the pollution in rivers in England, and (2) the causes.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the Environment Agency’s State of the Environment: Water Quality report in 2018 is the most recent assessment of water pollution. We assess pollution levels to understand their impact on water ecology and human health and to mitigate them. The main causes of pollution are agriculture, sewage discharges and chemicals from industry and other sectors, some of which still persist from past activities.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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I thank the Minister for his Answer, but would he agree that the present situation is a total disgrace? More than 200,000 tonnes of raw sewage go into our rivers every year. Even in 2018 only 14% of our rivers passed as fit for purpose and they have probably got worse since then, and only three cases were taken to court in 2018, despite all this. Does he agree that there is a need for a much stronger regulatory regime? Does he also agree that the situation is so serious that we need some kind of parliamentary inquiry into what is happening to the nation’s well-being and health?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I certainly agree that much more needs to be done. I can tell noble Lords that a new task force has recently been set up between Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat and water companies, which will meet very regularly and set out proposals to reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharge, while the Environment Bill that is coming soon to the House will place a statutory requirement on water companies to produce drainage and wastewater management plans. Investment by water companies, incidentally, has meant that pollutant loads to rivers from water industry discharges have declined by between 40% and 70% since 1995, and there are commitments of £4.6 billion of additional investment over the next five years.