Ruth Jones Written Questions

26 Questions to Foreign and Commonwealth Office tabled by Ruth Jones


Date Title Questioner
2 Jul 2020, 3:14 p.m. Malawi: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Malawi.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK welcomes the peaceful conduct of fresh Presidential elections in Malawi on 23 June. Malawi has a long history of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Malawians can be rightly proud of their commitment to resolving political differences through their country's democratic institutions and processes, including in the aftermath of the contested 2019 Presidential elections. I sent my congratulations to President Chakwera on 29 June. As a long term friend of Malawi, I look forward to working with the new Government to tackle the issues that matter to all Malawians.

The UK has consistently encouraged all political parties in Malawi to respect the rule of law, follow due process under the constitution, and respect the rulings of Malawi's courts. Following the May 2019 Presidential elections, we urged de-escalation of inflammatory rhetoric and peaceful campaigning from all sides. We also urged the parties to be mindful of the risks of holding an election campaign during the Covid pandemic. I reiterated these messages in a phone call with then Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 15 May, as did the UK Chargé d'Affaires in his meeting with then President Mutharika on 11 May.

1 Jul 2020, 5:46 p.m. Bangladesh: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Bangladesh.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

Bangladesh is an important partner for the UK on a wide range of issues and is a fellow member of the Commonwealth. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) makes regular assessments of the political situation in Bangladesh, including through the British High Commission in Dhaka.

Like the UK, Bangladesh has made some tough decisions to protect its people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladesh is also generously hosting over 900,000 of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The UK remains a leading partner in the international response to the Rohingya crisis.

Bangladesh remains a human rights priority country for the FCO. Ministers, and our High Commission in Dhaka, frequently raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Bangladesh, including on freedom of expression.

The UK will continue to engage with the Government of Bangladesh on a broad range of issues and will support efforts towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Bangladesh.

1 Jul 2020, 5:44 p.m. Sri Lanka: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

Sri Lanka is an important partner for the UK on a wide range of issues and is a fellow member of the Commonwealth. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes regular assessments of the political situation in Sri Lanka, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. We are monitoring political developments in Sri Lanka very closely. Parliamentary elections, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are due to take place on 5 August. We have noted with concern the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka following the outbreak of COVID-19, and some concerning developments in the human rights situation.

The Minister of State for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, recently raised these concerns with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 24 June. We continue to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka on a broad range of issues. The UK is also a member of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council.

1 Jul 2020, 5:42 p.m. India: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in India.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

India is the world's largest democracy, influential global leader and key partner on a full range of issues. Together we are a force for good in the world. Like the UK, India has made some tough decisions to protect its people during the pandemic. The UK and India are stronger when we work together as partners, building back better to sustainable economic growth, delivering resilience, prosperity and security for both our peoples.

1 Jul 2020, 4:30 p.m. Egypt: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Eqypt.

Answer (James Cleverly)

Egyptians have repeatedly demonstrated their desire for a secure, prosperous, and democratic country. In that context, we look forward to better protection of Egyptians' constitutional rights, freedom of expression and more space for Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society. We believe that these rights and freedoms are essential for Egypt's long-term stability. Egypt is a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights Priority Country and the UK continues to urge the Egyptian Government to ensure the full implementation of the rights and freedoms set out in Egypt's constitution.

30 Jun 2020, 5:02 p.m. Brazil: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Brazil.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The UK and Brazil have a close dialogue on both bilateral and global issues of mutual interest including the environment, science and trade. Brazil is a key partner in the global response to Covid-19 and our countries are working together to find a vaccine. UK Ministers and our Embassy and Consulates in Brazil regularly engage with the Brazilian Government and we will continue to monitor the situation.

29 Jun 2020, 3:24 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Nigerian counterpart on implementing the National Livestock Transformation Plan to help reduce conflict involving farmers and herders in that country.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK worked closely with international partners to provide technical support to the Vice President's office to develop the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). The plan sets out a long-term approach to transition towards more sedentary forms of cattle-rearing and explicitly addresses some of the factors underpinning intercommunal violence.

The NLTP is currently being implemented in eight 'Middle Belt' states. The British High Commission will continue to engage with the Vice President's office and relevant ministries on its further roll out. A number of additional states have expressed interest in the plan; we are encouraging their adoption of it through discussions with state governments

29 Jun 2020, 3:23 p.m. Nigeria: Internally Displaced People Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to support Nigerians who have been displaced by violence between herders and farmers.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK Government has engaged closely with the Federal Government, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council to help address the drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions.

The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in affected states. For example, a team visited Plateau State in December to discuss the situation with the Governor, Christian and Muslim faith leaders, organisations working on reconciliation, and communities displaced by the violence.

The UK does not currently provide direct humanitarian funding to people displaced by intercommunal conflict in Nigeria. DFID is designing a programme to address conflict over natural resources in Nigeria, which will help to address some of the root causes of the violence. We are exploring whether this will include support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

29 Jun 2020, 3:23 p.m. Nigeria: Agriculture Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will provide NGOs that are running effective reconciliation programmes between farmers and herders in Nigeria with (a) funding and (b) capacity building to scale-up their programmes.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK Government has engaged closely with the Federal Government, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council to help address the drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions.

The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in affected states. For example, a team visited Plateau State in December to discuss the situation with the Governor, Christian and Muslim faith leaders, organisations working on reconciliation, and communities displaced by the violence.

The UK does not currently provide direct humanitarian funding to people displaced by intercommunal conflict in Nigeria. DFID is designing a programme to address conflict over natural resources in Nigeria, which will help to address some of the root causes of the violence. We are exploring whether this will include support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

25 Jun 2020, 9:37 a.m. Nigeria: Religion Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will introduce mandatory training for staff of his Department in Nigeria on (a) patterns of discrimination and conflict with religious characteristics and (b) how religion and religious actors interact with the societal and conflict context.

Answer (James Duddridge)

Our staff are encouraged to develop an understanding of religion and its role within society, including in conflict situations and in countries like Nigeria where religion is important to most people's identity. Specific training on religion is available to all staff through the FCO's Diplomatic Academy. In addition, our Nigerian local staff provide first-hand insight into the role of religion and religious actors within Nigerian society, including conflicts affecting the country. We also use expertise from the FCO's Africa Research Group and conflict-prevention experts.

We are now working on an enhanced training offer related to religion as part of our commitment to implement the recommendations made in the Bishop of Truro's independent review. This work is being led by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP.

24 Jun 2020, 4:33 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the report published by the all-party Parliamentary group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief on 15 June 2020 entitled Nigeria: unfolding genocide.

Answer (James Duddridge)

We welcome the APPG's report and the detailed analysis it provides on the complex issues of intercommunal violence across multiple states of Nigeria and acts of terrorism committed by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in North East Nigeria. The UK Government strongly condemns all acts of violence in Nigeria. We are considering the report and its recommendations in detail and I will provide a full response in due course.

24 Jun 2020, 4:33 p.m. Nigeria: Violence Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will provide (a) financial, (b) technical and (c) capacity building support to his Nigerian counterpart to implement the recommendations in the report published by the all-party Parliamentary group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief on 15 June 2020 entitled Nigeria: unfolding genocide.

Answer (James Duddridge)

We welcome the APPG's report and the detailed analysis it provides on the complex issues of intercommunal violence across multiple states of Nigeria and acts of terrorism committed by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in North East Nigeria. The UK Government strongly condemns all acts of violence in Nigeria. We are considering the report and its recommendations in detail and I will provide a full response in due course.

21 May 2020, 3:01 p.m. China: Uighurs Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Chinese Government on the humanitarian situation of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

On 9 March, the Foreign Secretary directly raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang with his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. We will continue to make clear to the Chinese authorities our serious concerns about the human rights and humanitarian situation in the region, including the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in "political re-education camps".

13 May 2020, 3:02 p.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the African Union on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK is grateful for the continued support of our international partners, including African Union member states. Our African partners have assisted us in flying our citizens home, including by keeping key transit hubs open to air traffic. FCO officials at diplomatic missions in African Union member states maintain close engagement with local authorities to support UK residents in these countries and to discuss issues related to the repatriation of British Nationals. On 21 April, I spoke with the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission. We discussed the African Union-UK collaborative response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the work of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC). We also have a Senior Public Health England Advisor seconded to Africa CDC, to whom I spoke in April, and I have also spoken to our Ambassador in Addis Ababa on multiple occasions over the last three months, most recently on 7 May.

12 May 2020, 4:28 p.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Caribbean Community on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The welfare of British nationals remains our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring that British travellers around the globe are able to return home. The British Government is working closely with host governments of the Caribbean Community to help bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by the Foreign Secretary on 30 March - with up to £75 million available for special charter flights from priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers. On 8 May, we have brought back more than 300 people from Jamaica and Guyana on charter flights organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. However, we have supported nearly 11,000 to return home from the Caribbean via commercial means.

We are aware that there are British nationals remaining overseas in the Caribbean region and our effort is focused on supporting their return as quickly and safely as possible.

12 May 2020, 9:44 a.m. British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the EU on the repatriation of (a) British citizens and (b) UK residents overseas during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (Wendy Morton)

The welfare of British nationals remains our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring that British travellers around the globe, and British nationals who are resident overseas but wish to return home to the UK, are able to do so. We have been working closely with our European partners to support our respective repatriation efforts, including coordinated lobbying on maintaining commercial routes for nationals to return.

27 Mar 2020, 1:33 p.m. India: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in India.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

As the world's largest and one of the world's oldest democracies, India and the UK have a broad and deep relationship. The Prime Minister discussed the strength of that relationship in a phone call with Prime Minister Modi on 12 March, in which they committed to deepening bilateral cooperation on a range of areas including trade, cultural relations, defence, and technology.

25 Mar 2020, 3:49 p.m. Zimbabwe: Humanitarian Situation Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

Answer (James Duddridge)

The UK is seriously concerned about the challenging humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian needs are rising, due to the combination of poor and erratic rains and a deteriorating economic situation. Recent analysis shows that without support 5.5 million people in rural areas and 2.2 million in urban areas will not have access to the food they need. In response to these needs, the Department for International Development has committed £49 million through a new Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme to support people who do not have access to the food they need.

Our Embassy in Harare continues to monitor developments closely, encouraging the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the Staff Monitored Programme (which runs until March this year) agreed with the International Monetary Fund. Our Ambassador discussed the humanitarian crisis facing the country and reinforced the need for comprehensive political and economic reform and the protection of the poorest during her meeting with Vice President Chiwenga on 9 December 2019. On 11 March the Zimbabwean Finance Minister announced a set of measures intended to stabilize the exchange rate and inflation. Whilst we welcome the measures, which are in line with the recent IMF recommendations, we will monitor closely how the measures are now implemented.

7 Oct 2019, 2:56 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Official Hospitality Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on refreshments in (a) 2017 and (b) 2018.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) expenditure is tracked by financial year. Spend on refreshments is captured as part of the FCO's total Catering costs.

The total spent on Catering Services for the financial year 2018/19 was £2,460,089.42 . The total spent on Catering Services for the financial year 2017/18 was £2,588,495.42 .

7 Oct 2019, 2:53 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2018.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is by definition a global organisation which uses travel as an essential part of its role.

The table below details the FCO's expenditure for financial years 2017/18, and 2018/19 on ministerial travel by First class rail; Second class rail; Business class air travel; Premium Economy class air travel; Economy class air travel; and a total of these five sums.

The figures represent travel booked through the Government's nominated travel agency.

Financial Year

First Class Rail Travel

Standard Class Rail Travel

First Class Air Travel

Business Class Air Travel

Premium Economy Air Travel

Economy Air Travel

Total

2017/18

£0.00

£324.40

-£2,916.27

£752,078.99

£39,535.85

£87,474.29

£876,497.26

2018/19

£230.00

£87.30

£2084.00

£827,716.94

£46,250.87

£116,323.74

£992,692.85

7 Oct 2019, 2:48 p.m. Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much his Department spent on ministerial travel by (a) first class, (b) second class and (c) in total in 2017.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

The Foreign annd Commonwealth Office (FCO) is by definition a global organisation which uses travel as an essential part of its role.

The table below details the FCO's expenditure for financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18 on ministerial travel by First class rail; Second class rail; Business class air travel; Premium Economy class air travel; Economy class air travel; and a total of these five sums.

The figures represent travel booked through the Government's nominated travel agency.

Financial Year

First Class Rail Travel

Standard Class Rail Travel

First Class Air Travel

Business Class Air Travel

Premium Economy Air Travel

Economy Air Travel

Total

2016/17

£0.00

£159.10

£2,057.00

£802,152.04

£16,095.19

£65,341.90

£885,805.23

2017/18

£0.00

£324.40

-£2,916.27

£752,078.99

£39,535.85

£87,474.29

£876,497.26

31 Jul 2019, 1:06 p.m. Germany: Muslims Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise with his German counterpart the decision by the City of Koblenz to ban the burqa at public swimming pools.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

Thank you for asking me to consider the ban on the burqa at swimming pools in Koblenz. I can confirm that the ban is no longer in place.

30 Jul 2019, 2:55 p.m. Commonwealth: Females Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government will be represented at the 12th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers meeting in Kenya in September 2019.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

Her Majesty’s Government will be represented at the 12th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, which is an important meeting in the run up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda. We look forward to exploring how the Commonwealth can continue to work together to promote gender equality and ensure the empowerment of women and girls.

30 Jul 2019, 2:40 p.m. Sudan: Foreign Relations Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Sudanese counterpart on engagement between the Sudanese population and the diaspora community in the UK.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

​The British Government frequently engages with a broad range of Sudanese diaspora in the UK. While the former Foreign Secretary has not recently spoken to his Sudanese counterpart about engagement between the Sudanese population and the diaspora community in the UK the UK Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan discussed engagement with the diaspora with the Sudanese authorities when he was in Khartoum on 23 June. He last met with members of the diaspora on 13 June. The Government is committed to working with all Sudanese parties and members of civil society both in Sudan and the UK to support the transition to a civilian-led government.

18 Jul 2019, 1:50 p.m. Sri Lanka: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes regular assessments of the political situation in Sri Lanka, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. Sri Lanka is a close partner of the UK and a fellow Commonwealth member, and we welcome our joint reaffirmation of democratic values at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting on 10 July.

We are concerned about the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric since the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. We have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to take stronger action to protect minorities and prevent extremists in all communities from inciting violence. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific most recently raised these concerns with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in June.

We are also concerned about President Sirisena's statements reiterating his intention to end the country's moratorium on the death penalty, and issued a statement on 26 June. While we welcome the Supreme Court ruling on 5 July halting executions until October, we have made clear our continued concern, including about the implications for our cooperation on counter narcotics, counter terrorism and other areas of law enforcement. We will continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium.

More broadly, the UK continues to believe that Sri Lanka's commitments to the UN Human Rights Council through Resolutions 30/1, 34/1 and 40/1 remain the best framework for establishing truth, justice and lasting reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We will continue to encourage and support Sri Lanka to deliver on these commitments.

17 Jul 2019, 2:50 p.m. Bangladesh: Politics and Government Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the political situation in Bangladesh.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) makes regular assessments of the political situation in Bangladesh, including through the British High Commission in Dhaka. Bangladesh is a close partner of the UK and a fellow Commonwealth member, and we welcome our joint reaffirmation of democratic values at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers' Meeting on 10 July.

A general election took place in December in which the Awami League won 96% of seats in Parliament. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific issued a statement on 1 January noting credible accounts of obstacles and irregularities in the conduct of elections, and deploring the acts of intimidation and violence that took place. The UK called for the full and transparent resolution of complaints about the conduct of the elections.

The Foreign Secretary also wrote to Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen in January to express our concerns and to encourage the Government of Bangladesh to maintain dialogue with opposition parties and civil society. In April 2019, Minister Field reiterated these concerns and the importance of engaging with opposition parties and freedom of expression when he met the Prime Minister and ministers during his visit to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh remains a human rights priority country for the FCO. Ministers, and our High Commission in Dhaka, carry out a wide range of activities to promote human rights and freedom of expression in Bangladesh, working with civil society and other like-minded partners. We frequently raise these concerns with the Government of Bangladesh.

The UK will continue to engage with the Government of Bangladesh to address these concerns and will support efforts towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Bangladesh.