61 Nusrat Ghani debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Oral Answers to Questions

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Tuesday 30th April 2024

(3 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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3. If he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the Open Doors report entitled “World Watch List 2024”.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Ms Nusrat Ghani)
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The report provides a sobering account of the extreme difficulties faced by many Christians around the world, noting that more than 365 million Christians face persecution each year. As my hon. Friend knows, freedom of religion or belief is a priority for the UK, and we will continue to recognise and seek to address issues of persecution of Christians globally.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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I thank the Minister for her answer. It is great to see my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Paul Holmes) on the Front Bench.

The “World Watch List 2024” laid bare the significant persecution that Christians face across the world and the increasing pressure on churches in China. During recent ministerial visits, what representations were made on this issue to the Chinese Government, alongside highlighting other aspects of their dreadful human rights record?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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My hon. Friend has always been a staunch advocate not only for the churches but for all faith groups in his constituency. It is unacceptable that Christians are persecuted simply for practising their religion. He highlights China in particular, and we remain deeply concerned about the persecution there of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners. He knows that I was sanctioned by China for raising the issue of the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims. The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Anne-Marie Trevelyan), who is the Asia Minister, visited China last week, where she made clear our concerns about its human rights violations.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I thank the Minister for that answer. Open Doors produces the World Watch List reports and we are deeply indebted to it for what it does. Pakistan continues to cause concern for me and many others; there are Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians who cannot have the freedom of human rights and are persecuted across all of Pakistan. How can we exert greater influence to effect change in Pakistan and make it better for people when it comes to worshipping their God as they so wish to do?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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The hon. Gentleman is already applying a lot of pressure through his chairmanship of the all-party parliamentary group on international freedom of religion or belief, which took forward a Bill just last week. My co-Minister Lord Ahmad met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Ishaq Dar, in March to discuss the issues that the hon. Gentleman has raised, and the former Foreign Secretary has raised the issue of the persecution of religious communities, including recent attacks against the Christian community in the Punjab. Those conversations will continue, and the fact that we have committed to continuing the role of the freedom of religion or belief envoy will provide us with the authority to do that.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
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4. What diplomatic steps he is taking to strengthen international co-operation on tackling illegal migration.

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Priti Patel Portrait Priti Patel (Witham) (Con)
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12. What recent discussions he has had with his Polish counterpart on international parental child abduction.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Ms Nusrat Ghani)
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I recognise the distress caused to all those affected by international parental child abduction, particularly the children. The primary global mechanism for dealing with international child abduction cases is the 1980 Hague child abduction convention. Due to the persistent campaigning of my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Office has raised this matter with the Polish Government, including the Foreign Secretary raising it with his counterpart.

Priti Patel Portrait Priti Patel
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The Minister is fully sighted on what is, frankly, one of the most tragic and appalling cases: that of my constituent, Mr Tom Toolan, whose Polish ex-partner defied a family court order and took their daughter Rhian to Poland. This case has been going on for too long—for many, many years. I thank the Department for the engagement it has been having. The Minister will also know that there are hundreds of other cases of children being abducted that are specific to Poland. With the change in the Polish Government at the end of last year, what further plans do the Minister and the Government have to give real support to my constituent? His life is being destroyed by this, and it cannot go on. It is not sustainable any more, and he has been let down by Polish court orders again and again.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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My right hon. Friend’s persistent campaigning has made sure that the case of Tom Toolan has been raised regularly with our Polish counterparts. The Government have raised it many times, including on 9 April with the Minister of Justice. The Foreign Office remains committed to using every appropriate opportunity to raise issues surrounding the enforcement of court orders under the 1980 Hague convention, as well as individual cases, with the Polish Government. As my right hon. Friend will know, now that I have taken over this brief, I am absolutely committed to ensuring that we are returning children to the parents they have been allocated to by courts.

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Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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T7. The proposed EU-UK youth mobility scheme would have allowed 18 to 30-year-old UK citizens to work and study in the EU without barriers that the Government’s Brexit have created, yet the Tories and the Labour party immediately rebuffed the offer. What is the message to young people across the UK who are watching opportunities being blocked by Westminster?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Ms Nusrat Ghani)
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The EU scheme requires people between the ages of 18 and 35—I did not realise that you were still a young person at 35—to have absolutely free movement. That discussion has been had at length both in the Chamber and during the Brexit vote. What we do have is bilateral youth mobility schemes, which we are more than happy to propose with interested parties.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con)
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On Gibraltar, the Minister has stated that our current EU negotiations are consistent with UK sovereignty. How will that be achieved, given our defence and RAF assets as well as any nuclear naval capability that the UK has in that region? How will our sovereignty be guaranteed at the border if there is a Schengen border post on the soil of Gibraltar?

Hong Kong Anniversaries

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Wednesday 29th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered the anniversaries of the handover of Hong Kong and the implementation of the National Security Law.

It is a pleasure to serve under your stewardship, Mr Efford. I shall try to keep my remarks brief, but as a politician you know what that means.

Today’s debate is very important. It is important because we need to recall the plight of those in Hong Kong who were guaranteed under a treaty that their system would pay attention to the nature of how they had been previously governed under the UK, that their freedoms, to a greater or lesser extent, would be respected, and that there would be proper free and fair elections, yet that treaty, having been signed—fully agreed by both parties, China and the UK—has completely broken down.

A little background here is important. On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to China by the UK, under the conditions set out in the 1984 Sino-British joint declaration. The joint declaration provides for fundamental rights, a high degree of autonomy, and one country, two systems in Hong Kong. The People’s Republic of China has stated since 2014, however, that the treaty has no further legal effect, while the document remains binding, in essence, in operation. The UK Government have declared the PRC as being

“in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the…Joint Declaration”.

As co-signatory to the treaty, the UK absolutely has the legal and moral responsibility to act in defence of a treaty that it signed and which was agreed.

The UK Government have declared there to be an ongoing breach of the Sino-British declaration, but we have not done much—we have not done enough—to hold China and the Chinese to account. I welcome some issues being resolved, such as the British national overseas passports scheme, which has opened a pathway for more than 100,000 Hongkongers to move to the UK and is a generous offer, but that is ultimately a humanitarian operation, not an accountability mechanism.

I welcome also the Government’s move to extend the BNO scheme to those born after 1 July 1997, following a campaign involving many who are here today. That means that many young pro-democracy activists will be eligible for the scheme. Many others around the Commonwealth—I think of Australia and a number of others—have opened their doors to those people should they wish to stay much closer to Hong Kong.

From 1 July 2020 to 28 March 2022, 183 individuals were arrested for alleged national security crimes. I have here a list of all those people. I am not going to read out all their names, but I might selectively look at a few, particularly Jimmy Lai and others, who have been appallingly treated.

Most of the arrests were related to the national security law, but some were for other crimes, such as so-called sedition. More than 50 civil society groups have been disbanded, and in June 2021 police arrested five senior executives from Apple Daily for alleged collusion with foreign forces. The media outlet, which was fair and free, was forced to close the same week. Prosecutors later affirmed that the arrests stemmed in part from apparent editorials published in Apple Daily calling on western countries to impose sanctions on Hong Kong officials.

In December 2021, the Hong Kong authorities arrested editorial staff of Stand News, citing conspiracy to publish seditious materials under the Crimes Ordinance. On the day of the arrests, Stand News announced its immediate closure. Prominent figures such as Jimmy Lai and Joshua Wong were arrested and charged under the national security law.

Arbitrary detention has taken place. Through the denial of bail in the vast majority of the related cases, the Hong Kong Government have created a system of de facto long-term detention without trial. On 28 February 2021, the authorities charged 47 politicians and activists over their role in organising a primary election in advance of Legislative Council elections in July 2020. Almost a year and a half later, most of those charged individuals remain in jail awaiting trial.

The truth is that the UK has a treaty responsibility to hold accountable those in power who are the perpetrators. That includes our own citizens who have aided and abetted the crackdown in Hong Kong. I am thinking in particular of senior British police officers who oversaw the use of indiscriminate tear gassing of peaceful pro-democracy protesters, and the same individuals who were in charge of detention facilities where violence and, we believe, even torture have been carried out against young Hongkongers. Think about that: British citizens involved in such levels of abuse.

Organisations campaigning on this issue have compiled an incredible dossier on the actions of the Hong Kong Government and the many abuses that have taken place. Once that dossier is complete, colleagues and I intend to submit it directly to the Government, with recommendations for further actions to be taken against those responsible. I expect that we will receive a very clear answer.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
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I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing this important debate. Does he share my concern that, unless the Government are forthright in showing how they will protect press freedom, all the content we have will disappear even further? We owe thanks to Hong Kong Watch and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China for gathering that information. It is incredibly dangerous for people to speak the truth, in or outside Hong Kong, for fear of arrest and abuse.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Our thanks go out to Hong Kong Watch, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and other groups that have facilitated this debate. My hon. Friend is sanctioned by the Chinese Government, as I am, for our concerns over the Uyghurs and the abuses in Xinjiang, and because of our complaints about what has happened in Hong Kong. She is right to raise the point that the Government need to do much more, which I want to come to in a minute.

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Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because that is correct. I had clashes with HSBC when it froze the accounts of those who had fled Hong Kong under the Government schemes. The same applies to Standard Chartered. HSBC’s answer was that it has to obey the law. My answer to the bank is, “You are headquartered in London. You take advantage of the freedoms in London, yet you behave like a brutal part of the Government in Hong Kong in obeying their every whim. You cannot ride both horses.” Those who take advantage of our common law purpose and the rights that exist in London need also to obey the norms of how those things came about and how they are operated. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The abuses of those banks are shocking and the Government should pay attention. I was going to raise that appalling situation, but now he has done.

On other issues, I welcome the Foreign Secretary’s support for the withdrawal, finally, of serving UK judges from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. I was surprised that we had to campaign for that at all, and that judges, whose responsibility in the UK is to arbitrate fairly in disputes in a democratic country under the rule of law, should so position themselves in Hong Kong while arbitrary detention was taking place, and carry on earning a living while serving in the UK. I am enormously pleased that that has now come to an end.

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed, has agreed that High Court judges will no longer act in Hong Kong, but retired judges continue to do so. He said:

“the judges of the Supreme Court cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

We obviously welcomed that decision, even though it was overdue, but I would have thought that retired judges were bound by much the same principle. If the Supreme Court has reached the opinion that its judges can no longer appear to act with an Administration who have departed from the values of political freedom and freedom of expression, how is it that retired judges, who are meant to be bound by the same principles, can in all honestly look themselves in the mirror and say, “That’s all right, but we are different”? I appeal to them today, for the sake of all those who are being traduced, arrested, tortured and dealt brutally with: it is time for us to show the world that the legitimacy of the legal system in Hong Kong is no longer. I understand that they have defended their decision, and I am not going to go through the details, but we must now call time on it.

What should the UK be doing? This is important: we should implement individual sanctions against Hong Kong officials who are responsible for the crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong. The UK is yet to impose sanctions on any Hong Kong official, which is astonishing given the fact that we had a joint requirement to see fairness. We see it trashed, yet we have done nothing about those who are clearly and obviously guilty. Here is the irony: the USA has done exactly that, and it did not have the same responsibilities that the UK Government had. The outgoing Chief Executive, Carrie Lam—sanctioned. The incoming Chief Executive, John Lee—sanctioned. Seven officials of the Hong Kong special administrative regions—sanctioned. That is Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Xia Baolong, Zhang Xiaoming, Luo Huining, Zheng Yanxiong, Chris Tang Ping-keung and Stephen Lo Wai-chung—they have all been sanctioned by the US Administration. I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister: why have we not done the same? Should we not be leading the USA and others, rather than be following them? Bold action and a bold answer are required.

The Government should conduct an audit of assets belonging to Chinese and Hong Kong officials held in the UK. A recent Hong Kong Watch report states that 11 Hong Kong officials and legislators own property in the UK. We have already established over time, and particularly since the Russians invaded Ukraine, the level of abuse that has taken place in the UK property market. We are now at last bearing down on that, and sanctions are moving, yet for Hong Kong, where people have been abusing the system for some time, we have still not carried out the audit that has been requested.

The Government should further scrutinise and limit the export of surveillance technology to Hong Kong. Following the outbreak of protests in 2019, I welcomed the announcement that the British Parliament would stop issuing export licences for crowd-control equipment to Hong Kong and announced the extension of the arms embargo on Hong Kong. However, technology that can be used for surveillance, such as facial recognition, closed circuit camera systems and technologies fuelled by the mass collection of personal data, can still be exported if they do not fall under the scope of existing legislation. That needs to be shut down immediately.

We must introduce “know your customer” and due diligence requirements for entities that produce surveillance technology. I understand that a local branch of the UK company Chubb has been providing surveillance products and services to detention facilities in Hong Kong that have been involved in the inhuman treatment of detainees. The reality is that it is in our power to act, and I do not understand why we are so resistant. Surely it is the decent thing to do.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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My right hon. Friend is making an incredibly important point. Would he, like me, like to hear from the Minister about why we have not responded to the biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner, who has raised concerns about contracts not only here but in Hong Kong and mainland China, in particular about the contracts with Hikvision, which we know is involved and complicit in the abuse of Hongkongers and Uyghurs?

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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I am grateful for that intervention because I was coming to that, and my hon. Friend is right to prompt me. The commissioner has made it very clear that Hikvision is a security risk. It is used for abuse not just in Hong Kong but in the wider region, for the detention, genocide and slave labour of the Uyghurs, and there are plans and applications for Tibetans, Christians and others. We have highlighted endlessly with the Government how Hikvision cameras are being implemented in many prisons and detention facilities around China, particularly in Hong Kong, so why in heaven’s name are Government Departments still using it?

I have here a list of my parliamentary questions to each Department about how many cameras each of them holds and whether they will get rid of them. Of all the Government Departments, two have responded openly. One is the Department of Health and Social Care, which says it will eradicate them, and the second is the Department for Work and Pensions, which responded in a similar way. Every other Department has fallen back on the same phrase, saying that they do not respond to matters that are security risks. Well, the only security risk is the Departments themselves and it is high time they responded. Today I am FOI-ing every single one of those Departments. They need to respond immediately to say what they are doing and why they have not done it yet.

I also want the Government to implement “know your customer” and due diligence requirements on entities that facilitate the violation of human rights. Joint ventures with Chinese entities that develop surveillance technology should stop. There are at least 18 research partnerships with Huawei and CloudWalk in the UK. Let us for a second touch on Huawei, a company involved in the surveillance of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang arena. It has partnered with a number of UK academic institutions, including King’s College London, the University of Cambridge, Barking & Dagenham College, University College London, Queen Mary University, the University of London and the University of Edinburgh. I understand there are more, but I will not detain the House much longer on that.

Huawei was banned from our telecommunications systems because it was deemed a security risk, yet it has its headquarters in Cambridge, where it is busy funding all sorts of programmes, many of which have security links. Honestly—what other country in the world would allow that to happen? Good gracious me! Bits of Government need to start talking to each other and asking a simple question: why is Huawei still here if it is a security risk? What is it doing subverting our universities? I am deeply concerned about all the levels of security equipment—I have talked about Hikvision and others—that are busily working away not in the interests of the UK, and there are plenty more.

The UK Government now have to act. There is so much more that they could and should do. They should lead the rest of the world and not follow the actions of those who abuse human rights. They have a treaty obligation to uphold. I call on the Government today, as we commemorate the disaster that is taking place in Hong Kong now, to be bold and brave and to take action. That is what we owe those decent people that have put their trust in us. Sadly, it appears we have failed them.

Xinjiang Internment Camps: Shoot-to-Kill Policy

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Tuesday 24th May 2022

(2 years 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.

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Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
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(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs if she will make a statement on the shocking revelations on the BBC by Professor Adrian Zenz that the internment camps in Xinjiang do exist and operate a shoot-to-kill Uyghur policy in contravention of the previous statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

Amanda Milling Portrait The Minister for Asia and the Middle East (Amanda Milling)
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Today’s reports provide further shocking details of China’s gross human rights violations in Xinjiang. They add to an already extensive body of evidence from Chinese Government documents, first-hand testimony, satellite imagery and visits by our own diplomats to the region. The reports suggest a shoot-to-kill policy was in place at re-education camps for detainees seeking to escape. This is just one of many details that fatally undermine China’s repeated assertions that these brutal places of detention were in fact vocational training centres, or a legitimate response to concerns about extremism. On the contrary, the compelling evidence we see before us reveals the extraordinary scale of China’s targeting of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities, including forced labour, severe restrictions on freedom of religion, the separation of parents from their children, forced birth control and mass incarceration.

We have already taken robust action in response. We have imposed sanctions, led joint statements at the UN, taken measures to tackle forced labour in supply chains, funded research to expose China’s actions and consistently raised our concerns with Beijing at the highest levels. The Prime Minister did so most recently in a phone call with President Xi on 25 March. In 2019, we were the first country to lead a joint statement on China’s human rights record in Xinjiang at the UN. Our leadership has sustained pressure on China to change its behaviour. We work tirelessly to increase the number of countries speaking out. By October 2021, our efforts had helped to secure the support of 43 countries for a joint statement on Xinjiang at the UN Third Committee, including Muslim-majority Turkey and Albania. In response to today’s revelations, we will continue to work with our partners to raise the cost to China of its actions. We will continue to develop our domestic policy response, including introducing further measures to tackle forced labour in UK supply chains.

The UK stands with our international partners in calling out China’s appalling persecution of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. We remain committed to holding China to account.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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I welcome the Minister’s statement. She said so many things that will be so close to the evidence that was submitted to the independent inquiry that took place under Sir Geoffrey Nice QC. The inquiry determined that genocide against the Uyghurs is taking place. What more evidence do the Minister and the Department need to enable them to put in place their obligations under the genocide convention?

Today’s leak of the Xinjiang police files contains more than 2,000 photographs of individuals aged from 15 to 73, who have been incarcerated just for being born Uyghur or Muslim. If someone does not drink alcohol or smoke, or has a beard, he is incarcerated.

One of the markers of genocide is breaking the link between parent and child: there are children in the re-education centres. Let us not forget the Chinese Communist Party’s own words—they put the children in those centres to break their roots, break their lineage, break their connections and break their origins. That is a marker of genocide and I urge the Minister to call it out for what it is—the Uyghur genocide.

The evidence was on the BBC this morning because it coincides with the visit of Ms Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It is a rare visit, but the CCP has said that because of covid it will be a closed-loop visit. It will be in a bubble, and the CCP will control who Ms Bachelet sees and who she meets. That is another example of the UN being bullied by the CCP. Does the Minister share my concern that the UN visit, and any report produced, will deny the absolute truth of what is happening to the Uyghur people, which is genocide at the hands of the CCP?

Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
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The Foreign Secretary made it clear this morning that these latest reports provide further shocking details of China’s gross human rights violations in Xinjiang, adding—as I said—to the already extensive body of evidence. I understand the strength of feeling in the House. As Members will be aware, it is the longstanding policy of successive British Governments that any judgment on genocide is a matter for a competent national or international court, rather than for Governments or non-judicial bodies.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) mentioned, this coincides with the visit by the UN High Commissioner, and we reiterate our longstanding call for the Chinese authorities to grant her unfettered access to the region so that she can conduct a thorough assessment of the facts on the ground. We are watching her visit very closely.

Throwline Stations

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Monday 24th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (in the Chair)
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Before we begin, I remind Members that they are expected to wear face coverings when not speaking in the debate. This is in line with current Government guidance and that of the House of Commons Commission. I remind Members that they are asked by the House to have a covid lateral flow test before coming on to the estate. Please give each other and members of staff space when seated, and when entering and exiting the room.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered e-petition 575967, relating to throwline stations around open bodies of water.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ghani.

In May 2018, Mark Allen was out with his friends on a hot summer’s day. He was a bright and funny young man, who wanted to be an actor. The water where he and his friends had congregated was welcoming. Like many young men, and some girls, they did not register the danger. Feeling hot and sticky, the clothes came off and in they went. I am pretty sure that if I had been there, aged 18, I would have done the same. I have swum in the sea a thousand times, so what it is the difference?

In they all went. No doubt, they screamed with laughter and pain when the cold hit them. They probably splashed each other in the water, like we all do. Apparently, these boys got out, but they decided to go back in. Unfortunately, Mark never swam again. Last week I met Mark’s mum Leeanne—a brave woman who told me her story. There can really be nothing like the pain of losing a child. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Mark’s extended family and friends for their loss.

When someone dies so young, we have to ask why. It is a very tough question. When a family can take something positive out of such a tragic event, it does not remove the pain, but preventing others from going through the same experience may help to bring at least some sense to it. Mark’s mum made a promise to him that she would do all she could to stop this happening to other people, so that families like hers do not have to suffer a similarly tragic event. The petition started by Leeanne has reached 103,000 signatures, and 57 of my own constituents have signed it. It has huge support, and I am pleased to bring this debate here today. There has been similar campaign work on throwline stations and water safety education over the years, and I would like to recognise the work of those campaigners.

Hundreds of people die each year in water, and the statistics prove that it is mainly young boys and men. Figures have shown that over the last eight years between 80% and 90% of those who suffer fatalities in natural water have been male. What is happening? It appears that boys and men are less risk-averse than girls, so that is the first point that needs addressing. The second point, which I believe to be the most important, is that many of the deaths are not down to poor swimming capabilities. Just because someone can swim, it does not make them safe; it is the shock of the cold water that kills so many. It is not like jumping into a swimming pool, which is often heated. It is not like someone running into the sea and then running back out again until they get used to it. It is the jumping in that does it. The third point to raise is that there are no lifeguards to help anyone in trouble.

So what is the answer? This debate is about throwlines. Some people believe that having throwlines at all open water spaces could be the answer and would help an awful lot, but it is not completely the answer. The problem is that if I saw safety equipment around a stretch of water, it might suggest to me that this is a safe place where I can go in. David Walker of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents—a professional in the field—said to me that when he sees this equipment, he is pretty sure that there has been an incident. In other words, what shouts “safety” to me and many members of the public actually shouts “danger” to a professional.

Having spoken to David, I am convinced that there needs to be a three-pronged approach. Education must be the first part. A 20-minute session with every child once a year would be a wonderful start, and we must ensure that boys engage with the lessons. Secondly, mandatory risks assessments of all waters—natural or manmade—must be carried out. The RoSPA will help with those, and although many of the larger water companies and councils already perform them, it appears that too many are just a paper exercise; they do not really carry out a thorough assessment or act fully on their findings, and that should be addressed. Finally, equipment such as throwlines must be put in place only with sufficient warnings stating, “This equipment is not a signal that the water is safe—far from it—and no matter how many times you have swum before, it could be your last.”

We will never stop young people doing risky things, since it is part of growing up. It is fun and makes us who we are. We learn from those actions: “That was a good thing to do”; “That was not so good.” I am a believer in taking risks, but those risks must be calculated. If our young people are not fully aware of the dangers, it is our job to correct that.

I ask the Minister for Levelling Up Communities, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Kemi Badenoch), to address three points. First, I believe that the previous Education Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Nick Gibb), was looking into the education element, so will she ask current Education Ministers to do the same? Secondly, will the Government make risk assessments of all bodies of water mandatory? Lastly, if and when any equipment is installed, will warning signs be placed everywhere that say, “This water is not safe. Do not enter”? We will never bring Mark back, but we can help Leeanne to fulfil her promise to her son, and at least reduce the number of families who have to go through similar fatalities.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (in the Chair)
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I must say that my experience of the Minister means that she will be able to cover all issues. She is normally competent across many issues and Departments.

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David Jones Portrait Mr Jones
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I believe so. There has, in fact, been a debate on the issue already in the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff. When one considers that the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is a national piece of legislation, I would very much hope that the Minister will indicate what national legislation she has in mind, or at least what the Government are prepared to do to provide stronger guidance to those who manage large bodies of water.

Finally, I commend the work of the Royal Life Saving Society UK. I have spoken to Mr Lee Heard of that organisation, who told me that the RLSS is always happy to assist landowners by advising what sensible precautions they can take to minimise the risks associated with bodies of open water on their land. It is a hugely valuable resource and I encourage all landowners to make use of it.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (in the Chair)
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No doubt the Royal Life Saving Society UK will be in Hansard twice because of your contribution.

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Matthew Offord Portrait Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ghani. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Nick Fletcher) and the Petitions Committee on this afternoon’s debate. I have come along as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on water safety and drowning prevention. We are ably served by the Royal Life Saving Society UK. It is a great pleasure to be able to speak to some of the issues of concern that I have. However, I would first like to start, as many others have, by giving my condolences to Mark’s family, and indeed to those of all the people who have died as a result of drowning.

As has already been said, drowning occurs in this country on about 400 occasions each year. To put that into context, that is about one drowning every 20 hours. Within the time we have been awake, one person will have drowned. That is something that we simply must stop. It has also been mentioned, by the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra), that that figure is in excess of the number of people who die from fires in the home or in cycle accidents. Those 400 people’s deaths are preventable.

We also know that many people who do not die as a result of drowning still end up in a persistent vegetative state. We do not have the numbers for those people who then go on to need care for the rest of their lives. Drowning is about not only the number of people who die, but the accident as a whole and the impact on both the NHS and the emotional—and, on occasions, economic —welfare of our constituents’ families.

The second reason why I came along today is that I have been interested in water safety for many years. I am—I suppose—still a qualified lifeguard. I was a lifeguard for many years, in two pools that I can remember and on five beaches in Cornwall, where I grew up. I not only have my bronze medallion, but can go into the water with a reel and line, or with a paddle board and my torpedo tube. Some of us remember our former colleague Charlotte Leslie, who I worked with on the beach at Bude.

The whole issue of water is very important but, in addition to that, I am an active sailor in this country. I also like to scuba dive and surf. I sea-kayak and canoe, and have a paddle board. I think you get the point, Ms Ghani: I am either, on, in, or under the water on many occasions.

However, it is not at those times that we see people drowning—or even having problems in the water. As has been said, most people who actually drown end up in the water without expecting to. They could be running along a canal path, for example, could simply trip after a night out, or could be pushed in as a simple prank. That has happened on many occasions. Also, the popularity of activities such as wild swimming—something else that I do—and paddle boarding is leading to more and more people having problems in the water.

With paddle boarding, the problem has been people being pushed out to sea and we see problems around that in parts of the United Kingdom. A throwline initiative would not help with that, but it certainly would with wild swimming and we must identify places where people regularly swim. The issue of wild swimming, and indeed water quality, is very much on the mind of the Government following the Environmental Audit Select Committee—I will give it a small plug—report on the quality of our rivers, which is very important.

I mentioned people actually going into the water. Two weeks ago, I went to Waterstones in Covent Garden—other bookshops are available, of course. I was saddened to see a poster about a missing person called Harvey Parker. Two days later, I was watching the London news and it said that Harvey’s body had been found in the Thames. Harvey, who was not a constituent of mine, had been to the Heaven nightclub. I presume that he had been drinking and he found that he was simply in the water, not realising that he would end up there.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (in the Chair)
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Order. That may be an open case. We must not reflect too much on that situation.

Matthew Offord Portrait Dr Offord
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I certainly will not; I take your advice, Ms Ghani.

There is also the case of James Clark, to whom the same thing happened. He was at a nightclub in Kingston upon Thames, but he was not among his friends when they all left. When they got home, they realised that he was not there—in fact, it was the next day when they realised that James had gone missing. A few days later, his body, too, was found in the Thames. On both occasions, these guys did nothing wrong. They had been drinking, but that is not a crime. In the end, they found themselves in the water and, sadly, expired.

That is why I welcome the RNLI’s initiative. The RNLI station here at Westminster, on the embankment, is the busiest station in the United Kingdom. We may find it hard to believe that an inland water body is actually the busiest. The RNLI has worked with organisations including Nicholson’s, the pub partnership, and throwlines are now being supplied to other pubs, including the Horniman at Hays, just down by HMS Belfast. Some of the bouncers on the door there say that they feel more empowered. When people leave, they have often been drinking and they will be quite likely to hang around or stay near the railings; sometimes they even decide to stand over the railings if it is a warm evening. On those occasions, people have been known to fall in, so the bouncers feel that it is a great initiative to have a piece of equipment that they are able to use to help and save some of these people.

There has been mention of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It is true that that legislation is necessary for companies and employers that are responsible for waterways, but most of the waterways in the United Kingdom are actually used by recreational users, so they are not covered by the Act. Therefore I would particularly like throwlines to be installed in a greater number of places in the United Kingdom—across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as England.

The National Water Safety Forum, in its drowning prevention strategy, has come up with a target to halve—reduce by 50%—the number of drownings by 2026. I would certainly like that target to be more ambitious, but most of all, I think it could make a valuable contribution to preventing untimely deaths. When anyone goes into the water, it comes as quite a shock, but that shock is nothing compared with that of the friends and relatives of the person who no longer comes home at night.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (in the Chair)
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Thank you, Dr Offord, for that very serious contribution, although you did also give us a kaleidoscope of all your water activities and all the time you have for that as well.

Uyghur Tribunal Judgment

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Thursday 20th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House notes that the December 2021 Uyghur Tribunal’s judgment in London found beyond reasonable doubt that the People’s Republic of China was responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and torture in the Uyghur region; and calls on the Government to urgently assess whether it considers there to be a serious risk of genocide in the Uyghur region and to present its findings to the House within two months of this motion being passed, use all means reasonably available to ensure the cessation of ongoing genocide, including conducting due diligence to ensure it is not assisting, aiding, abetting or otherwise allowing the continuation of genocide and fulfil its other obligations under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, accept the recommendations of the Fifth Report of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains, Session 2019-21, HC 1272, including black-listing UK firms selling slave-made products in the UK and putting in place import controls to protect UK consumers, and place sanctions on the perpetrators of this genocide, including Chen Quanguo.

I put on record my thanks to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and the World Uyghur Congress, and to Rahima Mahmut and Dolkun Isa in particular. I also thank Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who chaired the Uyghur Tribunal. He worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia between 1998 and 2006 and led the prosecution in the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Serbia, for genocide. I cannot stress enough that there is no person more qualified than Sir Geoffrey to assess the facts and determine whether there has been genocide, the crime of all crimes.

There is a lot of speculation in this place about people abdicating their legal and moral duties, and that is what this debate is about. The Government have a legal and moral duty to respond to the Uyghur Tribunal’s verdict and the evidence that was put before it. They must stop shirking that duty by using expensive Government lawyers to weasel their way out of acting—a course of action that is truly reprehensible.

As we know, the Uyghur Tribunal verdict last month, which was based on the facts, was crystal clear: genocide is taking place in the Xinjiang region of north-west China. What more do the Government need to see and hear? Surely the Minister cannot argue with the evidence presented to the tribunal, or its conclusion that human rights abuses, torture and genocide are taking place—a conclusion that it made while it was sanctioned by the Chinese Communist party. There is no plausible reason for the Government to ignore the conclusions of the tribunal. To do so is to quibble on a point of dubious legality, to ignore evidence and to ignore the moral and legal duty to act. When will the Government do the right thing, and—this is a question to which we desperately seek an answer—where is the organising force of this Government?

I am not interested in hearing the Minister discuss whether or not the Uyghur Tribunal is a competent court. That is irrelevant to this debate. I am focusing on the International Court of Justice’s Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro 2007 ruling, which completely blows that argument out the water. Let me remind the Minister of the legal situation that the Government are in. The ICJ ruled that

“a State’s obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed.”

That is the crux of the issue, and of this debate. Those are the rules that the Government are operating under—unless the Minister intends to suggest today at the Dispatch Box that we are now making up our own rules on the hoof.

This House, too, has examined some of the most horrific evidence put to the Uyghur Tribunal. With one voice, Parliament agreed that genocide was taking place in Xinjiang against the Uyghur people and other minorities. That was a significant development. We joined our allies in America in taking that view, and were soon followed by Parliaments in countries across the world, including the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada and the Czech Republic.

Today’s debate is about three things. First, now that the evidence has been presented to the Uyghur Tribunal, the Government must assess whether, under their ICJ obligations, they consider there to be a serious risk of genocide. Today’s motion will force the Government to present that analysis to the House within two months.

Secondly, if the Government will not or cannot do anything about the genocide, the mass rapes, the torture and the abuses taking place in Xinjiang, they should at least protect the British people. The British public—including my constituents and, no doubt, the Minister’s constituents—do not want to be assisting, aiding or abetting the Uyghur genocide. Only the Government can protect the British consumer by introducing import controls, blacklisting British firms profiting from slave labour, and toughening up the current toothless anti-slavery rules.

Finally, the Government should act in line with our closest international allies and use Magnitsky sanctions against Chen Quanguo, the architect of the misery in Xinjiang.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op)
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I am listening carefully to the hon. Lady’s excellent speech. Does she agree that there is also a case for labelling products that may have been produced in the context of the genocide, in that they were subject to Uyghur exploitation, so that consumers themselves can decide whether they want to buy ethically produced products?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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I do agree with the hon. Gentleman. Our constituents want to know the heritage of the products that they are consuming, quite apart from the environmental impact. There is nothing to prevent the Government from ensuring that these products are labelled “stained with slave labour from Xinjiang”.

The tribunal spent a year, in London, amassing the most comprehensive body of evidence in existence on the Uyghur crisis. It took testimonies from academics, legislators and witnesses, and that is how it was able to make a legal determination. There was evidence of, for example, a massive drop in Uyghur birth rates in Xinjiang, which represents just one of the five markers of genocide. In one Uyghur region, birth rates are down by 84%. That accords neatly with the marker: the destruction of a people by stopping them having children, in just one generation. The tribunal labelled it “the biological genocide”.

Nowhere else in the world are so many women being violated in one place at the same time. Although the Uyghur region accounts for just 1.8% of China’s population, 80% of all birth control device insertions in China were performed in that region. Is the Minister really going to challenge the evidence with which the tribunal was presented? It heard that:

“Pregnant women, in detention centres and outside, were forced to have abortions even at the very last stages of pregnancy. In the course of attempted abortions babies were sometimes born alive but then killed.”

Those are the facts that were presented to the tribunal.

Witnesses’ testimonies were so horrific that I cannot list them all, but the Board of Deputies of British Jews compared this to the holocaust. Its president, Marie van der Zyl, wrote:

“Nobody could…fail to notice the similarities between what is alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago”.

Having considered this evidence, the tribunal said that it was

“satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the PRC, by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide.”

I urge the Minister not to maintain the Government’s position of “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil”. That is straight out of the CCP’s playbook. We have moved on, and the Government must now act. I am going to give the Minister some time in which to consider rewriting her speech, because the Government have now been told of the ICJ’s 2007 ruling, and we do not want to hear a rehearsal of their previous arguments.

Let me try to help the Minister by pre-empting some of the points that she may make. In the past, the Government have deferred to their holding statement that this is a matter for competent courts. That is irrelevant to today’s debate. The House now knows that the ICJ’s Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro 2007 ruling has blown that argument out of the water. Let me say it again: countries have a

“duty to act...at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of. the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed.”

That duty has long been triggered. When the Minister recently praised the tribunal for

“building international awareness and understanding of the human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang”,

that triggered the duty to act. Not only that, but when she

“urged the Chinese Government to engage with the evidence provided by the Uyghur Tribunal”

during a recent meeting with the Chinese ambassador, that triggered the duty to act. So does she agree with the ICJ ruling and agree that it is the duty of Governments, not courts, to continually assess whether there is a risk of genocide? Is she today going to change Government policy?

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
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Does the hon. Lady agree that the Government have no justification to deny that this is genocide?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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The Government can fall back on the line, “It requires the United Nations to determine genocide”, but the discussion today is that once the Government are made aware that there is an intent of genocide, that unlocks legal obligations to assess that risk for the Government and for the British public.

As I just mentioned, the Government must carry out risk assessments and undertake due diligence to make sure that they and the British public are not at risk; it is a responsibility of Government, not the courts, following the 2007 legal determination. Before we are told, “It is impossible. It is impractical.”, let me point out that that is just wrong and that other Governments are acting. Our allies in America last month introduced a landmark piece of legislation, the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act, which will stop imports arriving in America from Xinjiang, putting the burden of proof on companies to show that they are not selling goods stained red with Uyghur slave labour. Our public, the British public, do not want to be duped into putting money into the pocket of firms—British firms—selling slave labour products on our shelves. This gets even more absurd, because if we are set on seeking a free trade agreement with America, the Government must strongly consider how enthusiastic our allies in Washington will be about the prospect of the UK being the gateway for whitewashed Uyghur slave labour goods imported from Xinjiang through the UK and ending up in the United States. The Government’s position is now making us a laughing stock. There is no point talking tough but not taking any action.

Let me give the House some examples of that. Last year, the Government promised a bundle of measures

“to help ensure that British organisations are not complicit in, nor profiting from, human rights violations in Xinjiang.”

There has been zero progress. The Government promised

“a Minister led campaign of business engagement to reinforce the need for UK businesses to take action to address the risk.”

There has been zero progress. The Government promised

“the introduction of financial penalties for organisations who fail to meet their statutory obligations to publish annual modern slavery statements, under the Modern Slavery Act.”

There has been zero progress. We cannot even go to Xinjiang to do basic due diligence, so how can we prove that no slavery is taking place? We just have to act—the law is on our side.

Let me leave the House with the story of Tursunay Ziyawudun, a Uyghur camp survivor I had the honour of meeting last year. Many have argued that this is the most technically advanced genocide that has ever taken place, so survivors are really rare. Tursunay was tortured and later gang-raped on many occasions, and had an electric device inserted into her vagina. The biggest damage is that Tursunay feels ashamed, but it is us who should be ashamed that we have taken no action to stop her people being destroyed by genocide. We have taken no action to protect the British public and prevent those British companies from making profit on the back of this genocide. I urge the Minister—I know that Tursunay would be pleading with the Minister here and that the House, with its unanimous support for backing the previous amendment, implores the Government—to live up to their moral and legal obligation and carry out the urgent assessment of genocide in Xinjiang, and to do so for the Uyghur people and to protect the British public.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Before I call the next speaker, let me say that we have two important debates this afternoon. We have a good amount of time, but not an excessive amount of time, so I ask colleagues to bear that in mind and not to give over-lengthy speeches.

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Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) on securing this debate. She spoke brilliantly about what the issues were and laid them out in some detail. I will touch on a few of those but many others will deal with them in more detail.

I say from the outset that the whole issue and the plight of the Uyghurs should trouble us not just because people are now being persecuted, executed, put into forced labour and sterilised. Those alone are enough to make us in this House, of all Houses around the world, stand up and say, “Enough.” But this is also about the wider concept: the more that China—the Chinese Government—gets away with doing this and the more that Governments turn their heads when confronted with the problems of calling it out, the more the Chinese Government extend their reach and form of despotic government around the world. We have seen what their purpose is: to countermand the idea of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. They have made that very clear. At every stage, they think that what we do, what we believe in, is weakness and therefore they sell their concept to and impose it on others.

What is happening to the Uyghurs is a huge wake-up call to those of us in the free world who believe substantially in the concept of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, because it is being eroded even as we hold this debate. We cannot assume, as we legitimately did early after the end of the cold war, that we had somehow won this battle and that it was therefore likely that every other country would have to embrace these principles. They do not. We have to fight for them.

The point about the debate—this is why I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden so much on having managed to secure it—is that we need to be able to say to our Government, my Government, that they need to be at the forefront and leading on tackling this challenge, not dragged along behind. To be fair to the Government on the Uyghur problem and China in general, they are not alone. Countries across Europe also simply will not admit that there is a problem; Germany has been dragging its feet on this for ages. However, that does not excuse us, because other countries, such as Australia, Canada and the United States, have now all decided that the issue is clear.

If we cannot decide on this, what can we decide? As my hon. Friend pointed out, the tribunal made it very clear. It was a properly constituted tribunal. The Government say it has to be a proper court. It is not a court of law, but the tribunal was constituted correctly and as would be done at the UN. The phrase it used, which is critical, is that it found “beyond reasonable doubt” that the Chinese Government are perpetrating genocide, crimes against humanity and torture against the Uyghurs. It is surely only reasonable that we urge the Government to do the next thing. Instead of arguing about whether the tribunal is a proper court, if the Government themselves suspect at any stage that such things are happening, it is essentially inherent on them, given the 1948 issue, to pursue this and to urgently assess whether they consider the Uyghurs to be at serious risk of genocide. I am happy to take an intervention from my hon. Friend the Minister on this, because we may need to satisfy ourselves that it is within the power of the Government to do that. It is. The Government can do anything that this House wishes them to, and this is also internationally legal.

Will the Minister respond on why the Government simply do not want to do this? We had debates here and tried to amend the Bill three or four times, and we came pretty close, I have to say. However, the reality is that I am not even asking the Government to declare this a genocide. I simply ask them to make this urgent assessment and to follow the evidence of what they find, following the tribunal and all the other areas of information. I ask the Government to start that process, that is all. I am not asking them to reach a conclusion at this particular point. I just want them to start the process. That seems very small.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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One issue we are trying to raise is that the Government are refusing to undertake their legal obligations. On what grounds have they decided that all the evidence presented to the Uyghur Tribunal does not stand up in court?

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. The truth is that the Government have not said anything, so we do not know whether they think the tribunal makes sense or what it says is a reality. We do not know that they disagree with it. It would be great if the Minister would get up and tell us whether they think the tribunal is reasonable, has reached reasonable grounds and has come up with good evidence, and whether they actually believe that a genocide may well be being perpetrated. That is all I ask—whether it may well be being perpetrated. If so, we may then start the ball rolling.

The hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) mentioned that trade with China had doubled. In all this, we now discover that the country is so out of control that it does not report that it has a desperate virus breaking out to the World Health Organisation in time for it to get control measures in place. That has now led to millions of people dying all over the world. That is what happens when we refuse to bring such a country to book.

That is the problem that we have right now. China is committing genocide and hounding the Taiwanese. It has broken an international treaty over Hong Kong. It is persecuting and incarcerating ordinary, peaceful democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, persecuting Christians, Falun Gong and others, and smashing churches. It has killed Indian soldiers on its border and militarily occupied the South China seas. How much more are we prepared to stand by and watch, and all for the sake of cheaper goods? Do we say nothing? Shame on us! Shame on us that that plastic thing that we bought last week was 10p cheaper than it might have been had it been made somewhere else. Is that a reason to turn our backs on the suffering and persecution of the people who deserve us to stand up for them?

All I ask is for my Government to take a lead. We have a list of people who should be sanctioned—I am also co-chair of the all-party group on Magnitsky sanctions—and they are: Chen Quanguo, the architect not just of the Uyghur suppression, but of Tibet; Peng Jiarui, the deputy party secretary and commander of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps; Sun Jinlong, former political commissioner of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps; and Huo Liujun, former leader of the Xinjiang public security bureau. We have called for all of them to be sanctioned. They are being sanctioned by the United States. It is not as though, by suddenly standing up, we would be alone; those people have already been sanctioned.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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A number of colleagues in this House have been sanctioned. The Uyghur Tribunal was sanctioned. Individuals who gave evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee were intimidated and sanctioned. When will the Government stand up and sanction those who are undertaking the genocide and when will they have the confidence to back not only the House and the Select Committees, but sanctioned colleagues?

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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The truth is that, ironically, nothing stops the Chinese Government from sanctioning absolutely everybody who speaks up against them. We here have been sanctioned. In fact, I noticed the other day that the Chinese embassy devoted a whole page to telling the world that I was a liar and a cheat and somebody who basically misled everybody about China. Okay, I am fine with that, if that is what it wants to say. The point is that our Government can now make it clear to everybody else that the problem lies at the heart of the nature of that Government. This is a despotic, brutal, dictatorial regime that cares nothing for human rights, nothing for the rule of law, and, at the end of the day, nothing for the lives of ordinary people.

I end by simply saying that, today, we see through a glass darkly. We are looking at history repeating itself. Because we chose not to speak out, because we chose to appease a despotic, brutal, dictatorial and murderous regime in the 1930s, the situation got worse and worse and we ended up with 60 million people dying. We must speak out now. The Government must lead on this and learn the lessons of the past. The Uyghur Tribunal was absolutely clear that it is almost certain that genocide is taking place. Please, will my Government stand up, broaden their shoulders and say that we will no longer turn our heads away no matter what the consequences are? It is time to make the case for Uyghurs to be represented, supported and helped against this terrible genocide.

Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab)
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I thank the hon. Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) for securing the debate, and for her excellent speech; indeed, we have heard excellent speeches from other Members, too. I commend the tremendous work of the BEIS Committee.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have spoken in this place to urge the Government to take stronger, more robust action against the Chinese Government’s blatant attack on human rights and freedoms. The Government’s response to the genocide taking place in Xinjiang has fallen woefully short. This is hardly global Britain at its best. Today, the Government have a choice—the choice to stand on the right side of history and fulfil their obligations under the genocide convention. As a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Uyghurs, I have been highlighting the plight of the Uyghurs for several years, and have heard at first hand harrowing testimony from Uyghurs, their family members, and those who have witnessed what I can only call inhumane and chilling abuses.

The Uyghur Tribunal is, to date, the most extensive independent legal investigation of allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Uyghur region. The judgment of the tribunal, published in December ’21, found that the Chinese Government are in fact perpetrating genocide, crimes against humanity and torture against the Uyghurs. I hope that Members from across the House will join me in paying tribute to the brave individuals who gave testimony at the tribunal. I pay particular tribute to Rahima Mahmut, who I consider a friend and a true inspiration. Her heart-wrenching story is a sobering reminder of why the Uyghur genocide is a scar on the world’s conscience.

History will remember us, and we have a moral duty to speak out against these egregious abuses. Next week, we will mark international Holocaust Memorial Day—a reminder that we have let genocide take place before. There have been powerful interventions from faith communities, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, passionately calling on the Government to condemn the horrors taking place in Xinjiang, which include forced labour, detention, sterilisation, organ harvesting, denouncement of religion, sexual abuse, rape and torture. Despite that, the Government continue to drag their feet on holding China to account.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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Will the hon. Gentleman reflect on the evidence given to the Uyghur Tribunal? What particularly comes to mind is the evidence about factory-sized crematoriums built in the prison factory camps. Let us just think about what that looks like, and which period in our history that reminds us of. How long will we sit here and do nothing?

Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan
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I thank the hon. Member for her intervention. It is harrowing, isn’t it? It reminds us of what happened to the Jewish community here in Europe. Those things are repeating.

Will the Minister heed the judgment and recommendations put forward by the Uyghur Tribunal and finally commit to sanctioning Chen Quanguo, the chief architect of the Xinjiang genocide? Will she also take steps to ban imports from Xinjiang and protect Uyghurs living in the UK from harassment and intimidation by the Chinese authorities?

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Chris Law Portrait Chris Law (Dundee West) (SNP)
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The verdict of the Uyghur Tribunal—that there is proof “beyond reasonable doubt” that the People’s Republic of China is committing crimes of torture, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, as defined under international law, against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang—is further confirmation of what we in this Chamber already know. Indeed, in April last year the House passed a motion that stated that it

“believes that Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in…Xinjiang…are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide”.

As we heard earlier from the hon. Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani), who brought the debate to the House, there has so far been, in her words, “zero progress” from this Government.

We are not the only ones who are aware of what is going on; others are doing something about this situation. The US State Department has determined that China’s violations constitute genocide, as have the Parliaments of Canada, Lithuania and the Netherlands. Yet there is still no condemnation from the Government. There is shocking evidence of arbitrary detention, re-education camps, forced labour, the destruction of cultural sites, torture, rape and sexual violence and enforced sterilisation. Probably worst of all, and what I heard most harrowingly today, are the abortions of children who are alive at the late stage of pregnancy, who are then murdered by the Chinese state authorities. Those of us with an understanding of the Chinese Communist party’s motives, its actions in the past and its scant regard for human rights have been voicing our concerns loudly, despite attempts to keep us silent. I thank the hon. Member for Wealden for securing today’s debate and her relentless pursuing of this cause.

Although the Uyghur Tribunal has shone further light on the atrocities being committed in Xinjiang, the fact that we are relying on an unofficial body to do that, and the fact that these crimes are not prevented in the first place and continue to take place today, is shameful and an abject failure of the international community. As Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, chair of the tribunal, stated:

“Had any other body, domestic or international, determined or sought to determine these issues, the tribunal would have been unnecessary”.

For too long, as China has been emerging as a global superpower, a blind eye has been turned to the Chinese Communist party’s gross human rights abuses, but these cannot and must not be ignored any longer. Sadly, the International Criminal Court announced in December 2020 that it would not investigate allegations because China, as a non-member, was outside its jurisdiction. Furthermore, the possibility of further investigation by referral from the United Nations Security Council is hamstrung by the simple fact that China would simply use its veto to prevent that.

The UK Government therefore need to stop hiding and get away from the refrain of, “The policy of successive UK Governments is that any determination of genocide or crimes against humanity is a matter for a competent court.” It is not; it is a matter for a competent and active Government, and every voice and every party in this House is asking for urgent action—and now.

It is of grave concern that even despite the findings of report after report and investigation after investigation, the UK Government do not appear to accept the findings of genocide or their moral and, as has been said repeatedly today, legal obligation to prevent and punish these horrific crimes. It is nearly nine months since the House stated that what was happening in Xinjiang was genocide and more than one month since the Uyghur Tribunal published its judgment. We need to hear unequivocally from the Minister what assessment the UK Government have made of these verdicts, and what their next steps will be.

Have the UK Government explored the prospect of a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry using their Human Rights Council seat, as recommended by the Foreign Affairs Committee? If the Chinese Government continue to stall and prevent in-country investigations, the UK Government should propose a Human Rights Council motion that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should conduct an investigation into atrocities in Xinjiang from outside China. I hope the Minister is making some notes, because I would like to hear the answers to these questions today. Even if the Chinese Government continue to deny international observers access to Xinjiang, there is a great deal of evidence that can be used to verify the extent of crimes being committed there, as shown by the volume of evidence received at the hearings of the Uyghur Tribunal.

When it comes to access to Xinjiang and other regions in China, we can learn from others. The USA enacted the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act 2018, which denies Chinese Government officials access to the US if they are responsible for implementing restrictions on Americans who seek access to Tibet. I put it on the record today that I would like to join colleagues in the House who have been sanctioned and are fearful to travel to China in putting forward a visa application to see whether we will be denied. If we are, it will be a golden opportunity for the UK Government to step up and say, “That is fine. You are denying our own democratic representatives. This is what will happen to your officials.”

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

I just want to challenge the hon. Member’s point. I think he said that the sanctioned MPs are “fearful” of the sanctions and travelling to China. May I put it on the record that none of the sanctioned MPs are fearful of travelling to China or of the Chinese Communist party?

Chris Law Portrait Chris Law
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am glad that the hon. Member has addressed that point. I did not directly mean those who had been sanctioned, but others beyond that who would like to say and do more. I fully appreciate that there are no sanctioned Members here who fear the Communist party state and its behaviour towards its inhabitants.

I was talking about reciprocal access to Tibet. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who is no longer in his seat, and who I work with as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Tibet, has persevered with the Tibet and Xinjiang (Reciprocal Access) Bill. I once again urge the UK Government to give the Bill their full support and to enact its provisions immediately. I look forward to hearing a response on that this afternoon.

Indeed, many have commented that the illegal invasion and occupation of Tibet was the testing ground for the Chinese Communist party, and that the lessons learned from the oppression of Tibetans have been applied to Xinjiang, yet none of us across the decade since then has done enough to stand up for the people of Tibet, and this is the consequence of silence. It would be worthwhile, therefore, if the UK Government reversed the regrettable decision taken by the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, in 2008 to disregard the previous recognised autonomy of Tibet and accept Chinese authority over the region.

In 2011, Chen Quanguo was appointed the party secretary in the Tibetan autonomous region after the Chinese Communist party vowed never to let the protests that happened there in 2008 occur again. He was the key individual behind blanket surveillance, a heavy police presence, arrests and disappearances, and re-education camps in Tibet. From 2016, he has employed the same security measures in his repression of the Uyghurs, only this time on a far expanded scale. He was able to move seamlessly from repressing one group of people to another, because as far as the Chinese Communist party is concerned, he got results and he got away with it in the international community.

Chen is named in the Xinjiang papers released at the Uyghur Tribunal, and the UK Government must step up sanctions against him and his colleagues involved in perpetrating these gross human rights abuses. So I would like to hear from the Minister what further names have been added to the Magnitsky sanctions. The USA has sanctioned him, and it is again ahead of the UK, having just passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act banning all imports from Xinjiang unless a company can prove that they were not made with forced labour.

The UK could be doing exactly the same, but instead is choosing to sit on its hands, and the Government have in fact rejected the BEIS Committee’s recommendations to help tackle slave labour in Xinjiang. The Minister needs to explain why, and I urge the Government that this needs to change. Given that one in five garments globally are made from the cotton of Xinjiang—which means that just about every one of us in this Chamber will be wearing such a garment—and that other key products such as solar panels, which have been mentioned, are produced there, the UK needs to toughen up and enforce its own legislation. Furthermore, the UK should be pressing for the International Labour Organisation to conduct a full investigation on the Xinjiang region, to verify the extent of forced labour there as a matter of urgency.

The recent integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy called for more trade with China, but that potential trade liberalisation cannot come at the cost of forced labour in Xinjiang and weak words and inaction from the UK Government on these grave human rights abuses. As we have heard, the current Foreign Secretary, in her previous position as International Trade Secretary, facilitated a doubling of trade with China. The world cannot be picked off nation by nation, each turning a blind eye to genocide for the sake of trade deals.

I echo the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan), who is no longer in his place, in saying that we need to work with democracies across the world because democracy is fragile, and that is fundamentally what is being undermined as we do nothing here. Instead of focusing on trade, and whipping Members to vote against anti-genocide amendments to the Trade Bill, atrocity prevention should be the priority. It is deeply regrettable that the UK Government, like others, failed to recognise and prevent the atrocities in Xinjiang before they reached the levels that we are currently witnessing.

Finally, the UK Government cannot appease China, given these crimes against humanity. It is imperative that the UK Government go beyond words of condemnation and use every single possible avenue to end the persecution and to pursue the punishment of those who have instigated and participated in it. The Chinese Government must be held to account for their abhorrent crimes, and held to account now. Given the overwhelming evidence, and given that every single person in this Chamber is saying, time and again, “Please act, and please act now,” I expect nothing less than that from the UK Government Minister this afternoon, to show that we are not cowardly; and I also expect to hear her accept that to do nothing would be an utterly shameful abandonment of our legal and moral duty, as well as our own humanity.

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Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

So far, the speeches in this important debate have been disturbing, powerful and heartfelt. There is clearly cross-party support for the motion. I thank the hon. Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) for securing the debate and for responding to the recent tribunal judgment, and I thank every other Member who has spoken.

The Uyghur Tribunal, led by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, is the most extensive independent legal investigation to date of allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Uyghur region. The Uyghur Tribunal judgment, published in December last year, found it “beyond reasonable doubt” that the Chinese Government were perpetrating genocide, crimes against humanity and torture against the Uyghurs. That should be enough for the UK—our Government—to agree that genocide is taking place in Xinjiang.

In April 2020, this House unanimously agreed to a motion declaring that Uyghurs in Xinjiang were suffering crimes against humanity and genocide. There was a clear parliamentary consensus on the issue, as I believe there still is now. However, since then the Government have not done enough to push back against the atrocities. It has already been said in this Chamber that our Government need to stand on the right side of history, and I implore and encourage them to do so. Will the Government follow the House and recognise these atrocities and breaches of the United Nations convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, and play a leading role?

Democracy is in retreat across the globe, but the Government must be rock solid in their commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I remind the House of the real experiences involved, many of which have already been discussed: the unbelievable situations inflicted on Uyghur men and women, including mental torture, physical abuses, rape, isolations and killings. We have already heard about babies being born and then killed. None of these things should be happening in this day and age. We must not be silent bystanders; we all have to accept responsibility. Our Government need to act for the United Kingdom.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

As the hon. Lady has mentioned, the evidence presented to the Uyghur Tribunal is gruesome and it is hard to comprehend the numbers involved. Of course the Chinese Communist party had the opportunity and the absolute right to present to that tribunal, but it was unable to because it is afraid of the spotlight.

Does the hon. Lady agree that it is surprising and a little disappointing that the UK Government also did not come forward and give whatever evidence they had to the Uyghur Tribunal? Perhaps the Minister can respond to that in her closing remarks.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for that remark, and all the others she has made. They are totally on point. It is astonishing, shocking and an absolute disgrace that our Government did not participate and give evidence and that they have not come forward with a statement agreeing with the judgment that took place last month. It is a disgrace that we should have to stand here trying to cajole and encourage our Government to take the spotlight, take the lead and take control.

These abuses against humanity should not be happening. Our Government have a history of slavery, in the past; we need to make sure that we are doing better than we did in the past. We can do better and improve our history by standing with a whole community of people being wiped out in Xinjiang. We need to stand against the Chinese Government and for the Uyghurs.

Even those who avoid the camps that I have spoken about find themselves enslaved. Uyghurs in Xinjiang suffer under intense surveillance, and much of the rural population have been moved into labour factories in the western region of the province. Research seen by the BBC showed that up to 500,000 people are being forced to pick cotton for long hours and with no rights in Xinjiang. Will the Government accept the recommendations of the fifth report of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee? Will they force UK companies to finally rid their supply chains of forced labour?

Finally, as I have already said, will the UK take a leading role and work with our international partners to end this infliction on the Uyghurs and hold those responsible—the Chinese Government—to account?

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate the hon. Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) on securing today’s debate, and I commend her and the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), who is no longer in his place, for their very powerful contributions.

The brutal reality that crimes against humanity and acts of genocide can still occur in 2022 is unbelievable. The tribunal’s judgment vindicates what the Uyghur people have been telling us for far too long. Beyond reasonable doubt, the Uyghurs have been persecuted and subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence, forced sterilisation, forced labour and murder by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

There is so much more, but simply listing each atrocity, one after another, does not lend enough weight to each act—not when 12 million people are suffering for no reason other than their religion or ethnicity. The judgment makes for sober reading. It describes the depraved actions against the Uyghurs, which are, for most of us, unimaginable. Witness evidence describes the desecration of mosques and places of worship, long prison sentences for practising religion, punishment for speaking the Uyghur language and land and money stolen by the state. If there were a tame end of the scale, and there is not, this would be it.

Witness evidence describes how hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs detained with no cause have had their fingernails ripped from their nail beds and have been beaten with sticks and shackled with heavy weights at their feet, sometimes with their hands connected, for months on end, which is unimaginable. The judgment recounts the evidence from a young woman who was gang raped by policemen while a crowd of 100 was forced to watch. There are details of sexual violence so horrific that it is difficult to repeat. There are stories of prominent community members who were disappeared and of children as young as a few months old who were separated from their mothers—literally every parent’s greatest fear.

The tribunal heard evidence that young, fit Uyghurs were subjected to forced organ harvesting, supported by a pattern of disappeared detainees, the co-location of the detainee hospital and a crematorium, and the hugely lucrative organ market in China. Although I acknowledge that this allegation was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, the evidence presented has been acknowledged as presenting the possibility, which is a sickening thought.

The tribunal found that torture of Uyghurs and crimes against humanity

“attributable to the PRC is established beyond reasonable doubt”.

More significantly it found that

“beyond reasonable doubt…the PRC, by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide.”

The Chinese Government, unsurprisingly, have refused to accept these findings, calling them “absurd” and “sheer lies and disinformation”. The UK Government must, in the strongest possible terms, reject those assertions from China.

The great personal risk taken by every witness who bravely gave evidence must not be in vain. We must provide some assurances and show our support. I say without hesitation that the Uyghur people have my support. I support the calls for the Government to assess the risk of genocide in East Turkestan, which is the minimum required to meet their international obligations, but we should be giving more than just assurances and the bare minimum.

What concrete, measurable steps will the Government take to protect the rights of the Uyghur people? Will the Government join allies such as the US in calling this exactly what it is? In 1948, following the second world war, 39 countries signed the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, which was drafted so that the horrors of the preceding years could not be repeated. The Prime Minister has argued that a determination of genocide cannot be made by a body other than the International Criminal Court. That might be technically true, but the international community has found itself in a position where such a criminal prosecution simply is not possible.

China is outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and, as a member of the UN Security Council, has veto powers on cases taken to the International Court of Justice. For the very reason that a criminal case cannot be brought, I ask the Prime Minister to reconsider his stance. It is clear that the lack of a judgment from one of these bodies does not equate to a lack of evidence of acts of genocide.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

The hon. Lady is making a very powerful speech. I want to refocus her, because I do not want to have the Minister wasting our time by referring to the wrong debate. This is fundamentally about the 2007 ICJ ruling, not the old debate about who determines genocide. This is about the intent of genocide and the Government’s responsibility for assessing whether they are comfortable with that or not, does she agree?

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention, I am glad for the clarification and I hope the Minister will consider it in her remarks.

In exactly one week, we will be in this Chamber again, this time to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, and this year’s theme is learning from genocide. Would it not be timely if the Government chose the following few days to stand up against the current acts of genocide in the world, and to show how the UK continues to learn those lessons and advocates for the voiceless?

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Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Government officials observed the tribunal hearings in June and September, and Ministers and officials met the chair, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, on several occasions to discuss its work.

As we have heard today, the tribunal’s findings contain further harrowing evidence of the situation that Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities face in Xinjiang. Uyghurs and other minorities are being detained in political re-education camps, their religious practice is being restricted and their culture squashed. They are subject to invasive surveillance and repressive governance. There is also compelling evidence of forced labour and forced sterilisation.

The research that we have funded has uncovered more deeply disturbing details. Indeed, we have not hesitated to make clear our deep concerns at the highest levels. The Prime Minister raised the situation in Xinjiang directly with President Xi in October, as did the Foreign Secretary in her introductory call with her Chinese counterparts. I also raised our serious concerns with the Chinese ambassador just last month. We have been working alongside our partners to increase the pressure on China to change its behaviour. In March, the UK imposed asset freezes and travel bans on senior Chinese actors responsible for enforcing China’s repressive policies.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am going to make progress, if my hon. Friend does not mind, because I do not have an enormous amount of time.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I just want to make sure that we capture the essence of what we debated on that particular point.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

I am very grateful; I know that my right hon. Friend wants to respond to every point that was raised. If she is accurate in stating that the Prime Minister, the Department and herself are following not only the tribunal, but challenging the actors of genocide, how come she declared that they are unable to fulfil the ICJ obligation, because the duty is in place?

Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will come back to the Government’s policy shortly, but please be reassured that the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and I have all raised the very serious situation in Xinjiang with our counterparts.

In March, the UK imposed asset freezes and travel bans on senior Chinese actors responsible for enforcing China’s repressive policies. We took action alongside the US, Canada and the EU, demonstrating the breadth of concern across the international community.

Some Members have asked about future sanction designations for human rights violations in Xinjiang. As they will know, we do not speculate about future sanctions, but we keep all evidence under close review. The Government have taken robust action to address Uyghur forced labour in UK supply chains. We have introduced new guidance for UK businesses on the risks of doing business in Xinjiang and have announced enhanced export controls, as well as financial penalties, under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Taken together, those measures will help to ensure that no British organisation profits from or contributes to human rights violations against Uyghur people.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make some progress, because I want to address a couple of points that my hon. Friend made in her opening remarks.

In regard to the BEIS Committee report recommendations, we are grateful to the Committee for its thorough inquiry last year on forced labour in Xinjiang. The Government have given it careful consideration, including the recommendation to introduce a blacklist of companies that do not uphold human rights throughout their supply chains. Although we currently have no plans to introduce such a list, the Government are committed to tackling Uyghur forced labour in UK supply chains and are looking to take robust action.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

Will my hon. Friend give way on that point?

Amanda Milling Portrait Amanda Milling
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend will get the opportunity to respond when I sit down; I have limited time.

On import controls, the Government are fully committed to tackling Uyghur forced labour in global supply chains, but the measures we have taken do not currently include import bans. However, we have announced a range of other measures, including a comprehensive review of export controls as they apply to Xinjiang.

We are also working closely with international partners. At the G7 last month, under our presidency, G7 leaders committed to working together to ensure that global supply chains are free from the use of forced labour. On international action, the UK has consistently led international efforts to hold China to account at the UN through global diplomatic efforts. We led the first two joint statements on Xinjiang in 2019 and 2020. More recently, last October, we helped secure the support of 43 countries for a statement on Xinjiang at the UN Third Committee.

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--- Later in debate ---
Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
- Hansard - -

I am not quite sure whether the Minister was here for the debate, which was based on the 2007 ICJ ruling that states very clearly our legal obligation to investigate if we believe that there is intent to commit genocide. That is exactly what we have put forward in the motion. The Uyghur Tribunal heard evidence and said that the evidence does exist for biological genocide, human rights abuses and torture.

The Minister stated that she would get back to me on a number of points on which she could not respond at the Dispatch Box, in particular in respect of blacklisting the firms that are exploiting British customers and putting on our shelves products made using slave labour.

I put on the record my thanks to the World Uyghur Congress, to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and to all colleagues who contributed to the debate. I know there are huge concerns about sanctions on parliamentarians, but we are in a free world and should concentrate on the Uyghurs whose lives are being lost at the hands of the Chinese Communist party.

I am disappointed that the Minister wanted to quibble over the critical point of the debate, let alone to use clever legal arguments to get out of our obligation. I put on the record that it is difficult to draw a comparison between what it is happening in Xinjiang and the genocide of the Jewish people, but the Board of Deputies has already made its position clear. I also put on record the fact that at one point the late Rabbi Sacks was asked, “Where was your God at Auschwitz?”, and the Lord Rabbi Sacks said the issue was not about God but, “Where was man?” I want it to be on the record that men and women are putting a voice to what is happening in Xinjiang.

I respectfully ask that the Government allow our motion to pass; that they respond to the three principles and on the sanctions and blacklisting; and, in particular, that they return to the House in two months with an assessment of how they consider the evidence presented to the Uyghur Tribunal.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House notes that the December 2021 Uyghur Tribunal’s judgment in London found beyond reasonable doubt that the People’s Republic of China was responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and torture in the Uyghur region; and calls on the Government to urgently assess whether it considers there to be a serious risk of genocide in the Uyghur region and to present its findings to the House within two months of this motion being passed, use all means reasonably available to ensure the cessation of ongoing genocide, including conducting due diligence to ensure it is not assisting, aiding, abetting or otherwise allowing the continuation of genocide and fulfil its other obligations under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, accept the recommendations of the Fifth Report of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains, Session 2019-21, HC 1272, including black-listing UK firms selling slave-made products in the UK and putting in place import controls to protect UK consumers, and place sanctions on the perpetrators of this genocide, including Chen Quanguo.

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Crisis

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Wednesday 12th January 2022

(2 years, 4 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

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I would like first to raise the point that when children and young babies are sold into sexual and domestic slavery, we must not refer to that as marriage. I ask the Minister not to do so going forward.

What a shameful legacy we leave behind in Afghanistan, with millions on the brink of starvation. What conversations has the Minister had with Pakistan, which I think is already taking the most Afghan refugees? Will she ensure that we are working with people to create an understanding of what it is to live in a liberal democracy and not fuelling radicalisation in any way?

The Minister knows about the amount of work that I have done with many colleagues across the House to try to rescue Afghan women and girls, and Afghan female MPs in particular, but the Afghan resettlement programme is not working for the people whom I am trying to help. What assurances can she give that we will enable more women who could be killed by the Taliban to survive so that one day they can go back home and even help with the aid programme?

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes a very good point about children. She asks what we are doing with other countries in the region, including Pakistan. My colleague the Minister for south and central Asia, Lord Ahmad, is in regular contact with other neighbouring countries, and £30 million was allocated to help other countries in the region respond to the impact of the crisis on themselves.

We are committed to ensuring that at least half the aid reaches women and girls. Just before Christmas I met NGOs and organisations representing both women’s and girls’ organisation and LGBT organisations, and their feedback from the ground was incredibly helpful. The Minister for Afghan Resettlement made a statement on the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme last week, and she mentioned that three cohorts of LGBT people have already come to the UK under the scheme. We will continue to prioritise those women who are most at risk, but we need to recognise that, although we are doing a huge amount to help resettle people in this country, we need to support people on the ground, which is why we are working with world-leading organisations to focus always on the most vulnerable, including women and girls.

Ukraine

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Tuesday 7th December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The UK stands by our NATO allies in the Baltic states.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The Foreign Secretary has tweeted that

“allies stand with Ukraine and will defend the frontiers of freedom and democracy.”

Will the Minister confirm that we will use every tool to ensure that our NATO allies stand just as steadfast in ensuring that Ukraine is protected, including in relation to the suggestion that Putin will deploy 175 Russian troops to the area?

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Tuesday 9th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady, as always, puts forward thoughtful ideas. I will pay close attention to her final point. It is essential that we never allow the genocide that happened to be forgotten. We must ensure through our diplomatic work that it is not expunged from the curriculum for young people in the country. We will seek to work with our international friends and partners to prevent the situation from slipping into conflict, but if we are successful, we will still have to go further and ensure that our diplomatic efforts are focused on bringing communities together. I recognise that money plays a part, but in this context I think that our diplomatic heft is probably of greater impact than our official development assistance contributions.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) on securing the urgent question. The secessionists, having denied the genocide and tried to discredit the post-war Bosnian state, have created a crisis that could get violent. I know that the Minister has offered a commitment, but as he has heard today from hon. Members, we want the issue dialled up to a priority, whether that is through challenging the EU’s failure, putting pressure on China and Russia, or even making troops available, not just to protect but to collect evidence of any atrocities that may take place.

There is a red line that the Minister can draw right here, right now. Ministers have repeatedly said that we recognise genocide only when it is declared by the UN. The UN has declared a genocide. The Office of the High Representative has said that anyone who denies that genocide was committed will face a sentence. Perhaps the Minister could say that we stand behind that statement.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will have to speed up if we are going to get through all the questions.

Cyber-attack: Microsoft

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Tuesday 20th July 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Countries around the world trade with and receive investments from China, and, as I have said, pretending that that does not exist or that it is not a significant economic player in the world is completely unrealistic. What we are seeking to do is change China’s behaviour, and we are doing it collaboratively with our international partners.

The hon. Gentleman asked what specific actions we would take. I will not answer in detail at the Dispatch Box—[Interruption.] For the same reason that we do not discuss intelligence matters, we do not speculate on future sanctions, because to do so would undermine the effectiveness of those measures. However, as I have said, we and our international partners have made it clear that these actions will not go unresponded to.

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
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If you will allow me, Mr Speaker, I should like to wish you, and especially the people on the estate who are celebrating it, a very happy Eid Mubarak.

I am not going to ask the Minister to explain China’s actions, but I want him to try to explain why we do not align ourselves with our allies—particularly the United States—who have moved much further on this issue, notably in protecting individuals who have been sanctioned or targeted by China. As has already been mentioned, IPAC’s website has been hacked twice; colleagues on IPAC are also being hacked, as it were—I cannot think of a more appropriate term—and there are four sanctioned MPs on the call list today. We need far more support than is being provided at present.

May I ask the Minister whether the Foreign Office has reached out to Alan Estevez, who was appointed by the Biden Administration to take over security with a special focus on China tech concerns? We seem to be moving at a snail’s pace while America is moving far faster, and, of course, China is light years ahead. It is here, Mr Speaker: it could be hacking the estate, it could be hacking sanctioned MPs’ websites or email addresses and it could be hacking Ministers’ servers, but we are none the wiser, and we do not feel any more protected after the Minister’s response to the urgent question.

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
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I completely understand my hon. Friend’s concerns, but I assure her that we work incredibly closely with international partners, including the United States of America. The unprecedented number of countries and multilateral organisations that co-authored yesterday’s statement is testimony to how closely we are working on this issue as an international community. However, I will certainly take back the points that my hon. Friend has raised about ensuring that individuals who may be the target of cyber-attacks are given all the support that they need both to defend themselves and to respond to those attacks.

Beijing Winter Olympics and Chinese Government Sanctions

Nusrat Ghani Excerpts
Thursday 15th July 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con)
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I must put on record my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford) for cutting his speech short to allow me to speak this afternoon; I am incredibly grateful for his generosity. I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton)—my good friend—for bringing this very important debate to the House. He has been a very passionate and powerful campaigner on Tibet, Hong Kong and the Uyghur, and his integrity on some of these key issues of the day continues to be a source of inspiration to all of us.

Before my words are misinterpreted, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not generally for boycotts—that is not the kind of Conservative I am. I am rising to speak in favour of a diplomatic boycott, which is very different from a sporting boycott. A diplomatic boycott of the Olympic games is nothing new, as has been mentioned in many speeches today. I also put on record the fact that these Olympics will no doubt take place and that I will be supporting our British athletes and hoping that they win gold in every competition that takes place. But that is very different to supporting the CCP as it sportswashes what is happening in Xinjiang.

As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am one of the MPs sanctioned by the Chinese Communist party, and not for committing gross human rights abuses or being a terrorist or a warlord—unless my colleagues who have been sanctioned too have something that they wish to share about themselves—but speaking up against genocide. If my Government think they have any way of persuading the CCP to conduct itself any differently in the face of our values and norms, I am afraid they have lost the plot completely.

If there is any confusion on this House’s views on genocide, let me say that just three months ago this Parliament took an unprecedented decision, based on the evidence, to unanimously declare that all five markers of genocide were being met at the hands of the CCP against the Uyghur in Xinjiang. Let me just remind people about this. Of course one of the markers is killing members of a group. Others are causing serious bodily or mental harm; inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction, in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births—we know that is happening, with the forced sterilisation of Uyghur women; and the barbaric act that is taking place against Uyghur families, with Uyghur children in their hundreds of thousands being separated from their parents. That is what is taking place in China and this is what they do not want us to talk about as these games take place.

Of course we are signatories to the 1948 convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, which is why I would never use the word lightly. Before the Minister at the Dispatch Box has to hold the embarrassing position that only the UN can declare genocide, I must point out that we know the UN is broken when it comes to preventing or even researching genocide when it comes to China.

We should also reflect on what this House has said. We are not the only ones in the world who recognise that the evidence exists that genocide is taking place. The Netherlands, Slovakia, Canada and the Czech Republic have all debated their own motions, and Biden’s Administration have continued to declare the situation in Xinjiang an ongoing, active genocide. More importantly, Mr Deputy Speaker, I wonder whether you could take a message back to Mr Speaker, reflecting on what the US Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said about the Olympic games. She is on the record as saying that she supports a “diplomatic boycott” on those grounds. Mr Speaker may have an opportune moment at some point to let us know what his position is, because somebody in this place has to reflect the view of this House; unfortunately, I am worried that the Government may not be bold enough to hold that line.

My anxiety is that if we have diplomats and politicians attending the Beijing Olympics—the genocide Olympics, as they have been referred to—it enables the CCP to sportswash what is happening in Xinjiang and it makes a mockery of everything we stand for. When the Foreign Secretary talks about:

“Internment camps, arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilisation—all on an industrial scale”—[Official Report, 12 January 2021; Vol. 687, c. 160.]

what does it mean if we then turn up to these genocide Olympics? I know it is difficult for the Government, but politics is about choices and at some point we have to defend our values and our British laws. A diplomatic boycott will have an impact and is a low-risk, high-reward way of establishing global Britain’s values. As the Foreign Secretary has already been on record to say

“We have a moral duty to respond.”—[Official Report, 12 January 2021; Vol. 687, c. 160.]

And we can, by making sure that we do not have a diplomatic presence at the Olympics.

Such a measure is nothing new. A former Prime Minister, David Cameron, did not attend the 2014 winter Olympics after the country in question passed anti-LGBT laws. Let us remind ourselves that the CCP believes that homosexuality is a mental illness and it is killing or destroying millions of Uyghur people. The situation is no better—I would argue it is much worse—so we should not be turning up diplomatically at the genocide Olympics.

There is some anxiety that we cannot take action unilaterally, but that is also nonsense. Many Parliaments around the world are currently debating, discussing or putting motions in place to ensure that politicians and diplomats will not be turning up at these Olympics. It is also quite exciting to note how forceful and bold the Biden Administration are being on this. Just last night, a motion was moved in the Senate to declare that all goods coming in from Xinjiang are slave labour goods and will now be blacklisted and not allowed to be imported into America. These are the motions we should be moving in this House; our position should not be to say, on the one hand, that this is an industrial-scale version of human rights abuses and, on the other hand, that there is nothing we can do.

Politics is not for the fainthearted. Every decision has consequences, but a diplomatic boycott would enable us to stand by what this House and our allies believe—that a genocide is taking place in Xinjiang.

The games last 16 days, or about 1.3 million seconds. That is a second for every Uyghur imprisoned, abused or forced into labour under President Xi. We as global Britain have to make a stand. Do we stand by those oppressed, or do we stand by President Xi? A lifetime ago, the 1936 Olympics were not boycotted, and that did not stop the slaughter of millions of Jews. We cannot make the same mistake again. I urge this House to support this motion and push for a full diplomatic boycott of the genocide games.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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Gavin, I do not know whether you got the message. You have up to eight minutes.