Humanitarian Situation in Gaza

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Wednesday 17th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

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

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Airdrops, promises of harbours and promises of money to come are not even touching the sides of the problem, given its scale. People are starving to death. At the beginning of March, my Committee published a report calling on the UK Government to press for more than 500 trucks of humanitarian aid a day to be allowed into Gaza; for all the crossings to open; for the Israeli military to co-operate better with aid agencies; and for deconfliction, so that humanitarian workers can live, and also safely carry out their vital work. Despite the Foreign Secretary’s optimism about greater humanitarian flows, the average is just over 1,100 trucks a week. Why are this Government not doing more to persuade Israel to meet its responsibilities under international law and facilitate aid to the people of Gaza? How many more people have to die?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand the hon. Member’s concerns, particularly given her position as Chair of the International Development Committee, but I have highlighted already that we are pressing incredibly hard on Israel to make further progress, and there has been limited progress. The Foreign Secretary is in the region, and he continues to press this case, as does my the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), who is doing important work in this area as well.

Israel and Gaza

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the International Development Committee.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I feel very uncomfortable about the Minister’s comments about taking credit for the UN Security Council resolution when the UK abstained twice in the process. There is not an immediate ceasefire and, after six months, I dread to think how many Gazans have been killed or will die of starvation. Given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Gaza, does he agree that it is vital that the Cabinet Minister responsible for overseas aid makes himself available to this House for scrutiny? Surely it is not right that Members are updated on the Foreign Secretary’s views via the media, rather than from his answering questions in this place. When will the Government do us the courtesy of responding to the Procedure Committee’s report?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady knows that I greatly respect her and the work that she does on the Select Committee. I do not think she should feel uncomfortable, because Britain has taken a principled position that is delivered by resolution 2728, which was passed yesterday. I hope that she will join the general approval for the strong British diplomatic effort that helped to deliver that.

On the Foreign Secretary, I believe that the Government response to the Procedure Committee report is imminent. She asks about the member of the Cabinet responsible for British aid and development policy: that is me. Both I and the Foreign Secretary speak with one voice.

Hong Kong Security Legislation

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Wednesday 20th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are very much aware of the Confucius Institutes and the way in which they operate. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we always keep such matters under review. If we have any changes to make to what we are doing, we will be sure to announce them in the House.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

There is no doubt that article 23 will have a chilling effect on freedom and human rights in Hong Kong. It is designed to further stifle all criticism of the Chinese regime and its policies, both inside and outside Hong Kong. Given the number of UK dual nationals in Hong Kong, what plans do the Government have to protect UK citizens from political persecution by China, both here and in Hong Kong? Will the Minister look again at extending the BNO passport scheme to children born before 1997?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Chair of the International Development Committee for her comments. As she knows, we created the British national overseas route in 2020, which creates a pathway to permanent citizenship for British national overseas passport holders. It is working extremely well. Of course, we always keep it under review, but we have no current plans to change it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Tuesday 12th March 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely correct. He sets out the position extremely well. It is a top focus of all parts of the British Government to try to get the hostages back, as I set out earlier. The Prime Minister and the International Court of Justice have called for their immediate release. Although I cannot give a running commentary, we are working closely with the US, Qatar and Egypt to secure their release.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

In the past five months, Israeli and Palestinian civilians have borne the brunt of this conflict. We are getting only the slightest glimpse of the rape, torture, hostage taking and murder that is going on. Will the Minister tell us what our atrocity prevention team and preventing sexual violence team are doing on the ground to document and stop that?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are very clear that we seek to document atrocities so that people can be held to account, no matter how long it takes. I set out earlier the additional funding specifically to help women who have been the subject of appalling sexual violence. I am grateful to the hon. Lady and the International Development Committee for their visit to the region. On the issue that she raises, the British Government’s position is that there can be no impunity.

Israel and Gaza

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Tuesday 27th February 2024

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the International Development Committee.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Committee and I were at the Gaza border last week trying to get first-hand testimony of the 2 million stories of suffering that now represent Gaza. What can I say to the House? What we are hearing is just a tiny fraction of the horror that is going on out there. Will the Minister clarify one thing with the Israelis? We spoke to a senior UN security person who said that drones flying overhead are gathering data that artificial intelligence algorithms then translate into targets. We know that civilians, humanitarians and medics are being killed, so will the Minister urge Israeli defence to ensure that the algorithms protect the people that they are supposed to under international humanitarian law?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chairman of the Select Committee makes a very good point, and I look forward to meeting her later today to discuss this and other matters. I believe that the point that she has made is addressed by the fact that, just as in the UK military, targeting in Israel is subject to lawyers being present in the room and legal advice. That should give her some comfort on her specific point about drone targeting.

Trial of Jimmy Lai

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Monday 18th December 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We continue to use sanctions tools across the piece at every opportunity where the evidence comes to us and we can use it, bearing in mind that, as we always say—I am sorry that it is frustrating for colleagues—we will never discuss potential future sanctions designations, because it could reduce their impact. We will always listen to and look closely at the evidence brought to us, and indeed at the work that our teams across the world do, to try to bring to bear our sanctions regimes against the human rights violations that we are seeing.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Sadly, as we predicted, the people of Hong Kong have seen their freedoms systematically eroded since the national security law was introduced in 2020. Pro-democracy activists such as Jimmy Lai have been detained, public libraries have been emptied of books seen as promoting so-called bad ideologies and the recent “patriots only” local elections saw opposition candidates banned from standing. Can the Minister please explain how the UK Government plan to uphold their commitment to human rights and freedom for all Hongkongers?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right; it has been tragic to see the disintegration of all those freedoms, which, when both countries signed up to the Sino-British joint declaration, we considered that China would stand by. Of course, when we saw the national security law coming in, we responded very quickly and decisively, in particular with the new immigration path for British national overseas passport holders, so that we could provide that security for those who felt under most stress. We also suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong indefinitely to provide protection for those people and we have extended our arms embargo on mainland China to cover Hong Kong. This is a tragic situation, and we will continue to call for change and for the Hong Kong authorities to reverse the national security law and restore those freedoms that were part of Hong Kong’s extraordinary opportunity for economic success, as well as other things.

Gaza: Humanitarian Situation

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Monday 4th December 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

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

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the International Development Committee.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I welcome the responses the Minister is giving, but I want to hear the Foreign Secretary’s response. On 16 November, we had a harrowing session with the humanitarian organisations on the ground in Gaza. We wrote to the Foreign Secretary, but have not had a reply. We have not had a reply either about when he will come in front of our Committee. With such a horrific and fast-moving situation in Israel and Gaza, when can this House expect to hear from the Foreign Secretary?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure it will be very soon.

International Development White Paper

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Tuesday 21st November 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Roger Gale Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Roger Gale)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chairperson of the Select Committee on International Development.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Let me start by giving my huge congratulations to the Minister. I hope that the whole House has recognised his personal involvement and the tenacity with which he has got this document out. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I also congratulate our civil servants, who for the past three years have been doing an amazing job in challenging circumstances. I really hope that this White Paper re-establishes our position on the international stage. I particularly welcome the embedding of localism; more money to the poorest; debt relief; and the focus on atrocity prevention. The White Paper outlines several initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of climate finance available for vulnerable countries such as small island development states, which is welcome. The Minister referenced biodiversity loss a couple of times in his statement, but will he explain why no specific mention is made in the White Paper of the loss and damage fund, which I predict will be at the centre of COP28 in the coming weeks?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Chair of the International Development Committee and, through her, all of its members, who bring their expertise and enthusiasm to this subject with eloquence and skill. She mentions the importance of debt relief and localism, and she is absolutely right on that. She also mentions the work on atrocity prevention, which we have particularly been doing in Sudan since the crisis emerged there. That work is very important and we are finding new ways of amplifying it. What she says about biodiversity may well be true. The White Paper runs to 148 pages. If she and I had our way, it would have been longer, but we have to draw a line somewhere and I yield to no one on the importance of the point she makes about biodiversity. She will know that there has been argument about loss and damage, and a holding position has now been secured, ahead of the COP. That is very important, but loss and damage must do two things. It must get a broader spectrum of where the money is coming from, otherwise we will just be reorienting it within the international development budget and that will be robbing Peter to pay Paul—there is no sense in doing that. The other thing is that it must bring in a wider group of countries, not just the narrow OECD ones that account for aid—it must be wider than that. Those two things are required to make loss and damage work.

Oral Answers to Questions

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Tuesday 24th October 2023

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I have been inundated with emails from constituents terrified for the future of the internally displaced Palestinians in Gaza. Since 7 October, nearly 600,000 internally displaced persons have been sheltering in 150 United Nations Relief and Works Agency facilities, 35 UNRWA staff have been killed, and 40 UNRWA installations have been damaged. When the ground invasion inevitably starts, where are these people meant to go? Who is expected to host them? Who will administer them, and where will the support come from? Finally and fundamentally, what does the Foreign Secretary believe is the Israeli politicians’ long-term objective?

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

All the conversations that we have had with Israel, with Egypt and with intermediaries who are able to maintain lines of communication with Hamas have been about the preservation of human life. Let me put this on the record once again: we completely support Israel’s right, and indeed duty, of self-defence. We are only just starting to see the scale of the brutality. Video evidence retrieved from those individuals who brutalised and murdered Israeli citizens on 7 October has now been put in the public domain, and it is worse than any of us could have imagined. We absolutely stand by Israel’s right to self-defence, and we have said that we want to work with Israel, with Egypt, with the countries in the near neighbourhood and, of course, with those who are the de facto Government in Gaza to minimise civilian casualties. We have had that commitment from Israel; we have had no such commitment from Hamas.

Gaza: Al-Ahli Arab Hospital Explosion

Sarah Champion Excerpts
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I am terrified that there will be an escalation leading to many more civilians on all sides being murdered. I have listened intently to what the Foreign Secretary has said about why he is not calling for a ceasefire, but could he explain both as a diplomat and as a military man how we can get humanitarian aid in, how we can create safe zones and how we can prevent civilian loss of life? Slightly longer term, will he tell us what conversations he is having with the international community about long-term aid and support for the inevitable Palestinian refugees?

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

The hon. Lady, the Chair of the International Development Committee, makes an incredibly important point. I, the Prime Minister, my ministerial colleagues and of course our ambassadorial teams in the region have been speaking extensively to try to facilitate humanitarian access. That has been most notably with Egypt, but we have also been using our very good relationship with the Qataris to try to influence Hamas, and of course our direct relationship with Israel to try to broker some kind of humanitarian access, even if only temporarily. Thus far, that has been unsuccessful. We will continue to work on that. We have allocated an additional £10 million for direct humanitarian support for the Palestinian people—of course, we are not limited to just that—and we co-ordinating with the international community to ensure that whether in Gaza or wider in the region, Palestinians are looked after in these difficult times.