International affairs

Mike Wood: Since May, at least 21 Christians have been given long prison sentences in Iran for practising their faith. Did the Foreign Secretary raise the issue of human rights with his Iranian counterpart, particularly that of freedom of religion?


Mike Wood: The UN has made it clear that Muslims in Rakhine state should receive a legal status that allows them to lead a normal life and, in time, be granted full nationality, with freedom of movement and access to labour markets, education and health services. Will my right hon. Friend continue to press those demands through the United Nations and directly with the Burmese authorities?


Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the UN appeal for Yemen raised only just over half its target? Does he agree it is now time for other countries to follow the UK’s lead by making pledges or by honouring the pledges already made?

Mike Wood: May I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the fact that 46 countries co-sponsored his UN resolution on bringing Daesh to justice, which was then unanimously supported in the Security Council? Does not this show that Britain is both leading diplomatic efforts against Daesh and rallying the international community around this important cause?


Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent progress the Government has made in accepting into the UK from other EU countries unaccompanied children claiming asylum from Syria.


Robert Goodwill (The Minister for Immigration): In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied children to the UK from Europe, including more than 750 from France. Approximately 200 of these children met the criteria for section 67 of the Immigration Act.

Mike Wood: To ask the Attorney General, what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of prosecutions for modern slavery.


Robert Buckland (The Solicitor-General)

We have the strongest legal framework in place including the Modern Slavery Act, which came into force in July 2015. The Law Officers are supporting the Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Modern Slavery, and the CPS continues to see a year on year increase in the numbers of prosecutions.

Mike Wood: From the Gambia to South Africa, the Commonwealth offers great potential for expanding trade with Africa. Will the Minister make sure that we make full use of those opportunities to secure trade deals and get exporting to those emerging economies?


Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Parliament must have a role, whether through Select Committees or in the Chamber, in the general terms of the negotiations. That is why I will support the motion this evening and why I welcome the principles laid out by the Secretary of State this afternoon. However, it would clearly be counterproductive to restrict the Government’s scope to negotiate the best deal for Britain.

Mike Wood: Will the Minister reassure the House that the conflict in Yemen and accusations of breaches of international humanitarian law are taken into consideration when looking at extending arms exports?


Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Mike Wood: As a Conservative, I believe that taxes, whether direct or indirect, need to be kept as low as possible, consistent with the need to raise finances for our vital public services and for our national security. Unnecessarily high taxation not only strangles growth and development but means Government taking from those who have earned money, whether through labour, innovation, or capital.

Mike Wood: Succinct thanks to the Prime Minister, but what assessment has he made of the opportunities for preliminary negotiations before triggering Article 50?


David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Mike Wood: I worked in Brussels for seven years, and my thoughts are naturally with friends and former colleagues in Belgium, as well as with the families of those who were murdered and maimed yesterday morning. Effective security co-operation with other European Union countries is obviously vital, but will my right hon. Friend also consider how we can effectively exchange appropriate security information with allies through membership of other international organisations, such as NATO and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe?

With the humanitarian situation deteriorating, we must ensure that all sides in the conflict are clear about the urgent need for a political solution. Yemen has descended into widespread armed conflict since March and is classified by the UN as a level 3 emergency. Despite that, this in some ways remains a neglected crisis. Government institutions are no longer able to deliver basic services to people in need, including basic healthcare and nutrition services, water and electricity.

Mike Wood: I thank the Prime Minister for his efforts to secure the best deal available. Today’s newspaper reports suggest that the changes needed to introduce an emergency brake would require approval from the European Parliament. Has he had an opportunity to assess levels of support among MEPs for these changes?


David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Mike Wood: It is particularly concerning that, notwithstanding assurances that have been given, death sentences remain in place against a number of juveniles, including Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Will my hon. Friend pursue all available means to ensure that those executions do not happen?


Tobias Ellwood (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Mike Wood: Would it not be devastating to the credibility of the eurozone if European institutions were seen to favour political considerations in relation to keeping Greece within the single currency ahead of basic economics?


George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State