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THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER 2014

1. Urgent Question to the Home Secretary, asked by Mark Lazarowicz: Will she make a statement on why the Government have decided not to support search and rescue operations for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean?
– Dianne Abbott: [extract] Some of us are reminded of nothing more than the Exodus, the boat that, at the end of the second world war, tried to take Jewish refugees to Palestine and was turned away by the British Government on precisely the kind of realpolitik grounds the Minister has advanced this morning. Just as people look back in shame at what we did in relation to the Exodus and the fleeing Jewish refugees, we will look back in shame on the decision he is trying to defend today.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141030/debtext/141030-0001.htm#14103037000003
Commons Oral Answers

2. Scrutiny of Arms Exports and Arms Controls 2014 – First Joint Report from Committees on Arms Export Controls –
Read the debate>
Hansard video>

3. Question tabled by Baroness Deech: Progress in preventing the development of nuclear weapons by Iran.

Lords Oral Answers

4.
Situation in the Middle East and North Africa – debate tabled by Lord Risby: [processed in full separately] Lord Risby, Lord Anderson, Baroness Falkner, Lord Hylton, Lord Stone, Baroness Nicholson, Baroness Warsi, Lord Sacks, Lord Lamont, Lord Mitchell, Baroness Morris, Lord Palmer, Baroness Deech, Lord Cope, Lord Desai,
Baroness Tonge, Lord Leigh, Lord Kirkwood, Lord Wright, Barones Berridge, Lord Turnberg, Lord Sheikh, Lord Avebury, Baroness Hodgson, Lord Soley, Lord Weidenfeld, Lord Selsdon, Lord Dykes, Lord Balfe, Lord Judd, Lord Bach, Baroness Anelay, Lord Risby
Hansard video:  @ 12:10:42
Lords Debates

More info>

5. Andrew Smith: Pursuant to the Answer of 15 October, did the Foreign Secretary and his EU counterparts give specific consideration to settlement construction in Givat Hamatos, E1 and Har Homa, and to the relocation of 12,500 Bedouin from E1, and to the implications of those developments for future relations between the EU and Israel? Read>

6. Katy Clark: Pursuant to the Business Secretary’s Answer of 11 September on Israel, what was the licence type, summary, value, end use and nature of end-user for each of the export licences approved between 8 July and 31 August 2014?  Read more>

Nos 5-6 Commons Written Answers

WEDNESDAY  29  OCTOBER  2014

  1. Foreign Secretary attended 20 October FAC in Luxembourg. “Baroness Ashton briefed Ministers on the 12 October Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo, where the EU had pledged €450m, and reiterated that the EU was ready to support a durable ceasefire. There was consensus that the EU should press for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza and for restrictions to be lifted, whilst expressing frustration at the lack of progress and continued Israeli settlement expansion. The Foreign Secretary welcomed international generosity at the Cairo conference. He stressed that the EU’s priority must be supporting a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza, including through a reactivated and potentially expanded border management mission (EUBAM Rafah).” Read more>

Commons Written Statements

  1. Question tabled by Baroness Tonge: What contribution are HMG making to the reconstruction of infrastructure in Gaza?

– Baroness Northover: “At the Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo, the United Kingdom committed £20 million to assist those affected by the recent conflict in Gaza, including the hundreds of thousands left homeless or without access to water. This funding will include support for the disposal of unexploded ordnance, rubble clearance programmes and reconstructive surgery for those injured in the conflict.”

– Baroness Tonge: “How does she intend to reassure taxpayers in this country, who are increasingly worried about expenditure on international aid, that the money for reconstruction in Gaza will not be squandered when Israel launches another attack in a couple of years’ time? Can she also say why so many of the contracts for building materials and the reconstruction of Gaza are going to Israeli companies, thus ensuring that Israel profits from the destruction that it caused?”

– BN: “No one benefits from destruction in Gaza. In terms of the rebuilding, we are looking very carefully at the implications of any damage to internationally funded structures. Meanwhile, our partners assure us that relief items are largely sourced in Gaza, the West Bank or internationally.”

– Lord Turnberg: “It is clear that we need to get much building material into Gaza to help rebuild all those destroyed homes, but is the noble Baroness aware of the statement made by the Hamas spokesman last week? He said that the avowed intention of Hamas is to start rebuilding the tunnels into Israel immediately. Is there any way of preventing this?”

– BN: “We urge restraint, as we always do, on both sides. Peace is in the interest of both sides—of the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

– Baroness Eaton: “Last month Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the UN agreed to a tripartite mechanism to enable vital reconstruction materials to reach Gaza, while also ensuring they do not end up in the hands of the terror group Hamas. Does the Minister agree that this is welcome news and that we must encourage further such co-operation, which recognises the concerns of both parties?”

– BN: I agree.

– Lord Anderson: “It is surely quite right that vast sums should be pledged by the international community for reconstruction. But what assurances were given by Hamas and its successor that the sums they receive are conditional on good conduct—in particular, on not provocatively raining ever more rockets on Israel?”

– BN: “It is worth bearing in mind that, as I said, we urge restraint on both sides. In that conflict, 71 Israelis lost their lives and 2,131 Palestinians were killed. It is extremely important that we move forward into a proper peace process.”

– Lord Hylton: “Am I correct in understanding that Turkey has offered a ship with sufficient generating capacity to supply electricity to the whole of the Gaza Strip for six months? If that is correct, will the Government ensure that the offer is accepted and the thing is made use of?”

– BN: “I do not know the details of that but I will write to the noble Lord. I know that we are gravely concerned about Gaza’s fuel and energy situation.”

– Baroness Falkner: “The Egyptian Government are starting to clear eastern Sinai to create a buffer zone to close the Rafah crossing, which will further limit supplies going into Gaza. Given that very limited construction materials are already agreed, how does she see Gaza being rebuilt in these very constrained circumstances?”

– BN: “We were very clear at the Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo that movement, including access restrictions, needed to be improved to have the kind of meaningful reconstruction that my noble friend is talking about. We have welcomed the agreement on the UN mechanism for importing construction materials as an important first step. Egypt’s actions in this regard are less than helpful, but Israel has primary responsibility as the occupying power and we continue to urge it to ease restrictions and reach a durable ceasefire agreement.”

– Lord Collins of Highbury: “At the Cairo conference, the DfID Minister declared on his return that a key ingredient for stability is a long-term strategy for Palestinian economic growth. What action is the department taking to ensure that that comes into place?”

– BN: “What is extremely important here is lifting many of the Israeli restrictions. Lifting restrictions in Area C alone, as he probably knows, could increase Palestinian GDP by $3.4 billion.”

– Lord Ashdown: “Earlier the Minister quoted the relative numbers of people killed on both sides. Taking these into account as well as the extent of the destruction, including two declared UN safe-haven facilities, do Her Majesty’s Government share the White House’s view that Israel’s actions in this matter were disproportionate and indiscriminate?”

– BN: “We certainly condemn the actions of Hamas in terms of the rocket fire but we have also urged that Israel, which has a right to defend itself, should do so in a way that is indeed proportionate.”

– Viscount Slim: “It is a known fact that the Palestinians inside Gaza are not in control of their own destiny. Hamas dictates in Gaza. Unless Her Majesty’s Government, and DfID in particular, are very careful, they will discover that most of this reconstruction money goes towards the rebuilding of Hamas’s destroyed houses and, as one noble Lord said, the tunnels and hides for its armaments and munitions. There is a great danger that if this money and equipment get into the wrong hands, our country will be liable for supporting one of the nastiest and most vicious terrorist organisations in the world at present—one that is primed and supported by Iran. This will mean that we are supporting a terrorist organisation.”

– BN: “I assure the noble Viscount that no UK aid money goes to Hamas, but of course Hamas needs to be part of the ceasefire negotiations and it is extremely important that the peace process moves on. The region is a tinderbox, and the sooner that it moves on, the better for all concerned.”

Read more> 

Watch> @ 15:28:38

Lords Oral Answers

  1. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the banning of NGOs such as AI from working in Israel? Read more>

Lords Written Answers

  1. Grahame M Morris: Will Foreign Secretary support proposals in the EU to apply sanctions on the Israeli government if it goes ahead with plans to relocate 12,000 Bedouins in a new town in the Jordan Valley without their consent? Read more>
  1. Grahame M Morris: Will Foreign Secretary support proposals in the EU to take action against the Israeli government if it continues to expand the settlement of Har Homa in East Jerusalem? Read more>
  1. Ian Lucas: What recent discussions has Foreign Secretary had with the PA about reconstruction in Gaza? Read more>
  1. Gareth Thomas: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of progress made by the international effort to support the reconstruction of areas damaged by recent military action in Gaza, and will he make a statement? Read more>

Nos 4-7 Commons Written Answers

TUESDAY  28  OCTOBER  2014

  • Questions to the Foreign Secretary:

– Andrew Griffiths: What recent steps have HMG taken to assist with the reconstruction of Gaza?

– Philip Hammond: UK pledged £20 million at 12 October Cairo conference to help kick-start Gaza’s recovery.

– Andrew Griffiths: “Many in the House were concerned about the impact on ordinary Palestinians during the 50-day conflict. Of particular concern was the bombing of the hospital in Gaza. Will he advise us what the Government are doing to help rebuild vital medical facilities in Gaza?”

– PH: “We will continue to work with the UN and other agencies, but we urgently require an unsticking of the process that allows construction materials into Gaza so that physical reconstruction can commence. When that process is under way, I am sure there will be significant further pledges of assistance on top of the billions of dollars already available to reconstruct Gaza as a result of the Cairo conference.”

– Louise Ellman: “Have any arrangements been agreed to ensure that much needed building materials for hospitals, schools and homes will not be diverted to rebuilding the terror tunnels, which Hamas claims it has started to do?”

– PH: “This is the essential challenge: ensuring that construction materials in the quantities needed can enter Gaza under a monitoring regime that is satisfactory to the Israelis as well as the Palestinians and that they are applied to the rebuilding of homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure, and not diverted for military purposes. Such a mechanism is in place. There was a temporary glitch—hopefully—earlier this week in its operation, but officials are working flat out to try to resolve it. I hope we see major progress over the next few days.”

– Robert Halfon: “Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while Hamas continues to rule Gaza with such brutality and to amass missiles—as we have heard, many of them are from Iran—the prospect of a viable and democratic Palestinian state looks ever more unlikely?”

– PH: “The challenge to the authority of the Palestinian Authority from what is happening in Gaza is an impediment to progress on a broader middle east peace settlement, but I am of the view that we must first bring humanitarian relief to Gaza, which means getting started urgently on reconstruction. We then need a sustained ceasefire and settlement around Gaza as a step to proceeding to a resumption of the wider middle east peace process. I hope for significant American leadership to revitalise that process over the coming weeks and months.”

– Huw Irranca-Davies: I agree that Gaza’s humanitarian and reconstruction needs are the most urgent. “Is it a forlorn hope—can he give us some hope—for a political solution in the medium to long term that allows the security needs of the Israelis and the Israeli nation to be met at the same time as the lifting of the economic constrictions and the strangulation of Gaza? That has to be the way forward.”

– PH: Everyone agrees. “The Gazan economy needs to be reactivated so that people can get back to something like life as normal. The stranglehold imposed by the access regime needs to be relaxed, but it can be relaxed only in the context of Israel feeling safe and secure.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141028/debtext/141028-0001.htm#14102866000014

– Michael McCann: Will Foreign Secretary encourage Israelis and Palestinians to participate in projects which bring them together and build a new generation of leaders committed to peace and dialogue?

– PH: Ian Austin: What steps is FCO taking to support projects that foster co-operation and co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians?

– Grahame M Morris: Has Foreign Secretary discussed with Israel the content of the debate in the House on 13 October 2014 on Palestine and Israel; what recent discussions has he had with his Israeli counterpart on the future of the peace process; and  will he make a statement?

– Tobias Ellwood: [responding to all three questions] “Despite the tragic events during the summer, we remain committed to supporting efforts for peace. Our embassy in Tel Aviv and the British consulate general in Jerusalem work closely with all sectors of society, including the ultra-Orthodox communities, Israeli Arabs and Palestinian communities affected by the occupation, to build constituencies for peace.”

– Michael McCann: “On an International Development Committee visit to the middle east earlier this year, it was noted that the conflict fund had insufficient funding to support groups that were promoting peace from both sides. I urge the Minister to expand the conflict fund pool and look again at organisations such as Cherish, Parents Circle and Middle East Education Through Technology, which are trying to get peace in the region.”

– TE: “Certainly, the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence are keen to receive strong applications for the conflict, stability and security fund—as the conflict fund is now called—for joint projects that bring Palestinians and Israelis together to achieve peace. This is the first time I have heard that there are issues to do with the funding. I will certainly look at it and write to the hon. Gentleman.”

– Ian Austin: It is important to step up the work that the Minister outlined, because the only way to resolve this conflict is through a stable, two-state solution with security and peace for both Israel and Palestine. There is no legalistic, unilateral or bureaucratic route to that objective; it will be achieved only by getting Israelis and Palestinians working together to build trust, to compromise and to negotiate and by means of economic development and trade in the west bank and by the reconstruction and demilitarisation of Gaza.”

– TE: “I, too, had the opportunity to visit Gaza, Jerusalem, Israel and the occupied territories over the last few weeks. I was astonished by the amount of energy there and by the people who absolutely want to work together. One example of that is the UK-Israel tech hub, which is driving economic and technological collaboration between the UK and Israel. The hub is working with Israeli and Arab experts, including Palestinian, to support work and build partnerships in the quick-growing Arab internet sector.”

– Grahame M Morris: “May I draw the Minister’s attention to comments made last week by the Israeli deputy Defence Minister, Moshe Yalom, a Likud party MP and close ally of Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said about President Abbas:

‘He is a partner for discussion; a partner for managing the conflict. I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests.’ Has the Foreign Secretary discussed those comments with Israeli officials?”

– TE: “We take on board the comments made, and it is interesting to note that on Yalom’s visit to the United States, no senior representation was there to meet him. That is perhaps a reflection of how out of sync those comments were. As the Foreign Secretary has reiterated, it is important that we focus on humanitarian efforts, which were discussed at the Gaza donor conference in Cairo, which I attended. Then we should see an immediate return to negotiations.”

– David T.C. Davies: “Even strong supporters of the state of Israel are concerned that building on the west bank is likely to postpone the peaceful dialogue that we all want to see. What is the Government’s position on that?”

– TE: “The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and I have condemned the building in the occupied territories. Such building certainly makes it more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not taking the process for peace seriously. We very much encourage all sides to come to the table. I visited the E1 area on my recent visit, and it was clear what difficulties this building would cause in the conurbation between Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. We discourage the building of any further settlements there.”

– Sir Menzies Campbell: “Illegal settlements are not just about how to defend the Israeli Government. Surely, the result of such settlements is to put the possibility of a two-state solution further and further into the future, to the extent that it could be argued that such a solution has now been completely undermined. Does my hon. Friend accept that no leader of the Palestinians could accept a solution that, for example, made it impossible for a Palestinian state to have East Jerusalem as its capital?”

– TE: “The issues raised by such settlements are very serious indeed, but we must not allow them to deflect from the bigger issue of reaching an actual settlement. It is possible for land swaps to take place and, as my right hon. and learned Friend implies, what is happening is illegal under article 46 of the Hague regulations. However, we do not want people to be distracted by the settlements; we want them to come to the table and restart the negotiations.”

– James Morris: “Does the Minister agree that the key point is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to get round the negotiating table to discuss a two-state solution without preconditions, reflecting Israel’s security interests and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians?”

– TE: “We do require leadership on both sides. From Israel we require a commitment to dialogue and to avoiding all actions that undermine prospects for peace, including settlement activity, while the Palestinian Authority must show leadership in recommitting itself to the dialogue and establishing itself as the authoritative voice in Gaza.”

– John Spellar: “The Arab peace initiative could prove vital in assisting a move towards the essential two-state solution for Israel and the long-suffering Palestinian people.”

– TE: Agreed.

– Speaker Bercow:  I am sorry not to have accommodated more colleagues but those questions and answers were very long.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141028/debtext/141028-0001.htm#14102866000016

– Huw Irranca-Davies: “Will the Minister reconsider his earlier comment that the issue of settlement building was something of a distraction, and that we should not be fixated on it. It is no more a distraction than achieving peace in the region and security for the Israelis.”

 Philip Hammond: “I would like to answer this question, because I know exactly what the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) was trying to say earlier on. The settlements are illegal and building them is intended to undermine the prospects of the peace process. We must not allow that to happen. These are buildings; buildings can be transferred and demolished. Where these buildings are built must not be allowed to define where the final settlement line can go. We must be very clear about that.”

– David Ward: “I very much welcome the comments condemning the illegal settlements, but if the Government’s response to calls for sanctions against Israel is ‘not yet’, how many additional illegal settlements are required for the answer to be ‘now’?”

– TE: “The Foreign Secretary has just made it clear that we do not want the settlement issue to hog the wicket here. We need to focus on the humanitarian efforts. Gaza will face an emergency in a number of weeks when the winter weather approaches. That is a priority. Then we need both sides to come back to the table. That is our focus at the moment, and we do not want to be distracted by the settlement issue.”

– Richard Graham: I welcome the contributions by UK doctors and others to reconstruction in Gaza, but is not the cycle almost bizarre? We fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to do valuable work in building schools and homes, the Israeli defence force destroys some of them, and then regularly we pay to have them rebuilt after a long period of argument about whether the cement will be used for the schools or for tunnels. What can we do to resolve this cycle?”

– TE: “My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We do not want to repeat this cycle. In six years, we have been round this buoy three times. A different mood is developing. We are picking up the agenda that was arrived at in April with John Kerry. As I mentioned, we had a successful donor conference in Cairo, and there is growing pressure on Israel to come to the table, but also on the Palestinian Authority to show proper leadership in Gaza, and that was reflected in its cabinet meeting there two weeks ago.”

– Speaker Bercow: “The House, and indeed the nation, can now hear from Sir Gerald Kaufman.”

– Sir Gerald Kaufman: “Thank you, Mr Speaker. Will the Government condemn in the strongest terms the current efforts by the Israeli Government and settler movements to divide the area of al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest places in the whole of the Muslim religion? Does the Foreign Secretary concur with the US State Department’s statement last week that Israel is poisoning the atmosphere and making support difficult, even from its closest allies?”

– PH: “I share the right hon. Gentleman’s concern. Anything that makes it more difficult to reach a peace settlement is extremely unhelpful and we condemn it. We want both sides to work for a sustainable peace. I think that the degree of frustration now being experienced, even among Israel’s closest friends, is expressed by the response he referred to from the United States, hitherto often seen as an uncritical supporter of Israeli actions.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141028/debtext/141028-0001.htm#14102866000022

Commons Oral Answers

 

  1. Ben Bradshaw: What steps does Foreign Secretary plan to take in response to the decision of the House on 13 October 2014 in respect of recognition of Palestine?

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-22/905707

  1. Andrew Turner: What assessment has Foreign Secretary made of the implications for his policies of the decision of the House on 13 October 2014 in respect of recognition of Palestine?

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-22/905712

Nos 2-3 Commons Written Answers

 

  1. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning the deaths outside Al Amari refugee camp, of Mohammed al Qatari on 8 August, and his cousin Issa al Qatari on 10 September?
  2. Lord Hylton: What is HMG’s assessment of the peace-building and reconciliation work of Parents Circle/Bereaved Families Forum in Palestine and Israel, and do they provide any financial help to it or to its UK charitable partner Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141028w0001.htm#14102899000188

 

  1. The Marquess of Lothian: What proposals do HMG have to ask Israel to contribute to the international funds being raised for the reconstruction of Gaza?
  2. Baroness Tonge: What reports have HMG received from Israel concerning the implementation of recommendations in the FCO-funded report on the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141028w0001.htm#14102899000192

Nos 4-7 Lords Written Answers

HoC Backbench Business Committee: Proposals for backbench debates

28.10.14

Listen Live

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=16259  –  first 8 minutes

Grahame M Morris, David Ward and Alex Cunningham made a bid for a debate on the government e-petition “End the Conflict in Palestine” –  http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67165 This petition is now closed.

Chair Natascha Engel: Now, Grahame, welcome back. You’re here about the e-petition on Israel-Palestine. If in your sort of bid could distinguish for us the difference between what is in the e-petition and the debate that was held a mere two weeks ago in the Chamber that would be great.

Grahame M Morris: OK. I’ll be as concise as I can, and I’m grateful that you’ve agreed to accept the bid. And as you’ve mentioned, it comes about because an e-petition which has 124,478 signatures at last count [now closed] on the back of that petition. And that came about itself   huge protests against the incursion and war in Gaza. Now this is clearly a really important issue, the Israel-Palestine issue, for millions of people here in the UK. It’s an important issue for the UK Parliament and to my knowledge we haven’t had a full debate on this issue since I was elected [2010]. You asked me to differentiate between the recent debate that we had on the 13th October. If you recall that was on one specific aspect, one specific issue, i.e. the recognition of the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.

This is a more general debate, and if members of the committee will recall, the CFI-LFI bids that were made last session were essentially to have a general debate on a non-votable motion. So this has come about after the summer war in Gaza; there’s a great deal of debate; the status-quo on the ground has changed significantly, it’s changing rapidly; the current peace talks are long over, and it would now be timely to debate the subject.

As I said, I think the 13th October debate I think did great credit to the Backbench Business Committee. It was incredibly well attended [just under 300 voted but not all who attended did vote; even some of those who spoke did not vote, so it would be fair to say that circa 300 MPs attended]. Members from all parties took part, very senior former ministers, foreign ministers, people who are expert in the field. It gained a great deal of credit for the UK Parliament and it was extensively reported overseas. I think it’s had an influence on world events.

But that debate didn’t include the Gaza war, the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, which are all vitally important issues the public would like to see addressed in Parliament and so would many MPs, can I just say, similarly because of the very high level of interest – I think 46 speakers. Over 30 MPs from all parties have indicated they would like to sponsor the motion and speak in the debate; in fact there a number of others that came too late. I think if we weren’t able to have the Main Chamber on a general debate without a votable motion… we would have no problem at all filling the Chamber and having a lively and passionate, interesting debate that would interest…

Natascha Engel: OK, I’ve got Dave Anderson and John Hemming.

David Anderson: Grahame, you’re right about the differences between the debates; the formal debate last time was about recognition. But your motion effectively became a general debate in all but name, because all the points you raise were raised then. So I’m not in any way undermining its importance. [rest of his contribution fairly hard to transcribe – he is sayin gthat time is asking  more … with limited amounts of time to allocate. What could be added that wasn’t raised on the 13th? I’ve read the petition it wants the government to take note. I’m sure it has done, whether we are happy with the government’s response to recognition

 

Grahame M Morris: OK, I would take issue with your suggestion that all the points were covered. I think it was on a specific issue, and people cleverer, wiser and more experienced than me talked about the principles of recognition, of particular protocols that would be applied, the arguments for and against. We’re talking here about the general situation, the Occupation, the consequences of the incursion into Gaza, and it would be a much more general debate.

David Ward: I remember the number of times during the debate that members restricted themselves, pulled themselves up, said we’re not here to discuss this, whether it’s the settlements, the issue of negotiations, and said this is about this issue, and I’s return to that. Many of us who took part in the debate felt constrained, wanted to broaden the issues, but were brought back by the focus of the single issue that we were discussing, and that was restricting to many members who I know wanted to discuss the wider issue.

John Hemming: The problem of the Committee is time. One of the great advantages that an e-petition has is it can open up Westminster Hall on a Monday for three hours. Would you accept that if it was offered?

GMM: I don’t think so, because.. I’m grateful that the Backbench Business Committee allowed us to use the Main Chamber, and I think that is an enormous stage to debate powerful issues. I’m also aware that some very specialised subjects have been debate in the Main Chamber which have attracted a much lower level of interest and active participation of members. I don’t think we would have that problem. And I think this is such an important issue that has a major influence not only here in the UK but across Europe and across the world that it would be advantageous to have it in the Main Chamber.

John Hemming: But what if that causes quite considerable delay in terms of having the debate?

GMM: I think we would rather have it in the MC.

NE: OK. I think that given you had six hours [ed: it turned out to be only 4 hours], which is very, very unusual for us to allocate, and as it is the same subject……

GMM: There were three statements before….  [ed: he chuckles]

NE: But you were allocated the whole day, which is very unusual for us to do…..

GMM:

NE: OK, we will discuss this with you. Bec

HoC Backbench Business Committee: Proposals for backbench debates – 28.10.14

Listen Live

A discussion followed Jack Straw’s request for a debate on Iran:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=16259  @ 8.36

 

At one point David Amess asks: “Is Mr Galloway involved in any way in this bid?” Straw says no. Amess then casts doubt on whether a debate of this kind would influence government policy, which is what Straw said is his intention. “As with the Palestine debate,” says Straw, “if a quantum mass of members are supporting one side rather than another and it has drawn on an all-party basis, as this debate will, that was what was striking before, it does make a difference. Government is not a monolith either, even on foreign policy.”

 

MONDAY  27  OCTOBER  2014

  1. Gareth Thomas: What recent estimate has Foreign Secretary made of the number of (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries sustained as a result of conflict in Israel and Gaza in the last 12 months, and will he make a statement?
    Read more>
  1. Gareth Thomas: What reports has Foreign Secretary received on the (a) recent incidence of rocket attacks on Israel and (b) present level of threat of such attacks; and will he make a statement?
    Read more>

Nos 1-2 Commons Written Answers