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Inter-Parliamentary Union

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 18 July 2006

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—[Mr. Alan Campbell.]

I advise the television cameras not to come too close. To dispel any rumours, I met the ground rapidly, which accounts for my rather strange appearance this morning.

As chair of the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union I want to use today’s debate to raise awareness of the IPU’s work, especially on human rights, and to ask parliamentary colleagues and the Government to continue to support that important work. First, I shall give some background. It is amazing that people can be Members of Parliament for many years without being fully aware of what the IPU does. I hope that many more people will join it when they realise what kind of work that is. The IPU is the international organisation of Parliaments of sovereign states and was established as long ago as 1889. It is the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue, and works for peace and co-operation among people and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. To that end, the IPU fosters contacts, co-ordination and the exchange of experience among Members of Parliament of all countries.

The British group of the IPU organises incoming and outgoing delegations. In the past 12 months the British group has hosted visiting parliamentarians from a number of countries, including Lebanon, Tunisia, Croatia, Ukraine, Burundi, Bahrain and Colombia, and has organised or assisted visits to, among others, Iran, Thailand, Gabon, Peru, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia. There are plans afoot to host inward delegations in the next year from, for example, Gabon, Brazil, Israel, Japan and Moldova, and to organise outward delegations to Israel, Mexico, Albania, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Jordan. Only two years ago, I led the IPU delegation to Lebanon, and those of us who were present during the visit know with what great pride the Lebanese showed us the reconstruction of their country. All of us who have been watching the events of the past few days will be deeply saddened at the damage that has been inflicted on that country and its people.

The IPU deals with questions of international interest and concern, and expresses its views on such issues to bring about action by Parliaments and parliamentarians. In the past year, the IPU has considered such issues as violence against women, abandoning the practice of female genital mutilation, the role of national Parliaments, various forms of financing for development, HIV/AIDS, and women in politics. The IPU also contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights—an essential component of parliamentary democracy and development—and I shall talk in more detail about the work of the committee on the human rights of parliamentarians. The IPU also organises seminars for parliamentary human rights bodies, and we shall be holding one in October on the administration of justice.

The IPU currently has six main areas of activity: human rights, representative democracy, international peace and security, sustainable development, women in politics, and education, science and culture. More than 140 national Parliaments are members of the IPU and seven regional parliamentary assemblies are associate members. Most members are affiliated to one of the six geopolitical groups that are active in the IPU. Of course, the IPU is financed by its members mainly from public funds. Today I shall concentrate to some extent on the IPU’s activities in promoting and defending international human rights, because one of its main objectives is to contribute to the defence and promotion of human rights, in the knowledge that respect for human rights underpins parliamentary democracy.

The work of the committee on the human rights of parliamentarians, which was set up in 1976 and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, serves as a concrete way for the IPU to protect the human rights of parliamentarians and their wider communities. Parliamentarians are given a mandate to represent the people in their countries, and to do their work effectively they must be able to carry out their mandates free from persecution, threats of violence and imprisonment and other human rights abuses. It is essential that we, as Members of Parliament, support our colleagues all over the world who are being harassed, abused, tortured, detained or even killed just for doing their work.

Often, however, the abuse of parliamentarians is simply the tip of the iceberg. If those who are well known and to a large extent protected are abused, others are often being ill treated as well, so by raising the awareness of the position of the MPs, the committee also raises awareness of the wider situation in the country in question. In addition, by actively and publicly defending parliamentarian colleagues, the committee helps to foster in many of the relevant countries an arena for public and peaceful debate and dialogue. Once the parliamentary arena is secured, that public forum can often be widened and greater protection can be extended to all the country’s citizens. By working on the cases of parliamentarians who have not been able to carry out their mandates that are brought to the attention of the committee, we help to foster good governance and a climate of respect for human rights.

I have had the honour of chairing the committee internationally for the past three years, and have been a member for five years. Its working methods are not widely understood and I should like to explain them. The committee has five members, representing different geopolitical areas in the world. It meets four times a year, in private, to consider the cases of MPs who are thought to be under threat. We receive the initial complaint about the situation of a member of Parliament from a variety of sources, and the source can remain confidential if that is requested. The committee must first decide that a case is within its remit. The allegations in question are then transmitted to the authorities of the countries concerned, so that they can make their observations. We act as a channel of communication between the parties.

The committee can do much more. It can ask for information, send trial observers and organise on-site missions. I was a member of an on-site mission to Syria, where there was agreement to receive members of the committee to the country, but, after three days of argument, we were refused a visit to the parliamentarians in question, who were in prison. To my knowledge and that of the IPU, Syria is the only country to have done that. That deeply regrettable incident was made public at the time. I am pleased to say that the two MPs have been released in the past six months, but we have failed to get further information about their conditions and state of health.

If the authorities involved are not dealing with a case satisfactorily, as in Syria, and when the alleged abuses are of a serious nature, the committee can turn up the pressure and go public. That is when others get involved and raise awareness of MPs’ cases. When I gave my report to the delegations in Nairobi earlier this year, only two countries got up to protest: Turkey and Zimbabwe. It is interesting that the person who came to protest on behalf of Zimbabwe was Mr. Mugabe’s nephew.

Committee members sometimes want to comment immediately on cases that involve serious violations of MPs’ rights, but we have to exercise restraint. Last week, at a meeting in Geneva, we discussed changing the rules of the committee, because it is extremely frustrating for members of the committee to give a press conference, as we did in Nairobi, and not be able to comment on various cases because they are still private. However, irritating though it is to have to sit there and keep quiet, especially to a former journalist such as myself, that method works quite constructively in that when we make representations to the relevant countries on behalf of the MPs who are in trouble, those countries are more likely to come to an agreement privately than if we had gone public and made a big song and dance about it. Many of the committee’s success stories were dealt with under the confidential procedure. I cannot talk about them, but I assure hon. Members that many cases were solved with pressure from the committee.

The cases in which the committee’s work—often alongside that of other parliamentarians—has been an important factor in securing the rights of MPs include those of Mr. Yorongar, the former presidential candidate from Chad; Alpha Conde, the former presidential candidate from Guinea; and Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. I shall quote their words to give hon. Members a flavour of how people feel when they know that somebody else is speaking on their behalf. Mr. Jorongar said:

“I was heartened when the IPU took up my case and its mission to Ndjamena played a decisive role in my release. I strongly encourage them to continue their efforts on behalf of political prisoners throughout the world who are rotting in dictators’ jails.”

Mr. Conde said:

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the IPU and salute the struggle for freedom it waged alongside us during all those years of suffering.”

Mr. Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, said:

“I was held in solitary confinement in Malaysian prisons for six years and at the worst moment when my situation seemed desperate I received a note from the IPU. It revived my hopes to know that someone in a far corner of the world who cared about democracy and human rights had taken up my case.”

As politicians, we are all focused on getting results. Against that yardstick, the committee is one of the IPU’s most effective mechanisms. Some of the cases that it is reviewing now have been made public. In our May session in Nairobi, the committee considered 64 cases in 35 countries, many of which involved more than one parliamentarian, and held face-to-face meetings with 12 delegations. We considered seven cases for the first time. Taking into account both public and confidential cases, there are now, unfortunately, a record number of human rights cases before the committee.

Recent positive developments reviewed by the committee in Nairobi include the release from prison of opposition MP Cham Chainey in Cambodia and the ability of the Cambodian opposition to work more effectively in Parliament. Also, the committee is working with the Parliament of Burundi to ensure that the deaths of former MPs are properly examined, in the context of work that is being done to bring about peace and reconciliation there. The committee is also being helped by the Rwandan Parliament in connection with the disappearance of MP Mr. Leonard Hitimana, who disappeared in April 2003 and still has not been found. The National Assembly has submitted his case to its national human rights commission, which is now also investigating.

I wish to remind UK parliamentarians, the UK Government and the wider world about the plight of parliamentarians in certain countries. In Burma, the situation is particularly tragic. No real progress has been made, despite all our efforts to allow elected MPs to take up their mandates. If anything, the situation is worsening. Recently, a parliamentarian-elect was sentenced to a 90-year prison term, and the imprisonment of two others was extended under draconian laws. There is continuing pressure on parliamentarians elect to resign their mandates and membership of the National League for Democracy, and the authorities have totally ignored the NLD’s proposal to convene the Parliament that was elected in 1990. The committee has constantly condemned that state of affairs, and has appealed to everyone to do what they can to help to bring democracy to Myanmar—Burma—and its people.

I endorse wholeheartedly what the right hon. Lady says about the appalling plight of long-suffering political prisoners in Burma. Does she agree that it might be beneficial if the IPU committee were, at some stage, either publicly or privately, to press for a second discussion of the behaviour of the Government of Burma in the United Nations Security Council, with a view to achieving the successful passage of a binding resolution instructing the regime to cease abusing the human rights of its citizens and start respecting them?

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. In fact, various people have made similar suggestions. One positive development is the setting up of the Association of South East Asian Nations inter-parliamentary Myanmar caucus, with MPs from Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. The caucus has been putting pressure on the Burmese authorities and will continue to do so. I agree that all forums should be used to try to exert pressure in what is obviously a totally unacceptable situation. We know that members of Parliament who were elected in 1990 are dying off in prison, detention or exile. A lot of pressure has been put on the authorities in Burma to release the leader of the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi, from her continued house arrest, but we are particularly concerned about the elected politicians. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will continue to exert that pressure.

In Bangladesh, there are two serious cases which the committee is considering. The first is that of Mr. Sha A. M. S. Kibria, who was killed by a grenade explosion on leaving a meeting in his constituency in January 2005. Although several suspects were arrested, the investigation has failed to address essential questions, and there are allegations of testimonies being obtained under torture. The investigation was closed, and the Supreme Court in Bangladesh is now considering whether it should be reopened. The committee is keen to follow the proceedings closely, and has recommended sending an observer. Grenades were also used in the second case, but Sheikh Hasina, the Opposition leader, was more fortunate. She survived the attack, which took place on 21 August 2004, during a meeting of her party; however, 25 people were killed and more than 100 maimed. An investigation has been ongoing, but sources and the authorities have different views about its results so far. A judicial inquiry commission has been set up, but its report is confidential, and not even the aggrieved parties know what is in it. In both cases, it has reportedly been impossible to raise the attacks in the Parliament of Bangladesh. Nevertheless, our committee has concluded that that Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that both crimes are properly investigated, and we have called on it to follow the investigation more closely.

The committee continues to press for a full royal pardon for Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. It has once more called on the Prime Minister of Malaysia to provide the King with the necessary advice so that he can consider the pardon petition that a large group of Malaysian citizens have submitted. When Anwar Ibrahim was released from jail, he came to Geneva to thank the committee for the efforts that we had made on his behalf, and the same is true of many of the people who are released as a result of IPU pressure. Other examples include MPs from Zimbabwe and the former President of Indonesia, Mrs. Megawati, who was in trouble before she became President of Indonesia, but who was able to carry on her activities because of the IPU.

Unfortunately, the committee has been unable to report any positive developments in either of the cases in Pakistan that it has been examining. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari was released on bail in November 2004. His name was struck off the exit control list and he was issued with a passport. However, he has been declared an absconder, despite the fact that the authorities know that he is receiving medical treatment abroad and he is regularly represented in court in Pakistan by his counsel. More important, the authorities have done nothing to identify and bring to justice those who tortured him in May 1999 during his interrogation.

The other case in Pakistan is that of Mr. Hashmi, who is serving a seven-year prison term, which was handed down in April 2004. The committee is concerned not only about the conduct of the trial proceedings, but about how long it is taking the courts to hear Mr. Hashmi’s application for suspension of the sentence and his appeal. The committee is also worried because the information that the authorities and sources have provided about his conditions of detention is quite different, and it considers that an on-site mission would help it to gain a better understanding of the case. I found it particularly disappointing that senior legal representatives from Pakistan who come before our committee constantly tell us different stories. It is appalling that such senior officials, including attorneys-general, can come before our committee and give quite misleading statements, to put it mildly.

In Sri Lanka, the committee has been examining the case of Mr. Dissanayake, who was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for contempt of court. In early February, the President of Sri Lanka remitted the remainder of the sentence, with the result that Mr. Dissanayake was released on 17 February, several weeks before he would normally have been entitled to release on the grounds of good conduct. The committee obviously hopes that he will be fully pardoned, because, like Anwar Ibrahim, he will not be able to resume his political role unless he receives a pardon. It is therefore important that pardons are tagged on to the release in countries that have such a system.

Another case from Sri Lanka involves the murder of Joseph Pararajasingham, who was a well-known human rights advocate. He was shot dead in his local cathedral during the Christmas eve mass last year. The fact that the cathedral is located in a high-security area and additional security forces were on duty that night suggests that the murderers enjoyed the complicity of the security forces. However, the investigation has not made much progress so far. Again, the committee has stressed that the authorities have a duty to conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation. It also expresses concern at the potential effect of that murder on the willingness of parliamentarians in Sri Lanka to speak out on human rights issues and minority rights.

In praising the IPU’s work on these matters, will the right hon. Lady also recognise the bravery of politicians in some countries, who know the hostility and danger that they will face if they speak out on human rights issues, but who are still prepared to do so, even if they face death? I feel nothing but pride and admiration towards such politicians for speaking out in the manner that they do.

Yes—that is a good point. That is what comes over from the testimony of some politicians when they come to us in private, as happened recently in Geneva. I happened to be sitting in a room, when a member of Parliament from another country—I will not say which country—came in with a letter for me. He said, “I’m just leaving this letter. If they knew I’d come here to see you and what was in the letter, I wouldn’t be safe going back to my own country.” However, he wanted us to know what had happened, because when we raised his case during an interview with representatives from his country earlier in the day, they denied everything that we thought had happened. However, his letter confirmed that it had happened. There are people, even in the delegations that come to Geneva or to the IPU’s annual conferences, who risk their lives just by approaching us at those conferences. The man whom I met had been tortured in custody, but the authorities denied everything that he said had happened.

On Lebanon, there is a lot more that I should like to say, but that is not my role today. However, the committee is considering the case of Mr. Gibran Tueni, who was murdered on 12 December 2005. His assassination took place the day after his return from Paris, where he had been staying because of death threats. An investigating judge has finally been appointed by the competent authorities, and the National Assembly has initiated a civil court action.

Again, there is much that I should like to say in relation to Palestine, but I shall confine myself to saying that the Committee continues to monitor developments in the cases of two Palestinian Members of Parliament who are in Israeli jails. One is Marwan Barghouti, who was re-elected as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the January 2006 elections and who continues to serve his prison sentence. The committee has great concerns about the fairness of the judicial proceedings to which Mr. Barghouti was subject. We have reiterated our desire for a committee member to pay Mr. Barghouti a private visit. In the case of Mr. Hussam Khader, a former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the committee observed his trial in Israel and has considerable concerns about the fairness of the proceedings. Again, the committee has stated its wish to pay Mr. Khader a private visit in prison.

In Turkey there is long-standing case, which has been made public, involving 15 former members of the Turkish Parliament who, back in 1994, were charged with separatism. The case of four of them, including Leyla Zana, is well known and has had plenty of media coverage, especially when they were released from prison in July 2004. The European Court of Human Rights has concluded that their trial failed to uphold fair trial guarantees. As a result, a review of the trial was ordered and is under way. Six of the former MPs went into exile; should they return to Turkey, they will be arrested on charges of separatism. The committee is trying to find out what grounds and facts support the separatism charge still pending against those former MPs. One former parliamentarian, Mr. Sincar, was murdered. Some time ago, the Turkish IPU group informed the committee that several persons have been brought to justice for his murder, but we failed to receive further details.

Eritrea is a country where there is great cause for concern, particularly in relation to Eritrean MPs. Since September 2001, 11 MPs have been languishing in jail and their fate has largely been forgotten. No one knows where they are held or even whether they are still alive and they have never been brought before a judge. They were arrested after the publication of an open letter in which they called for democratic reforms. The Government state that they committed crimes against the sovereignty, security and peace of Eritrea during its war with Ethiopia and that they can therefore be tried only once the peace process has been completed.

The right hon. Lady is giving moving accounts of individual cases. For some countries, there comes a time when they want something. Turkey wants to become a member of the EU, and human rights are critical to that membership. How does the IPU interact with individual Governments and with the EU in particular to try to secure the release of people in prison, these separatists who are not allowed to return to Turkey, and others who are still in jail?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the human rights requirement is one of the conditions of EU membership. The situation is much improved in Turkey. I hope that Turkey will join the EU—indeed, it is imperative that it does. I have many friends in Turkey. I visited Leyla Zana, for example, when she was in prison. I was given special dispensation as an individual to go and visit her and I spent one and a half hours with her discussing her circumstances. Turkey is very sensitive to international criticism. Certainly, when I talked in Nairobi about the situation of those parliamentarians the Turkish representative could not wait to get to the platform. The Turkish delegations and I have had that conversation several times over the past few years.

I know Turkey well and I know when it is making progress. It has made progress since I was a Member of the European Parliament, as was the Minister, and my right hon. Friend knows, too, that the topic of Turkey was often raised. It is incumbent on us all to take every opportunity both to congratulate the Turks on the progress that they have made and to encourage them to make further progress. They must make further progress. The situation in south-east Turkey is still precarious. There are younger political activists now among the Kurds in south-east Turkey who will not put up with the situation. Although progress has been made on language rights, for example, the Kurds are nevertheless a minority in Turkey and deserve much improved treatment from the Turkish Government.

In the case of Eritrea, the committee has gone back to the Eritrean delegation and reaffirmed that, in our view, the human rights of the MPs in jail are being grossly violated and that nothing can justify such a violation. That is also the view of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which concluded in November 2003 that the state of Eritrea had violated those MPs’ right to liberty and security, their right to fair trial and their freedom of expression. It urged the state of Eritrea to order their immediate release and recommended that they should be compensated. The committee has put out an urgent appeal, particularly to our African colleagues, to make every effort to ensure that the recommendations of the African commission are applied and the former parliamentarians released.

We are all aware, unfortunately, of the situation in Zimbabwe. I want to highlight the cases of two members of Parliament: Mr. Job Sikhala and Mr. Abdenico Bhebe. Mr. Sikhala was tortured in January 2003 and gave a detailed statement about it to the court, which had widespread media coverage in Zimbabwe. In his official complaint, he provided names and medical certificates. Although the Zimbabwe police initially spoke of progress being made, more recently they said that there had been no progress owing to Mr. Sikhala’s lack of co-operation. The committee found that hard to understand and has emphasised the duty of the state to investigate the crime with all due diligence and thoroughness. Mr. Bhebe was almost beaten to death in May 2001. He reported that to the police and provided them with the names of those responsible. When the case was to be heard in January 2005, it turned out that the case file had been lost. The committee trusts that the case file will reappear so that justice can take its course.

Six cases relating to Colombia have been made public. They raise a wide range of human rights issues. The first involves parliamentarians who were assassinated and justice, again, has not been done. The second involves a former parliamentarian who was forced into exile because of death threats. In both cases, the parliamentarians were members of the Patriotic Union party, whose members were and still are the target of what has been termed political genocide. The third case, that of Piedad Cordoba, also raises the question of impunity.

The fourth case is quite different, because it concerns parliamentarians who were kidnapped by FARC, the main guerrilla group in Colombia, and who have been in the hands of the FARC for several years. The likelihood of a humanitarian agreement has recently receded but will, I hope, be a priority of the next Colombian President. The committee has always believed that negotiation is the only way forward and that the Colombian Parliament has an essential role to play in arriving at a national consensus.

The case of Mr. Lozano, a member of Parliament and the victim of fundamentally flawed judicial proceedings, raises questions on fair trial guarantees, and the committee is in contact with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help address those matters. Lastly, the case of Mr. Petro, who is also an MP, involves a number of death threats made against him by paramilitary groups, and the authorities not taking appropriate action to protect him. As do the other cases, the case demonstrates that impunity can only encourage the continual repetition of such crimes.

The cases that I have mentioned represent only a small selection of those that the committee is considering. I have thoroughly enjoyed my five years on the committee. I believe that it is worth while because one day—although I hope not—we could all be in a similar situation to our colleagues all over the world. We are lucky; we have freedom of speech and we can speak out. It is incumbent on us to do so, and I encourage all my colleagues to do so on every occasion. We can use the Floor of the House of Commons and Question Time, and we can make points of order. When we are members of delegations, it is sometimes a bit embarrassing to have to raise issues with our counterparts, particularly if we are meeting one of the countries that are responsible for violations, but it is necessary that we do so on every occasion that presents itself.

I shall give way to the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) and then to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow).

I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Lady. On speaking out on human rights, when it was first mooted that we ought to send a delegation to Iran I was nervous, because I did not want to see any delegation from the UK giving succour to the wretched regime that operates in Iran. Does she believe that talking to parliamentarians there and raising the issues of human rights at every opportunity did some good? It appears to me that the Iranian Government got no succour from it but we have established some relationship with parliamentarians in that country.

I heard the report from the members of the delegation when they returned from Iran, and it was fascinating to listen to because they obviously had worthwhile discussions with the Iranians. I know that the Secretary-General and others had meetings with the Iranians in Geneva the previous year to try to set up such a visit, and we found that exchange to be useful. It is worth going to listen to some of the reports that people make about their important visits. I again encourage my colleagues to listen to those when they get the opportunity. I thank the hon. Gentleman for agreeing to be a member of that delegation—

Sorry, the hon. Gentleman was not on that delegation. It was very good. Particularly at these more difficult times, that kind of exchange of views with countries that we may feel very annoyed with at various times is worth while and must deflect the aggro which undoubtedly exists. Again, that is an important part of the IPU’s work, and I hope that there will many similar delegations.

I am glad the right hon. Lady has enjoyed her five years’ service on the committee. It would be safe to say that the IPU, which is an admirable organisation, her fellow parliamentarians and, above all, the victims of human rights abuses are very appreciative of the service she has given. There has been no more consistent or passionate champion of human rights over a very long period than she.

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much. It has sometimes got me into trouble, but we must use the opportunities that we have, even if that sometimes means getting into trouble. It is important that we do so because we have a voice and platform, and we should use them. I never understand the view of people who feel negative towards this place; I consider it a great privilege to be here, and if Members do not use the opportunities it gives, they are missing a lot. I encourage my fellow MPs to stand up for the rights of their colleagues. They should do so in our Parliament, in the media and through the IPU. The information contained in the cases that the committee makes public can be used in all kinds of forums, as I said.

The Government, too, should raise the cases when meeting their counterparts abroad. Such lobbying would feed into their work on good governance. I know that we all ask questions of Governments such as, “When you met so and so, did you raise this?”. The answer is usually yes, but all too often I am afraid that such issues are nowhere near the top of the list of subjects that are under discussion.

I wholly endorse the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) about the right hon. Lady; a great tribute should be paid to her. She has been talking about her interaction with the Government. How often does she meet Ministers to discuss these cases? What interaction does she have with other multilateral and supranational agencies, for example the EU? The IPU does a lot of work with the UN, does she meet its senior officials regularly to discuss these cases?

I shall start with the last question. The IPU has a presence in New York and would like more interaction with the UN than it currently has—that is one of the aims of its reform programme. Obviously, I talk to my Government colleagues on a range of these issues, sometimes with more satisfactory results than on other occasions. Nevertheless, it is important to continue to push certain issues. As my colleagues know, Iraq has preoccupied me quite a bit during the past few years, and I suspect that it will continue to do so. However, it is not for me alone to do that work; it is for everybody in this place. All of us, in our various ways, can make those contributions. We can call Government to account, and, particularly when they are having bilateral meetings with colleagues from other countries, try to push human rights up the agenda.

It is a great pity that the only group on human rights in this House—the all-party group on human rights—is completely reliant on outside help. We would not have our very good parliamentary researcher were it not for the Barrow Cadbury Trust supporting us. When I consider the other all-party groups in this place and the huge sums that are available for the activities of some of them, which I shall not list because we all know them, I think that it is a disgrace that an important issue such as international human rights is not given more financial support. I shall end with that plea, and I hope that my colleagues will join in the discussion.

I intend to speak only very briefly, because I know that not much time is left in the debate. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) on raising the issue of the IPU and all the good work that it does. She mentioned the fact that there are a number of inward and outward delegations from the United Kingdom. The dialogue that is established between members of Parliaments is very important. It is not just about us talking to the rest of the world; we listen to what they have to say as well, because we do not have the answers to all the problems in other countries. We can learn by some of the practices operated in those countries.

I recently chaired a luncheon with the Chinese delegation that we had here. We all recognise the importance of China throughout the world now. In 50 years or less, one can only imagine what sort of status it will have in the world. Very different cultures are involved, and there are human rights issues in China as well. The death penalty in China is one such issue; I believe that its use of the death penalty is one of the highest in the world. I have issues with the way that the penalty operates in China, but it would be completely irresponsible for me then to walk away from China and say, “Well, that’s it. We will not have anything more to do with you.” The fact is that we must recognise the influence that China now has throughout the rest of the world and, thanks to some of the IPU visits that I have made, I have seen that influence.

I hope that the Minister will say something about those parts of the world where we have little or no representation. For example, an IPU delegation, of which I was privileged to be a member, recently visited Gabon and we co-chaired that visit from Yaoundé in Cameroon. That it is not the best way to have British representation in that part of the world, but China is there big time. There are huge issues in Gabon concerning the environment, as well as democracy, that we need to address—for example, illegal logging and China’s influence. On our visit, we learned that the Chinese are responsible for building not just one but two parliamentary buildings in Gabon. We must question why we have little or no presence when other countries, such as China, are doing well there.

I was at an international conference in Tonga in the summer. We have pulled our flag down there, yet the Chinese are increasing their representation. I hope that the Minister will say something about the representation that we have throughout the world and whether pulling the flag down in a number of countries, as we have done, and lessening our representation in other countries, including Germany and the United States of America, is the best use of money.

In some ways and in some countries, it might be better if we reduced our representation rather than cutting it. I hope that the Foreign Office is looking carefully at something like a Tesco Metro appearance in some of those countries rather than no appearance whatever. With a limited and fixed budget, we shall have at least some influence in those countries, particularly with those with which we have had long relationships over centuries. To walk away after putting in huge investment over a long period is a grave mistake.

I praise Ken Courtenay and his staff in the IPU who give great support to all delegations, both inward and outward. They do a fantastic job, sometimes at incredibly unsocial hours, and must deal with all sorts of problems that arise with inward and outward delegations when huge pressure is put on them by parliamentarians of all countries. I praise their work.

The right hon. Member for Cynon Valley mentioned Colombia, which we visited under the leadership of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) who did a tremendous job. The one thing we learned there was the importance of the Chevening scholarships and the fantastic work of the British Council throughout the world. Being able to visit some of those countries means that we see at first hand what it is doing on the ground. President Uribe was a Chevening scholar and when we visit such countries, we can get privileged access because of the earlier investment.

The point about the Chevening scholarships is that we tried to recognise people who would have influence at a later stage and bring them to the United Kingdom so that there would be a dialogue because they would already know what the United Kingdom was all about. My goodness, that paid dividends when we visited Colombia and met the President for an hour and a half in private audience. That was tremendous and it was superb to talk to him. He has a great fondness for this country. Again, I hope that the Minister will say something about the Chevening scholarships. I know that they have been overhauled, but I hope that they will not lose the essence of what they were all about. We look at certain countries to work out which people will have influence at a later stage and we bring them to this country so that there will always be dialogue.

Tremendous joint work was done recently at the Africa conference between the IPU and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. A number of parliamentarians came here from Africa. We went to the British Library over a three-day period and there was superb dialogue between members of Parliament from Africa and the United Kingdom. Going back to what the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley said, there is a huge advantage in having a private dialogue with them when they are outside their own countries because they feel more comfortable talking to us privately about some of the issues in their own countries. We can talk about those issues in relation to the United Kingdom and the democratic processes in this country, which they can see first hand. They take that back with them to their countries. I cannot overestimate the importance of our recent conference, which was a tremendous success.

Almost finally, I want to talk about the Iran trip. I am a member of the Council of Europe and when I spoke to representatives of the opposition to the Iranian regime, they told me about the public executions that take place. Two young lads were recently executed because they were accused of being gay. The photographs that appeared in our newspapers shocked every decent, thinking person. Women are publicly stoned for adultery. It is incredible that that goes on in the 21st century. When I heard that a delegation was going to Iran, I thought that it was the right thing to do. I was delighted to speak to one of the members of that delegation who said that it spoke privately to members of Parliament from the Majlis and was able to get across human rights issues so that they could better understand where we are coming from. It is not a case of just wagging the finger. The delegation spoke not to the Government but to the members of Parliament, who clearly must operate within the current regime. I take my hat off to those who are opposed to the regime but work within it to try to alter it for the better.

The visits and conferences that I have described all cost money and I understand that the IPU’s budget is under pressure this year and next year. If the budget remains frozen in real terms, there will either be a cut in the number of inward delegations and what we can do when they come here or in the number of outward delegations. That will hit at the group’s work. I hope that the Minister, as well as parliamentarians generally in this country, recognises the hard work that is being done. We have heard what is done in the committee work behind closed doors. Many people do not even know that that goes on. There is work in dialogue and constructive help for parliamentarians throughout the world daily. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that the budget for forthcoming years will be maintained to recognise the IPU’s work.

I shall also try to be brief. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) on securing this debate and on her consistent work over many years. She has championed human rights even when it has not been popular to do so and when it has been at great cost to herself.

I want to refer briefly to a visit that I made to central America under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union when I led a delegation. It was a good example of the effective work that the IPU can do on the ground to serve human rights. That visit occurred in the early part of June to two countries in central America: Guatemala and El Salvador. Visiting two countries was a useful experience in itself because we could develop a regional perspective and we saw the contrast between two neighbouring countries in central America.

In El Salvador, we found a relatively stable, democratic process. The two parties, the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional and the ARENA party, which had been at war during the 1970s, 1980s and early part of the 1990s, were pursuing a peaceful democratic process and had laid down their arms. The ARENA party was in government and the FMLN was in opposition, and we thought that there was genuine determination across the political spectrum to make the peace accords of the 1990s work effectively. Of course, we saw great problems in the country—land issues, high criminality and widespread poverty—but there was great optimism and that came across clearly from everyone we met.

To be blunt, the situation in Guatemala was quite different. The country was less prosperous with less business confidence, widespread corruption and high criminality, particularly from the “maras” gangs. It was pointed out that more people in Guatemala lose their lives through crime than died during the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s. Before we went to Guatemala, the delegation had graphic briefings from Amnesty International. Its two basic concerns were the ongoing land disputes and the high level of evictions. It was concerned about the human rights abuses and the way in which peasants and rural workers in particular were being treated.

Secondly, Amnesty International was concerned about the violence against women. I would like to read an excerpt from one of its reports that graphically shows the appalling situation in Guatemala. A mother, referring to her daughter, said:

“My 15-year-old daughter Maria Isabel was a student and worked in a shop in the holidays. On the night of 15 December 2001, she was kidnapped in the capital. Her body was found shortly before Christmas. She had been raped, her hands and feet had been tied with barbed wire, she had been stabbed and strangled and put in a bag. Her face was disfigured from being punched, her body was punctured with small holes, there was a rope around her neck and her nails were bent back. When her body was handed over to me, I threw myself to the ground shouting and crying but they kept on telling me not to get so worked up.”

We had the opportunity to raise such issues when we were in Guatemala during a long discussion with President Oscar Berger. Naturally, his responses were unsatisfactory from our perspective. What came across clearly to us in Guatemala was that although the political will might have existed among decent people to get to grips with such problems, the political or civil infrastructure was not in place to do so. The police in Guatemala suffer from widespread corruption and the judiciary is both corrupt and inept. Many of the large property owners do not feel that they have a stake in the country; in fact, many live in Miami and visit the country only occasionally.

Above all else, we did not find the same commitment to democratic politics in Guatemala as we found in El Salvador. That is largely for historic reasons. During the civil war in El Salvador, it was recognised that neither side could win—neither the left nor the right, neither the FMLN nor the ARENA party. A historic compromise was therefore reached, with both sides laying down their arms and making a genuine commitment to the peace accords and the democratic process. That did not happen in Guatemala. There the army won, and democratic politics suffered as a consequence. What political parties exist in Guatemala have shallow roots. To build up respect for human rights and to crack down effectively on criminality, there is a need to enforce democracy and the political process. That is one of the lessons that we learned, and one aspect of our international work that we must continue to pursue.

In conclusion, the example of our visit to central America shows clearly the worth of the IPU. Parliamentary democracy has a central role to play in promoting human rights. The IPU, as the international manifestation of parliamentary democracy, therefore has a crucial role to play. One the of the most telling moments that I experienced in El Salvador was when one of the members of the assembly who belonged to the left-wing FMLN said to me, “Mr. David, at one time my colleague”—he pointed to a friend of his from the ARENA party—“and I were literally trying to kill each other in the civil war. Today, although we have political differences, we are nevertheless friends in the legislative assembly.” That better than anything else illustrates the importance of parliamentary democracy and the work of the IPU.

I shall speak briefly because this debate is drawing to its conclusion. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) on her introductory speech and the work that she undertakes through the course of the year on behalf of the IPU. I am a member of Amnesty International and I thought that there was a lot of overlap between what she said about work at the parliamentary level and what I am sure all hon. Members wish to promote more generally—respect for human rights and the right of every individual to live free from an oppressive state.

Certain benefits continue to make the IPU relevant, even though it was founded more than a century ago. First, it is important that Parliaments throughout the world assert themselves. People often ask me why I became a politician—they wonder what the benefits of parliamentary life are and what the role of Parliament is. They ask, “What about big business? What about the internet and the media?” However, Parliaments are still the way by which people can decide their priorities and administer their affairs in a logical, coherent and accountable manner. It is in our interests to promote parliamentary democracy throughout the world, particularly in the face of some of the alternative sources of power, which have become more prevalent in recent decades and which perhaps make the IPU even more relevant.

When I talk to constituents and others, I am struck by the increasingly international dimension to politics. The big issues that concern people who organise high street petitions in my constituency and elsewhere are the effects of globalisation— whether they regard them as adverse or positive—the global environment, particularly the warming of the planet, and the effects of global policy, such as population increase, immigration, work permit arrangements and so forth. More and more, we live in an interdependent world, so we need to relate to other countries—not just those that we find it the most amenable to have relations with, but those that are perhaps more challenging to deal with directly. The IPU plays a key role in that.

The final positive aspect, of many, is that the IPU is a means by which we can spread best practice. We can advise parliamentarians in less mature democracies than ours about procedures and how scrutiny can be improved. As was mentioned by a previous speaker, however, it is only reasonable that we learn from others too. After all, one of the two Houses of our Parliament is non-elected and the other one has a majority Government with the support of 35 per cent. of the electorate. Occasionally it does us no harm to stand back and reflect on how others might see us and on whether we can learn any lessons from parliamentarians elsewhere in the world.

When I and a number of others were recently in Saudi Arabia, extolling the virtues of democratic elections, those we spoke to pointed out that their Majlis, which is entirely appointed, has many similarities with the House of Lords. We agreed that the abolition of both of them was a good idea.

I do not want to stray too far from the brief, but I have a lot of sympathy for what the hon. Gentleman says. British parliamentary democracy has been established over many years and has a great deal to recommend it, but we should be cautious about assuming that our models are superior to others. He cites a particularly good and topical example.

I want to raise one or two more points that perhaps the Minister will touch upon if he has enough time. One is that the IPU faces challenges from a number of competitor organisations. I see, for example, that you are the chairman of the all-party British-Czech and Slovak group, Mr. Cummings, and there are many other groups that conduct bilateral relationships between our Parliament and other Parliaments, as well as Commonwealth, NATO and other groups. The IPU needs to ensure that it continues to be relevant and punch its weight. It is a source of great concern to me, and I hope to others, that the United States, which is the most powerful country in the world and has an impressive democratic tradition, is not playing its part in the IPU. The organisation is clearly diminished by its absence.

As the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) mentioned, the IPU always faces the challenge of defining precisely what its role is. It is clearly beneficial for us to continue to have discourse with countries around the world, but in Iran, for example, to which there was a trip earlier this year, not everybody is free to stand for Parliament in the first place. Iran’s parliamentarians are a group of people who have been elected only after satisfying the people in positions of authority that their views are broadly aligned with those of the regime.

The IPU is engaged in a difficult balancing act. I congratulate everybody on the IPU executive in Britain for trying to strike that balance and on their vigilance and their determination to represent the cause of parliamentary harmony and discourse around the world. I hope that, in another 117 years, it will be functioning as successfully as it does today.

I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Cummings. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), not only securing the third of what I gather have become annual debates—I hope that we will continue to hold them annually—but on her long-standing work on human rights in various guises. She is the Prime Minister’s special envoy to Iraq, but she did not even touch on Iraq in her speech. However, she gave numerous examples of human rights abuses by some pretty nasty regimes, and she is to be congratulated in the highest terms for her work. We have also heard excellent speeches by my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) and the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David).

I shall touch on only one or two points, because time is pretty limited. One of the main functions of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is the strengthening of democracy and good governance around the world. The dreadful news that we see on our television screens and read in the newspapers each day tends to cloud our thinking and make us think that democracy is perhaps on the wane and that human rights abuses are getting worse. I am not sure that that is the case. If we consider the historical context, we see that some of the worst abuses in human history occurred in the last century—the second world war, Pol Pot’s killing fields and Stalin’s gulags, to give a few examples. The IPU’s work has huge influence around the world, and it is vital that it is continued and strengthened. Those involved are doing a great job of work.

As I said, the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley is the Prime Minister’s special envoy to Iraq, where in December last year 75 per cent. of those eligible to vote turned out and voted in the National Assembly elections, despite huge intimidation. In Afghanistan, despite enormous threats from the Taliban, supporters turned out en masse and elected a president in 2004. Ukraine saw the orange revolution in 2004, and Georgia the rose revolution in 2003. The bulldozer revolution in Serbia brought Milosevic down in 2000. There are great examples of democracy being spread throughout the world. The IPU’s contacts with parliamentarians in those democracies do a great deal to strengthen them and bring about better human rights and well-being for the peoples of those countries.

As I said in my intervention on the right hon. Lady, the IPU could build better relationships with multilateral and supranational bodies such as the EU and, in particular, the UN. The latter does a great job of work, but with the resources that it is given, it could do an even greater job. Last year, it had an historic summit, but the process of reform seems to have stalled. It is the job of parliamentarians—the IPU is well placed—to have high-level contacts within the UN, to ensure that that process continues.

One of the main successes of that reform, as the right hon. Lady will know well, was the creation of the Human Rights Council, which had its first meeting in Geneva recently. We will all look to see how effective that organisation is, and how it deals with those of its members who have bad human rights records. Relationship building, not only with individual countries and members of Parliament, but with organisations of that sort, could go a long way to helping to improve democracy and human rights. Relationship building and education are critical parts of the IPU’s work. The hon. Member for Glasgow, South-West (Mr. Davidson) referred to the visit to Saudi Arabia, a country that has a faltering human rights record, but which is an important ally of the United Kingdom and a very influential country in the current middle east conflict. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) spoke warmly about the success of that visit to Saudi Arabia and the two nations’ conference. Through such contacts and networking, the IPU can do a great deal of good.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley referred to engaging with young people, which is another critical part of the IPU’s work. If one can engage with young people at the start of their parliamentary careers, they rise up through the system and can eventually become influential people in their own country. My hon. Friend also referred to the work of the British Council and to the Chevening scholarships given by the Foreign Office. Those are excellent things, but it is a pity that the remit of the Chevening scholarships has been narrowed recently. I ask the Minister to look into that carefully.

As my party’s spokesman on trade, I was particularly interested to read in the 2005 annual report about the work of the IPU in a symposium and steering committee chaired by Lord Paul in Geneva on 21 to 23 April on the subject of the Doha trade round. It demonstrated that really successful initiatives, such as that symposium, should be followed up when the right things do not happen. This is a critical time for World Trade Organisation talks, and I wonder what sort of emergency procedures the IPU has to enable it suddenly to summon a new symposium to find out what further impetus the IPU could give stalled WTO talks. The WTO talks are one of the best ways of improving human rights and standards of living in the poorer countries of the world. If those talks stall, it would be a great setback.

We are all talking about the environment these days, but I did not hear the words “environment” and “sustainability” mentioned once, although sustainability, the environment and human rights are one and the same thing in terms of good governance. What work could the IPU do to encourage some of the less well functioning democracies of the world to improve their environment and sustainability?

My hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley mentioned embassy closures. The hon. Member for Caerphilly mentioned two visits to central American countries. We now have embassies in only three of the six central American countries. In addition, I note that we do not have an embassy in Madagascar, from which an inward visit is envisaged. The Foreign Office is closing embassies and removing British representation, all for the sake of a very small amount of money, compared to, say, the overspend of the Department for Work and Pensions. The Foreign Office closes embassies and saves perhaps £1 million, but the Department for Work and Pensions overspend far exceeds that.

Through those closures, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face. I hope that the Minister will reflect on the strong concerns expressed in this debate, and that he will think about whether we cannot have at least a very small delegation in such countries, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley suggests. This week, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley) asked an interesting parliamentary question about how many embassies are manned by one person. The answer is that there are quite a lot around the world. However, that is a better model than closing an embassy, because that way there is at least some presence on the ground when something goes wrong, when some dreadful tragedy occurs, or when some human rights abuse takes place. There is at least someone to make representations to the relevant Government.

The work of the IPU is vital. I again pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley for her work, and to her staff in the IPU. I see that Mr. Kenneth Courtenay is listening to the debate: as has been said, he does a great deal of work and organisation, often at very antisocial hours. The work of the IPU is vital, as is the work of its sister organisation, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which has not been mentioned this morning. I hope that they continue. I hope also that the right hon. Lady continues to strengthen her work, particularly in dealing with some of the nastier regimes throughout the world, to help to alleviate the suffering of those parliamentarians who are caught up in such regimes, and that through her work, human rights will be improved and the well-being and good governance of those countries will continue to improve.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) on securing this debate. I pay tribute to the role that she plays in the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and its important work to foster good relations with parliamentarians throughout the world. It is encouraging to hear about the positive work that the IPU undertakes on a range of difficult and topical issues.

I have heard in the debate and from my officials about the active inward and outward visits programme, and the important role that it plays in encouraging good government through a strong parliamentary system. Engagement with Members of these Houses of Parliament can only help the sharing of good practice with other Parliaments throughout the world. Hosting the inward visits programme gives Members the opportunity to share the strengths of our system, and travelling overseas allows many of us to experience at first hand the problems and challenges facing our colleagues in other countries.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been delighted to be involved in the programme of visits during the past year with delegations from Africa, the middle east, Latin America and eastern Europe, and we were pleased to offer help before and during overseas visits to regions including Latin America, the middle east and Africa. The visits complement the FCO’s traditional diplomacy. A recent good example mentioned by Members is the IPU visit to Iran, which added a welcome parliamentary dimension at a sensitive time in our relationship with that country. We look forward to continuing to help IPU programmes.

My right hon. Friend raised the question of human rights generally and specifically. I have already told her that I shall deal in correspondence with individual cases and countries where appropriate and necessary. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Her Majesty’s Government are committed to protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and good governance throughout the world. Those fundamental values lie at the heart of our foreign policy. Democratic countries that respect the rights of their citizens are more likely to settle disputes peacefully and respect their international commitments and obligations. The promotion of democratic practices and values is essential if we are to help other countries achieve the high goals that are set for emerging democracies.

I was an IPU observer of the Palestinian elections at the beginning of this year. In addition to addressing the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) about the two Palestinian parliamentarians who have been in prison for some time, will my right hon. Friend the Minister say something about the 21 further Palestinian parliamentarians who were picked up in the past few weeks, and the four Palestinian parliamentarians who are having their east Jerusalem residency rights revoked by Israel, apparently on the ground that they refuse to give allegiance to the state of Israel, when the city in which they live is occupied territory? He knows that those provisions are illegal under The Hague convention.

I have referred to those cases, and I shall deal with them in correspondence with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley.

We very much value the IPU’s work in working towards the goals of achieving democracy and respect for the rule of law. As chair of the IPU committee on the human rights of parliamentarians, my right hon. Friend has been active over the past few years. She recently presented her newest report, which details 118 cases in 21 countries where the rights of parliamentarians are curtailed or worse.

The ability of members of Parliaments to speak freely and question Governments properly is fundamental to a democracy. The curtailing of that right in some parts of the world is totally wrong. I am pleased that some cases have been brought to a satisfactory conclusion through IPU action. My right hon. Friend’s update is welcome, and it shows yet another aspect of the IPU’s positive work.

The British group continues to contribute positively to the work of the IPU through its active participation in the six-monthly assemblies. The Government strongly welcome the bilateral meetings that the IPU organises in the margins of the international conferences, and indeed, the feedback that we receive from them. Such meetings are vital if we as parliamentarians are to understand better what happens in other countries.

The work of the three standing committees is ably assisted by contributions from Members of this House, and that work in turn contributes to our efforts to alleviate the suffering of many people throughout the world. This year the committees have focused on combating violence against women, the control of small arms and the environment. They are all important ambitions, and it is right that the world’s parliamentarians should consider such matters of global importance.

I am pleased that the IPU continues to work closely with the United Nations. It is important that there is a dialogue between parliamentarians and the UN, and it is right that the IPU plays a leading role in that dialogue. As the UN continues to strengthen its links with civil society, the parliamentary dimension becomes even more important, and as the major global parliamentary group, the IPU has much to offer the UN’s work in support of democracy.

The Foreign Office takes part in regular discussions on the future programme of the British group of the IPU. Our geographical desks continue to offer briefings before visits overseas and our embassies contribute to the success of IPU visits, and that help will continue.

In response to the points raised by the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), the Foreign Office deploys its resources to meet its strategic priorities. I was intrigued by his Tesco Metro approach, and I hope it means that he will give strong support to our efforts in several countries to co-locate our embassies and staff with those of other countries. I know what an enthusiast he is for the European Union, and I am delighted to hear him advocate the way in which we have sought to anticipate his suggestion.

There may be times when we do not have a resident ambassador and it is not possible for diplomats to visit a particular country at the same time as the British group of the IPU. Those occasions should be rare, and I am sure that hon. Members will understand that in those circumstances our help might be more limited than that which we would usually expect to offer. However, we look forward to another year of continued co-operation. The Foreign Office and our posts stand ready to give what support they properly can.

In closing, I repeat my congratulations to the British group of the IPU for its effort and successes of the past year. I wish it well for the coming year, and I know that the British group’s participation in a range of activities will contribute enormously to the spread of democracy and good governance throughout the world.

Will the Minister say something about the British Council and Chevening scholarships before he finishes his speech?

I judged that that subject was not strictly relevant to a debate about the IPU, but I am prepared to take note of the injunction that Members have set out, and I shall carefully consider the hon. Gentleman’s speech.

I congratulate the IPU and wish it well in its future work.