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British Influence in the World

Volume 593: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2015

14. What steps the Government have taken since 2010 to increase British influence around the world. (907841)

Despite the very tight spending environment, this Government have since 2010 opened nine new diplomatic missions in emerging countries and fast-growing economies and upgraded a further six posts. We have opened an FCO language centre and a diplomatic academy, and shaped the international agenda, including through groundbreaking conferences on the preventing sexual violence initiative, cyber-security and Somalia, and hosting successful summits of NATO and the G8.

My constituents certainly recognise the increased standing of this country across the world under this Government. The Government have rightly made a priority of ending the practice of rape and sexual conflict as a tactic of war and addressing the shameful failure to bring perpetrators to justice. Will the Minister update us on this important initiative?

It is a cause of pride for this Government and this country that the FCO, particularly under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, has for the first time got the international community to take seriously the scandal of the sexual abuse during war and conflict of countless numbers of women and, let us not forget, many men as well. We are now seeing the fruits of that, in the way in which countries such as Nepal, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kosovo are taking up the challenge to put right the wrongs of the past and amend their practices for the future.

When this question was handed out, I was not sure that the Government would be aware that US General Ray Odierno would express concern about our defence capability, following Government cuts, or that the British General Sir Richard Shirreff would describe the Prime Minister as “a bit player” in the Ukraine crisis. When will the Minister recognise how much this Government have marginalised Britain?

I wish the right hon. Gentleman could talk to the leaders of countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, who have been grateful for the resolute political leadership this Government have given, and for the very practical contribution we have made to Baltic air policing and NATO training exercises to defend their security. The—[Interruption.]

I think that the right hon. Gentleman should reflect on the record of his Government and the state of decay in which they left the Foreign Office after their stewardship.