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Freedom of Expression

Volume 631: debated on Tuesday 21 November 2017

This question follows on almost directly from our comments and criticisms about what is going on in Russia. Freedom of the press is absolutely indispensable for prosperous societies around the world. That was why on 2 November we announced FCO funding of £1 million over the next financial year to support projects that promote freedom of expression and the work of journalists.

I am very proud of the Government’s activity on freedom of expression around the world and warmly welcome the £1 million funding for areas of the world where press freedoms are curtailed. Will the Foreign Secretary confirm whether the £1 million funding is a one-off, or will it be reviewed and perhaps increased if it is deemed successful?

We will review the success of the funding, but it is there to show the Government’s commitment, as part of our global Britain values agenda, to a free press around the world. I mean that very sincerely. Across the world, more journalists are being killed and locked up, and that is not only a political disaster but an economic disaster. The most prosperous and successful countries are those that also have a free press that is able to expose corruption and enable democracy, which allow the economy to flourish.

24. In Hong Kong, press freedom and the freedom of expression and assembly are guaranteed by article 3.5 of the Sino-British joint declaration, yet last week Beijing basically said it would imprison people for up to three years for booing or disrespecting the Chinese national anthem. President Trump said nothing about that during his visit. What will the Foreign Secretary do to uphold the fundamental values that the United Kingdom is legally obliged to uphold? (901964)

We have made it absolutely clear to our Chinese partners that the joint declaration is absolutely valid and operative, and that one country, two systems, enshrining all the values the hon. Gentleman rightly draws attention to, remains in force.

Our early lunchtime exchanges would be incomplete if we did not have the participation of the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne).