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Topical Questions

Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2018

[In British Sign Language]: On 24 July, we will hold a global disability conference here in London, organised by the UK Government, by the Kenyan Government and by the International Disability Alliance. For too long, in the world’s poorest countries, disabled people have not been able to reach their full potential because of stigma or not enough practical support. I am proud to be focused on this area, which has been neglected for too long. The conference will support the global effort to advance disability inclusion for some countries’ most vulnerable people. [Applause.]

In thanking the Secretary of State, and the gratitude of the House is obvious, let me just say by way of reply that that is—[in British Sign Language]—good news.

As a boy, my ayah came from Somaliland, which was a British protectorate then. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explain what her Department is doing to help that great country, which has always been a friend of the UK?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. UK assistance to Somaliland includes support for critical economic infrastructure, humanitarian assistance, police and justice support, and engagement in counter-terrorism and security. We provided rapid response in the aftermath of the tropical storm, and we will also support Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission to plan and prepare to deliver elections next year.

T2. Reuters has reported that fighting in Hodeidah has forced around 2,000 high school students to take a dangerous six-hour journey across mountains to sit their exams in Sana’a, but more than 2 million children are reported to be out of school in Yemen, and the conflict is having a profound effect on their education. What are the Government doing to end the conflict? (906255)

We are giving every support to the work of the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths, who, almost as we speak, is in Sana’a and talking to the coalition parties. Only through this UN negotiation might we get a resolution of the conflict.

T3. I know through personal experience the good work DFID does with the Foreign Office in promoting trade with developing countries. Will the Secretary of State continue to work with the Foreign Office to make sure we offer better trade deals to developing countries, particularly those in Africa, than they currently have with the European Union? (906256)

As I said, leaving the EU affords us the opportunity to develop our own trading deals with those nations. We work incredibly closely with the Foreign Office, including through our ministerial teams coming together once a week to discuss these matters.

T4. The recent aid transparency index showed DFID a commendable third but the FCO a poor 40th in the global rankings of aid agencies. Can the Secretary of State explain the discrepancy between the two and ensure that all UK aid spend meets the same standards of quality, poverty reduction and transparency? (906257)

As the hon. Gentleman knows, earlier this year I convened the first cross-ministerial official development assistance group. Every Department that spends ODA money, and the National Security Council, which looks after the cross-Government funds, meets at that group, through which we will provide training, support and the tools DFID uses to get other Departments to the standard we want them to reach.

T5. Building on the Government’s efforts to tackle modern slavery in the UK, will the Secretary of State update the House on what steps she is taking to tackle modern slavery overseas? (906258)

Tackling modern slavery is a priority for the Department. Last year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced £40 million of new funding that aims to reach at least 500,000 people at risk of slavery. We will continue to work on this as a priority.

T6. Ministers will be aware that as we speak the bulldozers are moving into the Palestinian settlement of Khan al-Ahmar. That will lead to the forced displacement of the residents there, in a clear breach of international law. Will the Minister assure me that we are on the ground now, gathering evidence of these breaches of law, so that those who are responsible will later be legally accountable? (906259)

I will be answering an urgent question on this matter shortly. We have taken a great deal of interest over many years in the affairs of those Bedouins at Khan al-Ahmar. I visited them just a few weeks ago, and this remains a matter of great concern to the UK.

T7. At the recent royal highland show, a number of excellent charities were exhibiting, including the Scottish-based landmine clearance charities the HALO Trust and World Vision. Will the Minister reassure the charities and me that this Government will continue to be committed to the 0.7% international aid budget and the support they give to these charities? (906260)

Absolutely; that is our policy. I will be visiting the HALO Trust tomorrow. It does a tremendous amount of work de-mining in many parts of the world, and it is a very valued partner of ours.

T8. Healthcare workers tending wounded in Gaza are coming under fire from the Israeli defence force. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Israeli Government about this unacceptable and barbaric practice? (906261)

We have many discussions with the Government and state of Israel about the issues recently in Gaza. Although it is right for Israel to protect itself, aid workers and medical workers should never be a target for attack.