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Volume 646: debated on Monday 10 September 2018

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

In a moment I will call Stephen Twigg to make an application for leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration under the terms of Standing Order No. 24. The hon. Gentleman has up to three minutes in which to make his application.

I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely recent developments in Yemen.

August was one of the deadliest months of the Yemen conflict, with an estimated 1,000 civilian deaths. On 9 August, for example, a coalition airstrike hit a bus, killing 40 children and 16 adults. Last week, a further 22 women and children were killed after an airstrike on the port city of Hodeidah. Last month, all parties in the conflict, the Houthis and the coalition, were condemned by the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen. The panel cited violations of international law by both sides in Yemen and reached the conclusion that those violations may amount to war crimes.

There remains some hope that the resumption of the Geneva peace talks might help to de-escalate tensions and put Yemen back on a path to peace. However, the talks were suspended last week after the failure of the Houthi delegation to turn up. The United Kingdom has an opportunity, as an influencer in the region, to bring the two sides together for meaningful talks on resolving the crisis.

The House has a good record of debating the Yemen conflict, with strong cross-party support. I am particularly grateful to the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), who have repeatedly brought this issue to the attention of the House, as well as to the hon. Members for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) and for Dundee West (Chris Law) for their support for my application today.

This conflict has already cost more than 10,000 lives and created a humanitarian crisis. Over the next month, the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly both meet. A debate this week would enable the House to consider the latest developments in Yemen and to press for progress on all fronts—diplomatic, humanitarian and political.

I have listened carefully to the application from the hon. Gentleman. I am satisfied that the matter is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Does the hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House?

Application agreed to.

The hon. Gentleman has obtained the leave of the House. I can advise the House that the debate will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 11 September, as the first item of public business. The debate will last for up to three hours and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the hon. Gentleman’s application.