Mr Speaker, the whole House will join me in sending our sympathies to the people of Morocco following the devastating earthquake. Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, the injured and those bravely engaged in rescue efforts. We also remember the victims and loved ones of the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States 22 years ago today, including many British citizens.
I have just returned from the G20 summit in India. For the record, let me declare that, as is a matter of public record, I and my family are of Indian origin, and my wife and her family are Indian citizens with financial interests in India. At the summit I had three aims: first, to increase diplomatic pressure on Russia and call out its shameful disruption of global food supplies in the Black sea; secondly, to show the world that democracies such as the United Kingdom, not authoritarian regimes, are leading the fight on global challenges such as development and climate change; and thirdly, to strengthen ties and forge new partnerships to deliver jobs, growth and security for the British people.
The world faces a moment of danger, volatility and increasingly rapid change, but even as most G20 leaders came together in Delhi in a spirit of co-operation, one did not. For two years now, Putin has lacked the courage to face his G20 peers. Day after day, his actions cause horrendous suffering in Ukraine, violating the United Nations Charter, threatening European security, and disrupting global energy supplies. The spill-overs have driven up prices here at home, and they are hurting people all around the world. Russia’s withdrawal from the Black sea grain initiative exposes its willingness to spread that suffering further. While Putin stalls, making unmeetable demands, he is destroying Ukraine’s ports and grain silos. In just one month, Russia has destroyed over 270,000 tonnes of grain—enough to feed 1 million people for a year. I can tell the House today that, thanks to declassified intelligence, we know that on 24 August with multiple missiles the Russian military targeted a civilian cargo ship in the Black sea, demonstrating just how desperate Putin is.
At the G20, leaders united in calling out the “human suffering” caused by Putin’s war. Ukraine has the right to export its goods through international waters, and it has the moral right to ship grain that is helping to feed the world. The UK is working with partners to get grain to those who need it most. We will provide £3 million for the World Food Programme, building on earlier contributions to President Zelensky’s “Grain from Ukraine” initiative. We are using our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to monitor Russian activity in the Black sea, so that we can call it out if we see that Russia is preparing further attacks on civilian shipping or infrastructure, and so that we can attribute attacks should they happen. Later this year, we are hosting a UK global food security summit to put in place solutions for the long term.
I spoke to my friend President Zelensky just before the summit. Backed by our support, Ukraine’s counter-offensive is making hard-won progress. We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, until we see a “just and durable peace” that respects its sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is the only possible outcome to Putin’s illegal war, and Ukraine, with our support, will prevail.
On my second aim, we showed at the G20 that it is the UK and our partners, not authoritarian actors, that offer the best solution to the global challenges we face. We are playing our part to stabilise the global economy, control inflation, and fuel future growth. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the UK is leading the way, growing faster out of the pandemic than any other major European economy, and demolishing the false narratives we have heard from the other side of this House. We are also leading the way on development assistance. Instead of loading countries with debt, we are calling for fundamental reforms of the World Bank. When I met the World Bank president, I underlined the UK’s desire to see the Bank become more efficient and responsible, sweating its balance sheet to deliver more support where it is needed.
We are also leading calls at the G20 to safely harness new technologies to support growth and development, and we are leading action to tackle climate change. While some in Westminster denigrate the UK’s record on climate issues, out there in the world we are rightly seen as a global leader. We have cut emissions faster than any other G7 country, with low-carbon sources now providing over half our electricity. We are providing billions for the global energy transition, including through our pioneering Just Energy Transition Partnerships. And at the G20 I made a record commitment of over £1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund—the single biggest international climate pledge that the UK has ever made.
Finally, my most important aim in Delhi was to deliver on the priorities of the British people. In a changing world, we are using our Brexit freedoms to build new relationships with economies around the world. Since I became Prime Minister, we have joined the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—the most dynamic trading bloc in the world. We have launched new partnerships with Canada, Australia, Japan and the US, covering trade and economic security. We have secured agreements with France, Albania, Turkey and others to stop illegal migration. At the G20, we went further. We signed a new strategic partnership with Singapore to boost jobs, growth and our security. I held warm and productive discussions with Prime Minister Modi on strengthening our relationship in defence and technology and on a free trade deal between our nations.
I also met Premier Li of China. The whole House is rightly appalled by reports of espionage in this building. The sanctity of this place must be protected, and the right of Members to speak their minds without fear or sanction must be maintained. We will defend our democracy and our security, so I was emphatic with Premier Li that actions that seek to undermine British democracy are completely unacceptable and will never be tolerated. I also emphasised the UK’s unyielding commitment to human rights, and I was clear on the importance of maintaining stability and international law as the basis for stable relations. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the world’s second largest economy and the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It has growing influence on others, notably Russia. One of my messages to Premier Li was that China should use its influence to call on Russia to end its aggression against Ukraine. The G20 showed a common purpose on food security, and we need to see that in other areas.
This Government have acted decisively to improve our security, including blocking China’s involvement in critical areas such as civil nuclear power, semiconductors and 5G. I pay tribute to the tireless work of our security services. We will shortly set out our response to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on China. In November last year, the Government set up a new defending democracy taskforce. Its mission is to reduce the risk to the UK’s democratic processes, institutions and society, and to ensure they are secure and resilient to threats of foreign interference. The importance of that work is clear for all to see. Crucially, in taking that approach, we are aligned with each and every single one of our Five Eyes allies and our G7 partners. By speaking frankly and directly, we will ensure our messages are heard clearly and that our interests and values are protected and promoted.
In conclusion, at a time of rapid change, we are bringing British values and British leadership to bear on the biggest global challenges. As one of the fastest growing major economies, the second largest contributor to NATO and a global leader in everything from climate to tech to development, I am proud of the United Kingdom’s leadership. It is through that leadership, working with our allies and partners, that we will increase our security, grow our economy and deliver on the priorities of the British people. I commend this statement to the House.
May I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement? I join him in sending my condolences and those of the whole House to those affected by the devastating earthquake in Morocco. I know that UK search and rescue specialists are working to help Moroccan authorities find survivors, and it is important at this time that all those in Morocco know we are thinking of them and are prepared to give the resources and support that they need.
The G20 summit in India was a real opportunity to see progress on key global issues, by condemning Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine in no uncertain terms and making solid commitments to boost growth and renewable energy capacity around the world. I am afraid therefore that the joint declaration from the weekend is disappointing. As Russian drones resumed attacks on Kyiv, it is disheartening to see language weaker than the G20’s condemnation of Moscow at last year’s summit in Bali. On this issue, the House speaks with one voice: there is no ambiguity; we all agree that this is an unjust, illegal war against Ukraine. I join the Prime Minister in saying that Britain and our NATO allies will remain committed in helping Ukraine defeat Putin.
On the matter raised in the preceding statement, the news of the arrest of a researcher here in Parliament on suspicion of spying for China is a serious breach of security conducted by the Beijing security services. Given that the arrest happened in March, can I ask the Prime Minister whether the Foreign Secretary knew about this incident before he visited China last month? If he did, did he raise it on that trip? I listened to the answers given on the preceding statement by the Deputy Prime Minister, who said that these issues are regularly raised, but my question is specific, and I ask the Prime Minister to address it directly. If, as it seems, the Government are not considering designating China as a threat to national security, will he give further details on how they will tackle the infiltration of Chinese security services into key British institutions? Incidents like this show the constant threats that we face, and the G20 shows how far we have to go.
There was some important progress at the G20 this weekend: a new partnership for global infrastructure and investment was announced between the US, the EU, India and Gulf states. It is a partnership to counterbalance China’s belt and road initiative, boost economic department, secure supply chains and connect the US, EU and trusted partners in Asia. A much welcome initiative, we might think. So when I looked at the signatories to this new partnership, I was surprised—something was missing. Where was Britain? Will the Prime Minister explain why the UK has not signed this agreement? This seems remarkable. A new agreement has been reached between major trade blocs to deliver economic security and Britain is not involved. The Prime Minister owes the House an explanation. Have we been left out or have we just decided not to sign? The race towards the future has begun. Major nations are investing in new technology, hoping to establish themselves as leaders and major global centres for green technology. The US has introduced the Inflation Reduction Act; the EU, in return, is relaxing rules to allow greater green subsidy. Where is Britain? Where is the plan?
I would also like to ask the Prime Minister about the trade deal between India and the UK. The Government promised it in their manifesto. Then they said it would be done by Diwali last year. Now, the Prime Minister says that the deal is not even guaranteed. What is going on? It really sums up their global economic approach: no strategy and no direction. We cannot be slow off the mark. The race has started. They once promised a new era of post-Brexit global trade, but instead of more investment and more trade they have erected unnecessary barriers and made Britain a more difficult country to do business in. We cannot be left on the sidelines. Britain needs a seat at the table. We have the expertise, the creativity and the ingenuity, but the Government are too distracted and too complacent, and have no plan to seize the opportunities of the future.
Let me rattle through the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s questions. With regard to the matter covered in the preceding statement, I am sure he will appreciate that, as there is an ongoing investigation —as you also said, Mr Speaker—I am limited in what I can say specifically. But I have been emphatically clear in our engagement with China that we will not accept any interference in our democracy and parliamentary system. That includes the sanctioning of MPs and malign activity such as the type of activity alleged to have taken place. I can absolutely confirm that the Foreign Secretary raised those issues on his recent visit, and I reinforced that in my meeting at the G20.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to raise the announcement about the partnership for global infrastructure and investment. What he failed to mention in his criticism was that that initiative—the PGII—was created by the UK under our G7 presidency. Far from being something that we are not part of, we were the ones who made sure that we were there at its inception. Again, he is, as ever, jumping on the latest bandwagon that he can find. The PGII initiative will contain a range of different projects. This particular one was also not signed by Canada, Japan or Italy, for example.[Official Report, 13 September 2023, Vol. 737, c. 8MC.] Each and every country will participate in a range of projects. What did we do to make our contribution? As I said, we made the single largest pledge this country has ever made to the green climate fund. Why? Because it is important that we play our part in helping countries make the transition to net zero—something that we have led on previously and, because of that commitment, we will continue to lead on.
What else did we do? We decided to work with other countries to improve global food security, something that African nations in particular have called on us to do. They have welcomed our leadership in hosting a summit later this year, which will tackle the cause at its root, improving crop yields and the resilience of food supplies globally. I could go on. As ever, the right hon. and learned Gentleman tries to find something to score a cheap political point, and completely and utterly misunderstands what this country is doing. As ever, he would prefer to talk this country down than recognise the contribution we are making.
I am happy to address the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s comments on the trade deal. I thought they were telling—he asked, why do we not just sign it, why is it not done? I had a flashback to all those conversations when we were leaving the EU. His approach back then was just to sign any deal that was offered to us. We know where that would have led. The right thing to do for the British people is to fight hard for the things that we need. We only need a deal that works for the British people and delivers on our priorities. That is why it is right not to rush these things, as he would do, clearly. We do not put arbitrary deadlines on them. I take the time to make sure that they are right for the British people.
Our track record is there: we are the first European nation to accede to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—something else the right hon. and learned Gentleman failed to mention. That is the most exciting, dynamic trade bloc that exists in the world. The Asia-Pacific accounts for 50% of the world’s population. Sixty per cent. of goods trade passes through that region, and it will account for over half of global growth in the coming decades. Now that we have left the EU, we are able to join that trade bloc, and it is excited to have us.
Lastly, on the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s point about Brexit, again he failed to point out that since we left the single market we have grown faster than France and Germany. I will end where I started: as ever, when it comes to these things, he is determined to talk Britain down. We are demonstrating that Britain is leading on the global stage and delivering for the British people.
Let me start by putting on record my thanks to you, Mr Speaker, and the parliamentary security and intelligence services for your personal support over the last few months.
Here today, we know that across this House a real priority for Members is the safety of British nationals arbitrarily detained abroad. The Foreign Affairs Committee has recently released a report on that matter. It cannot be right that consular access is withheld on the basis of diplomatic silence being in place. I know that my right hon. Friend raised the case of Jagtar Singh Johal with the Indian Prime Minister at the weekend, but we are not clear on the outcome of those discussions. Will the Government finally officially call for his release? The UN has accepted that he is arbitrarily detained. Does the Prime Minister believe that he has been unfairly treated or even tortured while being held?
We are committed to seeing Mr Johal’s case resolved as soon as possible. We continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family, and have raised concerns about issues including consular access to Mr Johal, the judicial process and reports of mistreatment, with the Indian Government on multiple occasions, including myself with Prime Minister Modi just this weekend.
We have heard a lot of PR and spin today, and I am sure we will hear a lot more. As ever in this game, what the Prime Minister is not saying is almost as important as what he is saying. The Leader of the official Opposition raised the case of President Biden’s announcement. Can the Prime Minister tell us what part of those projects his Government are involved in? They are worth more than any FTA that we could sign, and will leave Brexit Britain on the global sidelines yet again if it is not fully involved. That is on top of the United States’ inflation-busting and reduction Act tackling climate change.
On the bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister’s counterparts, we heard of very strong concerns—relating to your statement earlier, Mr Speaker—raised with Chinese Premier Li. Can the Prime Minister advise the House when he was first notified of this issue?
On the case of my constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, which was raised by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns), the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Prime Minister brought it up in conversations with Prime Minister Modi. Given the widespread concerns, in this place and outside, about the leaking of this Government’s resolve to Jagtar Singh Johal, particularly in relation to getting a trade deal over the line, will the Prime Minister agree to meet me and Jagtar Singh Johal’s family, so he can tell them exactly what he intends to do on their behalf?
I refer the hon. Gentleman to my previous answer on Mr Johal. Most recently, the Foreign Office Minister met Mr Johal’s family to discuss the case in detail.
Turning to the hon. Gentleman’s other points, on our investment partnerships, the British investment partnership approach with India, for example, has invested over £2 billion to support 600 different enterprises, employing about half a million people. That is just to give him some sense of the scale of the alternative projects we are involved in.
Lastly, I turn to the hon. Gentleman’s point, which the Leader of the Opposition also raised, about the US Inflation Reduction Act and the approach of other countries. Neither seem to recognise that the approach we have taken is working for the UK, not least with the recent announcement of a £4 billion investment in the UK by Tata, which represents the single largest investment in our auto industry, potentially ever, to build a gigafactory here. That was followed by investment by Stellantis and BMW to secure future electric vehicle manufacturing in the UK. Any which way we look at it, our auto manufacturing sector is receiving record amounts of investment to make the transition to electricity-oriented vehicles. That is because of the tax, regulatory and incentive regime we have put in place, which is delivering real jobs and real opportunity for the British people.
Did the Chinese representatives give any indication of when they might stop their big increases in carbon dioxide and start to reduce them? Does the Prime Minister agree with me that it makes no sense for the UK to rely on Chinese imports of electric vehicles, solar panels and other green products when they are so CO2-intensive in their production, and deny us the jobs and added value?
My right hon. Friend makes a good point. He will see in the G20 declaration a commitment by all members recognising the need to peak emissions in the next couple of years. To his broader point, that is why the Government have consulted on measures to address carbon leakage. It is absolutely right that there is a level playing field, and that if we take action here it should not come at the cost of British workers if it ultimately makes no difference to global emissions. That is why we have consulted on proposals on carbon leakage, and I very much welcome his thoughts on that.
I join the House in sending our condolences to all those affected by the tragic events in Morocco.
I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. He was, rightly, strongly critical of President Putin in his statement, but I have to say that I do not agree with his assessment of the G20 statement on Ukraine. The joint declaration failed to condemn Russia for the invasion. Our Ukrainian allies labelled it
“nothing to be proud of”,
while the Russians called it
“a step in the right direction”.
Ukraine’s soldiers continue to give their lives in defence of their country, while Ukrainian refugees continue to take shelter here in the UK and elsewhere. Why did the Prime Minister feel he was justified in signing up to such a weak communiqué?
I find it slightly strange that the right hon. Gentleman is using what Russia describes the situation to be as evidence of support. With everything we have seen over the past year we should not believe a word coming out of Russia’s mouth, so that is a very strange approach to take. What I would say to him on his criticism is that I am not entirely sure who he is critical of, because every single one of our Five Eyes partners and G7 allies who was present also signed the G20 statement. We fought hard to have a statement that we thought did in fact—as the US itself has said, including the President and the Treasury Secretary—contain substantially very strong language regarding Russia.
I went out to the summit specifically to raise the impact of Russia’s illegal war on food security and food prices. The language in the summit goes further than what we have had before, highlighting that and calling for an end to attacks on food and civilian infrastructure, and for the restoration of the Black sea grain initiative. We also agreed on the significance of securing a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on the principles of the UN charter, including territorial integrity. That is why all our allies—I could go through the list of them—worked hard for that statement and supported it. The right hon. Gentleman’s criticism may well be of me, but he is also criticising every single one of our closest allies.
I welcome the robustness of the Prime Minister’s stance on Russia, but does he agree that there are aspects of other topics discussed at the G20, such as China, which he might not be able to discuss in full on the Floor of the House, but which he could discuss securely with the Intelligence and Security Committee? I should add, however, that whereas for the first 20 years of the Committee’s existence it had a meeting with the Prime Minister every single year, there has been no such meeting since December 2014, although, during her short term in office, this Prime Minister’s immediate predecessor did volunteer to reinstate such meetings. May I ask him whether he will do the same—reinstate the meetings and return to proper, comprehensive scrutiny?
I shall be happy to consider my right hon. Friend’s request, but let me say in the meantime that I welcome the Committee’s report on China, and am grateful for all its efforts. The Government are considering its recommendations and conclusions carefully, and we will publish our response in due course and in the usual manner.
Order. Unfortunately, a Member behind the hon. Member for Rhondda feels that he should be taken first. Let me just say that the hon. Gentleman is second on the list of members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is also one of its longest-serving members.
As I was saying, Mr Speaker—seconds out, round 2—the one thing that should keep the Prime Minister, or any Minister, awake at night is the arbitrary detention of a British national in a foreign country. One would hope that Ministers, including the Prime Minister himself, would summon up every ounce of energy to try to get people released. I am sorry, but I think that quite a lot of us are very depressed by the Prime Minister’s answer to the question from the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns), about Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been arbitrarily detained for six years. Everyone knows that he is being tortured and mistreated. I took the Prime Minister to say that he had not called for his release. Is that really the truth?
No. As I said earlier, we consistently raise our concerns about Mr Johal’s case with the Government of India, including concerns about allegations of mistreatment and the right to a fair trial. That is why the Foreign Office and Ministers are giving direct support to Mr Johal’s family, and it is why I raised this specific case with Mr Modi.
I welcome both the statement and the Prime Minister’s leadership on Ukraine. Our national security and our economic security are interdependent, and there is no better illustration of that than the grain ships that are trying to get out of Odesa. The Prime Minister mentioned the global food security summit. Could he expand on that? As he knows, I have been campaigning for some time for an international maritime protection force to help to escort those ships out, which would assist not only the Ukrainian economy but our own economy, because food inflation here is also being affected. Will the Prime Minister advance that idea to ensure that it is raised at the food security summit?
My right hon. Friend has focused on the issue of maritime security in the Black sea for some time, and he has been correct to do so. We are talking and working with partners, allies and, indeed, Ukraine in considering all the different ways in which we could ensure the safe exit of and access to grain from Ukraine, and will continue to do so.
As for the global food summit that we will host in London, it will focus on four themes: creating new approaches to ending the preventable deaths of children, building a climate-resilient food system, anticipating and preventing famine and food security crises, and using science and technology to boost food security and nutrition. We are also working to deliver the food summit in combination with partners including the United States and Somalia.
May I first associate myself with the sympathies extended to the people of Morocco?
I welcome the language in paragraph 50 of the G20 communiqué about building a bigger World Bank. The truth is that we need to triple the lending of multilateral development banks if we are to mobilise the climate finance that the world now needs, and we cannot do that simply by building a better World Bank; we need to build a bigger World Bank. In the United States, President Biden is asking Congress to support a capital call and boost the balance sheet of the World Bank. Why is the UK, one of the founders of the World Bank, not leading the same argument? We could even use the money we are getting back from the European Investment Bank, and the Prime Minister, if he so chose, could call it a Brexit dividend. The world leads a bigger World Bank now, and the UK should be leading the case.
We are in fact leading the case on the World Bank’s balance sheet, and through my right hon. Friend the Development Minister we have had extensive conversations with the president of the World Bank on precisely that matter. It is something I discussed with colleagues at the G20, including the World Bank president himself. We are also broadly leading the way on how else we can reform the international financial system, including pioneering the use of climate-resilient debt clauses, which has been welcomed by countries around the world; channelling our IMF special drawing rights back for use for developing countries; and finding ways to stretch balance sheets to unlock more funding. The UK is looked to as a leader in all these areas, not least as we are announcing a conditional capital increase for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. All these things together position us as a thought leader in changing the international financial system. It was a subject of my interventions at the G20 and, as I have said, the Development Minister is taking forward this work at pace with our allies.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement, particularly the inclusion in the communiqué of the G20 AI principles. I would like to press him on what further work he and the United Kingdom will be doing ahead of the AI summit in November to ensure that work on the safety of AI more than outpaces work on capability, and that we can move towards a meaningful principles-based approach to the safe use of this vital new technology.
My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right about the need for global co-operation when it comes to AI safety. It is obviously a technology that does not respect national borders. Again, this is an area where the UK is demonstrating leadership, building on our expertise and our leading position in AI research. We are having the conversation with partners about what that principles-based approach to regulation would look like, to ensure consistency across jurisdictions. We are also seeing what we can do to make sure that the UK is the leading place for that AI safety research, and that is the work of our AI taskforce, which is currently under way and proceeding well.
I welcome the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. Africa is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and it is important that her voice is at the table discussing major global issues such as climate change, security and economic stability. My own country of origin, Nigeria, is one of the largest in Africa; it has over 223 million people, which is rising daily. Can the Prime Minister outline what steps his Government are taking towards a strategy for the continent?
I thank the hon. Lady for her excellent question and join her in saying that we were delighted to agree the African Union’s membership of the G20. She is right to highlight the increasing importance of Africa in global affairs. Over the next decade or so, Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion people, with 60% of them under the age of 25. Also, Africa contributes just 4% of global emissions but is home to 35 of the 50 countries most at risk from climate change, so it is important that we are engaged and supportive. I can tell her what we are doing. Now that we have left the European Union and are in charge of our trade policy, we have changed our tariff structure so that 98% of goods imported into the UK from Africa will enter tariff-free. We are making sure that our just energy transition partnerships help countries such as South Africa with their transition, mobilising billions of dollars of support. Next year, we will be hosting the Africa investment summit with over 20 different countries, because the UK, as measured by foreign direct investment, is the largest investor in the continent.
In an ever more dangerous world, having allies and partners is really important, and trust is so important in keeping those allies. I thank my right hon. Friend for the commitment he made on climate change. It was a commitment we gave in Glasgow at COP, and this shows that Britain is a country that keeps its promises. Would he like to share examples of how that money will be spent, how it will make our allies and partners stronger and how that will help to strengthen our own security here in the UK?
I thank my right hon. Friend for all her work in this area. She is right: it is important that we meet our commitment to £11.6 billion of international climate finance, and this particular investment will ensure that we do that. It was warmly welcomed by partner countries at the G20. She will know that the importance of giving money through this multilateral fund rather than bilaterally is that it can be leveraged multiple times, so every pound that we contribute will be able to be used multiple times more and attract more capital. In that way, we are helping to fund hundreds, if not thousands, of projects across the world and I know that the countries that benefit from them are extremely grateful for our support.
In his private meeting with Mr Modi, did the Prime Minister raise the issue that, while we are supporting Ukraine, India is buying huge amounts of oil from Russia and trading in engineering, manufacturing and technology stocks? On the UK-India trade agreement, did he raise the human rights of the Dalit community, the Sikh community—particularly Jagtar Johal—and the Christian community and the abuses that have taken place, including the long-standing abuse of the Kashmiri community? For us to have a trade agreement, it must be fair and based on human rights and international law.
Supporting democracy and human rights is a core part of our engagement not just with India but with all countries with which we engage. When it comes to the situation in Kashmir, my view is that it is not for the United Kingdom to prescribe a solution or to act as a mediator.
Paragraph 30 of the G20 leaders’ declaration speaks of delivering quality education. Mahatma Gandhi said, and I paraphrase, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a family.” The UK is certainly doing as much as it can to ensure that people across the globe who need education receive it, especially girls and women. Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the UK will do all it possibly can to ensure that the other members of the G20, including the newest member, the African Union, do their bit to ensure that girls and women in their countries, and across the world, are educated?
It was a privilege to visit Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Gandhi’s work. My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of equality and women’s access to education. I am very pleased that Prime Minister Modi made this a central theme of the G20 summit, and it is something we discussed. All of us in this House should be proud of the UK’s contribution over the past several years. We have helped to educate more than 8 million girls as part of our development priority to provide all girls with 12 years of high-quality education.
I do not think anyone in this Chamber takes seriously what the Russians may have to say about the G20, but we are listening to what the Ukrainians have said, and in particular their statement that there is nothing to be proud of in the joint statement. The Prime Minister spoke about speaking to President Zelensky before the summit. When he next rings him, how will he explain the fact that the statement does not even mention the word “Russia”?
I know President Zelensky was incredibly supportive of our effort to highlight Russia’s aggression, the impact it is having on food prices and food security, and the damage it has done to civilian infrastructure. He will be grateful for the fact we have declassified intelligence that shows the world those attacks on civilian ships. And I know he will be grateful for the work we are doing with Ukraine to find alternative means to export Ukrainian grain to the world, which is good not only for the Ukrainian economy and its sustainability but for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement. He has said that ending the war in Ukraine and holding Russia to account is a top priority. I dealt with sanctions as a Foreign Office Minister, and they are a key tool for the United Kingdom to address Putin’s war machine. Forty-four non-aligned states are not supporting us with sanctions against Russia, which is delaying the war in Ukraine, and India is one of those countries. India takes Russian oil, and some now say that it refines that oil and sells the products into Europe, circumventing those sanctions. Did the Prime Minister have those conversations with Prime Minister Modi? If so, will India now change its behaviour?
Our position is of long standing and consistent: we urge all countries to follow our lead, and the lead of others, in sanctioning Russia. Obviously each country will approach that in its own way. Our job is to continue raising the impact of Russia’s illegal war, and to work with our allies to bring that war to an end, including by enforcing our own sanctions. That is why I announced the economic deterrence initiative in March, with £50 million of funding being made available to improve our enforcement of the UK sanctions regime. We are developing that closely with our partners, and I think it will help to tighten the vice on Russia’s economy.
In answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister wanted praise for the inception of the partnership for global infrastructure and investment. The agreement that was signed by the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union is described as a landmark agreement, creating an economic corridor across Europe, the middle east and India. If the inception of the global partnership is worth claiming praise for, will he explain—he did not answer this question earlier—why Britain was not a signatory to that memorandum of understanding?
As I have said previously, each country will contribute to the effort in its own way. We are participating in many different projects, together with our partner countries, that help countries lessen their dependence on China. One thing we have led on is the development of the common framework to ensure that countries can get appropriate debt relief. Again, they are very grateful for our leadership on that, with China having put many countries in hock to it. We have created a framework and made sure that China has engaged with it. It is already providing relief to two countries and we are making sure that there are more in the pipeline. That has been very welcome, but, again, it is just an example of our leadership making a difference on these complicated matters.
The policy did change and we stopped providing traditional development aid to India in 2015. Most UK funding is now in the form of business investments which not only help India reduce carbon emissions and address climate change, but deliver jobs and opportunity for British companies here at home.
With so much at stake—the war in Ukraine, increasingly high numbers of people suffering from famine and drought, and human rights issues in places such as Iran or the Xinjiang part of China—is now really the time for the Prime Minister to empty chair the United Nations General Assembly?
I have just been over how our leadership on these matters is unquestioned. We are an active and engaged member at the G20. In just a couple of weeks, I will be at the European Political Community summit as well. Let me gently point out something to the hon. Lady about the UN General Assembly: as far as I can tell from looking back at the records, on the vast majority of occasions under the Labour Government it was not the Labour Prime Minister who attended either.
The leaders’ declaration expresses the optimism about AI that I know the Prime Minister and I share. It talks about the importance of “international governance” and “international co-operation”. How optimistic is he that all the countries at the G20 can sign up to those sorts of principles, just as they signed up to the joint declaration?
There was a good conversation about AI at the G20 summit. I am optimistic that most countries are approaching this in a similar way, recognising the tremendous opportunities for growth, opportunity and transforming developments in healthcare and education in particular, but cognisant of the challenges and risks that AI poses, and keen to work together to find ways to resolve those. Obviously, it is very early days in terms of countries having this conversation and everyone learning themselves about the potential of the technology. However, as I said, I think that on this topic the UK can play a leadership role, and that is what we will do.
Many of us were very impressed by the close relationship that the Prime Minister obviously has with Prime Minister Modi. When he had private time with Prime Minister Modi, did he ask him, first, why he has not condemned Russia for the invasion of Ukraine? Secondly, did he ask what Modi is doing to stop all the persecution of Muslims and Christians, with their mosques and churches being burnt, and with people being killed and persecuted?
Of course, migration is best dealt with by international co-operation, but it also depends on decisive action at home. One thousand five hundred Indians enter this country legally every week. Last year 600 came across illegally in boats, and this year there have been 600 in just the first three months. The Prime Minister told me personally that he would lead by example by having illegal migrants based at Catterick in his constituency. This afternoon, the Ministry of Defence was unable to give me any date on when they are going to come. Meanwhile, my council has issued a stop notice against the slash-and-burn tactics of the Home Office at RAF Scampton. The Prime Minister is the head of the Government. Will he instruct Home Office Ministers to work proactively with West Lindsey District Council to ensure that we get a compromise, do our bit and take illegal migrants to a secure location, and that we do not rely on decaying bases but take action that will work in the future?
I thank my right hon. Friend for his constructive engagement. I know that he will continue to represent his community strongly and has engaged with Home Office Ministers on the particular issues in his constituency. More broadly, we continue to strengthen our co-operation with international partners to combat illegal migration—something I discussed with many of my counterparts at the G20, as I will continue to do through further engagement this autumn—and look to find ways to formalise that co-operation and improve returns agreements. As he mentioned, it is important that we have the ability to return illegal migrants who have come here from countries that are clearly safe places for them. We have done that with Albania and are strengthening the returns agreements with other countries, too.
It is disappointing that the this year’s statement from the G20 does not name the perpetrator of aggression in Ukraine. What kind of statement is it where G20 leaders feel the need to spin the interpretation of it after the event? Does the Prime Minister agree with Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who said yesterday that if it were up to him, the language on the war would have been stronger?
It goes without saying that, because this is not the G7 or, indeed, the G1, it is not for us just to take the language that we ourselves would like. Our position on Ukraine is crystal clear for all to see, but the G20 is a collection of a large group of countries that do not all share the same perspective on global affairs or, indeed, the same values. To assume that it can reflect the unanimity that we have in the G7 is simply to misunderstand how foreign affairs actually works.
The hon. Member asked about what the statement said. It agreed on the significance of securing a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. The statement specifically called for an end to attacks on food and civilian infrastructure and for Russia to rejoin the Black sea grain initiative. Indeed, it highlighted the suffering that it is causing. It was also a statement that the United States described as containing “substantively very strong” language on the situation. This why to have agreement among G20 members, even if it is not exactly the language we would have chosen, is still a positive outcome from this summit.
I, too, associate myself with the Prime Minister’s words about Morocco and the people of Morocco, and I pay tribute to Truro-based ShelterBox, which as ever has a team standing ready for deployment at the point that the Moroccan Government need it. Will the Prime Minister tell the House what conversations he has had with his G20 partners about critical mineral extraction, not only to boost local production from Cornwall—lithium, obviously—but to ensure that we have supply chains that cut out rogue partners?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point about the need to improve our economic resilience and security, which is why that is an increasing feature of the partnerships and agreements that we strike around the world. Indeed, it was a feature of the partnership agreement that I struck with Japan when I was there and with the US when I visited recently. I spoke to President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida about those agreements and the work that we are doing. In both cases, there are milestones for us to meet with regard to strengthening our co-operation on critical minerals in particular.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. He rightly highlighted the importance of international trade and the progress that he has made, including new partnerships joined. Will he perhaps give a bit more detail on the progress made on securing a UK-India deal?
We do make, and have made, substantial progress, but as I said, there is hard work left to do and that is why we will we keep at it. But it is right that we do not put arbitrary deadlines on these trade deals and that we keep going until they work for the British people, British companies and the British Government. That is what we will endeavour to do. As I say, we have made lots of progress, but we will not sign a deal unless it is right for the United Kingdom.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his leadership in securing the outcomes of the summit. Further to his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones), in view of the scale of the population and the speed of growth in India, the areas of joint expertise and the co-operation that has taken place to date, as well as the deep-rooted ties the UK has with India, which spread across the whole of the United Kingdom, can my right hon. Friend assure me that as he progresses the negotiations on the trade deal, he will ensure that it contains a chapter or elements that allow for small businesses and medium-sized enterprises across the UK and beyond to trade effectively with India?
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. Unquestionably, India is if not the most, then one of the most significant and consequential countries for global affairs over the coming years and decades. It is absolutely right and important that the United Kingdom has a close relationship with India that spans not just economic co-operation but areas including defence and security, and science and technology research collaboration. We are aiming to enhance our partnership in all those areas, for the reasons he mentioned. This will be to the long-term benefit of the UK if we get it right.
Members will know that the next G20 summit will be held in Rio in November 2024. I note with interest that Brazil has already placed on the agenda something called
“reform of the global governance institutions”.
Does the Prime Minister agree that reform of the UN Security Council should be considered with the best interests of the UK at heart, so that the UN Security Council remains a viable framework for global security, and that Britain must never put Britain’s seat at the table on the table?
We have spoken in the past about support for additional members of the UN Security Council, including in India, and it is something we continue to do. As my hon. Friend has seen, at this G20 summit we warmly supported and welcomed the inclusion of the African Union in the G20, because he makes a good point that international institutions need to adapt and change continually, to reflect the reality of the current state of global affairs.
I was very proud earlier this month to celebrate Ukraine Independence Day with Huddersfield’s vibrant Ukrainian community. I heard at first hand how proud they are of the UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine. With Brazil taking over the presidency of the G20, will the Prime Minister continue to work with our international allies and partners to increase and build on our wonderful support for Ukraine, and to build unity in condemning Putin’s barbaric and illegal invasion of Ukraine?
I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend, and pay tribute to him and his constituents for all they are doing to support Ukraine and Ukrainian families. UK support for Ukraine now amounts to over £9 billion, and 29 different states have now signed up to the declaration we helped to initiate to provide long-term security support to Ukraine, so he can be confident in our steadfast support for Ukraine. It is not going away; we are here to stay, which is why we will tell Russia that now is the time to lay down arms and come to a sensible, peaceful resolution.