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International Freedom of Religion or Belief Bill (Money)

Volume 748: debated on Monday 22 April 2024

King’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the International Freedom of Religion or Belief Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by a Minister of the Crown.—(Ms Nusrat Ghani.)

First, I declare an interest as chair of the all-party parliamentary group for international freedom of religion or belief.

I rise to ensure that the moneys and staffing that are necessary for this measure are in place. I heartily welcome the House’s decision to appoint a special envoy for freedom of religion or belief and to pass this Bill—and hopefully this money resolution—to ensure that the envoy has the staff and support necessary for this position, so that this is not simply a token gesture, but effective in securing freedom of religion and belief. I want this not just in our nation, but across the world to secure the right for people to hold and practise a Christian belief or another belief, or to hold no belief. Will the Minister confirm that this is undoubtedly money well spent in terms of our international obligations, and that the secretariat will have sufficient staff and moneys to ensure that this gigantic task that we have before us tonight will be fully delivered?

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) raises some very important points. He will know, having seen the Bill pass through so many stages, that all the resources are in place. The Public Bill Committee is sitting on Wednesday and I will be taking the Bill forward. I am absolutely committed to the role and to providing the support services to enable the role to continue for as long as it can.

The language that we have used establishes this role permanently and in perpetuity. The recommendation comes on the back of the Bishop of Truro’s 2019 independent review into the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the freedom of religion or belief brief. Furthermore, the implementation is also a manifesto commitment, so we can be absolutely sure that the support will be provided.

Question put and agreed to.