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Volume 653: debated on Tuesday 22 January 2019

As I have made clear to the House previously, the situation in Catalonia is a matter for Spain. The UK strongly supports the rule of law and is of the view that questions related to the issue of Catalan independence should be resolved within the proper constitutional and legal channels of Spain.

Carme Forcadell was the presiding officer in the Catalan Parliament—a position we would call “the Speaker”. Carme has been in prison without trial for over nine months because she facilitated a debate in a debating chamber. When she is tried, she faces over 16 years in prison. When will the UK Government condemn this outrage and stand up for the process of democracy?

This is a matter for the Spanish courts. Every democracy has its own rules, laws and procedures. We fully support the proper implementation of the rule of law in Spain, and it is not for us to interfere in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

In any discussions that the Government might have with the Spanish Government, and indeed Governments across the EU, would the Minister be assured that each of those Governments are respectful of the national economic and political integrity of sovereign states across Europe?

I share the hon. Gentleman’s view and am very grateful to him for expressing it so clearly, so cogently and so sensibly.

I just very gently say to the hon. Member for Inverclyde (Ronnie Cowan): do not give the Government any ideas.