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Integrated Review of Policy

Volume 679: debated on Tuesday 8 September 2020

What recent discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) international development stakeholders on the progress of the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. (905657)

What progress the Government has made on the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. (905661)

The integrated review was formally launched in February 2020. It was paused because of covid and then recommenced in June. We expect it to conclude in the autumn. Ministers have met regularly. I have chaired those meetings on key themes from trade to security.

In relation to the review, I would like to understand what specific steps the Secretary of State is taking to establish an atrocity prevention strategy to avert further identity-based violence worldwide.

I entirely agree with the hon. Lady’s passion and commitment on the subject. Of course, we have already introduced Magnitsky sanctions, which allow us to target the perpetrators of human rights abuses with visa bans and asset freezes. More generally, in the context of the integrated review, one of the powerful themes is the United Kingdom’s role in the world being joined up, which is why we have brought DFID and the Foreign Office together, in solving disputes, managing conflict and holding the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses to account.

I strongly believe that the Government must be more transparent and engage with the British people as we attempt to define our place in the world and how ambitious we want to be. Let us follow the example of the confederation papers, which through consensus helped to unify what the US originally stood for. Will the Foreign Secretary please publicise the threat assessment of how the world is changing and the strategic options in response that reflect the degrees of global ambition and the scale of influence we might pursue? Only then can we design the appropriate defence posture. If he takes the nation with him as we define what “global Britain” really means, there will be greater support for the upgrading of our soft and hard power tools that is so urgently needed.

I thank my right hon. Friend. I share his commitment to making Britain an even stronger force for good in the world. We have engaged far and wide. We are engaged with the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry on the integrated review. We are engaged with think-tanks, from the Royal United Services Institute to the Overseas Development Institute. In the other place, Baroness Sugg is chairing regular meetings with representatives of civil society, led by Bond and including Save the Children and Plan International. Those meetings are related to the covid recovery, but they also touch on the merger, both of which are key elements of the IR.

The integrated review was unpaused in late June. It is supposed to be the most comprehensive evidence-driven evaluation of foreign policy since the cold war, so why did the call for evidence go out only in mid-August for 20 working days, and why are the sustainable development goals absent from the scope of the review? Should we assume that the outcomes are a foregone conclusion?

I thank the hon. Lady. She should not assume any foregone conclusion. It is precisely because the consultation is open that we have not stipulated any particular thing with the level of specificity she has asked for. I have explained to the House the breadth of consultation. She is right to note that it was interrupted—that was an inevitable result of covid-19—but I reassure her that we are absolutely committed, as the merger into the new FCDO shows, to bringing all our international assets and attributes together to be an even stronger force for good in the world.