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Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Police

That the draft Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 24 February, be approved.—(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

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Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Before I ask the Minister to move the motion, I should point out to the House that there is a note on the Order Paper saying that the draft order under the Terrorism Act 2000, item 4 on the Order Paper, has not yet been considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. I can now inform the House that the Joint Committee considered the order at its meeting earlier this afternoon and decided that it does not need to draw the House’s special attention to it.

4.6 pm

The Minister for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire): I beg to move,

That the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 31 March, be approved.

The Government are determined to do all they can to minimise the threat from terrorism to the UK and our interests abroad. In addition, it is important that we demonstrate our support for other members of the international community in their efforts to tackle terrorism wherever it occurs. Proscription is an important part of the Government’s strategy to tackle terrorist activities. We propose to add Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is also known as Ansar Jerusalem, Al Murabitun and Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia to the list of international terrorist organisations, amending schedule 2 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This is the 14th proscription order under that Act.

Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides a power for the Home Secretary to proscribe an organisation if she believes it is currently concerned in terrorism. The Act specifies that an organisation is concerned in terrorism if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism, including the glorification of terrorism, or is otherwise concerned in terrorism. If the test is met, the Home Secretary may then exercise her discretion to proscribe the organisation.

In considering whether to exercise this discretion, the Home Secretary takes into account a number of factors. These are the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities; the specific threat that it poses to the United Kingdom; the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas; the organisation’s presence in the UK; and the need to support other members of the international community in tackling terrorism. Proscription is a tough but necessary power. Its effect is that a listed organisation is outlawed and is unable to operate in the UK. It is a criminal offence for a person to belong to a proscribed organisation, invite support for a proscribed organisation, arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, or wear clothing or carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. Given the wide-ranging impact of proscription, the Home Secretary exercises her power to proscribe only after a thorough review of the available relevant information and evidence on the organisation.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): When we proscribe an organisation that has links to other countries—the first two the Minister mentioned have links to Egypt;

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the second two have links to Tunisia—do we consult those countries before placing an order before the House? I support what the Minister is doing today, but I just want to be clear about the process. Did we tell those countries that the orders were on their way?

James Brokenshire: The orders are made after careful consideration, part of which involves input and consideration from the Foreign Office. That might or might not include co-operation or contact with individual Governments or authorities. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that such broad consideration is always given to these orders, in the light of the factors that I have identified, including the impact that they could have here in the UK and on British citizens overseas. There is a need to send out a clear message in relation to a number of these terrorist organisations.

I shall expand a little on the steps that are being undertaken. They include research into and investigation of open-source material, intelligence material and advice that reflects consultation across the government, including with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Home Secretary is supported in her decision-making process by the cross-Whitehall proscription review group. The decision to proscribe is taken with great care by the Home Secretary, and it is right that the case for proscribing new organisations must be approved by both Houses. Having carefully considered all the evidence, the Home Secretary believes that ABM, Al Murabitun and Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia are currently concerned in terrorism. Hon. Members will appreciate that I am unable to comment on specific intelligence, but it might help the House if I provide a brief summary of their activities.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis—ABM—is an al-Qaeda-inspired militant Islamist group based in the northern Sinai region of Egypt. The group is said to recruit within Egypt and abroad, and it aims to create an Egyptian state ruled by sharia law. ABM is assessed to have been responsible for a number of attacks on security forces in Egypt since 2011. The attacks appear to have increased since the overthrow of the Morsi Government in July 2013. The group’s reach goes beyond the Sinai region, in that it claims responsibility for a number of attacks in Cairo as well as cross-border attacks against Israel.

ABM has undertaken attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and surface-to-air missiles. I shall give the House some examples of attacks for which the group has claimed responsibility. They include an attack on the Egyptian Interior Minister in September 2013 in which a UK national was seriously injured; an attack on a police compound in Mansoura on 24 December 2013 that killed at least 16 people, including 14 police officers; an attack on an Egyptian police helicopter in the northern Sinai on 25 January 2014; the assassination of General Mohammed Saeed, an official in the interior ministry, on 28 January 2014; and an attack on a tourist bus in which three South Koreans and their Egyptian driver died on 16 January 2014.

The second group, Al Murabitun, resulted from a merger of two al-Qaeda in the Maghreb splinter groups that are active in Mali and Algeria: the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group, the Al Mulathamine Battalion, which included the commando element known as “Those Who Sign in Blood”. The merger was announced in a public statement in August 2013. The group aspires to

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unite Muslims from the Nile to the Atlantic, and has affirmed its loyalty to the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the emir of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar. Al Murabitun’s first statement threatened France and its allies in the region, and called on Muslims to target French interests everywhere.

Belmokhtar has announced that he will not continue to lead the group to allow a new generation of jihadist leaders to come to the fore. Reports indicate that the new commander has fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and against the international intervention in Afghanistan in the 2000s. Although the group has not claimed responsibility for any terrorist attacks since the merger, both precursor groups participated in a number of terrorist attacks and kidnapping for ransom in the past 13 months. Belmokhtar’s group was responsible for the attack against the In Amenas gas facility in January 2013 that resulted in the death of more than 30 people, including Britons. In May 2013, the two groups targeted a military barracks in Agadez in Niger and a uranium mine in Arlit which supplies French nuclear reactors. The suicide attack in Agadez resulted in the deaths of at least 20 people. Shortly after the attacks, Belmokhtar indicated that they had been carried out as a form of revenge for the death of Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, an al-Qaeda in the Maghreb commander who was killed by French forces in northern Mali earlier in 2013. Despite previously separating themselves from al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, citing leadership issues and the desire to expand their control, both precursor groups continued to co-operate and fight alongside AQM fighters in Mali and other regions of west Africa—that activity has continued since the merger.

The Sahel region continues to see high threats of kidnap and terrorist attacks, which were further heightened following the French military intervention in Mali. Hostages are currently held in the Sahel and surrounding regions, which includes Algeria, Cameroon, Libya and Nigeria. The Canadians designated Belmokhtar’s group in November 2013 and the US designated it in December 2013, specifying Al Murabitun as an alias.

The third group, Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia—AAS-T—is a radical Islamist group founded in April 2011. The group aims to establish sharia law in Tunisia and eliminate western influence. Between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals may be attracted to rallies organised by the movement. The group is ideologically aligned to al-Qaeda and has links to al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. It is reported that the group announced its loyalty to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in September 2013.

AAS-T’s leader, Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, also known as Abu Ayadh al-Tunis, is a former al-Qaeda veteran combatant in Afghanistan. He has been hiding following the issue of a warrant for his arrest in relation to the allegation that he incited the attack on the US embassy in Tunis that killed four people in September 2012. Salafists believed to have links with AAS-T are assessed to be responsible for the attacks in October 2011 on a television station and the attack in June 2012 on an art exhibit. AAS-T is assessed to be responsible for the attacks on the US embassy and American school in Tunis in September 2012. The Tunisian Government believe AAS-T was responsible for the assassinations of two national coalition Assembly Members, those of Chokri Belaid in February 2013 and Mohamed Brahmi in July 2013. Additionally, elements of the group are

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believed to have been involved in the attempted suicide attack, in October 2013, at a hotel in a tourist resort in Sousse, where a significant number of British tourists were staying. More than 400,000 British tourists visited Tunisia last year. The Tunisian Government listed AAS-T as a terrorist group in 2013 and the US did so in January 2014.

Subject to the agreement of this House and the other place, the order will come into force on Friday 4 April. It is, of course, not appropriate for us to discuss specific intelligence that leads to any decision to proscribe.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): Paragraph 12 of the explanatory memorandum states:

“If a proscribed organisation…applies to the Secretary of State for deproscription, the proscription of the organisation will be reviewed.”

How does that work in practice? If an organisation and its members are illegal—proscribed—how do they have the locus to apply to be have the proscription reviewed?

James Brokenshire: Under the current regime, the organisation or person affected by a proscription can submit a written application to the Home Secretary requesting that she considers whether they or a specified organisation can be removed from the list of proscribed organisations. There is a process for this. The application should also state the grounds on which it is made, and the Home Secretary is required to determine the application within 90 days.

If the Secretary of State agrees to de-proscribe that organisation, she has to lay an order before Parliament removing it from the list of proscribed organisations. In practice, all the evidence and intelligence have to be considered across Whitehall. The order is then subject to the affirmative resolution process. In other words, it is a similar process to a proscription application. I have to say to the House that no de-proscription applications have been received since June 2009.[Official Report, 8 May 2014, Vol. 580, c. 3MC.]

Keith Vaz: On the process of de-proscription, I have raised it whenever these orders have gone through the House. The process is not as robust as it should be. David Anderson, the independent terrorism tsar—if we can call him that—has made specific suggestions to try to improve it. When I last raised this matter with the Minister, he said that he would come back to the House shortly—to use that classic phrase—and explain his views. Does he have views now on the process?

James Brokenshire: I did come back to the House on the last proscription order. I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman was not able to participate in that particular debate, but I did underline that it is the Government’s intention that de-proscription should be considered on receipt of an application setting out the grounds on which it is made. De-proscription will then be considered by the Home Secretary in accordance with the Terrorism Act 2000. In other words, it is on an application process, and that is the view to which we have come. Just to finish the point on this process, if the application is refused, there is an appeals process that operates through the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission. The commission will allow an appeal if,

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after applying judicial review principles, it considers that the decision to refuse the proscription was flawed. I hope that that explains to the right hon. Gentleman the process that we adopt in these circumstances.

In conclusion, it is right that we add Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Al Murabitun and Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia to the list of proscribed organisations in schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000, and I hope that the House will support the Government in that move.

4.22 pm

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): I thank the Minister for his statement and for the letter from the Home Secretary to the shadow Home Secretary, laying out the rationale for the proscription of the three groups.

There is a long tradition of cross-party co-operation on issues of national security, and the Opposition will support the Government in their motion today. As the Minister has laid out, section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 sets out the grounds on which a group can be proscribed.

Proscription is a vital tool against terrorism, and it enables us to tackle and disrupt terror groups co-operating around the world. Of course that makes proscription a serious matter. It makes it illegal to belong to, or support in any way, a listed organisation. This is a draconian measure, so we should use the power only when we know that it is appropriate.

In this case, the Opposition are happy to accept the Minister, and the Home Secretary’s assurances on the basis that all three groups seem to have been involved in terrorism at the highest end of seriousness, including some directed at our citizens and allies.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis came to prominence during the Arab spring. It aims to establish sharia law in Egypt. The group, which appears to be al-Qaeda-inspired if not linked, has been responsible for a string of terror attacks, which the Minister outlined. In 2010, the group was linked with an attack on a Jordanian and Israeli pipeline. In 2013, it was thought to be responsible for rocket attacks into southern Israel as well as the murder of three South Koreans and an Egyptian. In January this year, as the Minister set out, the group was linked with a suicide attack that killed 16 people, including 14 police officers.

Al Murabitun has an even closer al-Qaeda link, having emerged out of al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa. The group has been linked to jihadists across north Africa and to terror attacks in Algeria and Niger, both killing scores of people. In particular, I should mention the January 2013 attack on the In Amenas gas facility, which killed 30 people including Britons and Americans.

Finally we have Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia, whose founder is known to have ties to al-Qaeda. The State Department says that that organisation

“is ideologically aligned with al-Qaeda and tied to its affiliates, including AQIM”.

The group has been involved in a number of attacks on western targets in Libya and Tunisia.

The Opposition are always limited in what we can say in these cases, because we do not have access to the same intelligence as the Minister and the Home Secretary.

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It would be helpful if the Minister could comment in general terms on why the United Kingdom has decided to act now, as many of the groups have committed attacks on our allies or have resulted in the deaths of Britons over the past two years.

Last time a proscription order was discussed in the House, I raised the effect of proscription on content relating to terror groups appearing on social media. That content is hosted outside the United Kingdom but is readily accessible in the United Kingdom. The Minister helpfully laid out the work of the counter terrorism internet referral unit. Will he confirm what progress the group has made on removing material in the past year and how many pages it has managed to take down? Last year, the Minister told the House how the counter terrorism internet referral unit took referrals and passed them on to ISPs. What measures are in place proactively to seek out such sites and to get the hosting companies, whether they are Google, Facebook or other companies, to seek out and remove such content?

I was pleased this morning that the Minister’s colleague, the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, announced additional industry support for the Internet Watch Foundation to tackle online child abuse. What similar measures have been discussed in relation to counter-terrorism?

As I said earlier, the Opposition are always limited in what we can say about proscription, because it is up to the Home Secretary to analyse the evidence and make a decision. However, that did not stop the Government using proscription to score political points when they were in opposition. The present Prime Minister, then Leader of the Opposition, said in this House that he would ban the group Hizb ut-Tahrir. I hope the Minister will comment on why the Prime Minister made that rash promise. If the Prime Minister was right to make that promise, why has not the Home Secretary acted on it?

Keith Vaz: I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised the question of Hizb ut-Tahrir. I was in the House when the Prime Minister made that pledge and I think he meant it genuinely and thinks that the group ought to be banned because of its violent activity. Is she therefore as surprised as I am that even though the Prime Minister feels that a group is a terrorist organisation, it carries on with its activities and the Government appear to be unable to do anything about it?

Diana Johnson: The Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee makes an important point. I hope that the Minister will respond to our concerns and will be able to reassure the House that he is continuing to watch and consider the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Last year, I raised in the House my concerns about the activity of Hizb ut-Tahrir on university campuses. Hizb ut-Tahrir was singled out by the Prevent strategy review as a group that was active on university campuses radicalising students. It would be helpful if the Minister could update the House on what has happened to deal with that issue.

Finally, I want to raise the issue mentioned by the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). It concerns de-proscription and time limits. The Minister is well aware from the comments and

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interventions that have been made as the House has considered several such motions that the Home Affairs Committee and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation have long been asking the Government how a group can be de-proscribed. The only group ever to be de-proscribed obtained that through judicial review. The Select Committee has been pushing the Government for some time to get a proper structure in place to make these decisions.

According to the independent reviewer of terrorism, the Home Office was at one point considering an annual review of the proscribed list to see which groups still met the criteria. Of course, we should encourage any group to renounce terrorism. The Home Office clearly needs to justify the continued proscription of terror groups, on some of which we know that the independent reviewer of terrorism suggests there is no current evidence of terrorist involvement even in this century. According to the independent reviewer’s website last summer, the Home Office had compiled a list of up to 14 groups that no longer met the criteria for proscription. Will the Minister confirm that that is correct?

The independent reviewer had been calling for that annual review of proscribed groups, but the Home Office seems now to have ignored that suggestion and instead instigated this procedure, which the Minister set out in response to interventions, whereby an individual who is directly affected by a proscription order can apply for the order to be lifted. Owing to the level of concern, does the Minister consider it appropriate to set out in detail how that procedure takes place, so that hon. Members can fully understand how an individual, who might put themselves in difficulty by coming forward, might access it and take it forward? It would be helpful if the Minister were to put a letter or note in the Library setting that out in detail.

4.31 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson). It is always good to participate in a debate on a measure that has all-party support. I am convinced that the order will pass through the House, because the House understands the importance of these orders and the significance of counter-terrorism issues.

I am delighted to see two members of the Home Affairs Committee here today, both of whom play an important part in the Committee’s deliberations: the hon. Members for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and for Northampton North (Michael Ellis). The Committee is undertaking an inquiry into counter-terrorism, and it is our intention to publish our report at the beginning of May. The inquiry is slightly longer than those the Committee usually undertakes; it has now lasted about six months. The issue of proscription is one that we have raised in our Committee sessions. Committee members currently spend more time with the Minister for Security and Immigration than they do with members of their own families. He was with us for an hour and a half yesterday at the Home Affairs Committee and here he is again in his other job. I am not sure about British jobs for British workers, but at least two jobs for each Minister may be the solution to the unemployment problems in this country. So far he has done them extremely well. Only time will tell, given his huge work load. I am one of his fans, so I am sure he will cope.

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Back Benchers and members of the Select Committee usually take it as read and accept at face value a Minister—be it a member of this Government or the previous Government—coming to the Dispatch Box to say that they have intelligence and believe strongly that certain organisations should be banned. We appreciate that there are issues that Ministers, especially the Minister for Security and Immigration, know about that they cannot disclose to the House. Therefore, we support what he says. I certainly support it, and I am sure the House will support it. It is awful to sit here and hear about the activities of various groups—Ansar Jerusalem and Al Murabitun, operating in Egypt, and Ansar al Sharia, operating in Tunisia. Some have been operating for a good deal of time, and in respect of the atrocities that in some cases have been committed by these groups, they go way back to 2011. My concern, which I raised in my earlier intervention, is that those organisations are not household names for the British public. Therefore, when Ministers tell us about them, we listen carefully and accept what they say. That is why I think that when an order of this kind comes before the House, the Government ought to ensure that the Governments concerned—I would not like to call them the parent Governments, but the Governments those groups seek to overthrow—are informed.

Before coming to the House today I spoke with the Tunisian ambassador, His Excellency Nabil Ammar, an excellent representative of Tunisia, who informed me that the Tunisian Government were not aware that this order was coming before the House. That could be the result of a breakdown in communications between the Foreign Office and the Home Office, or perhaps our Government do not tell foreign Governments when this is about to happen, but I think that it would be wise for them to do so in future.

The order is to come into force on Friday. I think that all these organisations are banned in their own countries. They certainly are Tunisia, although I could not get through to the Egyptian ambassador to speak to him about these matters. The Tunisian ambassador tells me that Ansar al Sharia was banned three months ago, partly because of the changes following the Tunisian revolution, the election of a Government and then their fall and replacement by the present President, Moncef Marzouki.

My plea is that in future it should be incumbent on the Home Office to tell the Foreign Office and for the Foreign Office at least to tell the foreign Governments concerned. That might have been done in Cairo and Tunis, but it certainly has not been done in London. We are concerned with what those groups are getting up to not in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Alexandria, Tunis, Hammamet or Sousse, but here in our country. It is therefore important that we get that information across.

It would also be helpful if the Minister could tell us—I am not sure whether he intends to wind up the debate—whether he knows how many people are operating in those organisations in our country. I know that it is not the 5,000 he mentioned with regard to Ansar Jerusalem, which regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people, or Ansar al Sharia, which I am told has around 100,000 people involved in Tunisia, even though only 5,000 might

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turn up to its demonstrations. I think that it is important to know broadly how many people are involved in those activities here.

I want to make two other points, one of which concerns the way that certain organisations can change their name, telephone number and website but carry on being involved in the same activities. On a previous occasion I used the example of Anjem Choudary, whose organisation had a number of different names, including Islam4UK, Al-Muhajiroun, Call to Submission, Islamic Path, the London School of Sharia and the Saved Sect. The latest name is Islamic Emergency Defence—IED. I know that the Minister is on top of his brief, but perhaps he could reassure the House that we are monitoring changes in names, websites and addresses so that we know whether organisations are still there but called by other names.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North, I am concerned about what is happening with Hizb ut-Tahrir. I think that the Prime Minister genuinely wants to ban that group. He has probably gone to the Home Secretary and said, “Ban this group. I don’t like them. They’re up to mischief,” and the Home Secretary, who I know is tough, would ban something if she could, as we know from Monday’s delegated legislation Committee. Why is Hizb ut-Tahrir still carrying on its activities when the Prime Minister, who I know feels very strongly about these matters, feels that it ought to be banned? I was in the House on the occasion in May 2011, which I am sure you will recall, Mr Speaker, when he made a passionate plea for the organisation to be banned, so I hope that we can satisfy his desires on this subject.

My final point is about de-proscription. David Anderson, the terrorism tsar, if I may call him that, felt that there ought to be time-limited proscription. I have raised before and raise again the situation of the Tamil community and the LTTE—the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The head of the LTTE, Mr Prabhakaran, has been killed, and the organisation has ceased to exist, but it is still banned. I have 7,000 members of the Tamil community in my constituency. Before you took the Chair, Mr Speaker—I think it was your last delegation before you took office—you went to visit Sri Lanka and saw for yourself the misery that had been inflicted on the Tamil community. Sometimes I get calls from members of my community who feel that the LTTE ought to be de-proscribed. Obviously, the Minister will say, “Well, let them apply for it”, but who could do that? People do not want to be associated with this organisation. If they start to fill in the application forms, somebody might think that they were involved with the LTTE, but that is not the case—they are good law-abiding Tamils. There should be a mechanism—perhaps an automatic trigger—that enables the Government and Ministers to review these matters before the order becomes a continuing one that goes on for ever.

4.41 pm

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I want to make a brief contribution and ask a few questions of the Minister.

We in the Democratic Unionist party fully support the Government’s intention to proscribe these organisations and feel that that is necessary. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has specifically targeted the state of Israel. As a supporter of the state of Israel, I am concerned about that. There

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have been attacks on troops and on the pipeline between Israel and Egypt, so it has attacked the military life and the economic life of Israel. I am keen to hear the Minister’s views, although I fully appreciate that there are restrictions on what he can say. Do the Government feel that there is a specific threat against the Israeli embassy or Israeli interests here in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom? In fairness, the same thing probably applies to Egypt as well. Will he tell us as much as he can about the exchange of information and intelligence that clearly has to take place? The right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) said that Tunisia was not aware of the proscription that is proposed today. There must be proscription, yes, but we also need to make sure that intelligence exchange takes place, given the clear threat to middle east peace.

On Al Muribitun, the explanatory memorandum mentions at the bottom of page 2 the merger of two al-Qaeda groups in Mali and Algeria. This issue is very real to us in Northern Ireland because of the dissident republican attacks that have taken place. According to security information and intelligence information that we have received and are aware of, the dissident republicans have very close contacts with al-Qaeda and with the Taliban, but particularly al-Qaeda, in relation to the supply of weapons and of terrorist expertise regarding the creation of bombs. The bomb attack on a Police Service of Northern Ireland Land Rover on the Falls road just two weeks ago involved a specific type of bomb that has been used by al-Qaeda in its attacks in the middle east. All the indications are that there are close links between al-Qaeda and dissident republicans. That poses a threat to us in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Will the Minister comment on that, as far as he is able to, in his response?

It seems to us in Northern Ireland that dissident republicans are focusing on attacks on members of the security forces, both in uniform and at home. The sophistication of weaponry and of the bomb attacks would indicate that there is that close relationship I mentioned. When the Minister responds, I feel it is important that he offers the House and all Members for Northern Ireland constituencies assurance that everything is being done to combat that strong relationship.

All the intelligence points us towards there being a relationship between al-Qaeda and the organisations listed in the order—certainly the second one. How will our relationship with other countries such as Israel, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon be affected? The second organisation listed has specifically targeted Christians in Beirut, and the Lebanese Government and army have responded. Again, we see specific attacks on people to whom many of us would feel that we owe some support, including the Christians in Lebanon.

I look forward to the Minister’s response to those few points.

4.46 pm

James Brokenshire: I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in this short debate this afternoon. I am pleased to note that their contributions have supported the assessment of the Home Secretary and myself that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Al Murabitun and Ansar al Sharia-Tunisia should all be added to the list of proscribed organisations in schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000.

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Proscription sends a strong message that terrorist organisations are not tolerated in the UK and deters them from operating here. I know that a number of questions have been asked about the nature of any activity that those groups may undertake in the UK. Unfortunately I am unable to comment on intelligence matters but it is important to underline the point that the proscription regime is intended to deter activity in this country.

Fifty two international and 14 Northern Ireland-related terrorist organisations are already proscribed. To give a sense of the enforcement regime that has sat alongside that, I point out that, between 2001 and the end of March 2013, 32 people have been charged with proscription-related offences as a primary offence in Great Britain, and 16 have been convicted.

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) asked about Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. As I indicated, that group has claimed responsibility for a number of cross-border attacks against Israel. That gives him some sense of its activity.

Another question asked was why now, rather than at a different time. Decisions on whether and when to proscribe an organisation are taken after extensive consideration and in the light of a full assessment of all available information. It is important that decisions have a robust evidence base, do not have an adverse impact on any ongoing investigations and support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. Those factors often sit within our thinking. There is a statutory test that needs to be met in connection with a decision to proscribe.

The right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) asked about speaking to parent countries when an order is laid. There may be discussions in advance of laying an order, and some groups are nominated for proscription by the parent country, to use that terminology. Ultimately, however, decisions have to be taken according to the national security interests of this country and those of our citizens overseas. Although I acknowledge the right hon. Gentleman’s point, that is what must always drive our consideration. Therefore, I would not want to be bound in all circumstances. Even so, careful consideration is given to the matters.

The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), asked about social media. I can update the House that since 2010 the counter terrorism internet referral unit has taken down more than 29,000 pieces of illegal terrorist material from the internet. I underline the fact that any online activity by the three groups under consideration, including Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, has been referred to CTIRU. If it is assessed as illegal—there is a legal test that has to be met—CTIRU will flag it directly to Facebook and Twitter for removal.

I reassure the hon. Lady that we continue to have discussions with the industry and I take the issue extremely seriously. As the right hon. Member for Leicester East will attest, I also told the Home Affairs Committee, when we touched on social media, that we are considering whether a code of conduct and other, similar measures would be appropriate in order to ensure an effective response.

As I said during the previous proscription debate, the Government do not intend to set a time limit on proscription. We consider the existing de-proscription

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mechanism provided by the Terrorism Act 2000 to be sufficient. The legislation allows de-proscription to be considered on receipt of an application setting out the grounds on which it is being made. Any application will be considered by the Home Secretary, in accordance with the Act. In my opening speech, I set out some of the detail on the time limits, the processes and procedures and the consideration given in that regard. I hope that when the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North examines

Hansard

tomorrow, she will see that I have set out the process and how it is intended to operate. Any information provided as part of a de-proscription application is given a number of statutory protections so that people should be able to come forward if appropriate.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has been mentioned in this and a number of previous debates. It is not currently proscribed in the UK. Proscription can be considered only when the Home Secretary believes that terrorism, as defined by the Terrorism Act 2000, is a concern. That statutory test needs to be satisfied in order to bring a proscription motion—an application order—before this House. The Government continue to have significant concerns about Hizb ut-Tahrir, and we will continue to monitor its activities very closely. Indeed, individual members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are, of course, subject to the general criminal law. We will seek to ensure that Hizb ut-Tahrir and similar groups cannot operate without challenge in public places in this country.

The hon. Lady highlighted the issue of university campuses. Very good work has been undertaken with universities, the National Union of Students and others. Those of our regional Prevent co-ordinators who are focused on the university sector are providing good advice, information and knowledge to establishments and institutions in order better to support their work in understanding who may be coming to speak on a university campus and use their accommodation and facilities. We have also been supporting the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in important work to ensure that universities focus on any relevant activities.

Keith Vaz: It is really important that the issue of the internet has been raised by both Front Benchers. The Home Affairs Committee recently visited the headquarters of Google—I do not know whether the Minister has been there—to look at the work it is undertaking and the co-operation between the Home Office and the internet service providers that enables us to monitor very carefully those who wish to use the internet in order to prosecute inappropriate activity.

James Brokenshire: The right hon. Gentleman was not in his place when I touched on that issue a few moments ago. He will know that I mentioned it in my evidence to his Select Committee, which has recently had a session with Google. I recognise the Select Committee’s work to support community groups to harness social media and other technologies more effectively to ensure that there is a full and informed debate on the internet, not one simple narrative.

I have highlighted the work of the counter terrorism internet referral unit, as well as our more general work and ongoing dialogue with the industry about what further steps can be taken. The CTIRU has reach in this

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country, but much of the material is hosted overseas. Some of the steps taken in and consideration given to combating child sexual exploitation imagery—ensuring that it is more effectively filtered and blocked—is learning that can be taken forward and applied in this area. That theme very much underpinned the recommendations of the extremism taskforce. We are continuing to do that work.

Diana Johnson: To return to the issue of Hizb ut-Tahrir, was the Prime Minister rash to promise that he would ban it?

James Brokenshire: The Prime Minister was very clear in underlining the concern about that group. As I have said, we continue to be concerned about that organisation, which is why we continue to monitor its activities. I have already told the House that the Government obviously have to be cognisant of the statutory tests in looking at all the evidence and deciding whether tests are satisfied. We do not comment on which organisations continue to be under review for proscription, so I will not be led down that path, but we have to be satisfied on the clear statutory tests in introducing an order in this House.

Another issue relates to groups changing their name. Section 3(6) of the 2000 Act allows the Home Secretary, by an order subject to the negative resolution procedure, to specify an alternative name for a proscribed organisation. We keep under close review whether organisations are seeking to use an alias. We have used that mechanism to introduce orders to add other names of proscribed organisations. I underline that the use of an alternative name that is not listed does not prevent the police and the Crown Prosecution Service from taking action against an individual for proscription offences. Such action is based on an assessment made by the police and the CPS.

I have commented on de-proscription. The right hon. Member for Leicester East has highlighted the LTTE—the Tamil Tigers—in the past. He congratulated me on my current role and the work in which I am engaged, and now that he is back in his place I want to recognise the many jobs that he does as an MP and Chair of the Select Committee—it does a broad spread of work in my areas of responsibility and other areas—and he is involved in other activities. I certainly congratulate him on the many jobs that he holds. He has raised the issue of de-proscription as Chair of the Select Committee, as well as in his capacity as a Member of Parliament. We judge that the responsibility for it is as I explained in relation to the de-proscription process.

Keith Vaz: The Minister is so kind and I do not want this to turn into a love-in—after all, we are talking about terrorism—but may I point out that all those jobs are unpaid, apart from that of being an MP?

James Brokenshire: I would never imply otherwise. I merely highlight the enormous breadth of the right hon. Gentleman’s work and the importance of the Select Committee’s work. On that positive note—

Mr Speaker: Order. I think that the Minister is suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman is multifaceted, ubiquitous and selfless. Is that what he is saying?

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James Brokenshire: I could not come up with a more eloquent description, so I will not tread on that territory.

The agreement of the House that the three organisations should be proscribed under the relevant legislation sends a strong message in respect of those groups and underlines our focus on securing this country from the threat of terrorism. I therefore commend the order to the House.

Question put and agreed to

Resolved,

That the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 31 March, be approved.


Mr Speaker: I have given further consideration to the point of order that was made by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) earlier this afternoon. I realise that the question he raised deserves an urgent response, given that the deportation of the young woman is imminent.

This House does not interfere with the due process of law. It is not a contempt of the House for the Administration to continue a legal process, even when there is a possibility that it will clash with the wishes of a Select Committee. Ultimately, it is not for the Chair but for the House to decide questions of privilege and contempt. That said, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue that line, there are established ways of doing so after the fact, if need be. To put it simply, if he is alleging that there has been a breach of privilege or a contempt of the House, our process requires that he write to me to make that allegation. I would then consider whether the issue should be given precedence in the deliberations of the House. I hope that that is helpful.

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Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am very grateful for your ruling and for the speed with which it was delivered, given the urgency of the matter. Thank you.

Petition

On-shore Wind Farm Developments in Winterton, North Lincolnshire

5.2 pm

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): The people of the East Riding of Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire have taken their fair share of wind turbines over the past few years, and we continue to consider all applications sensibly. However, I have received a petition on behalf of residents in the Winterton area who are concerned about the proposed Ironstone Quarry wind farm, to which I am also heavily opposed.

The petition states:

The Petition of members of the Winterton Against Inappropriate Turbines group,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that action must be taken to address the cumulative impact of on-shore wind farm developments in the area around the North Lincolnshire settlements of Winterton, Burton Upon Stather, West Halton and Coleby.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons recognise that the latest development to enter the planning appeals process, three turbines at the Ironstone Quarry site at Winterton which would take the total number of built, consented or planned industrial wind turbines in the immediate area around the town to over 60, with many more in the wider area, is a step too far. In particular, we call on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to recover this appeal to ensure that the correct weight is placed on the key issues of landscape, heritage assets and cumulative impact.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P001341]

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LGBT Rights (Uganda)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Harriett Baldwin.)

5.4 pm

Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this important and timely debate.

While England celebrated its first same-sex marriages over the weekend, including that of a former constituent of mine, Peter McGraith, who was among the first to marry in the early hours of Saturday morning, scenes of jubilation of a different kind in Uganda made me feel physically sick. Parades have been taking place to celebrate the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act; to celebrate that the human rights of Ugandans are being undermined because they happen to be gay in a country determined to regress legislation relating to homosexuality. It is almost laughable that those celebrations are continuing in the streets of Kampala in the same week as the Equal Opportunities Tribunal opened in that city to great fanfare. Its launch press release claims:

“The Tribunal will handle complaints related to discrimination and marginalisation to ensure that everybody is treated equally regardless of their sex, age, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, religion, health status, social or economic standing, political opinion and disability.”

While I hope that that new institution does much to eradicate intolerance in Uganda, those of us in the Chamber will notice one glaring omission: sexuality. As hon. Members will know, President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law five weeks ago, and its impact has already been felt by Ugandans, even before the abhorrent law has been enforced. It has been signed into law by the President, which technically means that it can be fully implemented at any time, although no one has been arrested yet. Convention means that the new law should now be gazetted—or published—in order formally to tell the nation about it, but that is not absolutely, legally necessary, leading to confusion in the country.

A legal petition has been submitted to the constitutional court in Uganda, with MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and leading activist Frank Mugisha, who is known to many of us in this House, among the petitioners. The petition states that the Anti-Homosexuality Act is in direct contravention of the Ugandan constitution. Unfortunately the petition cannot delay the enforcement of the law, but the legal challenge is extremely significant and I hope it is successful. In the meantime, LGBT people in Uganda are facing increased risk of violence and persecution every single day.

The brave non-governmental organisation, Sexual Minorities Uganda—or SMUG, as it is widely known—has informed me that it knows of more than 40 violent attacks on LGBT people in Uganda since the law was passed in December, including at least one murder. However, SMUG does not have the resources to monitor that rise adequately. The monitoring and reporting of human rights has been a crucial and integral part of the roles of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development over the years. Will the Government undertake human rights monitoring in Uganda to document the violence and terror that I think constitutes the human rights abuses

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that LGBT people face every day? If we monitor and publicise such abuses, we might shine a light on them and prevent them from happening at all.

Unfortunately, many people are at serious risk of attack, and one reason for that is the actions of the tabloid newspaper, Red Pepper. It recently published the names of “200 Top Homos”—that was the headline—many with photographs, including of Frank Mugisha. I have already made it clear in a recent Westminster Hall debate that my blood ran cold when I saw that report because I fear that history might repeat itself. Three years ago another awful Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone, published a similar list, which included the name of SMUG’s leader at the time, David Kato. Rolling Stone decided to out gay Ugandans, and in the process it deliberately stoked twisted vigilantism that led ultimately to the murder of David Kato.

The David Cairns Foundation, set up in memory of my predecessor chair of the all-party group on HIV and AIDS, has provided immediate financial assistance for a limited number of at-risk individuals to get to a safe place in Uganda following the outbreak of violence. I believe that this could be expanded at a very low cost. It is more than the David Cairns Foundation can afford, but a fund could provide an emergency phone line, transport and safe accommodation to rent in emergencies. SMUG and other LGBT organisations have set up the Defenders Protection Initiative in Uganda, to protect those at immediate risk of violence and abuse.

We are currently drafting a proposal to maintain this potentially life-saving work, and I understand that it will be submitted to the UK Government imminently. It would cost about £200,000 to implement, and would require technical support to maintain as an emergency service. Will the Government consider making available funds to provide emergency security and protection for those at risk? Will they consider seriously supporting the initiative if a full proposal is submitted in the very near future? Will the Minister join me in condemning Red Pepper for publishing names and putting people in direct danger? Will the Government consider a travel ban for the staff of both Red Pepper and Rolling Stone. This was widely called for in recent weeks, as it was when Rolling Stone published names.

There have been calls for travel bans for those actively engaged in promoting hatred of homosexuals in Uganda. I discussed this recently with Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, an MP who has been very brave in speaking out against the Act. He is one of only two Members of the Ugandan Parliament to do so. He said to me:

“Hatemongers shouldn’t roam the world unchecked, unrestrained.”

I completely agree. The UK Government have a good track record in preventing those who preach hatred from having the privilege of visiting our country. For instance, last year Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, the anti-Islamic US bloggers, were excluded from visiting Britain.

In a little more than three months’ time, I will be welcoming visitors from all over the world to my home city of Glasgow for the Commonwealth games. I particularly look forward to welcoming the Ugandan delegation, as the country is so close to my heart. However, I would not be comfortable welcoming people who have been preaching hatred and peddling homophobic nonsense in Uganda, and I think the vast majority of

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Scots and Brits agree with me. Glasgow will have a Pride House as part of its celebrations of the Commonwealth games, and I am very proud of that. Will the Minister say whether the Government are considering travel bans for those found to be making hate speeches against the LGBT community in Uganda and in other countries? Will the Minister share with the House whether the UK Government are considering any other sanctions following the passing of the anti-homosexuality Act?

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend think that the Ugandan law poses a threat to LGBT visitors to Uganda from the UK?

Pamela Nash: I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point, which is one of the few not in my speech—I apologise for the length of my speech. I have raised that point with the Government. I agree that there is a risk to LGBT visitors from throughout the world to Uganda. I understand that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has changed its advice to travellers from Britain, but it would be helpful to hear reassurance from the Minister on protection and support in Uganda for British LGBT people visiting or working in the country.

Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (Lab): I apologise for being late, Mr Speaker. I had duties in Westminster Hall.

Is my hon. Friend aware that many Commonwealth countries have dubious laws—to put it mildly—on LGBT rights? Does she agree that the Government should be doing more in relation to the Commonwealth?

Pamela Nash: I thank my hon. Friend for that point. In a recent Westminster Hall debate to celebrate Commonwealth day, we discussed how we could strengthen our relationship with the Commonwealth and use every lever at our disposal to ensure that we get that message across. A key way of doing that and influencing our friends overseas is by implementing the Commonwealth charter.


Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab): I, too, apologise for being a few minutes late for this important debate.

My hon. Friend has mentioned the question of travel to countries such as Uganda which have such a terrible record on LGBT rights. Is not a real issue for businesses that want to trade and engage with those countries having to decide whom to send there? They may either be putting people in danger or discriminating against the LGBT community.

Pamela Nash: I agree, and that point has been raised with me by businesses and non-governmental organisations. In recent weeks, I have been speaking to businesses working both in Uganda and more widely. I shall say more later about some other countries that are implementing similar legislation as we speak. I chair a group that is organising visits to certain countries, and we are looking at visa applications and online biographies of Members of both Houses. Given that some of them are gay, we must consider whether they will be at risk if they visit those countries, and we must think about what we should do to protect our own colleagues in such circumstances.

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Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): I understand that the World Bank has conducted a study of the economic effects of discrimination in foreign countries. I am told that the sum effect of the discrimination that is driving multinationals away from countries where there are such laws has been a reduction of up to 1.6% in GDP. I do not have the references, but this is a straightforward economic argument: what is being done in Uganda is absolutely not in its own economic interest.

Pamela Nash: I do not have the figures to hand either, but I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman, who is showing great interest, respect and dedication in relation to these issues, is right. I am sure that the public will soon correct us on Twitter if that is not the case.

I should like to hear from the Minister whether the Foreign Secretary intends to raise at the EU-Africa summit in Brussels next week the issue of travel bans, sanctions or any other action against countries and individuals who have shown themselves to be homophobic in recent months, and whether he will be advocating to other Governments travel bans or any other action in relation to those who preach hatred.

I must now put on my all-party group chair hat. I chair the all-party parliamentary group on HIV and AIDS, and I want to say something about the problems that the Ugandan legislation will cause to people with HIV. The HIV epidemic began 30 years ago, and Lake Victoria was its epicentre at that time. It then became the epicentre of the response, and there was great success in preventing HIV transmission in Uganda, but today, sadly, Uganda is the only country in Africa where HIV rates are increasing, and the Anti-Homosexuality Act will not help at all.

Uganda’s health Minister, Dr Rugunda, has claimed that the Act will not affect the fight against HIV and will not prevent men who have sex with men from seeking testing and treatment, but I do not see how that can be the case. The Act criminalises just knowing that someone is taking part in

“homosexual behaviour and related practices”,

It thus threatens to divide or imprison families, and will cause men who have sex with men to fear visiting health professionals in case they are turned over to the authorities. They will not accept that reassurance from a Minister who has just passed such a draconian law against them and their community.

I consider the Act to be, quite simply, a violation of the human rights of the Ugandan people. It contradicts Uganda’s constitution, which states:

“All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.”

Unfortunately, the LGBT community in Uganda no longer has equal protection under the law. In fact it is now criminalised. The message being sent out is that LGBT people are worth less than the rest of the population, and this gives licence for all sorts of further discrimination.

I now want to turn to the matter of LGBT Ugandans who are leaving Uganda. Frank Mugisha said in a recent interview that he was one of only about 20 out gay men in Uganda. I find that figure astonishing, but given the information we are hearing about it is not a surprise. The fact, however, that only 20 are out in an entire country and that everyone is leaving is shocking.

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I want to raise the case of Jackie Nanyonjo, who sought asylum here in the UK as a Ugandan lesbian. She was deported after the UK Border Agency reportedly told her there was not enough evidence to prove she was gay. It has been reported that during her removal from the UK in January last year she sustained injuries when struggling with four Reliance guards escorting her on a flight to Uganda on behalf of the UKBA. When she was handed over to the Ugandan authorities upon arrival at Entebbe airport, she was detained for hours without medical attention and when her family arrived she was in severe pain and was vomiting blood. Because of the nature of her case with UKBA and her removal and the handing over of her to the authorities, her sexuality was exposed in Uganda and she and her family felt unable to seek medical treatment when she was allowed to go home as that would have put them in serious danger. Jackie died at home two months after this incident. This is not acceptable and it is not unique.

While I obviously understand that the Government will have big concerns about asylum seekers claiming they are gay even though they are not in order to gain leave to remain, I have to ask the Minister what discussions his Department has had with the Home Office on its policy of granting asylum to LGBT people from Uganda and other countries with homophobic legislation, and whether this policy has changed given the real threat to the lives of LGBT activists in Uganda and other countries in which this level of state-sponsored homophobia is rapidly rising?

The final major area I want to cover is the current support for related projects in Uganda. The Under-Secretary of State for International Development said to the House and in private meetings recently that DFID is undertaking a full review of expenditure in Uganda following the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, and I agree that that is necessary. The total expenditure must be protected and must definitely not be cut, but we must ensure it is spent wisely, and perhaps is used for the protection of people who may not be getting protection from anyone else at the moment.

I am concerned that, as far as I am aware, no details of this review have been published. I was also concerned to learn that the only resource that has been dedicated to this important task is 10% of the time of a single civil servant. I do not think that commitment is enough for such an important task. Can the Minister confirm that this is indeed the case, and will he share with us some details about the review and when we might expect its findings to be published?

I was also concerned that the Under-Secretary of State for International Development confirmed to me recently in response to a written question that DFID has been financially contributing to the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda. This organisation has been extremely vocal and public in its support of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Indeed, Church leaders were out in force at the parades at the weekend and the recent public celebrations of the passing of the Act. I also have concerns about DFID’s financial support for the Ugandan Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights Affairs, which sat back and offered no scrutiny whatsoever of a Bill that was blatantly in breach of the human rights of Ugandan people, and the Members of Parliament on the Committee

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supported the Bill. Has the Minister discussed this expenditure with his colleagues at DFID? Can he explain how this happened, and what measures are being taken to ensure that never again will UK taxpayers’ money be spent on campaigning against human rights? May we also have a reassurance today that money is not being spent on any other organisations in Uganda that promote this Bill, or on organisations in any other countries that are campaigning against LGBT rights and human rights more generally?

This DFID funding was funnelled through Uganda’s democratic governance facility, which is also funded by the EU and six other European countries. Will the Minister ask the Foreign Secretary to raise this issue with his counterparts at the EU-Africa summit, and review expenditure and support to organisations that have been actively promoting the Anti-Homosexuality Act?

Sadly, Uganda is not the only country with anti- gay legislation, as has been mentioned in interventions. I fear that we are on the brink of many countries intensifying their anti-homosexuality legislation. According to the Human Dignity Trust, as of 2014, more than 80 jurisdictions, including some 80% of the 33 Commonwealth countries, have existing laws criminalising private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex, making the expression of their identity illegal and punishable by imprisonment and sometimes even death. The most notable cases include Nigeria, which signed a new anti-gay law in January modelled on the Uganda Bill. Earlier this month, it was reported that four men aged between 20 and 22 had been convicted of homosexual conduct under sharia law. They were whipped publicly as punishment in an Islamic court in northern Nigeria. They were among dozens caught in a wave of arrests after Nigeria passed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January.

We have also heard reports that the majority leader in Kenya’s national assembly has described homosexuality as a problem in Kenya on the same scale as terrorism, and suggested that it should be handled in the same way. There is also a copycat private member’s Bill of the Uganda Bill making its way through the Kenyan Parliament.

Ethiopia is heading in the same direction. Several sources have reported that legislators there are expecting to pass into law a Bill that would make same-sex acts a non-pardonable offence. Recently, India took the retrograde step of reversing a landmark 2009 Delhi high court order that had decriminalised homosexual acts. This was a major blow to human rights in India and further demonstrates this dangerous trend. The many people who came out as a result of homosexuality being legalised in India now face the prospect of being out in a country where their sexuality has been deemed illegal.

The UK has long been and still is a proud advocate of human rights, and we are strongly pushing the rights of women and girls in our foreign diplomacy and international development programme. I commend the Government for this work and for speaking out on the human rights of LGBT people, but I do not think those rights have been given the same prominence in international relations as those of women and girls. Despite the Foreign Secretary having spoken out repeatedly and strongly against the Anti-Homosexuality Act when it was eventually passed, it appeared that little action was

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taken. The most obvious action would have been to call the Ugandan high commissioner in London to the Foreign Office, but it took weeks before this was done and it only happened after I raised the issue in a Westminster Hall debate and tabled a written question.

Some Back Benchers and Front Benchers have been cautious about talking about this issue in this place, for fear of being accused of imperialism—of cultural export. However, this is not the west versus the rest of the world: this is good versus ignorance. It is not homosexuality that the west has exported to Uganda, but homophobia.

Friends in Uganda, including Frank Mugisha, have told me that homophobia was not a big issue in Uganda 20 years ago. Being gay was not widely accepted, but it was a part of life there, and hate speech was not. Similarly, campaigning against the LGBT community was not an issue. If we fast-forward to the past five years, we can see that the homophobic elements of the US evangelical movement have been proactively stoking revulsion towards the LGBT community. Pastors including the infamous Scott Lively have toured Uganda and had a major impact on public reaction to homosexuality. They have managed to distort public opinion and have now linked homosexuality to paedophilia, as is made clear in the wording of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

I am pleading with the Government to protect those at risk of human rights abuses in Uganda by providing security and protection measures, and by undertaking suitable human rights monitoring. I ask them to use every lever in their power to halt this trend towards regressive anti-homosexuality legislation. We have a responsibility to protect those at risk, and I ask the Government to act quickly.

5.30 pm

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Pamela Nash) on securing this debate, and thank her for supporting me when I had a debate on this subject. I further congratulate her on securing a slot that means we can actually debate this matter properly. I am not sure whether you had something to do with that arrangement, Mr Speaker, but I know that you are the president of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an organisation set up to support activists in countries in which LGBT rights are oppressed. I have the privilege of being the chairman of the parliamentary friends of the Kaleidoscope Trust.

I salute our two parliamentary colleagues in Uganda, whom the hon. Lady knows, who have been brave enough to speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Act. That has been a pretty tough call for them, and it is brave of them to take that position against the overwhelming popular and parliamentary attitude. We should register our support for them and for the position they have taken.

I want to pick up on a couple of the issues that the hon. Lady has raised. I welcome the review that the Home Secretary is now undertaking of our handling of cases in which people have claimed asylum following discrimination on the ground of their homosexuality. That review is long overdue. The commitment to give refuge to LGBT people seeking asylum from oppression in their own country was in my party’s manifesto, as well as in that of the Liberal Democrats. Given that both parts of the coalition supported it, it should have been in the programme for government. It is also the

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stated position of the United Nations, and there has now been a Supreme Court ruling that people should be able to expect to live their lives as they are. Those are therefore the standards that people expect when they claim asylum and freedom from persecution. The disgraceful stories of how the UK Border Agency has handled some of these cases in the past few years are now, happily, a matter of public record and have caused the Home Secretary to take this extremely welcome action.

I put it to the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), that our failure and the wider failure of the global community to prevent this legislation from getting on to the statute book in Uganda will cause a wave of people who are desperate to escape persecution to come here, and that we have a duty to give them refuge, as we have done in the past for people who have been persecuted in other ways. That such people will come to the United Kingdom and other parts of the world to escape persecution will in part be a consequence of our failure as a global community to prevent this legislation from being passed, and of our failure to assist countries that already have such legislation to get rid of it or not to enforce it, as happens in much of the world.

Pamela Nash: It is not often I have cause to praise the current Scottish Government in this House, but I would like to make hon. Members aware that they have offered to take any LGBT Ugandans who are claiming asylum and have called on the UK Government to grant them asylum and send them up to Scotland.

Crispin Blunt: I am not entirely sure it is within the purview of the Scottish Government to do that. Perhaps they are being a little previous in the powers they think they will have. I anticipate that they will not get such powers in September—at least I hope they will not.

We have had a discussion about the economic impact of this law, and the hon. Lady followed up on the point about how a very small proportion of the work of a civil servant is devoted to this issue. I wish to contrast that with the fact that we appear still to have a prosperity officer sponsored by the UK in Uganda. If the Ugandan Government and Parliament are taking a pistol and blowing their toes off as far as their economy is concerned by passing these kinds of measures, I am slightly puzzled as to why the UK should then think it appropriate to pay for a prosperity officer to be in the country to assist the Ugandan Government in trying to repair some of the damage they have inflicted entirely on themselves.

Let me now deal with the issue of travel bans by repeating to the Minister the message I have already given in this House: at the moment, it looks as if the Government are in absolutely the right position, giving overtly all possible assistance, short of actual help. We are not actually asking for changes to the amount of money that the Department for International Development gives Uganda. We are expecting the money not to go anywhere near the organs of the Ugandan Government and to ensure that it goes to civil society associations that are not associated with this kind of persecution or oppression and that do not support it. The Prime Minister eloquently made the case about the effectiveness of travel bans in respect of Russia’s behaviour over

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Crimea. Targeted travel bans against people who have been responsible for the promotion of this legislation are exactly the right policy response to bring things home to the individuals who have made it part of their work to get this wretched Act on to the statute book and to create the climate in which it is then enforced. We ought to be in the business of stopping their travel to the United Kingdom and, we hope, to the European Union, and then beginning to examine any assets they may have in the UK.

In the first instance, therefore, we should be considering a travel ban. Mr Deputy Speaker, top of the list for a travel ban is your colleague the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. She has played a leading role in the passage of this Bill through the Ugandan Parliament and its becoming an Act. The story of how she reacted to advice given in Canada is perhaps a lesson that we ought to learn about how one can have a negative impact through campaigning, but the fact is that even if her mind was changed in a highly negative direction by people imploring her to do the right thing in other parts of the world, that does not mean that she should be allowed to get away from the fact that she has done an absolutely evil and wrong thing to LGBT people in Uganda and to the reputation of her country.

Rebecca Kadaga should be top of the list for a ban on travel to the UK, but she is closely followed by David Bahati, the Ugandan Member of Parliament who proposed the original Bill in 2009—that Bill stipulated the death penalty for homosexual acts. After the passage of the Bill in Parliament, he was quoted in the media as saying:

“I am glad the parliament has voted against evil. Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks”.

I think we should make it perfectly clear what the outside world thinks, by banning his travel to the United Kingdom.

Then there is Mr Simon Lekodo, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, which is amusing if one has a black sense of humour. Mr Lekodo was sued by four brave LGBT activists, on behalf of the whole LGBT community in Uganda, for interrupting and closing a capacity-building workshop in Entebbe in February 2012. His extremely homophobic comments are frequently quoted in the media.

Then there is Mr Lekodo’s predecessor, Nsaba Buturo, whose strong support for the anti-homosexuality Bill has also been widely reported. He is apparently of the view that the United Nations has a surreptitious mission to impose on sovereign countries the acceptance of homosexuality.

Then there is the role of Stephen Tashobya, the Chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ugandan Parliament. It was his Committee that chaired and completed the report on the anti-homosexuality Bill for the Parliament, and the Bill was passed on the basis of its findings.

Going wider than Parliament, we have the people, the so-called Christians, who created the climate under which this wretched legislation was passed. I am not sure that the version of Christianity that I would want

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to understand and recognise is so filled with hatred of other people as it appears to be in Uganda. Pastor Martin Ssempa of the Makerere Christian centre has been on Ugandan television to demonstrate with fruit and vegetables how he believes that gay men and women have sex. I am sure that that must have been particularly enlightening.

Pastor Solomon Male of the coalition for the advancement of moral values is another strong religious voice in favour of the Act. The coalition compiled and distributed to MPs a brief urging them to pass the Act.

Then there is the utterly disgraceful wrong of some of the popular press in Uganda. What possible case can there be for allowing the senior staff of the tabloid Red Pepper to come to the United Kingdom, particularly in the light of their incitement to hatred by the listing of 200 so-called homos in Uganda? Why should Richard Tusiime, the chief executive officer; Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the chief marketing officer; James Mujuni, the chief commercial officer; Patrick Mugumya, the chief operations officer; Johnson Musinguzi, the chief finance officer; Ben Byarabaha, the news editor; or Gazzaman Kodili, the deputy news editor be allowed to come to the United Kingdom? They surely should be subject to a travel ban. As should be the disgraceful Giles Muhame, the editor-in-chief of ChimpReports, but formerly the managing editor of the weekly tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone (Uganda), which was absolutely associated with the incitement to hatred that led to the murder of the Ugandan gay activist, David Kato. His murder was almost certainly a consequence of the climate of opinion that was created by that newspaper, which called for the execution of gay people.

This is an immensely serious issue. The hon. Lady referred to the regrettable tide against what had seemed to be a steady march of progress, enlightenment and decency around the world. That march, which has been in progress in our own country for 50 years, was marked so wonderfully last weekend by the first same-sex marriages. I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to deserve its proud reputation of standing up for rights in this area and to find ways to back up our fine words with action.

5.44 pm

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Pamela Nash) on securing this debate on a good day on which we have a little more time to discuss the issue than we might otherwise have expected. I want briefly to add my voice to those from all parties who have expressed concern about the actions of the Ugandan Parliament in passing this appalling and repressive legislation.

We are witnessing a tale of two worlds. In one world, we saw last weekend the joyful sight of same-sex couples in this country being able to enter into marriages for the first time thanks to a vote in this House of Commons that passed that legislation by a substantial majority, while similar legislation is being passed around the world—in France, in New Zealand and increasingly in the states of the United States of America—where a majority of the public is now in favour of such progressive legislation. In another, less admirable, world, not only have some countries retained repressive regimes towards

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homosexuals and other minorities but others are engaged in passing populist and discriminatory legislation of the kind we have seen in Uganda. This is not just evil homophobia that is making people’s lives a misery and, in some cases, leading not only to the repression of gay people but to their deaths. It is state-sponsored homophobia, and that is what makes it so ugly.

I want to make two broad points. First, Uganda’s decision followed hard on the heels of Nigeria’s. The Nigerian President, having sat on a similar piece of legislation to Uganda’s for some time, suddenly passed what is called—paradoxically, after we passed our Bill to enable same-sex marriage—the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, to which the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts referred. It not only prohibits same-sex marriages in Nigeria but outlaws any public expression of affection between gay people, with extraordinarily severe sentences. There is a maximum 10-year prison sentence for those who commit that offence. Imagine the chilling and repressive effect that that criminal legislation has on young gay people in Nigeria today.

My second point is that this legislation is being passed by Commonwealth countries, Nigeria and Uganda. Just over a year ago, those countries signed up to the Commonwealth charter. Article 2 of the charter takes a stand against discrimination and article 4 also prohibits legislation of this kind. From memory, I think it talks about “mutual understanding and respect”. How can those countries sign up to the Commonwealth charter and so quickly pass legislation in flagrant breach of it? What does the Commonwealth stand for, and what is the point of its charter unless it is willing to take a stance and say that this is not acceptable?

It is very easy to be cowed in this place and the west by the view that, as the hon. Lady so eloquently put it, to condemn such legislation is to engage in a form of neo-colonialism and that it is not our place to lecture other countries about their morals and how they do things in their society. If we took that view, we would silence ourselves for ever as regards our ability to condemn human rights abuses that we consider completely unjustifiable. We have to take a stand in the west. Yes, it should be an intelligent and sensitive stand and we should be guided by courageous activists on the ground, such as Frank Mugisha, who tell us what will and what will not help, but we should not be cowed from speaking out about such legislation. If we are, that is the same as seeing a child being bullied on the street and saying that it is better to pass by and ignore the bullying because otherwise we might make the bullies worse and they might do it again. No, we have to take a stance and intervene.

The Government have rightly taken a stance and should continue to do so. The Commonwealth should take a stance and should continue to do so. Individual Members of Parliament should feel emboldened to stand up and look Members of Parliament in Uganda and Nigeria and now Ethiopia in the eye and say, “This is wrong. What you are doing is wrong.” We are not neo-colonialists for standing up and saying it is wrong. We are subscribers to the universal declaration of human rights. We are subscribers to fundamental values that say that people shall not be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, their sexual identity or their sexuality. We subscribe to these universal human values and everybody should adhere to those standards.

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Chi Onwurah: The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful and important point, which was also made by my hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Pamela Nash), about the need for every one of us to be able to stand up for these values. Does he agree that just as many countries in Africa stood up and condemned apartheid in South Africa, and stood up and condemned the civil rights position and the Jim Crow laws in America in the ’60s, it is for us also to stand up and condemn where we see that evil is happening in those countries?

Nick Herbert: I welcome the hon. Lady’s intervention. She makes a powerful point. That must, of course, be right. In the same way that it was right to condemn those regimes and that evil, it is right to do so now.

The list of countries that continue to foster these repressive regimes is much longer than the list that has been read out this evening. There are still countries all around the world that have these regimes. We have not talked at all about Russia and the despicable link that President Putin made recently between homosexuality and paedophilia, and the way in which gay people in Russia are being brutalised while the authorities turn a blind eye. The Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme made a powerful documentary in February which showed quite horrific scenes of young people being physically assaulted by gangs on the streets and the police merely turning a blind eye.

Do not let us make the mistake of thinking that this is just Uganda, or just Nigeria, and a minority of countries. I regret that it is not. This is a tale of two worlds. This House of Commons knows which world we belong to and which side we belong to, and we should not be afraid to stand up and say, “Yes, we too made these mistakes. We too once had this kind of legislation.” We had legislation in the not so distant past that was repressive of gay people, and we learnt from those mistakes. We admit that we got things wrong and we urge others to understand the fundamental importance of these universal human values and why it is wrong for them, too, to discriminate against minorities, including gay people.

5.52 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Hugo Swire): I am extremely grateful to the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Pamela Nash) for securing this debate. I am aware from having done my research that she has a great affinity with Uganda and has family and friends there, and she has often visited, including as a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association member.

Members on both sides of the House share a commitment to protecting minority rights, not only in Uganda but all around the world. As we have just heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert), alas, the lack of such protection it is all too prevalent and widespread around the world.

The depth of feeling on the issue is reflected in the way it has been the subject now of two debates in the House in as many months. Regrettably, other ministerial commitments prevent the Minister with responsibility for Africa, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and

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Skegness (Mark Simmonds), from being here today. But in the debate on 12 February he emphasised that combating violence and discrimination against LGBT communities forms an integral part of our tireless efforts to protect and promote human rights internationally.

We share the concern about the discriminatory legislation passed by the Ugandan Parliament late last year and signed into law by President Museveni on 24 February. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was clear in his statement that same day that the United Kingdom strongly opposes discrimination on any grounds and questions the compatibility of the anti-homosexuality Act with Uganda’s constitution and international treaty obligations, which I understand are being looked at in that country at the moment.

We have left the Ugandan Government in absolutely no doubt about how strongly we feel about this issue, as well as the significant damage done to Uganda’s reputation internationally. My hon. Friend the Minister for Africa raised the issue with the Ugandan Foreign Minister on 28 January, with the Deputy Foreign Minister on 13 February and with the Ugandan high commissioner on 18 March. He hopes to meet the Ugandan Foreign Minister at the EU-Africa summit in Brussels, which began today. Our high commissioner to Uganda discussed the issue at length with President Museveni on 11 March. In recent weeks she has also met the Ugandan Minister for Justice, the Inspector General of Police, the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister to seek assurances on the protection of individuals and the impact of the legislation.

We are also making representations through the EU. At a political dialogue meeting on 28 March, the EU called on Uganda to repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act, to reconfirm its commitment to human rights and to ensure protection and equal treatment under the law for citizens. We fully endorse those calls. Ugandan Ministers present included the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Internal Affairs, Ethics and Integrity and Information.

I join in the condemnation we have heard from hon. Members today of the contemptible journalism, if it can even be described as such, in both Red Pepper and Rolling Stone. At every stage of our contact with the Ugandan authorities, they have given us assurances that their intention is not to undermine the personal security of the LGBT community. When we have informed the police about the persecution of individuals, they have responded immediately to ensure their security. However, I absolutely take the point the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts made. We will certainly want to look at any project designed to protect the LGBT community very closely and in great detail when it is presented to us.

Pamela Nash: Is the Minister saying that the UK Government’s advice to LGBT people in Uganda who feel at risk because they are LGBT is to call the police so that they can protect them, because the police will be enforcing a law that means they could be imprisoned because they are gay?

Mr Swire: I can only explain what has happened to date. I was responding to the hon. Lady’s request in the second part of what I was saying. I repeat that we will

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certainly want to look at any project designed to protect the LGBT community very closely and in great detail if it is presented to us. We will continue to hold the authorities to their assurances to investigate any attacks fully and to urge the Ugandan Government to protect all their citizens from discrimination. The hon. Lady also talked about monitoring human rights abuses. We have a human rights report, of course, but we will certainly consider her very relevant point and see what more we can do.

We have listened carefully to calls, in this debate and elsewhere, for us to consider sanctions against those who have supported the anti-homosexuality law. The United Kingdom has already ended budget support payments to the Ugandan Government following concerns about corruption last year. Our development programme to Uganda goes through a variety of channels, including private sector organisations, non-governmental organisations and multilateral agencies. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Africa said in the debate on 12 February, we do not believe that imposing travel bans or any other sanctions on supporters of the Bill would be effective in promoting a rethink.

It is worth bearing it in mind that there is widespread support for the legislation in Uganda. We must therefore be mindful of the requests made to the international community not to make well-intentioned public statements and threats that many activists in Uganda fear would be counter-productive and likely to worsen the situation of LGBT individuals or harm efforts to promote LGBT rights. That is also our assessment. In that regard, I note that the guidelines issued on 3 March by the Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which includes LGBT groups, including Sexual Minorities Uganda, do not call for travel bans or other sanctions.

Crispin Blunt: It is a bit strange, then, that the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, who has been here and has met my hon. Friend’s colleagues, including the Foreign Secretary—we are profoundly grateful to the Foreign Secretary for giving the time to see him—has asked for these travel bans. I am not quite sure what is going on, and different interpretations appear to be being placed on it. I urge my hon. Friend to take this up, because it is absolutely not the message that we are receiving.

Mr Swire: It is certainly not the message that we are receiving. I repeat that the Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which includes LGBT groups, including SMUG, does not call for travel bans or other sanctions. However, I am happy to discuss this with my hon. Friend, and the door of my hon. Friend the Minister for Africa is open to him if he has other information.

Pamela Nash: I am grateful to the Minister for being so generous with time; he is probably here a little later than he expected. Let me clarify this point. There have been calls not to implement travel bans for all Members of Parliament and all Government officials who have been involved, but a very specific list exists—I am sure that the hon. Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) and I could share it with the Minister—of certain politicians who have actively been promoting the Bill. The hon. Gentleman read out a list of those working for the

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newspaper,

Red Pepper

, and several other activists. SMUG had previously asked that not all Government officials and Members of Parliament be given travel bans because that would not be helpful.

Mr Swire: I commit my absent hon. Friend the Minister for Africa to having a meeting, at which I shall also want to be present, to go through this and look at the information to which the hon. Lady alludes.

What we should be doing is to continue, first, to make it very clear where we stand on this Bill, and on discrimination and harassment against individuals on any grounds; and, secondly, to engage with NGOs and civil society groups on how best to support their efforts to promote LGBT rights in Uganda—something to which the Government remain committed. For example, on 11 February my hon. Friend the Minister for Africa met the executive director of SMUG, Dr Frank Mugisha, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to hear first hand the challenges faced by the LGBT community in Uganda. Dr Mugisha also met the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), and the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker). On 12 March, Dr Mugisha met my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend Baroness Warsi to discuss latest developments following the introduction of the law, the LGBT community’s next step, and how we can continue to work closely together in this even more difficult environment. These meetings with, and access to, senior Ministers demonstrate just how seriously the Government take this issue.

Our high commission in Kampala is working extremely closely with Ugandan civil society groups on the ground to promote inclusivity, diversity and tolerance, in co-ordination with our international partners. We have supported training, advocacy, and legal cases related to the protection of LGBT rights, and have recently supported a Kaleidoscope Trust project working with the LGBT community in Uganda. United Kingdom officials have also engaged extensively with UK and Uganda-based NGOs, including Stonewall, the Kaleidoscope Trust and the Human Dignity Trust, to explain our approach.

Our objective is clear: to improve respect for and protection of LGBT rights. That will involve long-term cultural change, not just legislative fixes, important as they are. And our focus is not only on Uganda—we are only too aware of countries of concern elsewhere in the world. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have therefore asked officials across Whitehall to have a fresh look at our global approach on LGBT rights. That review is now under way.

The hon. Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Sandra Osborne), who is not in her place, raised the issue of the Commonwealth. Speaking as the Minister for the Commonwealth, I am deeply concerned that over 40 of the 53 countries in the Commonwealth continue to criminalise homosexuality, despite signing up to the Commonwealth charter, which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs said, includes language opposing “all forms of discrimination”. He mentioned article 4, which is about promoting mutual understanding and respect.

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My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has also written to the Commonwealth secretary-general to seek his support to address that worrying trend in a number of Commonwealth countries.

Over the past three days I have hosted a conference at Wilton Park on the future of the Commonwealth with politicians, diplomats and civil society groups from across its 53 countries. This morning, we invited the Kaleidoscope Trust to run a session on LGBT rights as an integral part of the values expressed in the Commonwealth charter. My absolutely excellent Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham), was also there throughout. The secretary-general’s recent statement calling for Commonwealth values to be upheld in respect of sexual orientation and gender identity is a welcome step.

Let me conclude by saying that I believe the Government’s record on promoting LGBT rights is second to none. This week we have seen the first gay marriages in the UK take place. I am proud that last Saturday I attended one of the first same-sex marriages in the UK, between the excellent mayor of Exmouth, John Humphreys, and his long-term partner, David Marston—in fact, it is possible that I can lay claim to being the first Minister to attend a same-sex marriage.

Before we pat ourselves on the back, however, it has taken us long time to reach this point, and we need to recognise that it will also take time for others. Nevertheless, universal rights, including for LGBT individuals, are something on which we will not compromise. Free, tolerant and inclusive societies are better able to fulfil the aspirations of their people, and are more resilient and forward looking. Some work needs to be done on the claims made by my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt) about the adverse effects on GDP for countries that enact regressive legislation of the sort we are discussing. A country that is accountable—

Pamela Nash: Will the Minister give way?

Mr Swire: I was just reaching my peroration. The hon. Lady has ruined it, but of course I will give way.

Pamela Nash: My deepest apologies to the Minister, who has said that he was concluding. I asked specific questions about DFID funding. I appreciate that DFID is not his Department but I have serious concerns about its money being spent on organisations that are promoting the Bill in Uganda and doing other such work elsewhere. Will he undertake to have a conversation on that with DFID and ask it to put that expenditure on record with an explanation?

Mr Swire: There have been a number of questions to DFID Ministers on that point. The hon. Lady will no doubt have seen those and will want to review them. If she has any remaining specific questions about particular aspects of DFID funding, I would advise her to raise those with colleagues in that Department.

As I was saying, a country that is accountable and treats its people with dignity is more likely to foster creativity, ingenuity, economic opportunity and harmony—all prerequisites for long-term stability and security, not least with regard to neighbouring countries. That is a message that the British Government will continue to

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carry forcefully and ceaselessly around the world and one that, through her eloquence and by securing tonight’s debate, the hon. Lady has helped to ensure will continue to be heard.

Question put and agreed to.

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6.10 pm

House adjourned.