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Ministerial Corrections

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Syria

The following is an extract from the statement on Syria on 1 March 2016

Mr Ellwood: The hon. Lady asked a series of questions. First, the latest UN Security Council resolution—resolution 2268—which confirmed the cessation of hostilities, underlines the importance of a previous one, resolution 2254, which is all about the ability to gain access to various areas where ownership is sometimes confusing. That is done on a very local basis to make sure that agreements take place and that UN and other convoys have the series of permissions they need, so that they are not halted at checkpoints, with the food being taken from them and used as a weapon of war. It is difficult for me to give a comprehensive reply for the whole of Syria, but these things are done on an area-by-area basis. The method for taking deliveries also reflects the threat level. Clearly, there are areas surrounded by Daesh, where it is impossible to have such agreements.

The hon. Lady spoke about the chemical weapons attack. A number of UN organisations are looking into a wider piece to do with the use of chemical weapons across Syria. They are in the process of completing a report to the UN, which is due shortly. If I may, I will write to her with more details on that.

On the work being done to provide international humanitarian aid, I go back to the conference we had, where we were able to garner an awful lot of support, including from Saudi Arabia, for making sure that money is filtered through the various UN organisations so that they can get through to the various locations.

The hon. Lady mentions a number of other extremist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, and there is Jaysh al-Islam as well. They have not been considered as moderate; they have not been included in the discussions, and they were not represented in the talks where the Saudis brought the moderate groups together.

[Official Report, 1 March 2016, Vol. 606, c. 825.]

Letter of correction from Tobias Ellwood

An error has been identified in my response to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson).

The correct response should have been:

Mr Ellwood: The hon. Lady asked a series of questions. First, the latest UN Security Council resolution—resolution 2268—which confirmed the cessation of hostilities, underlines the importance of a previous one, resolution 2254, which is all about the ability to gain access to various areas where ownership is sometimes confusing. That is done on a very local basis to make sure that agreements take place and that UN and other convoys have the series of permissions they need, so that they are not halted at checkpoints, with the food being taken from them and used as a weapon of war. It is difficult for me to give a comprehensive reply for the whole of Syria, but these things are done on an area-by-area

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basis. The method for taking deliveries also reflects the threat level. Clearly, there are areas surrounded by Daesh, where it is impossible to have such agreements.

The hon. Lady spoke about the chemical weapons attack. A number of UN organisations are looking into a wider piece to do with the use of chemical weapons across Syria. They are in the process of completing a report to the UN, which is due shortly. If I may, I will write to her with more details on that.

On the work being done to provide international humanitarian aid, I go back to the conference we had, where we were able to garner an awful lot of support, including from Saudi Arabia, for making sure that money is filtered through the various UN organisations so that they can get through to the various locations.

The hon. Lady mentions a number of other hard-line groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, and there is Jaysh al-Islam as well. They have not been considered as moderate; they have not been included in the discussions, and they were represented in the talks where the Saudis brought the moderate groups together.

The following is an extract from the statement on Syria on 1 March 2016

Mr Ellwood: The coalition does a lot of planning in order to establish the best mechanism to provide aid relief in any particular area. The RAF itself has not been involved in airdrops per se; the United States has been leading on that. As I have said, they have had a marginal effect. They are subject to weather conditions and to who is on the ground to receive the actual aid. It is then a matter of luck as to how that aid is distributed. Often it is unfairly distributed, because the strongest end up grabbing the kit and taking it away with them. That is why the preferred mechanism is to get permission to go through the various checkpoints and deliver the aid by truck.

[Official Report, 1 March 2016, Vol. 606, c. 829.]

Letter of correction from Tobias Ellwood

An error has been identified in my response to the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake).

The correct response should have been:

Mr Ellwood: The coalition does a lot of planning in order to establish the best mechanism to provide aid relief in any particular area. The RAF itself has not been involved in airdrops per se; the World Food Programme has been leading on that. As I have said, they have had a marginal effect. They are subject to weather conditions and to who is on the ground to receive the actual aid. It is then a matter of luck as to how that aid is distributed. Often it is unfairly distributed, because the strongest end up grabbing the kit and taking it away with them. That is why the preferred mechanism is to get permission to go through the various checkpoints and deliver the aid by truck.

Egypt: British Support

The following is an extract from the debate on Egypt: British Support on 2 March 2016.

The hon. Member for Cambridge raised the very sad case of Giulio Regeni. I can only echo what I said in my reply to the question. We are very saddened by this tragic death and very concerned about the reports that

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he had been tortured. He is an Italian citizen and there is protocol on who can lead and participate in the investigation. Having said that, we have raised our concerns with the Italian authorities. We very much support Italian and Egyptian efforts to investigate and have requested that that be done in full to recognise what happened. The Italian police now have a team on the ground in Egypt. We will continue to raise the matter. I will be visiting the country very soon and will certainly ask further questions, but although the individual studied in the UK, there is a protocol on which country can lead and be involved.

Egypt has elected a President, has a new constitution and now has a Parliament, which is to be celebrated. We are working to help to make parliamentarians stronger and to encourage visits. I hope that the work with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy will continue. As the new Parliament beds in, we want to do more to strengthen this vital institution and I hope that Members with a keen interest in Egypt, many of whom are here today, will be able to play an active role in that.

[Official Report, 2 March 2016, Vol. 606, c. 332WH.]

Letter of correction from Tobias Ellwood

An error has been identified in my response.

The correct response should have been:

The hon. Member for Cambridge raised the very sad case of Giulio Regeni. I can only echo what I said in my reply to the question. We are very saddened by this tragic death and very concerned about the reports that he had been tortured. He is an Italian citizen and there is protocol on who can lead and participate in the investigation. Having said that, we have raised our concerns with the Egyptian authorities. We very much support Italian and Egyptian efforts to investigate and have requested that that be done in full to recognise what happened. The Italian police now have a team on the ground in Egypt. We will continue to raise the matter. I will be visiting the country very soon and will certainly ask further questions, but although the individual studied in the UK, there is a protocol on which country can lead and be involved.

Egypt has elected a President, has a new constitution and now has a Parliament, which is to be celebrated. We are working to help to make parliamentarians stronger and to encourage visits. As the new Parliament beds in, we want to do more to strengthen this vital institution and I hope that Members with a keen interest in Egypt, many of whom are hewre today, will be able to play an active role in that.

Defence

Royal Naval Deployment: Mediterranean

The following is an extract from the Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Defence on 7 March 2016

Michael Fallon: On the first point, I welcome the contribution Scotland is making. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to know that some of the Royal Marines on board Mounts Bay are from Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland. I am glad that he welcomes the mission.

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On refugees, the hon. Gentleman will know that we have committed to take refugees from the camps in Syria and to take unaccompanied children that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees identifies further west in Europe. We have played a leading part in that, as we did in the reconstruction conference on the future of Syria.

So far as military operations in Syria are concerned, we regularly update the information on the Ministry of Defence website. I am very happy to answer any additional questions the hon. Gentleman has.

[Official Report, 7 March 2016, Vol. 607, c. 27.]


Letter of correction from Michael Fallon

An error has occurred in my response to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O'Hara).

The correct response should have been:

Michael Fallon: On the first point, I welcome the contribution Scotland is making. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to know that some of the Royal Marines on board Mounts Bay are from Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland. I am glad that he welcomes the mission.

On refugees, the hon. Gentleman will know that we have committed to take refugees from the Syrian region and to take unaccompanied children that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees identifies. We have played a leading part in that, as we did in the reconstruction conference on the future of Syria.

So far as military operations in Syria are concerned, we regularly update the information on the Ministry of Defence website. I am very happy to answer any additional questions the hon. Gentleman has.

The following is an extract from the Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Defence on 7 March 2016

Michael Fallon: The British Government are taking refugees from Syria, as we have made clear, and some of them have arrived here in the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is urging his European counterparts to get to grips with the problem of those who have arrived inside the Schengen area and to take steps to ensure that they are not shuttled from one fence to the next. Europe has to adopt a more sensible policy.

[Official Report, 7 March 2016, Vol. 607, c. 27.]

Letter of correction from Michael Fallon

An error has been identified in my response to the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper).

The correct response should have been:


Michael Fallon: The British Government are taking refugees from the Syrian region, as we have made clear, and some of them have arrived here in the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is urging his European counterparts to get to grips with the problem of those who have arrived inside the Schengen area and to take steps to ensure that they are not shuttled from one fence to the next. Europe has to adopt a more sensible policy.