The paper not in my hand

untitled (236)The debate in Parliament on Thursday 28th January on the killing of innocent people in Yemen was accompanied by what could only be described as a farce of responses and comments. Tobias Ellwood, Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister first claimed he had not been sent a copy of the report which was prepared for the United Nations and had been published the previous day. He then produced a copy of the report, with ‘United Kingdom’ printed on the cover and claimed it was a leaked copy and so he had not responded to it. From across the Chamber came Hilary Benn who had managed to read the report (leaked or not) and described how it refers to the targeting of weddings and other social events by the Yemeni Government in their attempt to kill rebel fighters. The report claims the Saudi-led coalition has targeted civilians in Yemen, documenting 119 sorties “relating to violations of international humanitarian law”. The weapons in use in many of these attacks are weapons we have supplied to them Saudi Arabia, weapon sales that Mr Benn wanted suspending. Mr Ellwood then admitted he had read the report and that he intended to ‘discuss’ its contents with the Saudi Government when he next met with them. MPs on both sides joined in, Paul Flynn, Labour suggested that we must not get drawn into a centuries old dispute in Yemen, while Gerald Howarth, Conservative argued that there are too many jobs dependent on weapons supplied to the Saudi Government for us to suspend sales, and pointing out that the Saudis are centuries old allies. It is clear that our role in the middle East is one of intervention on many levels, that we are happy to sell weapons to nations we consider as allies and drop our own bombs on other nations near by. We need Parliament to get a grip on foreign policy and the morality of arms sales and perhaps most of all we need ministers who are willing to read and learn from data that is not yet formally delivered but has nevertheless been sent by credible sources for early discussions and review.



About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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