Foreign Affairs - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 6:18 pm ar 5 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Naseby Lord Naseby Ceidwadwyr 6:18, 5 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I start my contribution by saying a huge thank you to my two colleagues on the Front Bench and their families. The amount of travel they have undertaken, and the commitment they have shown, is an example to all of us, and in particular to some other countries around the world.

Just under a year ago, I brought a big debate to this very Chamber, the title of which was

“Climate change in developing countries”.

That arose from a UN report, the final part of which said that the cash flows to help developing countries cut their emissions must be raised by six times their current levels. I gave a number of examples.

One example I gave was the Falklands and the situation there. I know my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has been there recently. In fact, I read in the Independent that he stated that

“if they can responsibly extract hydrocarbons”— which is a project called Sea Lion

“that can be part of that zero because of course we’re still going to need oil and gas in the short term while we transition. I think that’s an important point to make. It’s net zero, not zero”.

So there is this new project, and I hope my noble friend will influence his colleagues in Cabinet to give some moral and sort of financial backing, as final lender if necessary, for that imaginative project.

Secondly, there is the Caribbean, which views with great care and worry the annual hurricane season. I declare an interest: I have family in the Cayman Islands. It is pretty devastating when it hits. My understanding is that we now provide and pay for some special resources to Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia through a gentleman or woman called the climate adviser. But my question to my noble friend is: why is that not extended to the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and Bermuda, which equally suffer from these difficult hurricanes?

I will move on to a country I know probably better than any other. I served there in 1963 for the Reckitt & Colman Group, and I started the all-party parliamentary group. Of course, I refer to Sri Lanka, a country that has faced incredible problems. On the climate side, the tsunami hit Sri Lanka and the Maldives really hard. I remember my wife and I watching it on Boxing Day and, a few days later, we were out there trying to help them deal with that problem. Over 1,000 people were killed on one railway because of the tsunami. Huge numbers were killed.

The country has been through massive difficulties, some of them of their own making and some of them not—but it does not matter: it is an important part of the Commonwealth. I thank our Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for the way it has stood by it, questioning it very hard at times. But, underneath, the Sri Lankans know that they are part of the same family.

Two things are happening now. There is the talk—and, more than talk, work being done—on a truth and reconciliation commission. In my judgment, that is to be greatly welcomed. I reflect on the late Sir Desmond de Silva, a great lawyer, as evidence that the quality of lawyer in Sri Lanka is second to none. As it is set up, it will of course be across the ethnic groups—it has to be. There are people there who are thoroughly objective.

There is still one challenge: that country lives by good tourism. It is recovering now, but one element that is missing is those who are 75 and over. They are, on the whole, British citizens. It is the FCDO comments on that country that currently cause me concern because they refer to the fact that protests are going on when they are not. They say that there is a fuel shortage, but there is not and has not been for 18 months. They also say that there are other difficulties of a terrorist nature, which we have not had for five years. So can my noble friend look at that guidance? It helps that particular age group because, at least from surveys that have been done, 80% of it looks at that guidance. Perhaps I could bring a couple of people from the newly set-up Experience Travel Group, which is private sector, to perhaps talk to a junior Minister about amending that.