Human Rights: Consular Services — [Dame Caroline Dinenage in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 2:40 pm ar 16 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 2:40, 16 Ebrill 2024

I certainly do, and I am pleased that the right hon. Gentleman intervened to underline that issue. I was going to mention Jimmy Lai; the key issue is that he is a British passport holder and does not hold a Chinese passport. He deserves and should get the consular assistance that all British citizens would get, including any one of us who holds a British passport.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh West referred to Richard and Nazanin Ratcliffe, whose MP used to come to speak at Westminster Hall; I cannot recall her constituency, though I used to support her every time. There was great joy when the British Government and others were able to gain Nazanin’s freedom and bring her home. I saw a lovely wee story about her in the press last week, as she tries to adjust again to normal life, which could never be easy after all the trauma and the separation from her husband and child.

As an MP who has had many constituents needing help from consulates, I was not surprised to see the level of consular assistance granted to people each year. In any given year, we support 20,000 to 25,000 British nationals and their families, including almost 7,000 detained or arrested abroad. There are occasions whenever we have to intervene or approach the consulate to ask for help. I am not saying it is always the case, but those who contacted me were either guilty of a minor misdemeanour or were unfortunately targets for untrue allegations.

Some 4,500 people from here die abroad each year. I think of one in particular, although I can think of three or four. I cannot remember what it is called, but I commend the organisation that we have back home in Northern Ireland—I think it is in the UK as well. If someone dies abroad, it supports the family with financial help to try to get the deceased back home. That is such a key role to play for families who grieve and do not know what to do next. That organisation has been very helpful.