10 Sep 15. Defence Committee – Afghan Interpreters. The Defence Committee has written to the Ministry of Defence in support of granting asylum in the United Kingdom to 200 Afghan interpreters who worked for UK forces during the UK mission in Afghanistan. The text of the letter is set out below and will be made available on the Committee’s website.
Text of letter to the Secretary of State: As you know, some 200 Afghan interpreters worked for UK Armed Forces during our mission in Afghanistan. Many of them have been threatened with death by the Taliban. It was recently reported that at least one interpreter has been tortured and murdered after a failed attempt to flee the country. Others live in constant fear of their lives. Despite this clear and present threat to their safety, the Government continue to deny them asylum in the United Kingdom.
The Defence Committee consider this to be a wholly unacceptable way to treat proven friends and allies. We would expect Defence Ministers and the Ministry of Defence to take the same robust view.
We, therefore, wish you to explain:
1. The Government’s rationale for not granting asylum to Afghan nationals who courageously worked as interpreters on behalf of the United Kingdom.
2. Whether there are any administrative or other obstacles which prevent the asylum process being expedited in these high-risk cases.
3. What you and your Department are doing to achieve a speedy resolution of this urgent matter, and whether you have made representations in Cabinet or to the Prime Minister.
Given the extreme danger they and their families face, the Committee requests a response as soon as possible and certainly before the House rises for the Conference Recess.
09 Sep 15. The Defence Committee has written to the Cabinet Office about its imposition of a word limit of only 1,500 characters on consultation responses to the Strategic Defence Review. The text of the letter is set out below and will be made available on the Committee’s website: www.parliament.uk/defcom
Text of letter to Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, Cabinet Office: On 15 August, it was reported in the national press that online submissions to the Government about the Strategic Defence and Security Review have been limited to 1,500 characters. Restricting the length of submissions to the equivalent of a dozen tweets fundamentally undermines the Government’s claim to be consulting widely on the SDSR. This derisory word-limit will gravely inhibit the ability of experts and interested parties to provide worthwhile evidence and argument on the direction and content of the Review.
Consequently, the Defence Committee believes that a sensible word-limit should be substituted, giving commentators an adequate opportunity to put forward their views. Rather than 1,500 characters, a total of 1,500 words would be an entirely reasonable total.
We trust that you will see merit in this proposal and agree it with the Cabinet Office, if necessary. In the meantime, please provide answers to the following questions:
1. Who decided to limit online submissions so drastically?
2. What were the reasons for doing this?
3. Does this limit also apply to hard-copy submissions?
4. What will happen to submissions which exceed the limit?
The Defence Committee has written to the Ministry of Defence requesting information on the use of Lariam. The text of the letter is set out below and will be made available on the Committee’s website: www.parliament.uk/defcom
09 Sep 15. Foreign Affairs Committee – Chilcot Letter. The Committee have put up online the letter they received yesterday from Sir John Chilcot on the progress of the Iraq Inquiry. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/foreign-affairs/Chilcot-supplementary-letter-to-Chair-080915.pdf
09 Sep 15. Use of Lariam. Text of letter to the Secretary of State: The use of Lariam has come under increasing scrutiny and it is clear that the drug does not command the universal support of member