Business of the House

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Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford, Labour)
Earlier this week, the Austrian Government put on a conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and some Members of this House attended it. More importantly, 158 states were present, including the United Kingdom. Given that we are a major nuclear weapons state, will the Leader of the House consider having a debate on the outcomes of the conference and the humanitarian consequences of the possession of nuclear weapons?

William Hague (First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
These are of course important issues in which the right hon. Lady has a long-standing interest. Members of this House called for the United Kingdom to attend that conference, including at business questions, and I am therefore sure that the House will be pleased to note that the United Kingdom did so. There has always been a good case, over the decades, to debate these issues. I cannot offer such a debate at the moment given the business that we face, but she may wish to make representations to the Backbench Business Committee.

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Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
Further to the question asked by my right hon. Friend Dame Joan Ruddock, next February the Government will host a meeting of the declared nuclear weapon states in London ahead of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference next May, which unfortunately coincides with our general election. What plans do the Government have to make a statement to the House ahead of the P5 meeting in February, and will there be an opportunity to debate the British Government’s position ahead of the NPT review conference next May? The issues are obviously extremely important if we aspire to bringing about a nuclear weapons-free world.

William Hague (First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
These are very important issues. The last NPT review conference in 2010 straddled the last general election, but that did not stop this country making an important and very positive contribution to it, and Members from all parties will want us to do so again. There will of course be several opportunities to question Foreign Office Ministers in the House before then, but I will certainly point out to them the interest shown in the House about having clarity on the Government’s approach to the forthcoming conference before the general election.

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