Discover more from Peter Hain
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I welcome the priority the Prime Minister has given this matter and the tone of his statement, especially his focus on the political and not simply the security. To add to the question that has just been put to him, the truth is that our diplomatic capacity in that region has been cut, not simply under his Government but, sadly, under our Government too. Will he look at that capacity? It is not simply about our diplomatic capabilities, but about our related ones. Unless we focus resources on the areas where the threats are—and that means the Foreign Office’s budget not being continuously chopped, as it has been in recent years—we will not be able to deliver.
The Prime Minister: I will look very closely—it is absolutely right to look closely—at what diplomatic resources we have in that part of the world. I would simply make two points. One is that the Foreign Office actually got a reasonably generous settlement in terms of public spending and has been opening embassies in parts of the world where there are really important economic priorities for Britain, particularly in south-east Asia. The second point is that when we look at West Africa, we should be very much thinking about how we will work with our partners—I have already had this conversation with President Hollande and President Obama. We have particularly strong ties with countries such as Nigeria; France has particularly strong ties with countries such as Mali. It does not make sense for us all to double up in the same places but, working together, we need to ensure that our coverage is very good.